Fifty Years at the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto

10 July 2024
Maggie Keith

Long ago, I was preparing to interview for the job of co-op coordinator. I knew little about housing co-ops, except that they were a good thing.  

A friend at CHFT lent me CHFT’s first manual How to Run a Housing Co-op. I spent three hours on a folding chair in the office, reading and making notes, as CHFT staff rushed aound me. I aced the interview because I now knew more about the job than the board members did. 

CHFT got its start in 1974 as the brainchild of Noreen Dumphy and Mark Goldblatt, strongly supported by the few existing co-ops in Toronto. The federal government had created a new program to develop community-based, mixed income communities, run as independent and not-for-profit entities.   

CHFT used this program (now Section 27/61) to become a developer of housing co-operatives. However, federation staff soon saw that, once a co-op was up and running, members would need ongoing education and support. As a new manager, I relied on CHFT’s excellent manuals and on the advice that was freely given by phone to its members. 

Fifty years later, CHFT is back in the development business, with a major project underway in partnership with the City of Toronto. The federation continues to be a source of support, education, advice and political leadership for its member co-operatives and the people who work for them.  

CHFT is a valued partner of the Agency. We work together to ensure that whenever a CHFT member and Agency client needs help, we are there—both using every tool in the box to get the co-operative back on track.  

As co-ops age and funding programs evolve, the challenges are different, but the goal is the same: healthy cooperatives delivering good housing at a fair price in a warm, welcoming and mixed-income community. Federations like CHFT are well-placed to meet these new challenges to both preserve existing housing co-opsand make co-op housing part of the solution in meeting the demand for affordable housing in Toronto and beyond.  

Please join the Agency in congratulating CHFT for fifty years of achievement. We’re confident that the federation and its members will enjoy many more successes over the next fifty years. 

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