Brown Association for Cooperative Housing
The Brown Association for Cooperative Housing (BACH) is a 501(c)3 non-profit student housing cooperative located in Providence, Rhode Island. BACH was the first non-profit in the country given non-profit status on the basis of fighting gentrification.
BACH's founding resulted directly from a Group Independent Study Project (GISP) organized by Brown University students in 1970.
BACH was the first organization in the United States to receive non-profit status for fighting gentrification. It does this by providing an affordable housing alternative for Brown students. Ideally, the provision of low cost student housing decreases the burden on the Providence housing market, and may help prevent student renters from driving up the rent for the limited housing stock available in the College Hill area of Providence.
A detailed history on the Association from their website explores the institution's founding in the 1970s until the early 2000s.
Though BACH was founded by Brown University students, it is an incorporated entity independent of Brown University, and has an open membership. Though predominantly Brown students, recent members have included students from RISD, University of Rhode Island, and Johnson & Wales University, non-students, travelers, locals, and all sorts of other types.
BACH is an entirely student-run cooperative. There are no paid staff of any kind. Members are therefore obligated to perform all tasks relating both to the upkeep of two houses, and the running of a non-profit corporation. Towards these ends, all BACH members commit five hours per week on average. Each year, members for the next semester are chosen by random from a blind lottery system.
The current BACH houses are Finlandia co-op (116 Waterman St.) and Watermyn Co-op (166 Waterman St). 166 Waterman, purchased in 1970, was BACH's first self-owned house.
And past houses (RIP) have been:
Milhaus and Carberry were the original BACH houses, in buildings leased from Brown. They closed as co-op houses when Brown terminated the leases in September 1995. The buildings sat empty and unused for a decade. The exteriors were repainted, but until 2007 when the buildings were renovated for graduate student housing, the interiors remained untouched since eviction day in 1997. In 2005, students revisited the old houses and were greeted by art/graffiti and posters, advertising shows from a decade ago.
BACH has multiple traditions. For instance, every year Watermyn Coop is host to the world-famous invitation-only Naked Party. Also, every fall, Finlandia hosts its famous Halloween party. And once a year the two houses collaboratively host a blind-date prom.
Notable Coop Alumni
- Barnaby Evans '75 - creator of Providence's Waterfire.
- Amy Carter '89 - daughter of President Jimmy Carter.
- Nina Katchadourian '89 - artist
- Xander Marro '96 - artist
- MC Paul Barman '97 - rapper
- Erin McKeown '00 - musician
- danah boyd '00 - social media researcher