From the outside, a housing co-op looks like any other townhouse development. But, a housing co-op is different – here’s how:
Owned By Members
People who live in a housing co-op are members. The co-op owns the whole property, and provides a housing unit to each member household. A household can consist of one or more adults – with or without children. Members do NOT own their units.
Managed by Members
All members have an equal say in how major decisions are made – “one member, one vote.” Members come together at meetings to elect a Board of Directors, to approve the annual budget and approve by-laws. Each director is a member and lives in the co-op. Other members work on committees or they perform various tasks to help with the work involved in running the co-op. A co-op also employs staff in the co-op’s office who look after the day-to-day business of the co-op.
Involvement by Members
The key difference between co-ops and other kinds of non-profit housing is that co-op members are actively involved in running their housing community. Each co-op member must volunteer time to serve on the Board or on a committee, or volunteer for some other co-op task. Members do not need special skills to get involved. They learn from one another and in special training sessions designed for co-op members. Members get to know each other through their working together in the co-op. This involvement creates a sense of community and a safe place for children and adults.
Who Can Live in a Housing Co-op?
Anyone can apply to live in a housing co-op. People of all backgrounds and cultures – young and old, married or single, with or without children – live in co-ops. Co-ops are also home to people with different kinds of disabilities and who have special needs. There is no minimum or maximum income level. Co-ops select their own members from those applicants who will be willing to share the responsibility of running the co-op once they become members. A willingness to live in a diverse community is important in order to be a co-op member.