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Rochdale Store, The First Co-op – Photo Credit Mark Paul

A co-op’s primary purpose is to meet the needs of its members, unlike most other businesses that exist solely to maximize profit.  The co-operative enterprise model can be applied to any kind of business or need.  

Co-ops are often initiated by a group of people who share a common need such as a local grocery store.  In 1844, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society was founded by 28 men who wanted to improve their working & living conditions.  They opened a store to sell honest food at honest prices – today it is known as the beginning of the modern co-operative movement.

Additional Resource Links

Co-operative Housing International is a sectoral organization of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), and was established to promote the development of co-operative housing in different countries.

To learn about what the housing co-op movement looks like in other countries click the following link to download: Profiles of a Movement: A Profile of Co-operative Housing in 22 Countries.

Rooftops Canada was established by CHF Canada in 1984 and provides technical expertise and leadership in low-cost housing and human settlements development around the world.

Ontario Co-operative Association (OCA) is a co-operative whose membership represents about 85% of the co-operatives in Ontario.

Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (CMC) allows Canadian co-ops to speak with a single voice. CMC is a national, bilingual association that represents more than 18 million co-operative members from 9,000 co-ops.

Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada works with local partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America to establish and grow community-owned co-operatives to help people achieve more prosperous, self-reliant lives.

Information on Credit Unions in Ontario and Canada can be found at Credit Unions of Ontario.

Seven Co-operative Principles

Order a set of the Co-op Principles posters from the Austin Cooperative Business Association (ACBA).  See following link for ACBA’s online store:


An Affordable Alternative

Housing co-operatives have both market units and subsidized units. Housing co-ops call units “market units” if the member is paying the full market price. “Subsidized units” are units where the member is paying only a portion of the full market price. The balance of the housing charge is paid by the subsidy program that the co-op works with.

Co-ops can provide affordable housing for people with moderate incomes. They open their market unit waiting lists on a regular basis. There are co-ops with open waiting lists in every area of Central Ontario.  Each housing co-operative fills their vacancies independently, and the members democratically control the buildings in which they live.  There are more than 580 housing co-ops in Ontario.

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