One Bad Board Away from Bankruptcy: Housing Co-operatives, Self-Management, and the Landlord–Tenant Relationship
This thesis explores the development of the natural condition of co-operation into a large, apolitical movement and the effects of reshaping working-class people into co-operators. Semi- structured interviews, content analysis, and a limited autoethnography through a community- based action research paradigm, as well as a genealogical method, are used. A working-class analysis is applied throughout. In Ontario, residents of housing co-operatives are not considered tenants, following a history of legislation, legal precedents, and lobbying efforts by the co-op housing federations. This fact is manifested through the use of language, the shaping of co-op resident subjectivities, legal protections for residents, and the shunning of traditional tenant organizing direct action tactics to fight evictions and harassment. Six residents from five large-scale housing co-ops in Ontario participated in this research. Their experiences are compared and contrasted to the experiences of eight residents from seven housing co-ops in the Milton-Parc neighbourhood of Montreal. All 12 housing co-ops were created through state funding programs according to co-op corporation legislation. Residents of the Ontario co-ops expressed having few options when facing issues with their board of directors and staff. Residents are held responsible for the self-management of their housing project yet are encouraged to hire management staff. The Milton-Parc co-ops are small to medium-scale, they formed as a result of years of community organizing to save their neighbourhood from demolition, tenant participation is mandatory, there are no hired staff, and evictions are a lot less common. This research determines the landlord–tenant relationship is reproduced in all housing co-ops but is reshaped in order to circumvent class conflict. As such, traditional tenant organizing direct action tactics should be employed against co-op boards of directors and staff.