EXTRA. CHF Canada s. VISION PROJECT Mapping a future for co-op housing. In NATIONAL EDITION Fall 2008 Issue N o.2

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1 C O - O P E R A T I V E H O U S I N G F E D E R A T I O N O F C A N A D A Newsbriefs EXTRA In NATIONAL EDITION Fall 2008 Issue N o.2 CHF Canada s 2020 VISION PROJECT Mapping a future for co-op housing

2 Contents 68º Mapping a future for co-op housing 3 What is the 2020 Vision Project? 4 Using the 2020 compass 9 Early explorers co-ops tell what it s like without an operating agreement 11 The future is sustainable 13 Preparing your co-op for 2020 certifi cation 15 What s next? CHF Canada s 2020 Vision Project will help member housing co-ops build a strong foundation for the future, based on shared co-operative values and the common ground of affordable not-for-profi t co-op housing in Canada. The project name, 2020 Vision, comes in part from a question we are asking our members: What kind of a co-op do you want to be in the year 2020? But the name also refers to the clarity of vision needed to chart a course towards the year The idea for 2020 Vision grew out of the need for co-ops to look ahead to the ending of their partnerships with government Vision has many elements to it. But we can sum up the idea behind it quite simply, 2020 Vision is about: helping housing co-ops get ready for the future starting to prepare now 60º Publication information This supplement to Newsbriefs is published by CHF Canada. Material may be copied. Please credit CHF Canada. Editor: Merrilee Robson Assistant editor: Fiona Jackson Design, illustration and proofreading: EGO Creative Solutions Printing by Cielo Print Inc. Looking beyond the programs Almost all of Canada s 2,200 housing co-ops operate under government housing programs. These programs provide fi nancial support, limit co-ops to non-profi t purposes, and offer a safety net if co-ops fall into fi nancial diffi culty. Federal-Program Co-ops Over the next 15 years or so these programs will end for many co-ops. Of the three federal co-op programs: almost all of the Section 95 program agreements will have ended by 2020 the ILM program agreements will end between 2016 and 2021 the 50-year Section 61 program agreements end between 2023 and 2028 Printed on ChorusArt coated 70lb silk. FSC Certified, acid-free, 25% post consumer waste. 1 NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL 2007

3 68º By the year 2020 as many as 55,000 units of coop housing will no longer be subject to a federal operating agreement. For these co-ops that means the end of the fi rst mortgage in most cases no more operating agreement requirements no more federal subsidy the end of current rent supplement agreements no government safety net for co-ops in diffi culty So by 2020 a lot of federal co-ops will be operating outside of government programs. And they will no longer be subject to the controls over their purposes that the programs provide. Ontario s SHRA Co-ops Co-ops in Ontario that operate under the Social Housing Reform Act no longer have a government operating agreement. Instead, program rules are set out in the Act and regulations. These co-ops will pay off their mortgages later than most federalprogram co-ops. But when the mortgages do come to an end there will be no more assistance or government safety net for these co ops either. How the 2020 Vision project can help 2020 Vision will help housing co-ops plan for their future after their partnerships with government end. We want to make sure that Canada s investment in co-op housing is safeguarded after the programs come to an end, and that the principles of member control and non-profi t ownership are continued Vision starts now 2020 Vision is about today as well as tomorrow. Our housing stock is already aging. We haven t always kept up with the maintenance our properties need. Co-ops are facing management and governance challenges that they need help with now. And, if we are to secure a sound future for our co-ops, we need to start planning for that today Vision will help us map a vision for the future of housing co-ops and of the co-op housing organizations that serve them Vision Project NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL

