Vision Statement

I’ve had a vision of living in community for many years. When I was in my twenties, my best friend from high school and I made a pact that we would share a house when we were old ladies and our husbands were no longer around. In my thirties, when I was the mother of three young boys, the concept of co-housing intrigued me from the standpoint of having a “village” to help raise children. In my fifties, during the last months of my mother’s life, she was no longer able to take care of her needs on her own, and needed help occasionally throughout the day. We hired a 24/7 caregiver for her, but it would have been highly preferable if she could have shared the services of a caregiver with other nearby persons nearby. And, for more than a decade, I’ve had a vision of being part of a vibrant creative community that shared space and resources – cooperative art/dance/music studios, where artists would work, teach and share their creative gifts, where learning and creating would be accessible to people of all ages and experience levels, and cost would not be a barrier.

Since entering my sixties, I’ve felt as if I’m on the brink of a new chapter of my life. My kids are (mostly) out of the house, and I can catch a glimpse down the road of retiring from full-time work. Part of this next chapter involves where I live, and what I do with my time to continue to have purpose and meaning in my life. My vision is an intentional community of affordable separate living spaces and shared creative space that will allow residents to  have significant input into the fabric of the community, and give me (and others) the option of aging in place. I want to be able to continue to enjoy the community life even when I may need some help with my daily activities, and through sharing resources like caregivers, I believe this should be financially and logistically possible.

Questions you may have:

  • What kind of people would live in this community?
    • All kinds of people!  Different generations and kinds of households: single adults, couples, families with children, retired people. The one common thread among the residents would be an interest in creative learning, growing and sharing.
  • Would each living unit have its own kitchen and bathroom?
    • Yes! Each living unit will be a private living space for each household, and will include a private kitchen and bathroom(s). Ideally, living units will be different sizes (square feet and number of bedrooms) as options for different sizes of households.
  • How much will this cost? Do you rent or buy?
    • The goal is to make this community affordable for a large range of income levels, with different options for either renting or owning (similar to condo ownership). Since there won’t be a developer or landlord making a profit, and there will be economies of scale and shared resources, the expenses (whether rent or purchase) should be less than if renting or purchasing a “normal” apartment or condo.
  • What do you mean by “age in place”?
    • A goal of “aging in place” is to be able to continue to live where you want for as long as you want, to maintain your meaningful relationships, living situation and opportunities for connection. A good plan for aging in place includes living units that are built with accessibility in mind (i.e. for wheelchairs, hearing loss or loss of sight),  and has an option to share caregivers if needed.
  • Do I have to be a professional artist to live there?
    • Absolutely not! One of my core beliefs is that access to the arts and creativity enriches everyone, and that people just need to be interested in exploring, learning and experience the arts. Among the shared/common spaces on-site will be art, dance, music studios where classes and studio space will be available.
  • What kinds of shared resources will there be?
    • In addition to the art, dance and music studios, there will be a common industrial kitchen and dining/meeting space. An important part of the community is to have shared meals and social events on a regular basis. Other examples of shared resources are: one or two guests rooms for occasional guests of residents, specialty kitchen equipment (like food processors or bread machines) that people might like to use occasionally, and possibly even shared bikes or vehicles. I also envision sharing of skills, time and resources – easing the load of responsibilities for working folks and families, but giving retired folk opportunities to share their skills and increase their sense of purpose. For example, there may be retired residents who can lead some activities for kids after school.
  • Where will this community be?
    • To me, the most important features of a location are:
      • Easy accessibility to natural beauty
      • Easy accessibility to culture, medical, public transportation
      • Low to moderate cost of living
    • I’m currently looking at properties in Madison, WI, which has all three of those features. If you have ideas about a different location, I’d love to hear them!

Although this type of community is not (yet) commonplace in the U.S., there are currently over 1700 co-housing and intentional communities in the U.S. as well as a number of senior artist colonies, primarily located in California.

