Affordable Housing Co-ops: Opportunity, Resilience and Sustainability

Some of you might be familiar with Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), an organization that develops and supports shared equity, affordable housing cooperatives in New York City. A few months into the pandemic they released this report on the impact of covid on the HDFCs co-op community (the legal name of this type of affordable housing co-op in NYC)  which consists of over 1,000 buildings and 30,000 residents. It is a short report with some great graphic maps. As you would expect, covid has revealed existing racial and economic inequities in the community. 

There were some other aspects of this report that stood out to me and are relevant to our discussion. The cooperative community provided a built-in ecosystem that was a catalyst for immediate response, technical assistance, and information gathering during the first weeks of the pandemic. This community includes the HDFC residents, other co-op sectors, mutual aid societies, and support organizations. The HDFC residents who own their building are not reliant on landlords to give them rent breaks, they make their own decisions on how to balance rent collection and building expenses.  

The maps in this report jumped out at me because you can see how co-ops create opportunities and sustainability in neighborhoods that experienced historical, intentional structural racism. The map of HDFCs in NYC overlaps almost exactly with the historical redlining maps. This means that this affordable housing co-op model allowed people of color to own their buildings in areas where they could not historically obtain mortgages. HDFCs have also weathered gentrification and remained affordable in neighborhoods, like Harlem and the Lower East Side, that were disinvested in the 1970s but are currently hot markets.     

Let me know what you think of this report. I must admit this form of writing is not coming naturally to me so far, I will trust the process. I look forward to meeting everyone next week, it is a whirlwind since I am moving on Saturday. I hope to be able to keep up with the assignment this weekend.

One thought on “Affordable Housing Co-ops: Opportunity, Resilience and Sustainability

  1. Alison – kudos on taking the leap to publish your first post. It’s great to see this report. I didn’t realize until this week that co-ops comprise 25% of the US multi family housing stock? that must be in large part to the folks in New York. thanks for linking these maps to the historic redlining. A lot of work to do. Grateful that you’re here.


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