Housing Cooperatives are Shining Examples of Community

The Concept of cooperative community living has produced self-sustaining communities.

A community can be defined as, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common goals for maintaining a living environment.” Even brief attention to most news outlets can leave one with the feeling that the fabric of America is being ripped and shredded. Fortunately, we who live by and/or support the cooperative concept see a different picture within our communities based upon the Rochdale Principles. No other form of multi-family housing has successfully removed the profit as an underlining motive from consideration. Cooperatives are democratically controlled, and, therefore, the residents make the decisions as to what they want and keep budgeted monthly charges as low as possible to remain affordable to its members in perpetuity.

Additionally, that democratic control ensures that each member has a voice and that their concerns regarding how the community is ran are heard. By their design, cooperatives are inviting living environments, insulated from much of the divisive behavior that is plaguing our country. We stand as a shining example that people can exist as “we” rather than “us and them.”

To ensure that our communities sustain that sense of harmony and security, we must be vigilant in our efforts to create programs within our cooperatives that are intended to educate our members and their families. It should be hoped that the children of our members would become members of the cooperative when they’re faced with the decision to make housing choices. Some NAHC member cooperatives enjoy multi-generational membership. This is a testament to the strength of those cooperative communities. NAHC can help your cooperative create these educational opportunities. We have many publications and traveling training sessions that will help you maintain your cooperative’s cohesiveness. Simply visit our website and look for the Education tab. There, you will find links to training opportunities for your cooperative. Additionally, many regional associations offer publications, training and one-on-one coaching opportunities for you to review. Cooperatives also are encouraged to buy copies of publications or make copies for cooperative member occupants. Go to the Publications tab for back issues of the Cooperative Housing Quarterly, the Cooperative Housing Journal, the Cooperative Housing Blog and the bookstore.

As you engage with the youth in your communities, strive to prepare them for cooperative living by involving them in the business of the cooperative. Young cooperators should understand the type of homeownership they enjoy and that their families have chosen. This understanding will result in a sense of pride. That will pay huge dividends to any cooperative housing community. When the youngsters buy-in, you truly have achieved community.

The Rochdale Principles open with, “Voluntary and Open Membership.” The mere fact that cooperative communities are open to all is an example to the surrounding neighborhoods of what community should be. Therefore, if we’re all in it together, the us/them feeling cannot exist in a community that is supported by this principle. Cooperative boards are encouraged to adopt policies that guard against community division and that foster inclusiveness that addresses every family.

You’ve heard the saying, “There is power in numbers.” NAHC calls upon its members to increase the number of thriving cooperative communities. Use the resources available to you. Get training where needed. Partner with your towns, cities and county governments. Raise the banner of cooperative homeownership high for all to see. Be cooperative-proud.

Fred Gibbs
NAHC President

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