4 68º Vision Project What is the 2020 Vision Project? The 2020 Vision Project has three parts: the 2020 Compass, which helps co-ops develop a vision and mission for their future a 2020 toolkit to help co-ops realize their vision a certifi cation program for co-ops that achieve high standards of operation The 2020 compass The Compass is an innovative process that helps you decide what you value as a community and how to incorporate those values in a vision and mission that will guide your future. The 2020 Compass is a key building block of 2020 Vision project. On the next page you can fi nd out more. The 2020 Vision Toolkit Since the 2006 launch of the project we have been at work on a toolkit to help make 2020 Vision a reality for our members. The tools come in the form of guides, software and education program that will help your co-op develop good governance and principled leadership, based on co-op principles ensure sound management and planning practices put an effective maintenance and repairs plan in place project capital replacement requirements and forecast their cost build a long term fi nancial plan and estimate the costs of refi nancing invest wisely, according to short and long-term cash fl ow needs. Some of the 2020 Vision tools are already available on the 2020 website. Go to and follow the 2020 link Certification The 2020 certifi cation program is a brand new concept for housing co-ops. It acknowledges the achievements of co-ops that reach certain standards of excellence by designating them as 2020 high enough for the designation to mean something for a co-op but not so high that it is too diffi cult to achieve. You can fi nd out all about 2020 Certifi cation starting on page NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL 2008

5 68º Using the 2020 compass Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? That depends a good deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat. I don t much care where, said Alice. Then it doesn t matter which way you go, said the Cat. As long as I get somewhere, Alice added as an explanation. Oh, you re sure to do that, said the Cat, if you only walk long enough Vision Project Alice s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll When Margaret Crossley, bookkeeper for Frances Gardens Co-op in Sooke, BC heard that the co-op could be a test case for the 2020 Compass, a tool to help co-ops discuss their future, she knew they were ready. Since 2004, Margaret had been working with Frances Gardens, a sometimes uphill battle, to rise above their challenges. Factions in the co-op were locked in disagreement, while maintenance was not completed, arrears ate away at their budget, and a defi cit grew. They tackled problems one at a time. First they cleared up the arrears, then worked with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to be able to complete maintenance so they could fi ll empty units. The co-op brought in a recycling program. Crossley knew the co-op was ready to start work on a capital plan. She encouraged them to get more education to help them through this process and it was then that they heard about the 2020 Compass. The timing to get a good handle on the future of the co-op couldn t have been better. And co-op board members agreed. They invited Thom Armstrong, Executive Director of CHF BC to talk about planning. Though many co-ops might think that the end of the operating agreements for their co-ops will mean things will get easier, in reality it is not so straightforward. But CHF Canada has developed the 2020 program to help make the process of getting ready for the transition as simple and painless as possible for co-ops. But the time to start is now. A lot of co-ops sign up to take the 2020 workshop and discover they should have started years ago, says Thom Armstrong. Frances Gardens president, Gloria Sadler agrees. It was an eye-opener in that if we thought we could have done it all in a year or so we were wrong. It does take some planning; it takes time. You can t worry about it the night before. At the same time, designing a compass and fi nding your co-op s true North can be fun. We thoroughly enjoyed it, Sadler says. It was good; it was educational. The thing that amazed a lot of us was how so many of us are on the same page we all have the same feelings, concerns, wants for our future it was really quite amazing. The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now. Chinese proverb 40º NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL

