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A History of Housing Cooperatives

The Modern Cooperative Movement

In the 1990’s the federal government was focused on reducing the huge national debt that was built up during the previous decade. Federal Housing initiatives were couched in tax incentives to the private sector that did not lend well to cooperative development. The National Affordable Housing Act of 1990 produced three programs that provided for the limited creation of housing cooperatives. The HOME program, the Preservation/Prepayment program, and the Homeownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere (HOPE) program were those three programs. These programs supply funds to states and certain local jurisdictions largely to upgrade local public housing programs by expanding tenants’ rights. This was very localized by HUD offices as to use of funds, so the program remains inconsistent across the United States and could benefit by nationwide standardization.

Currently, the cooperative movement is alive and continuing to grow amidst a myriad of economic, political, and social factors. Cooperative organizations are continuing to add members and developments on a continuous basis, and range from low-income, public interest housing to high-end, luxury dwellings. The ICA (International Cooperative Alliance) is an independent, nongovernmental association which represents cooperatives worldwide. It boasts over 223 member organizations from 87 countries, and is headquartered in Switzerland.
In 2000, the National Cooperative Business Association brought co-ops to the cutting edge of technology by successfully lobbying the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to create a new top-level Internet domain—.coop—exclusively for cooperatives. The cooperative registry launched in January 2002 and represented a huge leap for coops to unite and work with each other. Cooperatives have grown from the days of village pueblos and communal living, but the spirit of community and unity are still alive and well.

For more details please feel free to contact an attorney familiar with cooperative housing law.

Works Cited

Sazama, Gerald. “A Brief History of Affordable Housing Cooperatives in the United Stats.” Working paper, University of Connecticut, 1996.

Sazama, Gerald. “Lessons from the History of Affordable Housing Cooperatives in the United States: A Case Study in American Affordable Housing Policy.” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology (2000).

Siegler, Richard and Herbert Levy. “Brief History of Cooperative Housing.” Cooperative Housing Journal (1986): 12-19.

“Significant Dates in Co-Op History.” National Association of Housing Cooperatives. Accessed March 23, 2012. opens in a new window

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