TORONTO: Public Housing Project goes Co-op

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@arcos.org)
Fri, 05 Jun 1998 05:44:05 -0400


June 5, 1998=20

Residents take complex helm=20

Others in public housing expected to follow suit=20

By Theresa Boyle=20
Toronto Star Queen's Park Bureau


A downtown public housing project has been turned over to residents,
becoming the first in Canada to be converted from a government-owned
complex to a resident-managed co-operative.

The Alexandra Park housing complex, near Dundas St. and Spadina Ave., is
expected to be the first of many such projects to convert, especially in
Ontario where the province is getting out of the housing business.=20

The conversion is considered particularly significant in Ontario because of
the downloading of the public housing stock to municipalities.=20

``With Alexandra Park residents taking the historic first step, other
public housing tenants throughout the country will be watching closely,''
said Mark Goldblatt, co-op housing adviser.=20

There are 200,000 similar public housing units across Canada, of which
84,000 are in Ontario. Of these, 29,000 are in Toronto and include some of
the most troubled housing communities in the city, according to the Co-op
Housing Federation of Toronto.=20

``This is an absolute first in Ontario and a first in Canada,'' Housing
Minister Al Leach remarked at a news conference.=20

Alexandra Park residents have been working for more than a decade to
convert the 30-year-old, 410-unit complex, which is owned by the Ontario
Housing Corporation and managed by the Metro Toronto Housing Authority.=20

The conversion was initiated by the residents, who voted 74 per cent in
favour.=20

The Ontario Housing Corp. earlier this year granted approval to the
Alexandra Park Residents Association to proceed with the plan.=20

``They will be responsible for contracting out for security, they will be
responsible for maintenance, for looking after all of the social programs
that are here. That's not something you can move into lightly,'' Leach said.=
=20

To ensure the conversion goes smoothly, it will take place over two years.=
=20

The project is home to low-income families who will continue to pay
subsidized rent based on need.=20

Leach hastened to note that the province is continuing to provide
rent-geared-to-income subsidies, along with the federal government.=20

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