6 2020 Vision Project Halston Hills Co-op, in Burnaby BC, also tested the 2020 Compass. Lil Cameron, President at Halston Hills says, I think the process was easy and very informative. While most of the items that came up were not a big surprise to us, it was good to be able to discuss and document what our co-op thinks about where we are now and where we want to be as we head towards the end of our mortgage. I would defi nitely recommend this process to other co-ops. Both co-ops used the 2020 Compass to discuss and develop a mission statement, core values and a vision for the future. Here are the results: Halston Hills Housing Co-op Mission Statement Halston Hills Co-op is committed to maintaining a secure and affordable living environment for a diverse, involved, co-operative community. Our Core Values 1. Affordable: Halston Hills endeavours to keep operating costs reasonable and housing charges affordable while ensuring the ongoing maintenance of the buildings. 2. Accountable: Members of Halston Hills take pride in ownership of the co-op by maintaining their homes, following the policies, participating, and meeting their fi nancial obligations. The Board and Membership of the co-op are accountable to ensure that good policies, management and governance are in place. 3. Democratic: Halston Hills Co-op holds regular members meetings to ensure a fully informed and involved membership. Decisions are made co-operatively ensuring sensitivity, equality and confi dentiality. We share our skills and knowledge and seek expert advice when required. 4. Financially Responsible: Halston Hills members meet their individual fi nancial obligations to the co-op. The Board and Membership create budgets, which meet the annual operating obligations, and also the future fi nancial needs of the co-op to ensure our co-op is well maintained. 5. Safe and Friendly: Halston Hills is a community that embraces the diversity of our membership. We are supportive and respectful of our neighbours, and keep an eye out for each other. We socialize, interact, and take responsibility for our community. Frances Gardens Housing Co-op Mission Statement and Core Values Our co-op exists to provide safe, secure, affordable homes for our members in a community where we all work together. We believe in the values of affordability, safety, fi nancial stability, sound management, security and family. Our Vision for the Future We will need to spend more to maintain our homes properly. The revenue for that spending will have to come from higher housing charges. This is an investment in safe, secure homes for our members and their families. At the same time, we want our homes to be affordable for members. If government won t help when our operating agreement ends, we will try to assist members who can t afford the full housing charge. We depend on each other. The work of our volunteers is important to the co-op. But we will also invest in the skills we need to make sure the important work of the co-op is done well. We believe that co-op education is critical to our success. We will hold on to our surplus land until we have a solid, long-term plan for our future. When we have that plan, our fi rst priority will be to make sure that we have the resources to achieve it. 5 NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL 2008

7 68º Vision Project Frances Gardens Housing Co-op in Sooke on Vancouver Island Frances Gardens president, Gloria Sadler, centre, enjoys a moment with fellow co-op members. Bill Siksay, Member of Parliament for Burnaby-Douglas congratulates Lil Cameron, president of Halston Hills at the co-op s 20-year celebration. NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL

8 2020 Vision Project How to use the 2020 Compass CHF Canada has trained a group of 2020 Compass facilitators. Regional federations and CHF Canada offi ces across the country will be offering a service to help co-ops use the 2020 Compass. A 2020 facilitator will come to your co-op s general meeting and explain the 2020 process with a brief slide show for your members. Anyone interested in getting involved in the process will be encouraged to sign up. Then, working with the 2020 Compass, your co-op will defi ne, or revise, your mission and values statements. The process of working with the compass will take several board and membership meetings. The end result of the 2020 compass part of the program is that your co-op will have a mission statement and a list of your core values that should give a true refl ection of your co-op as it is today. From there, your co-op will be well equipped to develop a realistic vision for the future. The mission, vision and values will work together to guide your co-op as you work to meet the eight standards to become a 2020 Co-op. As Frances Gardens Housing Co-op learned as they started to work through the process of defi ning their mission, a lot of the value of the program might be the opportunity it gives to get your members working together on common ground. This fi rst step towards becoming a 2020 co-op might be challenging, but it brings rewards. Your co-op will become aware of the challenges you ll face at the end of your relationship with government like keeping Trainees and instructors try on the many hats 2020 Facilitators need to wear as they guide co-ops through the 2020 program. 7 NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL 2008

