9th Street Co-op
The 9th Street Co-op is a five-unit Limited Equity Housing Co-op (LEHC) in West Berkeley, with 7 members. The units are one-bedroom apartments and there are also four garages. We bought our property in 1986, when some of us were already tenants and received some technical assistance from the nonprofit Resources for Community Development (RCD).
We put a lot of money into fixing up the place as there was significant deferred maintenance left by the landlord. Now we do routine maintenance and repairs as they come up on our annual capital replacements schedule. Rents have stabilized over the past several years, with only occasional increases. Rents range from $500 to $625 a month. Several years ago we refinanced the property, which allowed us to install solar photo-voltaic electricity and dual-paned insulated windows in all the units. This greatly increases our energy efficiency and reduces utility bills.
We have a beautiful setting for our co-op, with three small buildings organized in a “U” shape around a large central lawn area. We also have a large vegetable garden with year-round produce, as well as many fruit trees. Members also have their own private backyards and gardens. We do all our own maintenance and landscaping, and each member spends a few hours a month doing weeding, watering, mowing the lawn, or making compost for our gardens.
Each household also has an officer job: president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and maintenance coordinator. Our goal has been for each member to be cross-trained to do all jobs. We are a LEHC, which means we own the property collectively. We each own a share in the property, currently worth about $5,500, and receive about 2% interest as an annual return. As a result, the co-op will remain affordable for generations to come. We have set our own income restrictions which give priority for new members who have incomes below 80% of Area Median Income. This insures that scarce affordable housing units will go to people who need them. We do not keep a waiting list and are not accepting applications, as we don’t expect any vacancies any time soon.