NAHC Chairman Testifies before the D.C. Cooperative Task Force

Editor’s Note: On July 20, 2019, Greg Carlson, board chairman of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, spoke before Councilwoman Anita Bonds and the District of Columbia City Council in support of its report from the Cooperative Housing Task Force. NAHC President, Fred Gibbs, and government relations specialist, Judy Sullivan, also attended the hearing. Here are excerpts from that testimony.

Good afternoon Councilwoman Bonds (and members of the District of Columbia City Council),

It is an honor to testify today in support of the findings of the Cooperative Housing Task Force. I am Greg Carlson, chairman of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, representing over one million housing cooperative units nationwide including almost half a million limited or zero equity dwellings, we think) housing cooperatives are the best and most economical form of homeownership available today.

We applaud the efforts as well as the foresight of the D.C. City Council members in seeking limited equity cooperative (LEC) solutions which can pave the way for hundreds of D.C. families to enjoy many of the benefits of homeownership. The findings of the task force provide a unique opportunity for D.C. to lead the nation in finding a solid solution to the affordable housing crisis facing our country today. For a small investment in LECs, low-income citizens can own their home. At the same time, because it’s a LEC, this housing remains affordable for future cooperative homeowners.

NAHC supports the findings of the task force:

  • That support the creation, financing, and strengthening of affordable cooperatives as an essential part of D.C.’s affordable housing strategy;
  • To help current struggling LECs to improve their current organizational structures and finances in order to become financially, physically and organizationally healthy cooperatives; and
  • To ensure that all such cooperatives and their members receive appropriate and affordable training, technical assistance and property and asset management support necessary for the cooperatives to succeed.

Our members include both market-rate and LECs. The following D.C. cooperatives through our Potomac association members are examples of some of our D.C. housing cooperatives:

  • Second Northwest Cooperative (145 units for low- and moderate-income members/no availability with an over one-year waitlist);
  • Southern Homes & Gardens Cooperative (83 units/no availability);
  • 2540 Massachusetts Owners Cooperative (35 units);
  • Hacienda Cooperative, Inc. (66 LEC units/ no availability);
  • Lightview Cooperative, Inc. (74 units/no availability);
  • Brandywine Chesapeake Cooperative, Corp.;
  • Madison Terrace Cooperative (45 units);
  • Benning Road Housing Cooperative (86 LEC units/no availability);
  • East Capital Gardens;
  • The Mendota Apartments (48 units/no availability);
  • St. James Mutual Homes (107 units/no availability); and
  • Beecher Cooperative, Inc. (LEC/no availability);

Please note that most of these cooperatives have not only, no current available units but also have very long waitlists of in many cases, a year or more, indicating the desirability of current residents to remain in these units.

Furthermore, in the Beecher Cooperative, for example, residents usually pay 30 percent of their gross income for rent. The rent amount, less approved U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) deductions such as medical and childcare expenses and other allowances, includes a utility allowance. HUD residents also may choose to pay what is known as flat rent. Beecher Cooperative is a low-income housing cooperative subsidized by HUD.

Today, many cities all across America are experiencing a similar lack of affordable housing. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., recently reintroduced legislation, S. 1772, to establish a “Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Crisis Act in 2019.” S. 1772 already has 15 bipartisan Senate cosponsors.

Other cities are also tackling a lack of affordable housing:

The city of Oakland, Calif., recently passed a proposal, the Preservation of Affordable Housing Fund (PAHF), to allocate $12 million to create a municipal fund for community land trusts and LECs to take housing off of the speculative market by acquiring and preserving rental properties with 25 or fewer units. “This fund is a bold investment in a visionary solution that… puts (properties) permanently in the hands of Oaklanders,” said Oakland Council member Nikki Fortunato Bas.

In Tampa, Fla., The Sadowski Fund, officially the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund, is a dedicated source of revenue that helps pay for local and state housing programs across Florida. It was created in 1992 with an increase to the state’s documentary stamp tax, a 0.07 percent fee on deed transfers, promissory notes and other official records. The proceeds of that increase are supposed to be split roughly 70/30 between local governments for programs that offer down-payment assistance to homeowners and pay for repairs to existing housing and state programs that help fund affordable housing development.

D.C., by creating the task force and supporting its recommendations in support of LECs is leading the country in finding realistic solutions to its affordable housing crisis. We agree with and support both the policy and financing action items outlined in the task force report.

In conclusion, the National Association of Housing Cooperatives urges the D.C. City Council to accept and adopt the Policy, Administrative and Financing Recommendations of the Limited Equity Cooperative Task Force to create an affordable solution to help alleviate the shortage of affordable housing in D.C. today.