Call to action – please communicate with me, ask me your questions, give me your ideas! Let me know if you’re at all interested, what appeals to you and what doesn’t appeal.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Intentionally and creatively,




Just People Dancing

I’ve always loved to dance. When I was a kid, that consisted of putting an LP on the stereo and dancing around the living room. My favorite LP’s were from Broadway shows – My Fair Lady, Brigadoon, and Oklahoma were some favorites. I took one or two ballet classes as a kid, but didn’t start to take serious dance classes until after college, when I moved to the north side of Chicago.

Fast forward to 2017, when I’ve taken dance classes of all sorts for the past 40 years – ballet, ballroom, tap, musical theatre, Argentine Tango, folk dance, square dance, line dancing, and even a short stint of belly dance! I consider myself extremely lucky to have the time, money, and opportunity to still dance 4 or more times per week. Dance continues to be one of my favorite activities, and is by far my favorite physical activity.

I love sharing the joy of dance. My philosophy is that the doing of dance is much more enriching than watching dance, yet so many people talk themselves out of even trying to dance because they assume you need certain attributes in order to dance, i.e.: a) be able to lift your leg up to your eyeballs, b) look good in a leotard, and/or c) been dancing since you were 3 years old. I think people should dance just for the joy of it, and for me, dancing with other people makes the joy grow exponentially. And, in addition to the joy and community that dance brings, there have been many studies that show the physical and neurological benefits of dance. A recent article in the NY Times asked if dance was better for the brain than walking or stretching?

When I found out about the Dance for PD (R) program, I instinctively knew that this was something I would love to teach. Dance for PD was started about 15 years ago as a collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group in Brooklyn NY. One of their key ideas is that “the essence of dance is joy”. A Dance for PD class is patterned after most dance classes, with a warm-up, a standing section, across the floor dances, and a “routine”. The difference between a Dance for PD class and any other dance class is that Dance for PD is inclusive, no matter where a person is on the spectrum of physical or neurological limitations. Some participants may not be able to stand, but they can still move while seated, and are included as an important part of class. Caregivers are also included in the class, and, in my experience, they also enjoy and benefit from the class. Dance is a great equalizer – just because a person has fewer physical limitations doesn’t necessarily make them a better dancer!

I’ve been teaching a dance class for a group of seniors using the Dance for PD model for the past 6 months. They love it, and I love it. All of them are in wheelchairs, so we don’t do any standing dances, and some of them have severe physical limitations. One of the participants has rheumatoid arthritis, which makes it painful for her to move, but she comes regularly to class and is one of its most ardent fans. Virtually every week, she tells me “You have no idea how much I get out of class”. Right back at ya, Muriel.

I’m looking to bring this class to other locations, and have been looking for a name that doesn’t limit it only to people with PD. The name that came to mind was “JPD: Just People Dancing”, which includes my initials (JP), the initials of Parkinson’s disease (PD), and hopefully conveys that it’s something that everyone can do. What do you think?



Target Market

n I My task for today is to write a profile of my target market. According to Brooke Castillo, the more specific you can get, the better chance you have of finding those people. Basically, my target market is, well…, Me!

Target Market for the Intentional Creative Community:

  • Women between the ages of 60-65
  • Not married (whether divorced, widowed, or never married) and empty-nesters (if they have kids)
  • still working full-time, but trying to figure out a way they can retire by age 65 or sooner
    • One of those ways is to have a living situation that is less expensive than their current living situation
  • Have an interest in the arts (dance, music, visual art), and would like to share studio space to take classes, teach classes, practice, dabble, do their art, perform, watch others perform….
  • Ready emotionally to transition to a new way of living, downsize both space, possessions, and financial commitments
  • Wants to live in Madison Wisconsin

How would this target market describe their problem/need?

  • How will I ever be able to afford to retire?
  • How do I downsize without losing community and quality of life?
  • Where can I move that’s less expensive than where I currently live?
  • How do I make best use of my financial assets to ensure that I can support myself for the rest of my life?
  • I don’t want to move again when I age or need additional care/help  – is there someplace I can live where I can share resources (such as caregivers) when it becomes necessary?
  • I want to be able to continue to grow/learn/share my creative gifts, but can’t afford a studio.
  • I’d like to be able to live someplace warm during the winter months

What are the benefits/solutions that the Intentional Creative Community can offer?

