How Cities Can Support Housing Co-operatives

Vancouver City Councillor, Geoff Meggs "holds the key" to more housing cooperatives presented at the launch of the CHF BC election campaign by CHF BC's Yuri Artibise and Haruko Okano.

Vancouver City Councillor, Geoff Meggs “holds the key” to more housing cooperatives presented at the launch of the CHF BC campaign by CHF BC’s Yuri Artibise and Haruko Okano.

In a 2013 report entitled, Policies for Shareable CitiesShareable and the Sustainable Economies Law Center outlined 5 policies for making our cities more ‘sharable.’

The report curates a series of creative, high impact policies that city governments have put in place to help citizens share resources, co-produce, and create their own jobs. It is designed to help cities develop more resilient, innovative, and democratic economies.

A common theme throughout the report is the importance of cooperatives; and cooperative housing in particular. The report dedicates one of its five chapters to housing cooperatives and how cities can support their development. Here is an excerpt:

 How Cities Can Support Housing Cooperatives

Sharable and Sustainable Economies Law Center logosSupport the Development of Cooperative Housing

We recommend that cities help form more housing cooperatives, which offer an effective, participatory approach to affordable housing that can boost urban innovation and resilience.

Resident-owned or nonprofit rental housing cooperatives offer a time-tested, affordable, and socially enriching alternative to private ownership and rental. Housing cooperatives can also boost the innovation and resilience of cities by making quality housing accessible to young entrepreneurs, students, low income families, artists, nonprofit workers, senior citizens, service workers, laborers, the disabled, and other low income populations.

Housing cooperatives can lower housing costs in a variety of ways including restrictions on profit from resale, self-management, nonprofit status, shared facilities, and subsidies. Limited equity cooperative housing can keep housing permanently affordable through legal restrictions on the financial gain on the future sale of shares. Cooperative housing can be developed from scratch or apartments can be converted to cooperative ownership through tenant buyouts.

Studies show that housing cooperatives provide other benefits like greater social support, smaller carbon footprints, reduced crime, increased civic engagement, better maintenance, and resident stability. They can also reduce foreclosures by offering large savings and spreading the financial burden over numerous people. Housing cooperatives have a long history of success and currently serve over 1.5 million U.S. households.

Because of the critical benefits housing cooperatives offer cities, we recommend that cities aggressively support their growth by offering: subsidies and accessible financing; density bonuses; fee waivers; waiver of burdensome development standards such as minimum parking requirements; waiver of burdensome administrative hurdles required of typical subdivisions; city-owned land for long-term ground leases; support for formation of urban land trusts needed to train tenants as well as manage the land and agreements associated with housing cooperatives; and create city programs to give legal, financial and technical support to housing cooperatives.

You can download the entire report on Sharable’s website.

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.

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