NAHC Coalitions Work Together for the Good

Many years ago, associations engaged with the federal government as independent entities. However, today if an association wants to be successful with Congress and the government, it needs to work collaboratively with other like-minded organizations to form coalitions.

A coalition is a group of interdependent people focused on advancing or opposing a particular issue. A coalition’s power lies in its ability to present a united front. NAHC participates in several coalitions.

One of the most valuable and effective coalitions NAHC collaborates with is the Multifamily Housing Group (a/k/a as the Donut Group because donuts are served at their monthly meetings). This group has excellent contacts in Congress and the government, and their members share insights on pending legislation as well as regulations. They also meet quarterly with officials of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. When appropriate, they draft letters to weigh in with legislators and regulators on pending issues. These meetings and letters are particularly significant because there are usually 30 or more housing organizations that weigh in with giving NAHC strength in numbers.

Members of this group come from many housing-related organizations, for example the:

  • National Realtors Association;
  • Leading Age (representing seniors);
  • Council for Affordable and Rural Housing;
  • National Affordable Housing Management Association;
  • National Apartment Association;
  • Mortgage Bankers Association;
  • National Association of Affordable Housing;
  • National Home Builders;
  • Manufactured Housing Institute; and the
  • National Multifamily Housing Council.

NAHC also belongs to cooperative coalitions whose members include the:

  • National Rural Electric Cooperative;
  • National Cooperative Bank;
  • National Cooperative Business Association;
  • National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions; and the
  • Credit Union National Association.

Cooperative coalitions keep members abreast of pending cooperative issues, particularly regarding tax.

A coalition is effective only when its issues have merit, and the coalition members are organized, informed and dedicated to communicating the importance of the effort. Coalition building calls for establishing and developing contacts that work well together. The multifamily housing and the cooperative coalitions are just two examples of coalitions NAHC works with to protect members’ interests.

Working with coalitions has the following advantages:

  • Enlarges NAHC’s base of support, networks and connections; gives strength in numbers: achieving more together than done alone;
  • Provides safety for advocacy efforts and protection for members who may not be able to take action alone;
  • Magnifies existing financial and human resources by pooling them together and by delegating work to others in the coalition;
  • Reduces duplication of effort and resources;
  • Enhances the credibility and influence of an advocacy campaign, as well as that of individual coalition members;
  • Assists in individual and organizational networking;
  • Facilitates exchange of information, skills, experience, materials and opportunities for collaboration;
  • Brings together a diverse range of people and organizations. Diversity can strengthen a campaign by broadening perspective and understanding of the issue. It can also assist outreach by appealing to a wider population base with differing priorities and interests;
  • Provides peer support, encouragement, motivation and professional recognition; and
  • By combining forces coalitions allow organizations or parties to gain something that they could not gain on their own.

Often, one of the most powerful ways for nonprofits to engage in the public policy process is by working in a coalition with other nonprofits. Effective coalitions can amplify nonprofit voices to legislators and the public, as well as allow coalition members to share the costs of their advocacy efforts. NAHC increases the perception of its credibility by associating with recognized leaders on a particular issue and by simply being a part of a group – the power of numbers.

Judy Sullivan is NAHC’s government relations representative. She is also the recipient of NAHC’s Jerry Voorhis and the Roger J. Willcox President’s awards.

Board Member Represents NAHC at the Cooperative Housing International Meeting

Board Member Linda Brockway represented NAHC at the Cooperative Housing International (CHI) Board of Directors meeting in Lyon, France, on June 3, 2019.

At the board meeting, CHI Vice President Guido Schwarzendahl indicated that Ukraine wanted to hold a second symposium the first week of November and that he would be working with the persons who made presentations at the first symposium. As a part of this effort, Brockway has been asked to give the United States’ session.

Schwarzendahl also discussed the meeting with Housing Europe and how well it went. He gave specific examples as to how the CHI board could continue to work with the organization. Housing Europe is the European Federation of Public, Cooperative & Social Housing. It is a network of 45 national and regional federations gathering 43,000 housing providers in 24 countries and managing over 26 million homes about 11 percent of existing dwellings in Europe.

Later at the round table, each country representative presented their market and political challenges, their successes in cooperative development, financing, and expansion and innovation. They also took questions.

We Check-in with NAHC Member Associations

Gilda Tagle of Dunn Family Co-op Apartments in Centerline, Mich., shows off her art work reflecting the theme, “Creating Our Co-op Masterpiece during the CSI Michigan Regional Management Conference in Troy, August 14-16, 2019.

The Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums (CNYC)

The CNYC is proud to announce that, after years of trying, this year its champions in the state legislature were able to pass legislation that will enable seniors in housing cooperatives in New York State to seek reverse share loans to tap some of the value of their apartments so that they can live out their years in the homes and communities that they love. Judy Sullivan, NAHC’s government relations specialist, was wonderfully helpful in these efforts.

CNYC and the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives and Condominiums continue to combat city and state legislation aimed at controlling the functioning of housing cooperatives. They also help their members understand and work to comply with legislative mandates designed to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent over the next 30 years.

In addition, the state legislation extended the property tax abatement program for two years. The program is designed to bring the property taxes paid by shareholders in NYC housing cooperatives and condominiums a bit closer to the modest taxes paid by home owners in one, two and three family houses. There had been hope of a recommendation from an advisory commission appointed over a year ago to study the tax program in NYC and

Cooperative members drew self-portraits during the first session of “How Your Co-op Works” at the CSI Massachusetts Regional Management Conference in Boston, August 1, 2019.

propose a system that would be fair to all taxpayers and easy to understand. But there has been no word from this commission yet this year.

CNYC’s 39th Annual Housing Conference will take place on November 17, 2019. Members of NAHC are invited to attend CNYC’s all day housing conference at modest member rates. The conference brochure is posted on the CNYC website.

CSI Support & Development Services, Inc. (CSI)

Nearly 200 cooperators, representing 25 cooperatives represented in Michigan, in 58 regions learned about diversity and selected from 38 workshops at the CSI Michigan Regional Conference August 14-16 in Troy. CSI presented conferences attendees with three general session workshops. Karen Braunscheidel, CSI

Cooperative members drew self-portraits during the first session of “How Your Co-op Works” at the CSI Massachusetts Regional Management Conference in Boston, August 1, 2019.

national education manager gave a presentation on diversity. Theresa Cady, Michigan region education coordinator gave a magic show entitled Creativity by and The “Yes, And” Culture by Jack Tamm, cooperative liaison. At the “CSI Art Party” everyone ate, danced, painted their co-op masterpiece, made bracelets and/or keychains, and got their conference shirts tie-dyed.

Midwest Association of Housing Cooperatives (MAHC)

MAHC’S annual conference will be held at the Sheraton Denver Downtown in Denver, Co., May 16-21, 2020.

Potomac Association of Housing Cooperatives (PAHC)

PAHC will hold its fall training on Saturday, November 9, at Village Green Mutual Homes, in Hyattsville, Md. Its annual conference will be held at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, Dover, Dela., April 23-25, 2020.

Michigan Cooperative Celebrates a Milestone

Flat Rock Co-op is located directly across the street Huroc Park which is on the Huron River.

On August 31, Flat Rock Towers Co-op Apartments in Flat Rock, Mich., celebrated its 30th anniversary. The CSI Support and Development Services cooperative is a six-story high rise with 96 units (72 one bedrooms and 24 studios). The senior community is smoke free.

The National Affordable Housing Management Association recognizes the cooperative as “A Community of Quality.” This cooperative first opened its doors in 1989 and had a multi-million dollar renovation in 2007.

Maryland Cooperative Throws a Back to School Event

Walker Cooperative in Baltimore, Md., gave 30 bookbags of school supplies to grand and great grands, nieces and nephews ranging from head start to 12th grade during the cooperative’s Second Annual Grandparents/Back to School Event on August 2, 2019.

Service coordinator Nichaun Dean said she started the event first get to know her members’ extended family. Second, allow her members to have an event that they would meet each other’s family. Third, extend and build a stronger sense of community. Last year Dean supplied the school supplies and food with months of planning and bargain shopping. This year she involved the members who donated paper, pens, glue sticks and other school supplies. Dean’s family purchased the book bags.

Grands and great grands enjoy the back to school event. Members of the Walker Co-op donated school supplies for the back to school event.

With the issue of bullying existing in the schools, Dean partnered with a Baltimore City school teacher who talked about how to handle a bully. In addition to the giveaway and presentation, the gathering enjoyed music, food, activities for the kids and just an overall day of family fun.

Walker Cooperative is a CSI Support and Development Services cooperative.

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New Members

NAHC welcomes the following new members:

Individuals

Juanita Olson, Tucson, Ariz.
Brian Dahlk, Madison, Wis.
Michael Fox Johnson, Alexandria, Va.
Sharon Kuba, Kansas City, Mo.
Lee Gilbreth, San Antonio, Texas
Lynn Royal, Ashland, Mass.

Professionals

DWilliams Management Group, LLC, Stone Mountain, Ga.