Archive for the ‘cooperative housing’ Category

Can a tiny, little grassroots initiative change the world? We think we can! The Seattle EcoUrban Village (SEV) formed in a moment of frustration (as do many great inventions). Constantly denied affordable housing rentals because of graduate student status, yet needing affordable housing because of the same, SEV looked around for a better way and found intentional community then cooperative home ownership.

We feel the cooperative housing model is the best opportunity for artists, students, single mothers, the working poor, and others to obtain affordable home ownership. Recently, in connecting with friends and consultants, we began to examine existing artist housing models (like ArtSpace) to inquire, is the renter-landlord model the best housing model for artists or is it contributing to neighborhood gentrification?

SEV also connected with Alec Hill of the Tree of Life Collective, a bioregional workers’ collective in Central Vermont dedicated to transforming human systems of food production, ecological sustainability, dissipating traditional economy, and making more time for celebrating life!

As our ad hoc consultant, Alec recently gifted SEV with these consideration: (more…)


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The cooperative is a resident-owned housing model that has been successful since the first housing cooperative in the late 1800s (NAHC, 2007). In a cooperative, residents own shares (their apartments) and a corporation (a nonprofit or for-profit organization formed by the resident-owners) owns the apartment building. Together the the resident-owners and corporation make operating decisions about their community.

Below is a quick comparison chart that compares cooperative ownership against renting, single family home ownership, and condo ownership

Types Cooperative Rental Single Family Condominium
Ownership The residents are shareholders in a corporation that owns the property. Owning a share entitles you to occupy a unit. Tenants own nothing. On expiration of lease, tenants may be forced to vacate. Owners acquire individual title to their dwellings and yard. Unit “airspace” owned by individual, plus an undivided share of common elements.
Monthly Cost Members pay the Co-op for their share of the actual operating cost, building mortgage, and real estate taxes, based on the non-profit operation of entire community. Tenants pay rent specified in lease. Owner must make his or her purchases of whatever is needed, often at higher retail costs. Owner makes mortgage and tax payments to lender. Same as cooperative, except mortgage payments and taxes are paid directly to the lender.
Move-in Cost New members buy their share in the cooperative and also pay the first monthly charge in advance. Usually one month’s rent is paid as a security deposit, plus the first month’s rent. Purchaser must buy the property, usually with a mortgage with a down payment of at least 5% and closing costs of 3% or more. Same as single family, plus first month’s condo fee and often a “contribution to capital” of 1-2 months’ fee.
Community Control Co-op resident members elect their board of directors, which decides all policy matters. The Board usually sets up several committees to help run the community. Renters usually have no voice at all in establishing and maintaining community standards. Individual owners have no jurisdiction over their neighbors. Condo owners, like cooperatives, elect a board of directors.
Community Service Co-ops provide a natural base for service and activity desired by its members. Provided at discretion of landlords. On your own. Condos similar to co-ops, unless limited by state law.
Federal Tax Benefits to Individuals Your share of mortgage interest and real estate taxes are deductible on personal income tax return. No benefit. Mortgage interest and real estate taxes are deductible on personal income tax return. Mortgage interest and real estate taxes are deductible on personal income tax return.

chart: NAHC


National Association of Housing Cooperatives, http://www.coophousing.org/about_nahc.shtml

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Once a week for the past two weeks SEV posted ads on Seattle Craig List to let people know about the project, and to either find likeminded people to get involved or to find an emerging community that SEV can merge with. Both weeks we got positive responses from people but on the first week the feedback seemed to indicate that people thought this project was already completed and all they need to do was move in.

The second week SEV clarified the ad to emphasize that SEV is a grassroots, emerging ecovillage. We got a promising result from another grassroots co-housing project, and SEV is in the process of communicating with them.

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