Application for WCHA Co-op Membership
LIMITED EQUITY APPLICATION
• sustainability • diversity • community • affordability • perpetuity • dweller-control •
Cooperative Housing: An Alternative Model for Affordable, Sustainable Community Development
Greetings from the Weaver Community Housing Association!
In 2002, a group of affordable housing advocates and social justice activists from the Chapel Hill, NC area united with a mission to create permanent living structures that 1) provide permanent, sustainable and affordable housing for low-income families and individuals and 2) empower residents to make decisions and cooperatively control and maintain their home. This two-fold mission originated from alarm at the rapidly depleting availability of local affordable housing and concern about absentee landlords who were subjecting their renters to poor and often unsafe living conditions.
The cooperative housing model provides an alternative solution to the age-old problems that tenants of cheap rental units face, namely, they have no ownership and virtually no say in how they live because a landlord or corporation exclusively owns and runs the property. It has always been a problem for families or individuals with low incomes to have a voice in housing policy and nearly impossible for them to actually own homes. The co-op model means that properties are owned by a nonprofit organization that is governed by property residents so member/residents take part in shaping the policies and guidelines under which they live. We are using the cooperative housing model as a means to accomplish six principles: affordability, perpetuity, dweller-control, sustainability, diversity and community.
● Affordability: Members monthly payments are based on the target income range of those earning less than 80% of area median income. Additionally, the cooperative structure allows for residents to share physical and service resources (ranging from yard equipment to vehicles to gardens to baby-sitters). Creating a supportive residential community saves valuable time and money for all participating co-op residents.
● Perpetuity: All properties controlled by the WCHA shall remain affordable so long as they are owned by the WCHA.
● Dweller-control: All properties are cooperatively maintained and governed by the residents. Each property has the authority to create its own set of policies, so long as they fall within the guidelines of the WCHA Bylaws. Wherever possible, consensus is the preferred decision-making method. Member residents will elect representatives to serve rotating terms on the Board of Directors for the WCHA. The Board of Directors will be composed of no less than 50% member residents as well as community representatives.
● Sustainability: In order to create affordable communities that will remain livable for future generations, social and environmental sustainability must be essential principles for all current projects. Wherever possible, the WCHA employs the concepts of permaculture, using alternative resources such as solar heating, growing food on the premises, and building with safe and healthy materials.
● Diversity: Cooperative housing provides an opportunity for a wide range of residents to benefit from affordable housing and a supportive neighborhood, from families to individuals with special needs to older people to very-low income workers.
● Community: The egalitarian, participatory aspects of the cooperative home create a supportive community for all residents and the extended neighborhood. Each co-op has a community space, to be used for social activities, meetings, and educational workshops.
WEAVER COMMUNITY HOUSING ASSOCIATION CO-OPS:
● CEDAR ROCK APARTMENTS: The Cedar Rock Apartments on 703 & 705 N. Greensboro St. in Carrboro, provide five three-bedroom cooperatively-controlled apartments and one community utilized unit to be used for meetings, skills development workshops, social activities, and guest lodging. The apartments are 943 sq. ft, with washer/dryer, 2 bathrooms, H/V/A/C units for heating and cooling, and fully equipped kitchens. Individuals and families can apply for up to three bedrooms in these apartments. Individual adults can submit a single application for one bedroom within a co-op apartment, or they can apply as a group with up to three qualifying. Residences in Cedar Rock are limited to those earning less than 60% of Area Median Income. Residents participate in monthly meetings and share responsibility for groundskeeping, maintaining the common facilities, planning social activities, selecting new members, and coordinating co-operative development. Per room rental is $250 per/mth for standard & $300/mth for master-bed/bath. A full unit, for families of 3 or more, is $800/mth – this does not include utilities, phone & internet/technology services.
● BOLIN CREEK LIMITED EQUITY COOPERATIVE: The Bolin Creek Cooperative is WCHA’s first equity cooperative. Located at 100-102 Crest Street, at the intersection of Pleasant Dr. and Crest St., resident-members own a share in the cooperative that increases in value over time. The purchase of one share, along with the payment of monthly carrying charges (which does not include utilities/technology services) entitles the resident-member to live in one of ten 2 bedroom, one bath units. A share can be purchased for $1,000, with a minimum initial equity payment of $1,000. Ownership in the Bolin Creek Cooperative is prioritized for those earning 60 percent or less of median income. Upon acceptance into the cooperative, applicants are required to give a $500 deposit to hold a unit. If the applicant decides not to purchase a share, they may receive a refund of $400 of their deposit ($100 is maintained as a non-refundable, administrative fee). Member-residents are responsible for the selling their ownership share of the cooperative if and when they decide to leave the community.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BOLIN CREEK COOPERATIVE:
● PERIOD OF COMMITMENT: Once a share is purchased, members receive a 3 year lease that entitles them to live in one unit of the cooperatives -- as long as the resident-members abide by the cooperative’s bylaws -- until the resident-member sells their share in the cooperative. Leases automatically renew after three years.
● DEPOSIT/EQUITY PAYMENT: Once accepted, New members pay a $500 initial deposit -- which is folded into the cost of the share. Before the member moves into the cooperative, s/he must pay an additional $500 to total a $1,000 minimum equity payment. If the member leaves the co-op, s/he is responsible for selling their share, giving 3 months notice, and assisting with finding a new resident. WCHA agrees to provide names and contact information of potential member-residents, if the organization has a waiting list after selling all of the initial shares.
● MONTHLY CARRYING CHARGE: Each member-resident is also responsible for paying a monthly carrying charge to cover insurance, a portion of the loan principal amount, maintenance and WCHA administration.
● FACTORS AFFECTING RESIDENT SELECTION: Because a) participating in cooperative housing requires a higher degree of responsibility than traditional housing and b) the demand for co-op membership may be higher than the supply, the Resident Selection Committee must take into consideration several factors in order to select applicants that are the best suited and could benefit most from cooperative housing. The WCHA has a complete set of Resident Selection Policies that are available upon request. Some of these factors will include:
○ Income verification: Applicants will need to provide some verification from their employer, or other third party source, such as tax forms, of their income level. Priority for initial share purchase is given to households earning 60% or less of the area median income.
○ Current WCHA Resident Priority: Current resident-members in Cedar Rock and Hillsborough Road Cooperatives are given priority in purchasing a share in Bolin Creek Cooperative.
○ Background Check/References: All applicants will have a criminal background check done before acceptance into the cooperative. The information collected from this process will not be used strictly to limit applicants from the cooperative because of past activity. Applicants must also submit contact information for three references.
○ Relevant Experience: While no specific skills and experience are required of co-op applicants, the WCHA is seeking residents with helpful skills, a desire & willingness to share these skills with the co-op and other co-op members. These skills sets include groundskeeping, maintenance, group coordination, cooking, financial management, leadership development, conflict resolution, etc.
○ Willingness/Ability to Fulfill Cooperative Duties – minimum 5 hours per month: Applicant must demonstrate willingness to commit to monthly co-op meetings, an increased level of awareness and responsibility for upkeep on your home, and willingness to be proactive in the regular chores to maintain co-op grounds and community facilities.
○ Community Diversity: WCHA and the Bolin Creek Cooperative seek to create communities of people from various backgrounds and life experiences. Through non-discriminatory practices, we will choose as wide a variety of resident-members as possible to maintain a diverse community.
○ Appropriate Unit Size: WCHA and the Bolin Creek Cooperative will attempt to match household size to unit size, prioritizing larger units for larger households.