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Why a Co-op?

Reasons to organize as a housing cooperative

Under this heading, “Why a Co-op?”, this site might host a guide explaining the benefits and methods of organizing, or re-organizing, yourselves into a housing cooperative in California.

Why California? Each state has its own laws governing cooperatives, and financing options for cooperatives differ among states. Also, California is fertile ground for housing cooperative development: There are 48,000 community associations (a.k.a. common interest developments or HOAs) in California (one-third of them in Northern California).

Does such a guide already exist? Apparently not, but a start has been made. The Bay Area Community Land Trust has published summaries of the benefits to landlords and to tenants of conversions of multifamily rental residential properties to cooperatives.   There is a summary of the features of the limited equity housing cooperative (LEHC) (limited-equity) and a comparison of the LEHC and the Resident Owned Nonprofit (RON) here.

Is a guide needed? Thousands are searching for better forms of residential community, and cooperatives offer a unique, but often overlooked, answer. To the extent that people consider organizing housing communities cooperatively, they often have doubts (e.g., about property values, liquidity, financing, and conflict) that deserve authoritative responses. A guide could motivate and help people to (1) develop new housing cooperatives from scratch, (2) reorganize rental properties into cooperatives, and (3) reorganize condominium associations into cooperatives. When cooperative organization isn’t appropriate, a guide could help people reach that conclusion and avoid failed efforts at co-op creation.

Pages in such a guide COMING SOON with such topics as:

  1. Organizing legally as a cooperative.
  2. Co-op versus condo.
  3. Types of housing cooperatives.
  4. Case studies of new co-ops.
  5. Case studies of conversions to co-op.
  6. Financing for cooperatives.
  7. Can co-ops select and deselect their members?
  8. Governance options for housing cooperatives.
  9. Templates and models for housing co-op governing documents.
  10. Quasi-cooperatives versus true cooperatives.
  11. How to design a genuinely cooperative housing co-op.
  12. Step-by-step guide to organizing a new housing cooperative.
  13. Step-by-step guide for a condominium-to-cooperative conversion.
  14. Step-by-step guide to converting a multifamily rental property to a housing cooperative.
  15. Where to get help for organizing a housing cooperative.

To test this idea, we might answer these questions:

  1. Is there something like this already on the Web for California?
  2. Should this site be the home of such a guide?
  3. Does the housing-cooperative movement want to invest the time to produce and maintain such a resource?
  4. What content already exists that could be used, or linked to, here?
  5. What resource people exist who might agree to contribute content?

You are invited to comment on this idea in the forum.

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