9 68º Vision Project 2020 facilitators take training in Toronto. the buildings in good shape, housing lowincome members affordably, and having the resources to make changes that might be needed. But being ready for these possibilities now can have a huge payback down the road. Brian Eng trained to be a 2020 Facilitator in February. He noted that, when you use a real compass you rarely use it just once. The same is true for keeping on target for your co-op s 2020 goals. You need to check back to make sure your compass continues to point your co-op the way you want to go. And as co-ops continue to work through the steps to becoming 2020 co-ops they can return to their compass as many times as they need for guidance. with HIV/AIDs or women escaping domestic violence. Whatever your co-op s particular priorities may be, the 2020 Compass allows you to set them out in a document that will guide the co-op and its place in the community in the years to come. An added bonus of having a well-defi ned mission and vision, according to shared values, is that your co-op can be better prepared to recruit new members, and able to attract people who share your principles. The 2020 Compass also allows you to refl ect the specifi c priorities of your membership as it has evolved over time. Perhaps your co-op now houses quite a few seniors. Or you re setting aside some of your vacancies for people NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT SUMMER

10 2020 Vision Project Early explorers Co-ops tell what it s like without an operating agreement If it wasn t for the fi re, President Laura Soucy says, Mountain View housing co-op might have done more planning for the end of their operating agreement. In 2001, a fi re destroyed one of the fi ve buildings in the Port Moody, BC co-op. The rebuilding took some time and, in 2006, when the co-op paid off their mortgage and ended their operating agreement with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, they had one brand new building and four others that needed extensive repairs. Mountain View commissioned an engineering study to look at the cost of repairing the other four buildings and were advised that it may be cheaper to completely rebuild. The co-op is discussing this option now and working with the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC to decide if they will redevelop their site to add new units. A new line for the Skytrain rapid transit system is planned to go near the co-op and Soucy says they are hoping that will mean the city will allow them to increase the height of the buildings and add more units. Mountain View has been building up their capital reserves for this project, adding the funds they formerly spent on their mortgage, and more, to their replacement reserve fund. The co-op did budget to make sure that they were able to subsidize their low-income members. We were receiving $6,000 a month in subsidy from CMHC and we decided to budget for an internal subsidy of that amount. We developed our own subsidy policy, which was not that different from CMHC guidelines. Right now, we re not using the full $6,000, so we re pooling the remaining funds so we ll have it when we need it. Mountain View Housing Co-op burns its mortgage as part of their celebration on paying of their mortgage in 2005 Soucy says that she wishes they had done more planning, which is a key element of 2020 Vision. A lot of members didn t understand what was going to happen and didn t know how it would affect them. She says there is still a lot of misunderstanding in the co-op 9 NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL 2008

11 Kabuki Housing Co-op in Halifax celebrates the end of their mortgage. sector and some people believe that they will own their own unit when the mortgage is paid off. In fact, it hasn t affected our members a lot in the day-to-day functioning but we have a lot of decisions to make. Mountain View is focusing on plans for their building repair or redevelopment, in order to ensure they will be around for the long term. Across the country, Kabuki Housing Co-operative has just ended its operating agreement, which expired in June The eight-unit co-op in Halifax, Nova Scotia started the planning process about two years ago. Because Kabuki is so small, every adult member serves on the Board. Every year Kabuki holds a plenary where they look at larger issues. Preparing for the end of their mortgage and operating agreement has been the focus of the plenary for the last few years and Kabuki has given a lot of thought to their future. Member Terry Pulliam says Kabuki reviewed the co-op principles and developed a new mission statement, using CHF Canada s 2020 materials. Since the co-op was formed in 1982, Kabuki has taken care to fund their replacement reserves and ensure that maintenance is undertaken regularly. They recently replaced their roofs before problems developed and they have a plan that outlines when other items will need replacing and ensuring that the co-op has the funds to make the changes. Now that the mortgage has been paid they are putting more money into their replacement reserves but are also spending some funds on upgrades to fl ooring and appliances. They are also considering a second subsidy fund for short-term emergencies. Kabuki also planned for how the co-op was going to protect low-income members once the government subsidy had ended. We talked about changing the rent-geared-to-income formula, Pulliam said. We talked about different options and considered how the changes would impact the morale of the co-op and the well-being of the members receiving subsidy. In the end we took the high road and stuck with our existing policy. But it s an interesting challenge, dealing with subsidy internally. With the idea of members aging in place, Kabuki is also considering expanding their small co-op. They considered adding units on their existing property but it would mean giving up their lovely back yard. At the moment, they are hoping to access some of the federal/provincial affordable housing funds and add units on nearby land. There are good reasons to expand, Pulliam says. We would have a larger base of members to rely on and that would give us more security. We re all excited about the plans but we re also a bit nervous because it will mean changes to the co-op. Right now we can hold meetings in each other s homes. A bigger co-op would mean we d have to build a meeting space Vision Project NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL

