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The rise and fall of the United Housing Foundation : a case study of a cooperative housing resource group Cull, Elizabeth

Abstract

The United Housing Foundation (UHF) was founded in 1972 to provide organizational, administrative, and technical advice to housing cooperatives in British Columbia. The purpose of the Foundation was to promote the success of housing cooperatives through the centralization of the substantial knowledge and skills hitherto scattered throughout many small groups in the cooperative sector. Within three and one-half years UHF grew from a grassroots organization under the auspices of the credit union movement to a government funded bureaucracy capable of producing over 1000 cooperative units annually. UHF's apparent success was marred by a bitter conflict be-UHF and its client cooperatives who charged the organization with elitism, insensitivity, and failure to represent cooperatives and by a provincial review of the Foundation and subsequent withholding of funds. These events led to the final collapse of UHF in February 1976. This thesis investigates the role of UHF and concludes that it was a divisive force in the cooperative movement in this province. It was discovered that the local cooperative movement was severely damaged by UHF's frustration of individual cooperatives' needs, provincial interference in UHF policy, and UHF's less-than-professional technical services. The problems of UHF were found to pertain to a large extent to difficulties inherent in the dual nature of cooperative housing — both economic enterprise and . social movement — and the distinct lack of Cooperation among cooperatives. The main recommendations are for self-financing and, therefore, resource groups representative of the cooperatives served, and for the establishment of several types of resource groups to meet the various needs of different housing cooperatives, a recognition that the field is too diverse to be contained within one group. i

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