The president of a housing co-operative currently fundraising to build its first residence says the living model can help alleviate Canada’s housing affordability crisis.

Lindsay Harris is president of B.C.-based non-profit housing cooperative Propolis, where residents will contribute to owning and operating the building that they live in after paying a membership share. 

She told BNN Bloomberg that the model is one way to ease affordability struggles in Canada as residents face high rental and mortgage costs.

“Non-profit co-operative housing is a great tool to ensure affordability and it's a really important solution to contribute to solving the housing crisis,” Harris said in a television interview. 


Membership shares for Propolis are currently set at $2,000, Harris said. Residents will get the money back when they move out.

Propolis is currently looking to raise $1.1 million for the purchase of its first property, with the full proposed development to cost around $15 million. 

The proposed six-story development is set for a site in Kamloops, B.C. with about 50 affordable units and 9,000 square feet of commercial space at ground level. The co-operative intends to have people move in by 2026.

Propolis is selling community bonds to fund the project, Harris said, which yield an interest rate of between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent. 

“The benefit of a community bond is that people can invest in a cause that they care about so they can invest in helping to solve the housing crisis in Kamloops. And at the same time they can earn a financial return on their investment,” she said. 

Currently, bond offerings from Propolis are not eligible to be held in a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or tax-free savings account (TFSA). 


The federal government has also turned its attention to co-op housing as a means to ease pressure on the hot housing market.

On Tuesday, Ottawa announced $71 million in funding for co-op housing. The money will be used to build and repair 16,000 co-op homes across Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick. 

“We are working with every level of government and communities across Canada to help build the homes Canadians need at prices they can actually afford,” Housing Minister Sean Fraser said in a news release. 

“By unlocking over 1,600 co-op homes across Canada, we are helping Canadians get a roof over their heads.”

The announcement comes after the government promised $1 billion in funding in its fall economic update to go towards its Affordable Housing Fund, which will finance non-profit, co-op and public housing providers to build over 7,000 new homes by 2028.