We aim to amplify the great things already happening in the solidarity economy here on the North Coast, as well as to build our community’s capacity for responsible resilience going forward. Please explore, connect with, and support the people and organizations listed below already doing great work, and/or contact us to join our work towards making this program area even more robust!
We believe that housing is a right, not a commodity. We’re not accustomed to thinking or talking about housing as a basic right for everybody, but shouldn’t we? Other than food and water, what is more basic a need than shelter?
Corporations and wealthy individuals are consolidating more real property as the path to homeownership for ordinary people becomes more and more elusive. In California, there’s a housing shortage of 1.5 million units, and renters account for over half of the market.
With greater demand and rising rents, homelessness is also increasing.
Below are some existing resources, and then some information on housing cooperatives – a model that we will use in our housing program.
- Redwood Community Action Agency’s property management – RCAA owns rental properties in Eureka, McKinleyville and Fortuna; which include two and three-bedroom units. Their funding association with Home Investment Partnerships Program assists them in providing affordable housing for low to moderate income individuals and families.
- Housing Humboldt (also known as Humboldt Bay Housing and Development Corporation) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing and managing quality, safe and affordable housing for lower and moderate-income individuals, families and seniors.
- Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives provides information, education, advocacy and policy development for affordable housing with the homeless in Humboldt County.
- HSU Off-Campus Housing is a great resource for anyone looking to rent in Humboldt County, including meal plans, renters rights and information on renters insurance as well as resources such as meal planning and local public transportation. Chante Catt is the HSU off-campus housing liaison who also advocates for homeless students in our area.
Emerging Trends and Opportunities
“How to Start a Housing Co-op” on Shareable breaks down the different types of co-ops that are active, and provides some examples of each type of Housing Co-op.
For our purposes, we provided the following 2 models and examples as potential projects for us as follows:
Rental or leasehold coops are democratically run organizations of tenants that equitably share costs of renting or leasing a building owned by someone else such as a non-profit organization that includes tenants on its decision-making committees. The tenants share the management responsibility. Nonprofits can buy a building and rent it out to lower income folks, or city or county governments can donate land or vacant buildings to the non-profit for low-income housing opportunities. This is currently the model that we feel is most reachable for us at this time and we will spend most of our energy working on this.
An example of this model is the Solar Community Housing Association in Davis, CA. Their mission is very similar to ours, and we hope to partner with them and learn in our early planning stages what was successful and what were their challenges along the way.
“Anna-Ruth Crittenden drills holes in a wooden banister while chatting with Shannon Harney and Emily Dalmeyer at the Baggins End Domes site Saturday, during a work party attended by hundreds of volunteers. Organizers hope to have the unusual homes ready for occupancy again by Jan. 1.” Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise Yolo County News
Another example worth mentioning is the Berkeley Student Cooperative, whose mission is to provide a quality, low-cost, cooperative housing community to university students, thereby providing an educational opportunity for students who might not otherwise be able to afford a university education. Presently the BSC has over 1,300 student members living in or eating at seventeen houses and three apartment cooperatives around the UC Berkeley campus. Each house is democratically run, and everyone contributes labor to help keep housing costs affordable. Founded in 1933, the BSC is the largest student housing cooperative in the United States.
Limited- or zero-equity affordable housing coops receive grants and government subsidies to make coop shares more affordable to low-income people. They keep the housing permanently affordable through legal restrictions on the amount of gain on a future sale of the coop share. Often these are organized groups of low-income tenants that agree to collectively buy the building they already rent through a nonprofit, usually a land trust that holds title to the land and takes it off the speculative market. It’s a great way to make permanent gains in the fight against gentrification.
The San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) is a great example of this type of cooperative housing. We may consider this type of housing model in the future.
SFCLT purchased 568-570 Natoma in April 2016 with the help of Community Partners (including SOMCAN and Supervisor Jane Kim) and funding from the City’s Small Sites Program and Boston Private, preventing the displacement of multiple generations of SOMA residents.