This letter was read by Amy Ruth to the general membership and guests at the post-mortgage festivities on 22nd July 2006. (Photo of Amy and Suzanne Zimmering of CHF BC)
On June 1st View Court Housing Co-op made our last mortgage payment. We are in the first wave of housing co-ops in BC to become mortgage-free. As many of you know, we became a housing co-op in 1981 and were given a shorter mortgage because of the age and poor condition of our buildings (it was uncertain if the buildings would last that long). Ironically, and sadly, many of the housing co-ops that were built in the 1980's are struggling with leaky buildings and the minimal external support they have received has only come with extensive lobbying.
It is interesting to reflect back that twenty-five years ago, when View Court first became a housing co-op, the neighbourhood was in fairly rough shape. There were drug dealers on the streets, prostitutes were giving blow jobs in the back garden, and the police were called out on a regular basis! As you can see, the neighbourhood has changed, grown, and become more stable and sustainable with its diverse mix of renters and homeowners. Like us, our neighbours take pride in their homes and in this neighbourhood � this is particularly evident in both the beauty of the gardens and in the dialogue with the church across the street regarding their programs for the homeless.
Housing co-ops are more than simply housing � they are opportunities for community development in many ways. The secure housing, that View Court provides, facilitates personal growth and development. Many members join View Court from an unstable housing situation and the opportunity to live in a stable environment allows them to follow through with personal goals such as completing schooling, starting their own business, or simply saving enough to purchase their own home or condo.
The physical structure of our co-op allows for on-going ebb and flow of members; it supports independence as well as both formal and informal member interaction. While privacy and self-reliance are respected, we know everyone who lives here, and there is a strong sense of community in that. We continue to learn how to work together to sustain our co-op; it is an ongoing process. Participation allows people to stretch themselves, learn new skills, and feel empowered. We don't always agree about things, but we do have a commitment to persevere and find solutions that will work for the common good.
As we move into this new phase, we acknowledge the hard work of our members, both current and previous, whose volunteer and paid efforts have enabled us to be where we are today. Our commitment to our co-op, to the entity that is View Court, has carried us through difficult times and joyful times. For all the challenges of co-op housing, it is a sustainable model. With the creation of our mission, vision, and values last fall we democratically and unanimously decided to approve the �value� of supporting our low-income members; essentially we are providing internally generated subsidy for those members that need it. I still find it amazing � especially since we are fairly diverse politically. It is reassuring that a group of unrelated people from various backgrounds can come together and collectively care for others.
As we look to the future, we are excited to be moving into this new phase of co-op housing, of community development. We hope that other co-ops making this transition can learn from our process, from our mistakes and successes. The on-going co-creation of our co-op is an opportunity for each of us to continue to tend our own co-op while building deeper connection to the larger co-op community and to foster cooperative spirit within our neighbourhood and city community. To this end, we have established a neighbourhood development fund that offers up to $1000 per year to support a community building event in our immediate neighbourhood. We hope that more housing co-ops can emerge to help meet the housing, social, and economic needs of our city. Thank you.
Amy Kiara Ruth
On behalf of the View Court Board of Directors