The housing squeeze will get even tighter in the next few years as federal subsidies expire on five housing co-ops in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
By the year 2017, people living in 138 subsidized units in Ford Road, Harris Road, Meadowlands, Haney Pioneer Village, and Maple Court could be affected.
The squeeze is happening because as the mortgages are paid off, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. subsidies on some units end.
However, many co-ops still have second or third mortgages taken on to pay for leaky buildings.
The old buildings may also require substantive upgrades.
With subsidies no longer in place to help with the bills, the housing co-ops may face a cash crunch.
It’s too soon, however, to say how many of those who get rental subsidies will have to find cheaper places to live.
Some co-ops may be able to limp along and pay the bills, just on the rent collected at each housing complex.
About 32 per cent of the units of each co-op receive rental subsidies, while people in the remainder of the units pay market rents.
Some may have to convert all units to market rates in order to pay the bills.
“It’s not like they’re totally debt free,” said Fiona Jackson, with the Co‐operative Housing Federation of B.C.
Instead of the federal subsidies, the federation wants the provincial government to take over the subsidies so people can stay in their houses.
For Ruth Meyer, 62, president of Ford Road Housing Co-op, it means tough choices ahead.
In 2017, her rent will climb by $175 to just more than $900 a month.
But her CPP disability pension cheque will barely cover that with only about $30 left to spare.
That means she’ll have to choose every month between paying utility bills or buying groceries.
“I don’t know where I’d move.”
Others at Ford Road Housing Co-op will be in the same boat. The complex has 160 units, 44 of which are subsidized based on income.
Rents already are going up next year on all units by a small amount, said Mayer.
As for what happens in 2017, “We have no idea. We’ll probably have to go market rate, but we really haven’t got to that point yet.”
The co-op housing federation met Monday in Pitt Meadows and has launched a campaign to call for assistance (http://www.chf.bc.ca/eoacampaign2014).
B.C. Housing is also clamping down by requiring subsidized tenants to pay higher rents in units in Devonshire Court that were originally planned for larger families.