Housing cooperative advocate looks forward to federal election

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      Thom Armstrong was present when a housing cooperative recently celebrated the burning of its mortgage.

      But as the executive director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C. recalled, the residents’ joy over having fully paid off their collective property was mitigated by the knowledge that with the end of their agreement with the federal government, some of their neighbours will no longer receive rent subsidies.

      Armstrong noted in a phone interview with the Straight that co-ops have limited means to provide temporary relief for low-income residents, who now face the prospect of losing their homes.

      With a federal election campaign under way, Armstrong is pleased that three of the four major parties have committed to renew federal agreements with housing co-ops to maintain rents that are geared to income levels.

      In contrast to the NDP, Liberal Party, and Greens, Armstrong said the Conservatives have only stated that “they plan to honour the existing agreements, which, of course, is exactly the problem because the existing agreements are starting to run out.”

      If any opposition party forms government after October 19, that may be a cause for housing co-ops to cheer.

      Armstrong said: “We’re very encouraged that our message has got out and, you know, there’s a recognition that there’s a looming crisis, and somebody has to do something about it.”