"Housing Cooperatives are houses or apartment complexes that are owned and democratically controlled by their residents. Members of “limited equity housing coops” purchase a share of the coop and, upon leaving, sell that share back to the coop at the same price they originally paid. This de-links the value of housing from the capitalist market, allowing the coop to remain affordable."
"A housing cooperative is a legal entity—usually a corporation—that owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings. (This is one type of housing tenure.) Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit, sometimes subject to an occupancy agreement, which is similar to a lease. The occupancy agreement specifies the co-op's rules. Cooperative is also used to describe a non-share capital co-op model in which fee-paying members obtain the right to occupy a bedroom and share the communal resources of a house that is owned by a cooperative organization. Such is the case with student cooperatives in some college neighborhoods in the United States."
Housing Cooperatives as organizations express themselves in a number of different ways. The typologies listed here are very general and not every housing cooperative fits into each or any of them.
- Housing tenure
- Housing cooperatives differ by how the occupant makes the financial and legal agreement for accessing the use of the property. In a limited equity housing cooperative the residents may be mutual owners but the ownership they enjoy has little marke value. They are, in effect, renters, though the residents often enjoy a great deal more control over their residence. In a full equity cooperative
- Orientation towards community
- some housing cooperatives are attached to other activities like a Worker Cooperative or a pension plan. In these cases candidates for housing must also be a part of some other plan or system in order to gain access to housing. This typology loosely describes housing cooperatives that are designed to serve the needs of specific populations like singles, elderly, or families with children.
Evaluation of Housing Cooperatives
Additional criteria can be used to examine and compare housing cooperatives. In some cases these criteria might constitute a typology in itself, and in most cases these criteria are up to the choice of the community itself, as opposed to being an aspect of the environment.
- Freehold (UK)
- In the United Kingdom a cooperative that owns a building may have a leasehold, but not the freehold. The leasehold might be for 75 years, more or less, but once it expires, the building and everything else on the property reverts back to the ownership of the council that owns the freehold for the property. This can be an important point for examining the financial arrangements of a UK housing cooperative. Banks are not typically inclined to lend on properties with leaseholds of less than 75 years.
- Depending on your situation you may be interested in evaluating what type of governance is used to manage the day to day operations of the housing cooperative. In some cases the governance may be highly participatory and democratic, or you may find that the board operates in secret and only publishes the minimum of information about the goings-on of meetings.
- Cooperation with other groups
- Cooperative organizations often adopt the ICA Co-operative Principles. Depending on the cooperative, this may or may not be indicative of how effective the housing cooperative under examination is at working with other cooperatives.
- Cooperative principles
- Many housing cooperatives may find cause to write and demonstrate exactly how their organization fulfills the ICA Co-operative Principles. This can often be a quick way to get a bird's-eye-view of a cooperatives organization and to compare the organizations intentions with its actions.
The ArkFab Innovation Foundation in Atlanta, GA is a worker owned appropriate technology development collective. Housing was endowed to the foundation by a private donor. The nonprofit provides the co-housing space as part of their employee's compensation package. This model provides a low-cost opportunity to reduce risks for innovators who wish to work outside of the capitalist system. (http://arkfab.org/)
- Housing Cooperative on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Housing_cooperative