  • Reasonably priced one or two bedroom apartments in downtown Madison, easily accessible to public transportation, culture, nature, hospitals, university, restaurants
    • 750-1100 SF apartments
    • $17,000 -25,000 downpayment for coop membership/ownership
    • $800-900 monthly fee (includes mortgage payment, property tax, utilities, maintenance fee, shared spaces and resources)
  • Shared studio space
    • Art, dance, music studios
  • Shared community space
    • Potluck dinners
    • Recreational gatherings
    • Art/dance/music shows and performances
  • Shared resources such as specialty kitchen equipment (Kitchenaid, Cuisinart, etc.), vehicle, bikes, kayaks, snowblowers, garden equipment. Maybe even chickens or shared pets!
  • Storage space
  • Shared guests rooms
  • Option to rehab apartment to be accessible
  • Option to share caregivers in future (if desired)
  • Option to be in on the ground floor of creating sister-community in warm weather location.

The offer

“Would you like to live in an affordable, safe, xxx, xxx community where your cost savings would be enough that you could retire years earlier than you thought possible?” Give them the option of saying yes or no.

Then explain the features, features, features!

Then, a call to action for them. “Would you like me to …. webinar, printed materials, website,……???

Behind the scenes:

JP calculation on maximum price of building:

  • Building with at least 6 units: max $666,000 (JP downpayment $200,000)
  • Building with at least 4 units: max $500,000 (JP downpayment $150,000)
One BR apt 2 BR
SF 850 1100
comp monthly rent  $               1,000  $                    1,500
condo comp price  $          206,000  $               226,600
Target price, ICC One BR apt 2 BR
purchase price  $             85,000  $               125,000
20% downpayment  $             17,000  $                 25,000
interest rate 0.04 0.04
P/I monthly  $                   325  $                       358
insurance  $                   100  $                       100
utilities  $                   115  $                       115
internet  $                     50  $                          50
ongoing maintenance  $                   100  $                       100
repair fund  $                   100  $                       100
Total monthly  $                   790  $                       823
total building 6-8+ unit max 4-6+ unit max
JP downpayment max  $          200,000  $         150,000.00
if downpayment is: 30%
max purchase price  $          666,667  $               500,000
Purchase price per unit:
4  $          166,667- too expensive
 $               125,000
6  $          111,111  $                 83,333
8  $             83,333  $                 62,500


ICC’s 10 year “to do” list

I work with a great group of women, and each of us, in our own way, is working towards being an entrepreneur – someone who runs her own business and is no longer tied to working in a business environment where someone else controls the shots. WE (Women Entrepreneurs) meets weekly, and shares thoughts about where we are in the process, ideas, and resources we’ve come across. One of our members (thanks Steph!) recently shared the resource of Brooke Castillo’s podcasts on How to Be a Life Coach. Those podcasts suggest a very nuts and bolts, step-by-step process of starting a life coach business, but really, the steps can apply to a variety of ventures. I’m working my way through the steps, starting with a 10 year “to do” list. I’m a list-maker from way back, so creating this list was right up my alley. I started with where I want the Intentional Creative Community to be in 10 years, and then worked backwards from there. A really helpful process. So, here’s the 10 year list, as of today, July 19, 2016:

Intentional Creative Community 10 year timeline/”to do”list

10 years – by July 19, 2026

  • My second/satellite/warm weather community is up and running, and I live there between November and April each year
  • I travel around the U.S. consulting on other communities with the lessons I’ve learned/am learning from the creation of this community
  • I travel to communities outside the U.S. to get ideas to improve the communities and to grow my network and personal community
  • The aging in place component of the first community is operational

5 years – by July 19, 2021

  • My first community is fully occupied, mortgage paid off
  • Programs within the cooperative studios are financially stable (positive cash flow for community instead of a drain on resources)
  • develop the “to do” plan for the second/satellite/warm weather community
  • research and plan what needs to happen in terms of “aging in place”

2 years – by July 19, 2018

  • Identify property
  • Make offer, finance, purchase
  • Plan and make necessary improvements
  • Janis move in to community
  • Set up cooperative studios, offer classes/workshops
  • Timeline for other community member move-in

