Providing proper housing for seniors in rural communities is a significant challenge. Often seniors in rural communities are forced to leave their loved ones and move to a larger centre to find the type of housing they require.

A southeast Manitoba community has been working to address this challenge for well over a decade. In 2005, a group formed an organization specifically to address this issue, which they call East Borderland Community Housing. The organization is a non-profit charity. Its mission is “to fund, build and operate multi-unit Elderly Persons’ Housing for the residents of the RM of Piney and neighbouring communities.”

Over the years, the organization has fundraised and built properties for independent seniors. Their success came from an amazing combination of community spirit, long-term vision, and government support.

A couple of years ago, the organization approached Co-operatives First about forming a housing co-operative that is community-owned and managed. Initially, the project hoped to leverage existing supports from provincial government resources. Unfortunately, a change in government at the time ended the prospect of a partnership. So, the group is now fundraising to build and run a facility owned entirely by community members.

To help, Co-operatives First, through the support of a third-party consultant, provided the group with a business plan. The plan outlined the costs they should expect and how they could break even.

The group formally incorporated with the support of our team and continues to fundraise. They have also recently received financial support from various organizations, including The Co-operators and Manitoba Co-operative Association, and are currently working on a grant from CMHC.

Some co-ops form and start operating in a few months. Others take many years. Seniors’ housing in rural communities is usually one that takes time, commitment, and a great deal of passion. The RM of Piney community’s vision, perseverance, and patience are truly remarkable. We are proud to have had the opportunity to work with them and wish them the best as they continue their journey to see seniors age in place.