12 2020 Vision Project The future is sustainable When Cornerstone Housing Co-op in Moncton, New Brunswick got together to plan their 25th anniversary party the conversation turned to a discussion about how to make their co-op more sustainable. Frank Springer, property manager at Cornerstone encouraged the members to do something to make it happen. Now Cornerstone has made it their target to go green for their 25th anniversary. Housing co-ops have been leaders in sustainability and are now more concerned than ever both for environmental and economic reasons. The more I talk about implementing going green the more excited the members are getting, says Springer. Cornerstone created a mission statement that summarizes their goal: We will strive to do our best in using environmentally safe resources and reduce wastefulness. Their targets include: Have a recycling team. Focus on the four Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refuse. Generate a list of green tips such as cleaning solutions from eco-friendly products to environmentally friendly happenings. Hand out compact fl uorescent light bulbs as a gift for attending General Meetings. Identify wasteful practices. (Leaving water running, lights and heat on when not required, etc.) Give encouragement to the cost and resource sharing as a way to enhance ecological sustainability. Improve indoor environmental quality through ventilation, exhaust, and choice of materials such as environmentally safe paint. Use alternative substances and products for members by always purchasing appliances with the Energy Star rating and low-fl ow toilets. Educate members to encourage healthy, safe practices such as riding a bike, taking public transit, and walking or car pooling. 11 NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL 2008

13 Cornerstone s targets are all good examples of what the Natural Step Canada calls the lowhanging fruit - changes that are simple and affordable that your co-op can choose to make fi rst. Over time, with the cost savings from making these small changes, it can be possible to invest in other changes to help increase your co-op s sustainability. That s why sustainability is one of the certifi cation standards to become a 2020 co-op. With enough time and careful planning, changes in how we utilize resources can make sure that the future of our co-ops is not only fi nancially viable and sustainable, but even more comfortable, in harmony with the environment and healthy for our members. And now there s a sustainability toolkit for coops: Together with the Natural Step Canada CHF Canada is developing a household toolkit for co-ops that will help your co-op learn more about how to make changes. You will fi nd the toolkit in the resources section of our website: www. chfcanada.coop. Just some of the other co-ops across Canada that have been making changes big and small - to become more environmentally sustainable include, Hugh Garner Housing Co-op in Toronto, with their green roof project - hughgarnergreenroof.ca/, Grand House Student Co-operative (http://www.wacsa.org/grandhouse) in Cambridge Ontario, designed by architecture students to be as sustainable as possible, Conservation Housing Co-op in Ottawa, (http://greenbuilding.ca/abn/abncoop.htm), built with a commitment to being environmentally sustainable as well as affordable, Viewcourt Housing Co-op in Vancouver, (viewcourt. vcn.bc.ca) continues to explore ways their members can make an impact on reducing their environmental footprint. Facts about Cornerstone Co-operative Housing Ltd.: Cornerstone was developed and managed by Atlantic Peoples Housing Ltd. (APHL) in Cornerstone is located in the North End of Moncton just behind the New Brunswick Community College. There are over 330 people living in 113 townhouses of two, three and four bedroom units. Seven of the units are accessible. The fi rst members moved into Cornerstone in 1983, phase two in 1984 and phase three in Cornerstone is a mixed income co-op with the majority of the membership of middle income. The co-op leases their meeting hall to the YMCA for daycare services for 34 children fi ve days a week. Extensive work has been done on the exteriors of the townhouses in the past four years including replacement of all the windows and new roofs. Many lawns and trees throughout the co-op property provide members areas for relaxation Vision Project NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL

