Cooperative Housing, Providing Community and Affordability Where You Live

Updated on July 3, 2019
Jay Spillers profile image

I have a passion for all types of cooperatives as a way to provide a better quality of life, this includes housing co-ops.

In today's world, many feel alienated and isolated in our society. People lack any sense of community and are disconnected from others. We don't know who our neighbors in our own neighborhood are beyond possibly their name. Such disconnection can lead to feelings of loneliness and even depression. People don't know what to do. Our technology such as smartphones and social media only contribute to the alienation rather than bring us together.

Another problem is trying to find more affordable housing options as housing prices continue to soar. Our homes may become an investment for some but have started to price many out of the market. Rents are also continuing to rise.

One Solution to both problems might be cooperative housing. Housing Co-ops have provided a more affordable housing choice for millions while helping to connect people together to create a better quality of life. In this article, we will look at what is cooperative housing; the different types of housing cooperative; and finally, the advantages of cooperative housing.

What is a Housing Cooperative

A housing cooperative is where a group of people collectively own an entire residential building or complex together. No one owns a specific apartment, condo, or house. Each co-owner within the co-op is issued stock and is entitled to live in one space within the building or complex. Thus, each person or family would be given a condo or house. Members jointly manage and make decisions for the co-op and its property. Often, the members will elect a board to make day to day decisions. There might be a mortgage on the property itself, and owners pay a proportionate share of the loan payments, maintenance, taxes, and other fees. Everyone shares the responsibility, the rewards, and, at times, the burdens that come with the building or complex.

Types of Housing Co-ops

There are two basic types of housing cooperatives, market rate, and limited equity. Market rate co-ops will allow its members to sell its stock at market rate, much like a traditional home or condo sale. A limited equity co-op will cap or set what stock can be set at if a member decides to move. The limited equity obviously reduces the investment value but at least lets its member recoup money paid in and possibly a bit more. The main reason for a limited equity co-op is to provide a more affordable housing alternative for people. Limited equity co-ops in many cases, may receive grants or government subsidies to make it easier to start and give aid to low-income people seeking affordable housing.

A third housing co-op is a renter’s cooperative where the property is not owned by the renters but it collectively managed by them. This could take many forms, one could have a traditional landlord that sets up a cooperative for its renters to manage. This may offer tax savings for the landlord and may be easier to hold. It may also offer tenants a greater voice in where they live. Tenants could also go together to collectively lease a building and then cooperatively manage it. A church or nonprofit entity could set up a renter’s cooperative to offer more affordable housing to people. Most of this article is focused on limited equity housing co-ops owned by its members, but a renter’s cooperative may be a great option for people who are not ready to buy but want many of the advantages of a housing co-op. In some cases, it may be possible for a renter’s cooperative to buy the property from a nonprofit organization already leasing to them so that it can be turned into a limited equity housing cooperative. This will allow renters the opportunity to become property owners.

Advantages of a housing co-op

One clear advantage of Cooperative housing is that it can offer a sense of community to the members that live there. The community is intentional and people consciously choose to join. Neighbors are there to help and support each other, and this is generally a tenant within the co-op. People have the chance as past generations did, of forming close-knit communities. It may even function much like an extended family. Neighbors can provide added security to one another as well as a chance for social networking. Shared activities such as cooking and community gardening are also possible which increases civic engagement.

Another advantage is that a housing co-op is run by the members, usually a direct democracy but in some cases, they will elect a board to make day to day decisions. Participation is key within the cooperative. Everyone’s voice is to be heard, not just with formal votes but anything going on such as planned activities. When a person joins a co-op, this is usually explained to them within educational instruction that goes on for new members. With a greater voice for everyone, there can be greater social cohesion. This often can lead to better quality and maintenance of housing for sustainability.

A third advantage and probably one of the most important is that with a limited equity co-op, it strives to make housing a more affordable option. Quite often, a buy-in would be half or less of what you would pay for a home on the market. This is important in many very pricey city markets within the United States but even for more modest housing markets. Many younger, lower, and middle-income people are simply being priced out of the market. Subsidies may also make a housing cooperative more affordable as would lower operating costs and shared spacing. For renter’s co-ops, the profit motive for the landlord may also be gone.

Finally, there may be tax advantages to living in a housing co-op depending on how it is legally structured. If the co-op is set up as a nonprofit entity, then there will most likely be savings on both property taxes as well as money paid to the co-op which can be deducted from income taxes.

Closing thoughts

As we have seen, housing cooperatives can offer a more affordable housing option as well as one that allows people to connect to their neighbors, something which has been lost for millions of people today. Housing cooperatives can take many forms and offer people a voice within the community that they live in. It can offer the dream of ownership for people who otherwise may not have that opportunity. Here is a short video that shows exactly what a housing cooperative is like to live in firsthand https://youtu.be/mc04jfN8iic. In a continuing article to this one, I’m hoping to discuss exactly how one could set up a Housing cooperative.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)