Abdessemad Afsi, a New Canadian and student, has raised his family in a housing co-op for the past six years while they establish their new life in Canada.
Afsi recounts a recent period when he suddenly became ill and could not work or study. He says he was grateful to have the support of the co-op and his neighbours to see him through.
"Our neighbours are like our family, helping to take care of our children when we run into troubles or other needs,” says Afsi.
British Columbians like Afsi are now very concerned with the expiration of the Federal Government operating agreements with co-ops that will remove housing subsidies for lower-income members of co-ops across BC.
The Co-op Housing Federation of BC in partnership with the Co-op Housing Federation of Canada is stepping up with concrete solutions to this crisis with their campaign, You Hold the Key- Fix the Co-op Housing Crunch.
The organizations are asking co-op housing members and the co-operative community at large to help send a message to the provincial government that co-ops need a provincially-funded rent assistance program in place.
According to the CHF BC website, over 1,500 households will face a crisis as their homes become unaffordable. By 2020, this number will climb to 3,000 households.
Fiona Jackson, Communications Officer for CHF BC, is impressed with the campaign results so far.
“We have had a really good response, with both the Mayor of Burnaby and the Metro Vancouver board passing resolutions to support the campaign. We are also receiving a lot of support at the municipal level and from a wide range of media coverage,” says Jackson.
There is still much work to be done, however.
"To get involved, go to the website where there are a number of tools and suggestions available for individuals and co-ops of all types to voice their support, such as a link to send Minister Rich Coleman a letter.”
The campaign will have an information table set up during the upcoming BC Co-operative Association AGM on June 14th. Drop by to speak with their representative and learn more.
For further information visit www.chf.bc.ca/eoacampaign2014 or contact Fiona Jackson 604-343-2353.