The State of Housing Cooperatives in the Year 2010
– By Bill Magee, ARM, IAP, NAP, CCD President Noble Square Cooperative, President MAHC
Cooperatives have good times and bad times the same as any other organization, but the founding cooperative principles
by which cooperatives govern themselves provide them with the power to stay the course.
In this turbulent economic environment we have seen giants of industry fall, entire blocks of homes foreclosed upon,
unemployment skyrocket. But Cooperatives' have for the most part been able to weather the storm. What is the key to
our survival in this challenging time? Cooperatives by their very nature are frugal and tend to live within their means.
The dangers of spending what you don't have and basing your decisions on pure speculation could not have been made
clearer than in the last 18 months of American history.
Are many Cooperatives today facing challenges with vacancy and delinquency issues? Yes. Are those challenges threatening
their existence? No. Cooperatives as a whole are alive and well. Our economic principles allow us the courage to
cut back when necessary, to adjust our budgets, tighten our belts, to survive and move into the future.
Many Cooperatives are facing the payoff of their first mortgages, ending of use agreements and or refinancing to make
needed improvements to aging structures. But unlike other multifamily developments, Cooperatives are seeing success
in their refinancing efforts due to their adherence to the foundational principles we follow. Cooperatives have one of the
highest retention rates of any sort of housing in the country. Not many multifamily properties can boast multi generational
members who have been associated with the properties for 30‐40 years. However, this type of longevity is common
place in Cooperatives. Because the people who live in cooperatives are committed to them and to their surrounding
community. This investment in the community and in the place that they live attract lenders as it shows incredible
We owe much to the foresight of those Rochdale Pioneers who so long ago created the template which has given us the
strength to survive and thrive even in times such as these.
Will Cooperatives continue to be challenged by changes in governmental regulations? Of course. We live in a county
that is continually evolving, we have to evolve with it or be left behind. As Cooperatives move into the future we do
need to recognize that we don't always do a good job coming together. Let's face it, sometimes we allow ego and past
disagreements to cloud the realities of the day. This is something we all need to improve upon.
Cooperatives will continue to negotiate, organize, vote and educate. We have a never ending task and responsibility to
continually seek a better life for our members. The Cooperative movement is still strong despite the economic environment
of the times. Cooperatives are here to stay. Those with eyes wide open can easily see the many advantages that
Cooperatives have in the way of stability and sustainability when compared to other housing choices available. Administrations
will come and go, Presidents will come and go, fashions will come and go but the people who choose to live in
Cooperatives will remain. Cooperators live under a 24/7 philosophy by the people and for the people.
Can I tell you what the future holds? No. What I can tell you is that Cooperatives will continue to face the future concerned
and aware of what pitfalls there may be but they also face the future unafraid because the bridges that were built
by the Rochdale Pioneers so long ago continue to be built by today's Cooperatives' for the benefit of generations to come.