Housing Co-op Principles Here are the principles of all co-operatives, with a summary of how they apply to local housing co-ops. Open Membership: Anyone may join a co-op. Racial and other forms of discrimination are not allowed. Many different people live in housing co-ops. There are seniors, families with children, single people, and people who have disabilities. Some can afford to pay market rent and may someday save enough to buy a home. Some are receiving Social Assistance or need subsidies to help them pay their housing charges. This variety helps everyone in a housing co-op feel part of a healthy, complete community. People who are poor aren't labelled by their address. They are part of the community too. Democratic control: Co-operatives are democratic, run by the members for the members. Each member has one vote. Co-op members have a say in what goes on. They can vote on important matters such as what their housing charges will be and what regulations members will be expected to follow. With this power comes the responsibility to participate in the operation of the co-op. By working together, co-op members can make their home a safe and healthy community and a good place to live. Non-profit operation: Co-ops are not formed to make a profit. When people buy shares in a co-op they receive limited or no interest. Extra money at the end of the year is used to cover the co-op's future needs. Co-operative housing may not be bought or sold for profit. There is no landlord. There is no profit given to anyone. Housing charges rise only when costs increase. Since the co-operative as a whole owns the housing and is responsible for its management, members can keep operating costs down through volunteer work. Education: Every co-op member has the right and the responsibility to participate, and to help make decisions. Every co-op has the responsibility to give its members the training and information they need to do this. People who participate in running their co-op can learn many new skills, both from their fellow co-op members and through education workshops. Co-op members can thus learn practical skills and ways of working together with their neighbours. Co-operation with other Co-operatives: By working together and sharing ideas, co-ops can help one another. Housing Co-ops in the Victoria Area may join the Vancouver Island Co-operative Housing Federation (VICHA) to make it easier to share common problems, to educate one another, and to remind government of the pressing need for affordable housing.