Vancouver housing co-op rescinds family's apartment because unborn child is a girl

Kristjan Gottfried and Michelle Hurtig were first the waiting list for Vancouver's Marina Housing Co-operative, a nonprofit when the volunteer co-chair of the admissions board told them that their new home couldn't be confirmed until they found out the sex of their unborn baby. When they found out they were having a girl, they were refused a place to live.

The volunteer official explained that the co-op had a policy (derived from nonbinding recommendations from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) that children over five couldn't share a room if they were of different genders. Since Hurtig and Gottfried had a son, and since the apartment only had two bedrooms, the family would be out of compliance once their son turned five and became ineligible to share a room with his as-yet-unborn sister.

The co-op denied the family a home, but say that the official got the reasons wrong and that there were other reasons that they decline to explain.

Vancouver is at the center of a white-hot housing inflation crisis and is one of the least affordable cities in the world. Nonprofit housing co-op spaces are in incredible demand and very short supply.

The co-op board was asked to explain the voicemail message saying the family could not have the unit if their baby turned out to be a girl.

The board's lawyer responded, saying the co-chair of the co-op's membership committee "was not speaking on behalf of the board."

"The recording thus does not in any way alter what has always been the board's position as to the basis for the rejection.

"Even if the recording is accurate and has not been altered, it shows that a new volunteer who was clearly overwhelmed spoke about the co-op in a way that was not authorized and did not accurately represent the co-op," wrote Vancouver attorney Geoffrey H. Dabbs in an email to Go Public.

We asked the woman who left the message if she shared that perspective, but she hasn't replied.

'Completely outrageous': Couple say they were denied co-op apartment over sex of baby
[Rosa Marchitelli/CBC]