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Thunder Bay co-op set to lose housing subsidies

Margaret Morris says she never got the chance to save for retirement. The first time she saw the Superior View housing co-operative, just off Wardrope Avenue, she decided she wanted to die there. But that dream could die, if the housing subsidy Morris relies on disappears.

Affordable housing advocates lobbying federal government to renew funding agreements

Concern about subsidized housing. The end of an operating agreement in 2018 means a housing cooperative in Thunder Bay will not longer be able to subsidize the housing charges for a majority of its members. 5:17

Margaret Morris says she never got the chance to save for retirement.

"I was a single parent ... I got out of the house at the wrong end of a gun. ... And I never earned a high income," Morris said. "Just supporting myself and the two boys was as much as I could do."  

The first time she saw the Superior View housing co-operative, just off Wardrope Avenue, she decided she wanted to die there, she said. 

"The view out the back is beautiful."

But that dream could die if the housing subsidy Morris relies on disappears.

Subsidies come to an end in 2018

"Our subsidies ... are linked to our mortgage, so in the fall of 2018, our mortgage will end and then we'll be a co-op on its own without any kind of support from the federal government," said Marilyn Nett, the co-op's general manager.

When that happens, Superior View will lose the $21,000 it receives monthly from the government to subsidize housing charges for 52 households. 

If residents can't afford to pay the market rate -- currently $601 or $652 a month -- "they'll have to go somewhere else," Nett said.  

According to data from the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada, more than 20,000 federally-funded co-op households across Canada risk being lost as subsidy agreements such as Superior View's come to an end.  

Morris to government:  reassure people they won't lose their homes

So far, the federal government has shown no interest in renewing them, said David Spackman, program manager of co-operative services with the Federation, meaning people like Morris will have to pay full price or move.

"It's very upsetting for a lot of people who are concerned that they will end up on the street," Morris said, adding she can't believe the government would let that happen.

"What is the government going to do with all these people who can not afford to stay in their homes?  I mean, I can't afford the market rent because I'm on a very limited income," she said. 

Morris wants the government to reassure people it won't let them lose their homes. 

Spackman said he and representatives of the Castlegreen co-op met with Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs this week.

They asked the mayor to bring a resolution before council calling on the federal government to continue subsidies beyond the expiration of the funding agreements, he said.

Spackman added the co-op will also make an in-person presentation to city council.

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