Provincial funding gives Brandon Housing co-op a boost, but more needed to keep rents affordable

For 30 years, Irene Thiessen has had predictable and affordable rent living at Brandon’s Spruce Woods Housing Co-op — but expensive repairs needed on the western side of the complex may place some of those affordable units in jeopardy.

Every week, Thiessen — who lives on a fixed income — stops by the Spruce Woods coffee hour, where residents “sit around, drink coffee and gossip,” she said. Right now, the biggest topic of conversation is the future of the co-op complex, which offers housing in Manitoba’s second-biggest city to qualifying low-income families and seniors.

The 160 residents of Spruce Woods want their apartments to remain affordable, and to see much-needed repairs for aging infrastructure, Thiessen said. “It needs to be kept up or it will be very expensive,” Thiessen said.

A new five-year deal inked between Manitoba Housing and Spruce Woods will see the province help with operational costs. But co-op manager Eva Cameron says it will still be an uphill battle to keep rents affordable, due repairs the 39-year-old building needs. Cameron worries if they can’t raise capital they may have to shut 28 units, displacing residents in a year or two because it will no longer be a safe place to live. Spruce Woods’ funding comes from rent and grants.

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