What is an Intentional Community?
intentional community is a planned residential community designed from
the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The
members of an intentional community typically hold a common social,
political, religious, or vision."
Intentional communities are often a very affordable housing solution for renters or someone wishing to purchase a home as well.
Best of all, an Intentional Community is a community where basically, the owners get to design their own neighborhood.
In our case, NNDC strives to assist living in homes and communities that have a strong sense sustainability, affordability, natural beauty, dignity, enrichment and fairness. NNDC's consultant partners have over 25 yrs experience supporting and developing new and growing cooperatives, helping them become established, stable member-controlled businesses. Our consulting strategy is rooted in empowering clients through education, rather than providing one-size-fits-all solutions. Our insight is drawn from experienced consultation of 25 yrs of seasoned communitarians.
Creative financing models will create a more for rent and home ownership to more affordable with creative variety of opportunities homeowners through:
- Shared or Limited Equity Cooperative Housing home-ownership or rental
- Sweat Equity - learn and help build under Contract/Mentorship of professional Natural Builders and architects earning sweat equity
- Cooperative Investing among the homeowners - owners own their neighborhood, not just their own home
- Tax and grant benefits of partnering as a mixed income and sustainably designed community
Naturally Built Neighborhoods use holistic approaches to sustainable development. They are Permaculturally Master Planned communities with appropriately sized custom bungalow homes with varied setbacks interspersed with walkable gardens and sidewalks through food forests responding to natural site variations and preserving trees. No clearing. Only sensitive harvesting of all vegetation, private outdoor spaces integrated into the architecture of the homes.
Natural Homes combine comprehensive systems approaches innovatively into the building technology for passive designs featuring the revival of traditional efficient features such as convection chimneys for passive cooling, trombe walls, thermal mass earthen construction and NO VOC plasters, paints and finishes.
Together these Natural homes, neighborhoods and communities will further help to lessen our impact on our planet while creating a vibrant and enriching place to call home.
NNDC strives to offer a development structure that provides a balance of responsible social, economical and environmental solutions to the lack of affordable, healthy housing and the revival of time proven but forgotten exemplary efficient building skills.
WHY COOPERATIVES ARE ONE OF THE BEST AND MOST ECONOMICAL FORMS OF HOMEOWNERSHIP
Housing Co-ops? Similar to Condominiums or Townhouses?
Housing cooperatives are more than just an interesting and unusual way to hold real estate. Housing cooperatives are communities of people who share a common interest. Fundamentally, this common interest can be, and often is, simply a shared interest in affordable housing and related services. As this guide explains, housing cooperatives are, by their nature, uniquely suited to deliver affordable housing for a variety of reasons. Co-ops offer affordable home ownership, critical financial benefits such as equity accumulation, and a more stable and vibrant community. In summary, co-ops offer:
• As a resident-controlled entity, co-ops operate at cost, returning to members any surplus after accounting for expenses and reserves
• Co-ops can be financed either collectively or individually or some combination of the two, offering residents a range of flexible financing options
• Co-ops can limit resale prices, creating a perpetual resource for affordable housing
• Transaction costs are typically lower for residents buying into a co-op as opposed to condos, townhouses, or single family homes
• Co-ops can take advantage of group purchasing opportunities
• Stable and affordable housing costs
• Member ownership, removing the third party profit motive
• Transaction costs that are lower than those for a conventional mortgage
• Member control, motivating members to be better stewards of the co-op’s assets
• Development of resident leadership skills
The co-op housing model also provides low-income households with a way to accumulate personal wealth, through equity accumulation, mortgage interest deductions, favorable property tax treatment, and homestead tax classification. Money normally spent on higher-cost housing can instead be redirected to opening of a small business, a return to school, or future purchase of a single family home.
Co-op members realize intangible benefits of home ownership as well. They come to depend on stable housing costs, benefit from participating in control of the co-op, and reap the social capital that comes from having a broad network of neighbors to work with and depend on. Finally, the community at-large benefits from co-op members’ increased civic participation and leadership development.
Co-ops have other non-financial advantages as well:
• Manufactured home park cooperatives, for example, provide security to their members by eliminating the risk of a park sale or closing.
• The cooperative member screening process means that co-op home owners are much less susceptible to predatory lenders.
• Housing cooperatives enable residents to make shared decisions about how their dwellings will be managed and operated, and the shared nature of decision-making provides a means for neighbors to get to know each other on the basis of shared interests.
Housing cooperatives in both urban and rural communities across the country provide millions of households of modest means with home ownership, security, community and the opportunity for self-governance.
