Co-ops and Collectives are Creative Housing Solutions in Urban Areas Like Vancouver BC

Any group of people can form a co-op, There's lottsa kinds of co-ops: food co-ops, daycare co-ops, retail co-ops, worker co-ops, credit unions, and housing co-ops. What defines a co-op is that its members own the co-op. Some co-operatives provide a service - a housing co-op provides housing, some produce and/or distribute products and some are groups of consumers pooling their resources. For today's topic, co-op and collective urban housing solutions, The Mud Report is going to focus on Vancouver BC because it's the largest city by far in our bio-region and one of the world's most expensive cities to live in. If folks can find solutions to living frugally in Vancouver, and they have, some of those solutions should be applicable in other cities.

There's reasons why two different terms, co-op and collective, are used. Housing co-ops in BC are a structured setup that federal and provincial governments have funded through various programs to help Canadians create non-profit housing co-ops. Co-ops developed under these programs provide good quality, affordable housing. There are more than 261 non-profit housing co-ops comprising more than 14,500 units in British Columbia. Of course government programs never come without strings attached and legal requirements and bureaucrats whose hoops must be jumped through. These BC Housing Co-ops work great for some folks, not so great for others.

Collective housing solutions are far less structured and each has its own individual flavour. There is a loose structure through the Vancouver Collective House Network which provides an overview of the different types of creative housing solutions folks have evolved in Vancouver. The Vancouver Collective House Network's Facebook page has up to the minute information on availability at different collective houses, some details about the different flavour of each house and contact info. The Vancouver Transition Society also has contacts with folks who've figured out other creative housing solutions in and around Vancouver.

Back about 40 years ago in Vancouver lots of us hippy types lived collectively in big houses around Kitsilano and in the West End. Many of those beautiful old houses were torn down by the developer types, whadda shame. Fortunately the crazed developer types didn't see big bucks in the East Side of Vancouver and a few other areas so there still are pockets left.

Awhile back The Tyee ran a great article titled, 'Living is Expensive, Live Collectively' that flashed me back to those good old days living in Vancouver during the late 60's and early 70's. The strength of our collectives back then was that each house's occupants were self organized into agreeable groups, many shared the same political opinions, enjoyed the same music or the same types of 'recreation'. Here - common purpose - lies the strength of today's housing collectives too. The Tyee article focused on The Beehive House, a collective near Commercial Drive where organic gardening, communal vegetarian meals and a sliding scale for room/board based on ability to pay almost made moving back to Vancouver sound good - almost.