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Friday, 20 February 2015

Torontothebetter requests support for new maintenance co-op for housing co-ops

TorontotheBetter ally and associate Shawn Pelletier is organizing a maintenance co-op for housing co-ops. We wish him well. See below for details and to lend your support.

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Dear Maintenance Orientated Housing Co-op Member,

            My name is Shawn Pelletier, and I am the Sector Delegate for Don Area Co-operative Homes (DACHI). I am writing to you, because I have been considering creating a non-profit cooperative to replace the contractors we currently use for maintaining our properties here in Toronto for quite some time now. In theory, the creation of this co-operative should reduce our overall cost of maintaining Toronto's housing co-ops by eliminating the contractor's fees from the equation. Furthermore, if we were to emphasise the hiring of unemployed members of our housing co-ops we could reduce our co-op's need for subsidies as a result. As we are nearing the end of our operating agreements, cost reducing measures of this nature could greatly contribute to the sustainability of our housing co-ops.

            In order to better explain the vision that I have for this non-profit co-op, I will outline the basic structure that I believe to be most sensible: The co-op could be a multi-stakeholder co-op; meaning it could have various kinds of members, namely workers and housing co-ops. Therefore, the co-op would be a worker/consumer co-op. We could offer memberships to housing co-ops as a means to raise our initial start-up capital. In exchange, housing co-ops would be able to participate in the co-op's GMMs and hold the co-op directly accountable for the quality of work done, and have their say in the pricing of the work. Using this co-operative model, this co-op would effectively become a sector organization to provide contractual services to our housing co-ops.

            Working for housing co-ops could just be the beginning of what may come for this co-op. There would be nothing binding us to solely serving housing co-operatives. We could sell our non-profit services to various kinds of organizations requiring building maintenance services, and in return we could expand beyond housing co-ops to hopefully provide regular work for our worker/members. With our non-profit approach we could uncut our competitors to maximize the amount of employment provided to low-income housing co-op members. The aim of this co-op would be to help sustain and eventually expand the co-operative housing model in Toronto.

            Personally, my vision for this not-for-profit co-operative would be realized if the potential surpluses went towards investing in new housing co-operatives. If this non-profit were to really take off it could have the capability of  being amongst such developments as the Oslo Housing and Savings Society co-operative in Oslo, Norway; having built approximately 100,000 homes that are represented by almost 400 new housing co-operatives. The Oslo Housing and Savings Society is definitely the true inspiration for me in starting this maintenance co-operative. Please see: https://www.obos.no/english.  In my opinion, the initial framework of starting this endeavour would start with providing maintenance services to housing co-ops at cost. This would be an excellent place to begin a journey towards having a co-operative in Toronto that could have the strong potential to be in the position to develop and build new housing co-ops.

            I am currently looking to create a core group for the creation of this co-op. If you are interested in pursuing this exciting venture with me, please contact me so that we can start work on this project together and truly launch this idea. At the very least I believe we would be able to create some part-time employment for ourselves doing odd jobs for this city's housing co-ops. Contact me at:

shawn.etoile.de.mer@gmail.com


Cheers,
 

Shawn Pelletier

Sector Delegate for Don Area Cooperative Homes Inc.
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