14 2020 Vision Project 2020 certification The third part of the 2020 Vision is a certifi cation program for housing co-ops that want to become designated as 2020 Co-ops. CHF Canada has developed a series of standards co-ops must meet to become 2020 Co-ops. The 2020 certifi cation standards are as follows. A 2020 Co-op has: 1. A mission statement and a vision for its future A 2020 co-op has a mission statement, core values and a vision, adopted by its members, that are consistent with the values of the co-op housing movement. 2. A commitment to the values of the Canadian co-operative housing movement A 2020 co-op upholds the international coop principles, keeps its operations non-profi t and offers housing that is as affordable as possible. A 2020 co-op co operates with other housing co-ops through membership in the co-op housing sector. 3. A capital reserve and investment plan A 2020 co-op plans for the repair and replacement of capital items and invests its capital reserves wisely. 4. A long-term financial plan A 2020 co-op has a plan for its fi nances that provides for its long-term viability 5. Good governance and principled leadership A 2020 co-op demonstrates good governance and the principled leadership needed to support it. 6. A comprehensive maintenance plan A 2020 co-op keeps its property in good repair and reduces replacement costs by planning its maintenance and using timely and expert resources to get the job done properly. 7. Sound management A 2020 co-op understands that sound, expert management is key to operating successfully and offering members good service. 8. A commitment to environmental sustainability A 2020 Co-op is committed to a sustainable future, both for the co-op itself and for the global community. 13 NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL 2008

15 Preparing your co-op for 2020 certification Co-ops can apply for certifi cation and then call themselves a 2020 Co-op. Co-ops will soon be able to log on to the website, fi ll out a registration form and complete the process to show that they have met the standards to become a 2020 Co-op. In the meantime, co-ops can use the 2020 Vision materials to get ready for the certifi cation process Vision Project Here s how to get ready: 1. A mission statement and vision for its future Book a trained 2020 facilitator to help your co-op use the 2020 Compass to chart your vision for the future. 2. A commitment to the values of the Canadian co-operative housing movement Getting our Co-op Principles Right outlines the seven international co-op principles and how housing co-ops can make sure they re meeting them. This and other publications are available in the 2020 Vision section of CHF Canada s website. 3. A capital reserve and investment plan Getting our house in order A guide to capital reserve planning for federal-program co-ops will help you take stock of your building s condition and create the physical and fi nancial plans you ll need to keep the co-op in good shape. CHF Canada will be preparing new materials soon. For SHRA housing co-ops in Ontario, information on capital planning, investment and other materials are available on the Social Housing Services Corporation website at 4. A long-term financial plan New fi nancial planning software was previewed at CHF Canada s 2008 annual meeting and is in the development stage. 5. A comprehensive maintenance plan A new maintenance planning toolkit is being developed and should be available by the end of Good governance and principled leadership Getting governance right outlines what co-op boards need to do to meet the needs of their co-op. You can see what areas your co-op needs to work on by taking the How Well Does your Co-op Run test in the Resources section of CHF Canada s website. 7. Sound management Getting management right covers the core standards of good management and what co-ops need to do to get and keep good management. 8. A commitment to environmental sustainability CHF Canada published a supplement to Newsbriefs on sustainability last year. It and other sustainability information is available in the Resources section of our website. Watch for our Sustainability toolkit coming soon. NEWSBRIEFS SUPPLEMENT FALL

16 2020 Vision Project What s next? The 2020 toolkit is a work in progress. The 2020 certifi cation process was launched this Fall. A new information centre will be set up to help answer your questions. A new maintenance toolkit will be available soon. Workshops on the 2020 Vision Project are available through CHF Canada and regional federations.

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