One year – by July 19, 2017

  • Per Brooke Castillo podcasts:
    • Product/ website Launch
    • Webinars

6 months – by January 19, 2017

  • travel to intentional communities within the U.S. (and outside the U.S.) and meet with their leaders/founders to glean words of wisdom from those who have already done this:
    • Arboretum in Madison
    • Guy from EngAge
    • Questions:
      • Criteria/selection process for community members
    • Develop application process for community members
    • Develop and implement marketing plan to connect with potential community members
    • Identify potential properties and work thru financial model with each
    • create business entity that will “own” property

90 days – by October 19, 2016

  • attend intentional community workshops and conferences
  • research Financing models
  • develop purchasing models for other community members
  • research building costs,
  • research local government, zoning, aging agencies in Madison
  • research grant opportunities (aging, LEEDS, income) and what restrictions those put on the project
  • Publish a blog post every other week

60 days – by September 19, 2016

  • Schedule dates to attend intentional community workshops and conferences, in the coming year
  • Identify potential partners, and set up meetings to discuss/ask questions
    • Contractors/architects/ modular – Ross (Leslie’s son-in-law)
    • Investment/financial – bank guy from madison
    • Real Estate – Ruth
    • Creative – Helen (and her contacts),
    • Entrepreneurs – Jennifer Boznos
    • Legal – Val Hoffman, Keith Moore
  • Decide what kind of entity to set-up
  • Set up shop
    • buy domain name –
    • set up WordPress site
    • take photos for WordPress site
    • set up an email account for the business
    • for mailing list
    • Not applicable to this: set up credit card  =-, paypal, stripe, or gumroad
    • Set up business bank account
    • Get business credit card
    • Decide what kind of legal entity to be, go to LegalZoom and set it up
    • Set up books in QuickBooks
    • create filing system for people who are interested
    • choose a social media site for the business, and set up a business account: Facebook, Instagram or Twitter
  • Podcast assignments:
    • Legal pages
    • Create a program
    • Create a freebie
    • Create an option

30 days – by August 19, 2016

  • Research intentional community workshops and conferences to attend in the coming year
  • research types of entities and pros/cons (including impact on marital assets, and what restrictions can be put on membership)
    • Co-op
    • Condo
    • Non-profit
    • Land Trust
    • S corp
    • Other?
  • Podcast assignments (How to be a life coach):
    • Write my “About” page
    • Write my “work with me” page
    • Write my blog

7 days – by July 26, 2016

  • tweak the search criteria (financial, # of units, location) for the property and communicate that to the realtor
  • Drive by potential site in Plain WI, and brainstorm with Charles/Melani

Tomorrow, July 20, 2016

Today, July 19, 2016

  • Draft my model “To do” goals for the next 10 years
  • Develop draft criteria for “target market”

Resources and Articles

Just came across this article about the city of Milwaukee turning foreclosed homes into artist’s havens. Yes!


Wow – there are lots of people on Mr. Money Mustache who are interested in community! The Happy City

This group of women in England has done what I’m talking about:


Some new resources from the Meet-up group on 10/17/16:

  • – lists affordable rental housing over U.S. According to Holly, many of the units have waiting lists of 5-7 years. My thought is, apply to 4 or 5 every year, and stagger the applications!
  •  – located in Winnetka, promotes inclusive communities that are welcoming for all
  • The Center of Concern: – has a home sharing program, senior support services, medicare counseling, in-home health care referrals. Located in Park Ridge IL
  • – homesharing organization in Chicago
  • – part of the Village movement, located in Chicago
  • Google Boomer Women roommates/ shared housing
  • Get a power of attorney: North shore Senior Center – Five Wishes

Burbank Senior Artists Colony

Nashville, May 19-21, 2017 National Cohousing Conference

To contact us about contracting to provide the EngAGE program in your senior apartment community, please contact:
Tim Carpenter, Executive Director
Phone: (818) 563-9750

Intentional Community events


Is Cohousing The Best Solution To Aging Well?

