Better Than Roommates: Housing Coops of Cook County
Housing is key to human life, and with that thought, we opened the Summit with a discussion about housing cooperatives with a panel of experts. Brigid Maniates (Qumbya Housing Cooperative General Manager) moderated a panel that included Liz Anderson (North American Students of Cooperation), John Arnold (Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants House of Hospitality/ICDI), and John Stoner (The HUB Housing Co-op).
How did the panelists become involved in cooperatives?
- Worker coops drew Liz into cooperatives by, but she later came to be involved in housing coops.
- John A worked for ICDI and realized that a housing coop was the best method to help provide housing for the people his organization serves.
- Friends introduced John S to the concept of housing cooperatives.
Different kinds of Equity
- Most housing cooperatives operate on a group equity model, where the equity remains under the control of the organization and the members decide what to do with it. This method allows for growth, a community focus, and stability when turnover of residents is expected to be high.
- NYC condo cooperatives as well as in the apartment cooperatives in Chicago on Lake Shore Drive use a market equity model. In this model, members own shares which can be bought and sold at market rates.
Who are the members of housing cooperatives?
- NASCO records that a large portion of its members are LGBTQ, students, and/or white. The second most popular occupation for residents is work in some kind of cooperative.
- ICDI works with immigrants and refugees. Their members are very community oriented.
How does Democracy work in a housing coop?
- The democratic aspect can help people develop skills of compromise, consensus building, and parliamentary procedure.
- Having to interact and solve problems with a diverse group of people using democratic processes helps people as citizens, and also shows them how nuanced some conflicts can be.
How do housing coops get the money to start?
- Many organizations use the equity in buildings they already own to buy new properties.
- Organizations often get loans to start up.
What equity model helps assure long term growth?
- The group equity model provides the most popular model for self-sustained growth.
- We can create limited equity models with a plan to scale up later, with part of the equity set aside to foster growth at a later date.
Do we have laws to empower coops?
- Laws on the books help us incorporate as coops, but not many and we could benefit from more.