What is a Housing Cooperative?

A housing cooperative is…formed when people join on a democratic basis to own or control the housing and/or related community facilities in which they live. Usually, they do this by forming a “not-for-profit” cooperative corporation. Each month they pay a fee to cover their share of the operating expenses of the corporation. Operating expenses may include underlying mortgage payments, property taxes, management, maintenance, insurance, utilities, and contributions to reserve funds. Cooperative home ownership offers many benefits which may include personal income tax deductions*, lower turnover rates, lower real estate tax assessments (in most areas), controlled maintenance costs, and resident participation and control. In the United States, more than 1.2 million families, of all income levels, live in homes owned and operated through cooperative associations.

All cooperatives share a common set of principles adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance.

The key aspect in any cooperative is democratic control by the members to achieve an agreed upon common objective. Democratic control is typically accomplished through governance by volunteer boards of directors elected from the entire membership. In addition to the board, cooperatives often have many committees, to cover a variety of areas such as: membership, maintenance, activities, and communications. Most cooperatives hire a manager or management company to perform management functions.