The art of creative aging

Fellowship for Intentional Community

Madison Resources/Coops

WI Women’s Business

WI entrpreneur assistance

WI Community Development Assistance

WI site locator

planning and zoning in Waunakee

Dane County – space for creative endeavors

zoning Madison

Artful Aging

The Artful Aging Movement

Artful Aging Report




Advantages of a Co-op

“Advantages of a Cooperative

  • Less Taxation. Similar to an LLC, cooperatives that are incorporated normally are not taxed on surplus earnings (or patronage dividends) refunded to members. Therefore, members of a cooperative are only taxed once on their income from the cooperative and not on both the individual and the cooperative level.
  • Funding Opportunities. Depending on the type of cooperative you own or participate in, there are a variety of government-sponsored grant programs to help you start. For example, the USDA Rural Development program offers grants to those establishing and operating new and existing rural development cooperatives.
  • Reduce Costs and Improve Products and Services. By leveraging their size, cooperatives can more easily obtain discounts on supplies and other materials and services. Suppliers are more likely to give better products and services because they are working with a customer of more substantial size. Consequently, the members of the cooperative can focus on improving products and services.
  • Perpetual Existence. A cooperative structure brings less disruption and more continuity to the business. Unlike other business structures, members in a cooperative can routinely join or leave the business without causing dissolution.
  • Democratic Organization. Democracy is a defining element of cooperatives. The democratic structure of a cooperative ensures that it serves its members’ needs. The amount of a member’s monetary investment in the cooperative does not affect the weight of each vote, so no member-owner can dominate the decision-making process. The “one member-one vote” philosophy particularly appeals to smaller investors because they have as much say in the organization as does a larger investor.

Disadvantages of a Cooperative

  • Obtaining Capital through Investors. Cooperatives may suffer from slower cash flow since a member’s incentive to contribute depends on how much they use the cooperative’s services and products. While the “one member-one vote” philosophy is appealing to small investors, larger investors may choose to invest their money elsewhere because a larger share investment in the cooperative does not translate to greater decision-making power.
  • Lack of Membership and Participation. If members do not fully participate and perform their duties, whether it be voting or carrying out daily operations, then the business cannot operate at full capacity. If a lack of participation becomes an ongoing issue for a cooperative, it could risk losing members.”


Research: forming, funding, financing, tax info for non-profits and co-ops

forming non-profit in Wisconsin:

Wisconsin  – property owned by non-profits is generally tax exempt:

By law, all tangible real property (land and buildings located on that land) and personal property
(property with no land attached to it) are to be taxed unless specifically exempt from taxation. Property
owned by the federal government, the state, and by
local governments is generally exempt. Property
owned and used by churches, universities, educational and charitable facilities, non
profit hospitals, and
profit housing are also generally exempt. –  how to form non-profit in Wisconsin

Co-ops: what are they and what are the advantages?

I’ve been researching various models of ownership for a community, and the one that makes the most sense to me is that of a housing cooperative (co-op). The article below, from the Midwest Association of Cooperative Housing, does a really great job of explaining how a cooperative works, as well as the advantages.

What is a Cooperative

A cooperative is a group of people working together in a joint economic activity that is owned and operated by its members for their mutual benefit.

In a housing cooperative (or co-op), a housing development is jointly operated by its members. They own membership certificates in the corporation, giving them the right to occupy a dwelling unit and participate in the operations of the corporation. The cooperative housing corporation owns the total property. A not-for-profit corporation.

A cooperative is a business controlled by the people who use it. It is a democratic organization whose earnings and assets belong to its members. By patronizing and becoming an active member of a co-op, you invest yourself with the power to shape that business. You control the politics and economics of what is truly your organization.

Economic Advantages


Cooperative housing gives you the opportunity to share in owning your dwelling. You, as an individual, do not own the unit you are occupying; instead, you and the other members own the entire assets (property) of the cooperative. Joining the cooperative will allow you to build a limited equity, that is, to establish some value in the property


Lower down payment, much lower closing costs, economies of scale, longer mortgage term all make co-ops more affordable than other ownership housing. Members have no reason to substantially increase monthly charges, unless taxes or operating costs go up, so monthly charges remain reasonable.

Tax Deductions

For income tax purposes, the co-op member is usually considered a homeowner and, as such, can deduct his or her share of the real estate taxes and mortgage interest paid by the cooperative.

