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What is a Housing Cooperative?

A housing cooperative,  is a legal entity, usually a cooperative or a corporation, which owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings. It operates under the cooperative legal framework that usually exists at the regional or national level.  Furthermore, cooperatives are the only form of entrepreneurship organization with an internationally agreed and recognized definition.

There are seven cooperative principles that guide housing cooperatives in their governance and operations. Equally important, cooperatives are based on the values of self-helpself-responsibilitydemocracyequalityequity, and solidarity.

The coop corporation is membership-based, with membership granted by way of a share purchase in the cooperative. Each shareholder or member in the housing cooperative is granted the right to occupy a housing unit.

Housing coops come in many forms. Some are townhouses and small buildings with just a handful of units. Others are large apartment-style buildings with hundreds of units. Some coops are rental whereas others are member-owned, also known as equity co-ops. The fact that there are so many variants is an indication of how cooperative housing is an adaptable and flexible model that can work in so many different circumstances.

Different co-op models are available depending on the country. But they all have one thing in common — they’re focused on community and are designed to meet the common economic, social, and cultural needs of their members. All of these different models are governed by a member-elected body. In addition, every member gets a vote in approving annual budgets, electing directors and setting policies on the co-op’s overall direction.

How Does Cooperative Housing Compare with Other Housing Models?


  • As a member of a co-op, you’re an indirect owner. You either rent your unit from the co-op or hold member shares that give you exclusive use of a housing unit. Watch this video to learn more about cooperatives compared to other housing models.



  • En tant que membre d’une coopérative, vous êtes un propriétaire indirect. Vous louez votre logement de la coopérative ou détenez des parts de membre qui vous donnent l’usage exclusif d’un logement. Regardez cette vidéo pour en savoir plus sur les coopératives par rapport aux autres modèles de logement.



  • Como miembro de una cooperativa, eres un propietario indirecto. Usted alquila su unidad a la cooperativa o tiene acciones de miembros que le dan uso exclusivo de una unidad de vivienda. Vea este video para conocer más sobre las cooperativas en comparación con otros modelos de vivienda.

You can also find more videos about housing cooperatives here.

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