Pic Source: Nevada City Cohousing
As an model imported from Denmark, co-housing refers to a housing approach centered around the legal, design, and social frameworks of community-living and shared housing. They form when people join to own or control the housing and/or related community facilities in which they live. In a housing cooperative, residents are expected to actively participate in the operation of their own neighborhoods and cluster their homes around shared community amenities and other resources like tools, child care, and transportation. The main distinction between a housing cooperative and other forms of home ownership is that in a housing cooperative you don’t directly own real estate. Instead, residents in cooperatives own shares, or a membership, to the community. Usually, a co-op share ownership gives entitlement to a long-term lease on a unit and a vote in the governance of the community. Therefore, the individual is both a "tenant" because of their lease with the corporation, and an "owner," because of their stock ownership. Because of this, residents are rarely evicted and stay for decades unless they violate their lease. When residents leave they sell their share(s) of stock and not their unit.
There are approximately 125 co-housing communities in the US. In Pittsburgh there is at least one group, the Larimer Co-Housing Group, seeking to start a Pittsburgh Co-Housing group. Some of these co-housing communities can be developed by a non-profit whose goal is to target households earning 30% to 60% of median income.
Limited-Equity Co-ops (LECs)
In a limited-equity cooperative, there are restrictions on the proceeds a member can get from selling their shares. In other words, the value one can obtain for one's stock in a limited-equity co-op is restricted by a specific formula in order to make the housing affordable for current and future residents.
Syndicated Co-ops or Leasing Co-ops
In a syndicated co-op, a corporation or financial institution provides money for the original construction. This cooperative corporation leases property from an outside investor, often a nonprofit corporation created for this purpose. In return, these institutions become "limited partners," which means that they keep some control in the community. For example, they have to approve the budget every year, and they would have to approve any change in management company. This type of co-op usually has a "start-up" period of a year or so, during which the developer is in charge while the co-op attains financial stability.
National Association of Housing Cooperatives | Buying Into a Housing Cooperative
Places Journal | Housing and the Cooperative Commonwealth: Can The Limited-Equity Co-op Relieve the American Affordable Housing Crisis?
Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund | Housing Cooperatives: An Accessible And Lasting Tool for Home Ownership
Nothcountry Cooperative Foundation | Cooperative Housing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Cooperative Success
The Washington Post | Condos vs. Co-ops: What's The Difference?