Limited Liability

Members have no personal liability on the co-op mortgage. The cooperative association is responsible for paying off any mortgage loans. This can often make it possible for persons whose income might not qualify them for an individual mortgage to buy a membership in a limited equity co-op.

Consumer Action

Through their cooperative association, members can jointly exert influence in order to change tax rates and utility prices and obtain improved services from local governments. The co-op, as consumer advocate, can also join with other organizations.


Co-op members can benefit from economy of scale in co-op operating costs as well as from not-for-profit operation. Also, when there are “transfers”, only the outgoing member’s equity must be financed by the incoming member. Transfers of shares are subject to fewer settlement costs.

Social Advantages

Elimination of Outside Landlord

Co-ops offer control of one’s living environment and a security of tenure not available in rental housing.

Community Control

As mutual owners, member residents participate at various levels in the decision-making process. This is not true of tenants who usually do not have the opportunity to exercise responsibility. Members own the cooperative together and have the security of being able to remain in their homes for as long as they wish, as long as they meet their monthly obligations, and abide by the co-op bylaws, rules, and regulations.

Cultural Diversity

Many co-op members indicate that the possibility for interaction with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and income levels is a positive factor in their decision to become a member.

Building Communities

Co-ops are communities within larger communities. Members share common goals and a sense of identity and pride from working together. Co-ops make good neighbors, and can revitalize decaying neighborhoods. Many set up recreational, social, educational and mutual help programs.
Co-ops accommodate all kinds of people. In some, units are reserved for householders with special needs. For seniors and many families, co-ops are often just the right combination of security and affordability.


Each member has one vote in making decisions on important matters such as housing charges, the election of directors and the regulations members will be expected to follow.

Physical Benefits

Shared Maintenance Responsibilities

Co-op members usually have limited direct maintenance responsibilities. The cooperative association is responsible for major repairs, insurance, replacement of worn-out equipment, and upkeep of common grounds and facilities.

Vandalism and Security

Co-op members vigorously protect their association’s property. An important benefit of converting rental properties to co-op ownership is reduction in vandalism and abuse of property and improved and shared security arrangements. And recent studies show that the co-ops presence in the neighborhood brings neighborhood crime down.

Freedom and Mobility

The co-op member owns a share in the housing development, not a particular dwelling unit. A co-op membership can usually be more readily resold than other real estate, for it cost considerable less and involves a simpler transaction.

Good Quality, Modest Housing

Co-ops seek to provide the highest quality housing possible within cost guidelines, both in initial construction and through continuing maintenance. Most are newly constructed but many groups have restored and updated existing housing and other buildings.


More info on co-ops

While most people in the Midwest understand the concept of owning a condo, they are less familiar with co-housing or co-ops. The article below does a good job of describing the differences between co-ops and co-housing:

“Co-operative (or “co-op”) housing is in effect non-market rental housing owned and managed by its residents through a co-operative association; in Canada they have enjoyed subsidies from the federal government that are currently under review. “Co-housing” is a bit different: a grouping of private homes that share common space. Most co-housing projects are legally recognized as strata housing.

Both housing styles have independent family residences as well as communal amenities and recreation space. While co-op housing is government subsidized and not-for-profit, co-housing is privately owned and managed. This means that the cost of living in co-housing rests at market rates, unlike co-op housing, which offers affordable living below private sector rental rates.”

This link gives a nice side-by-side comparison between co0ps and condos:

“A condo is “real property.” Each unit owner owns an individual apartment in perpetuity and owns an undivided interest in the common elements of the building including the exterior walls, the roof, and lobby. Ownership of a condo is more like a house and the owner will have a deed as evidence of that ownership.

Coop buildings are owned by a non-profit corporation. When one purchases a unit in a coop building, they are really purchasing shares in the corporation, which come with a “proprietary lease” to the unit. Technically, the shareholder does not actually own the apartment, but a piece of the corporation. The larger the apartment, the more shares of the corporation are owned. Buying a coop is generally thought to carry a higher degree of risk, because you are investing in a corporation. If the corporation is in poor financial condition, the shareholder could potentially lose the coop apartment. In other words, invest wisely( At the same time, HOA these days have a lot of issues as well)

There are more to it than that, but you might want to know also:
Property taxes are generally lower in coops than in condos.
As a broad rule of thumb, coops tend to have lower purchase prices than condos.”