Guided by Cooperative Principles
Equity. Equality. Self-help. Democracy. Solidarity.
These are the guiding values upon which the modern cooperative movement is founded and the basis for the organization of every cooperative enterprise in the world today.
The benefits of cooperative housing aren’t limited to the co-op residents themselves. Limited equity cooperatives have been shown to be a more economical form of affordable housing development for local governments, non-profits and other community partners that choose to fund co-op
development. In a 1998 study of low-income housing projects, researchers found that cooperative ownership reduced housing operating costs because cooperative residents both participate in governance and directly realize the benefits of controlling costs. In addition, a 1993 Urban Institute study compared the performance of HUD multi-family insured mortgage programs, which included cooperatives and non-profit, limited-dividend and profit-motivated owners. Researchers found that cooperatives represent a low-risk investment. Indeed, cooperatives had the lowest borrower default rate among all models in the Section 221(d)3 program.
Communities also reap many benefits from the cooperative model. These range from enhanced resident safety to entry-level home ownership opportunities. Communities can use the co-op structure to keep seniors in the community. Finally, co-ops are a unique way for communities to support economic development without displacing low-income residents.
Operations for the Benefit of Members
A housing co-op’s main purpose is to provide affordable housing for its members, who are charged only for the actual cost of running the co-op. A co-op is in business to meet member needs but, like any business, it must make at least as much money as it spends. Housing co-ops generally operate at-cost or on a not-for-profit basis. Beyond everyday expenses, most housing co-ops reserve money for emergencies, vacancies, unexpected increases in operating costs, regular maintenance and planned property improvements.
An investor-owned housing development, in contrast, is in business to make money, not to benefit residents. Revenues (rents) are set at a rate that will not only cover expenses, but also provide a benefit to the property owner. Decisions related to property maintenance and improvements are made by the owner, and may or may not be made with the best interests of residents in mind.
The origins of the modern cooperative movement can be traced to the city of Rochdale, England, at the beginning of the industrial revolution. In 1844, a group of industrial workers, tired of poor quality and high-priced goods sold through the company store, set out to make things right. The Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers opened its first cooperative store on Toad Lane.
From the outset, the group’s purpose was nobler than simply selling quality, affordable provisions and clothing. It also proposed the building of houses (in the words of the Rochdale pioneers) “in which those members desiring to assist each other improving their domestic and social conditions, may reside; the formation of worker cooperatives to help the unemployed; the purchase of land for common cultivation; and, the promotion of education and sobriety.” While some of these early efforts were more successful than others, the clarity, consistency and breadth of the thinking of these early cooperative principles is striking. From the beginning, these co-op pioneers envisioned cooperatives as a way to give ordinary people greater control over their lives, improve their
economic conditions, and protect them during hard times. These principles, developed more than 150 years ago, live on today in the thousands of cooperative institutions that exist throughout the United States and the world.
More About What is a Housing Cooperative?
A housing cooperative is… formed when people join on a democratic basis to own or control the housing and/or related community facilities in which they live. Usually they do this by forming a not-for-profit cooperative corporation. Each month they pay a fee to cover their share of the operating expenses of the corporation. Operating expenses may include: underlying mortgage payments, property taxes, management, maintenance, insurance, utilities, and contributions to reserve funds. Cooperative home ownership offers many benefits including: personal income tax deductions, lower turnover rates, lower real estate tax assessments (in most areas), controlled maintenance costs, and resident participation and control. In the United States, more than 1.2 million families of all income levels live in homes owned and operated through cooperative associations.
Cooperative housing is not a new concept. The first housing cooperative in the nation was organized in New York City in the late 1800s. Today, large numbers of housing cooperatives are located in major urban areas such as Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Housing cooperatives come in many shapes and sizes: cooperatives include townhouses, garden apartments, mid- and high-rise apartments, single-family homes, student housing, senior housing, and mobile home parks. The purchase price of cooperative membership can be left to the market or the price can be maintained at below market to preserve affordability. All cooperatives share a common set of principles adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance.
The key aspect in any cooperative is democratic control by the members to achieve an agreed upon common objective. Democratic control is typically accomplished through governance by volunteer boards of directors elected from the entire membership. In addition to the board, cooperatives often have many committees, to cover a variety of areas such as: membership, maintenance, activities and communications. Most cooperatives hire a manager or management company to perform management functions; smaller cooperatives will often have no paid staff or management but will have members manage all maintenance and operations responsibilities.