Co-op Improves Quality of Life for Residents
In 2011, members of the Coopérative d’habitation La Petite-Patrie celebrated their 20th anniversary. The special event was featured in the neighbourhood newspaper—and with good reason. Thanks to the hard work of its founding members, the co-op has improved the quality of life for residents by providing stable and affordable housing. The building is also a well-known neighbourhood landmark.
“Passersby often stop in front of our place to tell us that we have a nice coop and that we are lucky to be living here,” says Daniel Jean, Chair and founding member of the co-operative. “But even though we were lucky to be at the right place at the right time for the opportunity to build, we also worked hard to get our co-operative.”
The opportunity began when a neighbourhood school dating from the 1910s was closed due to a lack of enrolment. The three-storey heritage building, with its period architecture and large tree-lined lots, was an ideal candidate for conversion to co-op housing in the inner city neighbourhood. The building is also close to public transit, a bike path and all services.
Founded in 1986 by a dozen citizens and financed through CMHC’s Index Linked Mortgage (ILM) Program, the project involved converting the school into 40 units, ranging from one- to four-bedroom units to meet a diversity of housing needs. The group also held lengthy negotiations with the Montréal School Board to obtain a 65-year lease on the land.
In addition to CMHC’s financial assistance, which helps the co-operative meet the cost of the project and reduce occupancy charges, 25 per cent of the households receive rental assistance from the Société d’habitation du Québec.
Jean lives in one of the co-op’s two-bedroom apartments and appreciates the building’s proximity to shops and services because he has a visual impairment that makes it challenging for him to get around. “Being able to live here has really improved my quality of life,” he said. “It was worth putting that much energy into this project 20 years ago, because we are now enjoying great housing conditions.”