“A housing cooperative, or co-op, is a legal entity, usually a corporation, which owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings; it is one type of housing tenure. Housing cooperatives are a distinctive form of home ownership that have many characteristics that differ from other residential arrangements such as single family home ownership, condominiums and renting.[1]

The corporation is membership-based, with membership granted by way of a share purchase in the cooperative. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit. A primary advantage of the housing cooperative is the pooling of the members’ resources so that their buying power is leveraged, thus lowering the cost per member in all the services and products associated with home ownership.

Another key element is that the members, through their elected representatives, screen and select who may live in the cooperative, unlike any other form of home ownership.[1] Housing cooperatives fall into two general tenure categories: non-ownership (referred to as non-equity or continuing) and ownership (referred to as equity or strata). In non-equity cooperatives, occupancy rights are sometimes granted subject to an occupancy agreement, which is similar to a lease. In equity cooperatives, occupancy rights are sometimes granted by way of the purchase agreements and legal instruments registered on the title. The corporation’s articles of incorporation and bylaws as well as occupancy agreement specifies the cooperative’s rules.

Market-rate and limited-equity co-ops

There are two main types of housing co-operative financing methods, market rate and limited equity. With market rate, the share price is allowed to rise on the open market and shareholders may sell at whatever price the market will bear when they want to move out. In many ways market rate is thus similar financially to owning a condominium, with the difference being that often the co-op may carry a mortgage, resulting in a much higher monthly fee paid to the co-op than would be so in a condominium. The purchase price of a comparable unit in the co-op is typically much lower, however.

With limited equity, the co-op has rules regarding pricing of shares when sold. The idea behind limited equity is to maintain affordable housing. A sub-set of the limited equity model is the no-equity model, which looks very much like renting, with a very low purchase price (comparable to a rental security deposit) and a monthly fee in lieu of rent. When selling, all that is re-couped is that very low purchase price.

In the United States, housing co-ops are usually categorized as corporations or LLCs and are found in abundance from Madison, Wisconsin to the Greater New York metropolitan area. There are also a number of cooperative and mutual housing projects still in operation across the US that were the result of the purchase of federal defense housing developments by their tenants or groups of returning war veterans and their families. These developments include seven of the eight middle-class housing projects built by the US Government between 1940-42 under the auspices of the Mutual Ownership Defense Housing Division of the Federal Works Agency. There are many regional housing cooperative associations, such as the Midwest Association of Housing Cooperatives, which is based in Michigan and serves the Midwest region, covering Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and more.[14]

The National Association of Housing Cooperatives (NAHC) represents all cooperatives within the United States who are members of the organization. This organization is a nonprofit, national federation of housing cooperatives, mutual housing associations, other resident-owned or controlled housing, professionals, organizations, and individuals interested in promoting the interests of cooperative housing communities.[15] NAHC is the only national cooperative housing organization, and aims to support and educate existing and new cooperative housing communities as the best and most economical form of homeownership.[16]”


“Property taxes

Probably the most common type of local tax exemption for nonprofits is from property taxes, which may apply to office equipment, automobiles and other “personal” property as well as to real estate. Usually the property has to be directly used in the activities that qualify for nonprofit status; property that is owned and rented out for commercial purposes probably is taxed just like the buildings up the street. Frequently there is an application that must be filed to claim property tax exemption and either a renewal process or spot checks by revenue agents to be sure the use of the property hasn’t been changed in a way that makes it ineligible.

Increasingly, cash-strapped local governments are seeking PILOTs (“payments in lieu of taxes”) from nonprofits, especially from large institutions and especially in cities where the tax-base is limited because of the number and size of tax-exempt organizations (both nonprofits and governments). Arrangements for PILOTs may be negotiated, and some large institutions agree to pay them because they accept the argument that they, and their employees and clients, benefit from the municipality’s services. In other cases, the negotiations can be difficult and result in bad feelings, or worse, affecting community morale.”