How Do Co-ops Work?What is a Co-op?
A housing Cooperative is a group of people who form a corporation to provide housing services for themselves.
Co-op living is unique to all other forms of housing because it represents a community living within a community.
Democratic management is the lifeblood of a healthy co-op and the people who live in the Coop, and who collectively own and operate the housing, are voting members. The members elect a board of directors from among themselves and authorize the board to conduct the day to day business of the Cooperative in a manner that satisfies all of the requirements of its Charter, Bylaws, Agreements, and Policies.
All members in a cooperative share in the advantages and responsibilities of co-op life, which makes it more than just a place to live.
There are many kinds of co-operatives: food co-ops, co-op daycares, credit unions, retail co-ops, worker co-ops and housing co-ops. Any group of people can form a co-operative. The members own the co-operative and the co-operative provides a service they need. Housing co-operatives provide housing.
As a co-op member, you have security of tenure. This means that you can live in your home for as long as you wish if you follow the rules of the co-op and pay your housing charge (rent). As a co-op member, you have a say in decisions that affect your home. You and your neighbours own your homes co-operatively. Members form a community that works together to manage the co-op. Co-op communities are made up of all kinds of people – people with different backgrounds and incomes and special needs. These diverse and vibrant communities are the unique strength of the co-op housing movement.
In a housing co‑op members have the right to:
Vote on the annual budget, which sets the monthly housing charges
Elect a board of directors made up of people who live in your co‑op
Run for the board of directors yourself
Receive audited financial statements that show how the co‑op spent your money
Pay only a limited portion of your income for your housing, if you meet eligibility rules
Live there for as long as you like, if you keep to the by-laws agreed on by the co‑op membership