Housing co-op a long-term solution to displacement of families and seniors from
October 13, 2011
San Francisco– Residents of the Columbus United Cooperative (CUC) celebrate an end to their 13-year housing struggle as they take ownership of their building as a permanently affordable, resident-owned limited-equity housing cooperative (co-op).
In August, a unanimous vote of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors allowed their 21-unit apartment building to convert to a housing cooperative. Now the residents can purchase “shares” in the co-op for id=mce_marker0,000, allowing them to become cooperative home owners with control of their building’s finances, membership and maintenance and the ability to pass down their home to their children.
The action brings to an end a 13-year struggle against displacement of the building’s residents and the first truly affordable home ownership opportunity in
This is not only a local milestone, but of national importance. The residents of
The building located at
Longtime resident and CUC Board of Directors Vice President Miao Yan Wen comments: “This building represents the community. It is important to take care of the low-income people who live here. There are many seniors who live in this building. If the building were torn down, they would have to move out of the neighborhood and lose their access to doctors, stores, services and people of a similar background who live in
Community land trusts are locally based non-profit organizations that create permanently affordable housing through community ownership of the land. CLTs separate the ownership of residential buildings from ownership of the land under those buildings. Residents control their buildings by owning them. Residents can own a house, an apartment, or a share in a housing cooperative. In a limited equity housing cooperative, each household has one share and thus one vote in the affairs of the co-op. The CLT retains ownership of the land under the buildings.
By separating the ownership of the land from the buildings, the CLT can reduce the cost of owning a building or house. The CLT creates long-term ground leases for the buildings on their land, usually 99 years, and includes re-sale restrictions in these ground leases. In this way, the buildings can remain affordable not just for the first owner, but for all owners in the future.
So in exchange for inexpensive homes, residents agree to sell their homes back to the CLT, or another low-income household, at a restricted price. This restriction on price benefits the larger community of low-income people by restraining inflation in the price of that housing. Through community control of the CLT, it can focus on the housing needs of the community, not of for-profit developers.
According to a recent study by the National Housing Institute, urban CLTs across the nation are increasingly being recognized for not only creating permanently affordable housing stock for diverse lower-income families, but also for building family assets and promoting community building. The combination of affordable ownership and ongoing financial education enable low-income households to move out of poverty and into economic self-sufficiency.
Poverty is not just the lack of income; it’s the lack of asset wealth. Without savings, home equity or equity in a retirement account or a business, an asset-poor household would face serious consequences if a sudden drop in income were to occur. According to the city’s Consolidated Plan, 30 percent of the city’s residents are asset poor compared to 10 percent who are income poor, with non-white households being twice as likely as white households to become asset poor.
Low-income families often lack asset building opportunities that middle-income families take for granted, such as homeownership and financial education. In addition to the benefits and protections of owning property on CLT land, the cooperative structure offers additional protection for homeowners against predatory lenders that created the foreclosure crisis in recent years.
|< Prev||Next >|