A housing cooperative is a unique form of housing that involves collective ownership and democratic decision making about the day to day operations of the house (finances, maintenance, membership etc.)
It is particularly distinctive as an alternative to single family homes or renting a residence from a landlord or property management company.
There are two general structures through which cooperatives are organized, continuing and strata. In “continuing” cooperatives, members do not purchase equity in the property and occupy the space with an agreement similar to a lease, though there is still no landlord and decision making is member-oriented. In Lawrence this can be seen in People’s Owned and Operated Collective Housing (POOCH). In strata cooperatives, members actually purchase equity in a space, as with the Delaware Commons in Lawrence. For low income, working class, and student renters, continuing cooperatives are generally more accessible and thus more common.
Cooperatives are organized around the seven cooperative values. These are:
- Voluntary and open membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education, training and information
- Cooperation among cooperatives
- Concern for community
Through these core principles, cooperatives are often hotbeds for community activists, artists, and people seeking a place to live that rejects the traditional landlord-tenant housing structure.
People’s Owned and Operated Collective Housing (formerly UKSHA) has a rich history of community involvement in Lawrence. This most recently includes organizing the community against expansion of the Douglas County jail; joining the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement against Israeli apartheid; and joining in coalition with the Lawrence Democratic Socialists of America and Lawrence Food Not Bombs to form Renters Together LFK.