Calgary Dollars offers innovative solutions for CHC Tenants
Calgary Housing Company partners with Calgary Dollars on projects designed to help tenants unlock assets in the community, and within themselves.
Calgary Housing Company (CHC) and Calgary Dollars (C$) have partnered for the last three years on a program designed to empower CHC tenants by using a local currency system to purchase goods and services from businesses and other users. In some cases, tenants can even use Calgary Dollars to pay a portion of their rent.
Calgary Dollars, known as a complementary currency, can be used as a form of exchange with any of the hundreds of individuals and businesses in Calgary that have signed up with the program. The main aim of the program is to create stronger community connections by providing additional ways for people to support local and to shop locally. The program is operated by the not-for-profit Arusha Centre which focuses on community building and sustainability.
Successful pilots at CHC’s Manchester, Lumino, Chinook and Louise Station communities throughout 2019 and 2020 encouraged tenants to use Calgary Dollars to exchange goods and services with each other, or to buy goods from partners like Fresh Routes Mobile Market.
Calgary Dollars has also helped tenants at some CHC properties launch initiatives like the “Sharing is Caring Library” – a tool and equipment library at CHC’s Manchester building. In this program tenants can earn C$ by helping manage the tools and equipment (like a carpet cleaner, drain snake, vacuum, and simple household tools) and ensure that borrowers know how to use them, and also return them.
Calgary Housing Company and the other partner housing providers, Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS), Norfolk Housing, and Inn From the Cold, were also able to create customized “subnetworks” for tenants to connect with each other in their communities. The subnetwork design allows residents in specific buildings to meet, engage, and earn recognition credits for helping one another or their housing provider.
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Program for using up to C$100 towards Rent
At CHC’s Manchester, Lumino, Chinook and Louise Station properties, C$ can be earned and then used to pay a portion of rent. One CHC resident has earned new revenue by selling her handicrafts for partial C$, and been able to use up to C$100 towards rent some months. She has also used her C$ to buy groceries from Fresh Routes Mobile Market, which accepts 50% of payment in C$. This resident also helped her neighbour who doesn’t have regular computer or phone access to manage her C$ account. This developed into friendship where the two continued expanding their digital and financial literacy skills together.