Housing Co-operatives and the Co-operative Identity (1995)

   This document has been made available in electronic format
           by the International Co-operative Alliance.



A housing co-operative is a legal association formed for the
purpose of providing housing to its members on a continuing
basis.  It is owned and controlled by its members.  A co-
operative is distinguished from other housing associations by its
ownership structure and its commitment to co-operative


Housing co-operatives exist for their members' mutual benefit.
They share with other co-operatives the values of individual
responsibility, mutual help, democracy, equality, equity, and
solidarity.  They should conduct themselves honestly and openly.


Open and Voluntary Membership

Co-operative housing should be open to all who can make use of
the services provided and are willing and able to accept the
responsibilities of membership.  Accessibility should be
encouraged through the active promotion of membership in housing
co-operatives to the full community.

Member recruitment practices should be free of intentional or
inadvertent discrimination by reason of race, colour, sex,
language, religion, political opinion, national or social origin,
age, family status, birth or disability.  A housing co-operative
may provide accommodation on a preferential basis as part of a
special programme designed to relieve hardship or economic
disadvantage of persons or groups so that they may achieve equal

Housing co-operatives should work to remove any physical,
procedural or other barrier that would limit accessibility and
prevent the fair and adequate treatment of all.

We are committed to including people with special needs in our
movement.  The design of our buildings and the organization of
our co-operatives should encourage their occupancy, participation
and full social integration.

People must be free to decide voluntarily whether or not co-
operative housing responds to their needs.  No one should be
coerced into joining a co-operative and members should be free
to withdraw from occupancy with reasonable notice.

Democratic Control by Members

Ownership of a housing co-operative should rest with those who
use its services.  Non-member households should be limited.

Members of housing co-operatives should have equal voting rights,

membership should be distributed in a manner that encourages
equal participation in the co-operative.

Democratic control of housing co-operatives is enhanced by the
full sharing of information and the provision of equal
opportunities for involvement.

Control of associations of housing co-operatives should be
exercised on a democratic basis as determined by the members of
the organization.

Members' Economic Participation

Members should contribute fairly to the capital of their housing
co-operative and share fairly the results of its operation.  The
co-operative should allocate surpluses in such a way that no
member gains inappropriately at the expense of another.  A
portion of the co-operatives' capital should be devoted to
furthering the co-operative's long-term aims.  Surpluses may be
used for this or any of the following purposes:

     a.   developing the business of the co-operative;
     b.   providing and improving members services:
     c.   rewarding members in proportion to their use of the
     d.   supporting further development of the co-operative

Commitment to Service

Housing co-operatives should strive to meet their members' needs
for affordable, good quality housing, security of tenure, and for
safe, secure neighbourhoods.  They should provide the best
quality service at a fair price.

Housing co-operatives should work to create environments where
members give and receive support beyond their shelter needs and
treat each other with respect and tolerance.

Autonomy and Independence

Housing co-operatives are independent organizations controlled
by their members.  If they enter into agreements with governments
or other organizations, they should do so freely, and on terms
that respect their autonomy.

Education, Training and Information

Housing co-operatives should provide their members and employees
with education to help them meet their responsibilities, to
deepen their commitment and to develop the co-operatives.

Housing co-operatives should seek ways of informing young people,
opinion leaders and the public of the benefits of co-operation.

Co-operation among Co-operatives

Solidarity and unity within the co-operative housing movement are
promoted through the federation of housing co-operatives in
organizations from the local to the international level.

Housing co-operatives practise inter-sectoral co-operation
through business and membership links with other types of co-
operatives and by lending assistance to co-operative development
efforts aboard.

Concern for Community and Future Generations

While existing for the purpose of meeting their members' needs,
housing co-operatives are part of a larger community and have
responsibility to future generations.  They should:

     demonstrate the principles of sustainable human settlements
     in design, construction  and operation of their buildings;

     contribute to improving the quality of life in their
     immediate neighbourhood;

     treat their employees fairly and with respect;

     uphold principles of social justice in all their affairs;

     manage their resources wisely over time so that future
     generations may continue to enjoy the benefit of the
     housing co-operative's service;

     seek the growth of the co-operative housing movement in
     their own countries and abroad.

Our Future

Respect for the guiding wisdom of the Rochdale principles enables
members to aspire to solidarity and social peace within a broad
community of co-operators which radiates outward from the single
co-operative to the international commitments of the worldwide
movement.  The achievements and the potential of housing co-
operatives stand as a challenge to mass misery, lawlessness, and
structural changes in the world economy.  Pilot projects point
the way to our future as illustrations of how common values
transcend international borders.  The basic principle of the
United Nations' Charter "Housing is a human right", should direct
our efforts to contribute towards a more liveable society for
future generations.