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Housing Cooperatives

Link to information about starting and operating a Housing Cooperative.

Housing cooperatives are democratically controlled corporations established to provide housing for members. Each household owns a share in the corporation, which entitles the member to occupy a unit of housing. Typically, the cooperative is financed through a blanket mortgage that covers the entire property and members pay monthly carrying charges to cover mortgage payments and operating expenses.

Cooperative refers to the organizational structure of the enterprise, not the unit type. The cooperative model can be used for single family homes, townhomes, apartments, mobile home parks—virtually any type of housing construction. Housing cooperatives are established to address the identified needs of members. In this respect, housing cooperatives can include upscale developments for the housing needs of the relatively wealthy and developments established to offer home ownership for those who cannot afford to purchase a home at market price.

Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives are developed to offer permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income households. The development of these types of cooperatives is often funded with a combination of private and public funds. Share prices in these cooperatives are usually low, and member households may not own more than one share. To further preserve affordability and prevent speculative resale, price restrictions are put on the sale of shares.

California legislation recognizes and regulates limited-equity housing cooperatives. This legislation assures the long-term affordability of shares by limiting share price increases to no more than 10% per year and mandates that any profits from a sale of the entire cooperative be dedicated to public or charitable entities.

Market Rate Housing Cooperatives operate in the private market. In these cooperatives, sometimes referred to as stock cooperatives, individual members of the cooperatives arrange private financing of share purchases. Cooperative members establish Bylaws that may restrict occupancy to homeowners or put restrictions on the rental of units. When a member moves out, the share is sold at its full market value.

Manufactured Home Park Cooperatives are established to provide members with price control, and a voice in the operation, policies, and maintenance of the park. Manufactured homes are owned privately while the land underneath the home and all other facilities are owned by the cooperative. Members co-own the park and the right to occupy a space for their home. Manufactured home park cooperatives can be both market rate or they may establish limited equity limits to maintain affordability.

Senior Housing Cooperatives are designed to meet the needs of members who meet established age restrictions. Units are designed to accommodate potential life changes that can accompany age. Communities may incorporate community rooms, fitness centers, swimming pools, parks – the gambit of options offered at any age-restricted development. They may also include various degrees of graduated care. The advantage of the cooperative model is that it allows members to own their unit, and it incorporates democratic decision making which ensures that seniors have a voice in all aspects of community living.