Student housing cooperative

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A student housing cooperative, also known as co-operative housing, is a housing cooperative for student members. Members live in alternative cooperative housing that they personally own and maintain. These houses are designed to lower housing costs while providing an educational and community environment for students to live and grow in. They are, in general, nonprofit, communal, and self-governing,[1] with students pooling their monetary and personal resources to create a community style home. Many student housing cooperatives share operation and governing of the house. As with most cooperatives, student housing coops follow the Rochdale Principles and promote collaboration and community work done by the members for mutual benefit.

Most student housing coops in Canada and the United States are members of North American Students of Cooperation.[citation needed]


Several of the earliest US student cooperatives (e.g. at Northwestern University and Wellesley College) had begun by at least 1915, for the purpose of housing female students.[2] Most student housing cooperatives are formed to provide an alternative dorm for students who are unable to afford college due to housing costs. For example, the Harriet E. Richards House [3] at Boston University (1928) was established to provide a cheap alternative to dorm life for women scholars.[4] The Berkeley Student Cooperative, amongst others, started during the Great Depression to help provide affordable food and housing for Berkeley students. Other early examples that started in the Depression years: the Cooperative Living Organization at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida founded in 1931 and the Michigan Socialist House at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan founded in 1932.

Others were formed to provide a more inclusive and supportive environment for students. Many student housing cooperatives are focused around socialist principles or political activism (Michigan Socialist House), veganism or vegetarianism, racial or ethnic identity (Biko), or environmental concerns.

Throughout the twentieth century, student housing cooperatives expanded, but some floundered. Many formed coalitions in the face of rising debt or bankruptcy.[5] The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) was formed in 1968 as a way to link existing cooperatives together while educating and improving cooperatives across North America.[6] Today, NASCO primarily serves as an association that promotes development and communication amongst coops and promotes communal living.

Management of Student Housing Cooperatives[edit]

There is not a standard way of running a housing cooperative. Most student housing cooperative members have full voting privileges on issues such as rent, future members, and community activity and then maintain an elected board of committee members who oversee the running of the cooperative.[7] Many student housing cooperatives require work shifts that help lower the overall cost of living. These may include chores or cooking. Some coops award points to the type of chore and members are required to complete a certain number of points a week.[8] All cooperatives expect members to contribute assistance throughout the year to keep the cooperative running smoothly and efficiently. It is up to the individual coops as to whether the members elect a board or committee to oversee the entire cooperative.

Partial List of Student Housing Cooperatives[edit]


Student co-operatives are situated in close proximity to colleges and universities. The second biggest student co-operative is Waterloo Co‑operative Residence Inc. in Waterloo, Ontario with 800 resident members.

The East Coast is represented by:

Central Canada is represented by:

The West Coast is represented by:

Many of the co-ops are members of The Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada and NASCO.

United Kingdom[edit]

Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative provides affordable, democratically run housing for its 106 members.

The Student Co-operative Dwellings was set up to stimulate greater opportunities for students to live in co-operatives.

There are four operational student housing co-operatives in the UK:

There are also initiatives at various stages of development to establish Housing Co-operatives in: Brighton,[15] Exeter,[16] Glasgow,[17] Leeds,[18] Newcastle[citation needed], Norwich [19] and Nottingham.[20]

All operating coops and initiatives are members of Students for Cooperation, a UK wide federation of student co-operatives which includes a number of other groups across the UK working to establish student housing co-operatives.[21] Students for Cooperation have conducted a primary report and are seeking to establish a National Body of Student Housing Cooperatives (NBSHC) to help support and grow the UK student housing cooperative movement.[22][23]

An unsuccessful plan to launch a student housing co-operative took place in 2004, when MMUnion partnered with the National Union of Students and Confederation of Co-operative Housing [24] to offer cheaper cooperatively owned alternatives to city housing for Manchester Metropolitan University students. The NUS plan unfortunately fell through as NUS management changed.[25]

United States[edit]

Artist, student and community co-operatives are common in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of these housing co-operatives are members of organizations such as NASCO.

Currently, the biggest student co-op is the Berkeley Student Cooperative, formerly known as the University Students Cooperative Association, in Berkeley, CA with 1300 students living in 17 houses and 3 apartment complexes. Other large-scale co-op systems include MSU Student Housing Cooperative of Michigan State University, the Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan, and UCLA University Cooperative Housing Association with 400+ students.

Other examples of such cooperatives include:


Three student housing cooperatives are presently operating in Australia.

  • STUCCO Cooperative Ltd [43] in Newtown, founded in 1982
  • Canberra Student Housing Co-op [44] in Canberra, founded in 2010
  • Bareport in Melbourne, founded in 2014[45]


  1. ^ "About our Cooperative". MSU Student Housing Cooperative. Archived from the original on 2013-12-06.
  2. ^ The Dean of Women By Lois Kimball Mathews Rosenberry
  3. ^ Harriet E. Richards House
  4. ^ "Mission & Founding". HER House.
  5. ^ "About Us". Riverton Community Housing.
  6. ^ "About Us". NASCO.
  7. ^ "Committees". MSU Student Housing Cooperative. Archived from the original on 2014-01-02.
  8. ^ "Workshift". Berkeley Student Cooperative.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ Campus Co‑operative Residence Inc.
  11. ^ Guelph Campus Co‑operative
  12. ^ Science ’44
  13. ^ Assiniboia Community Housing Co‑operative
  14. ^ Birmingham Student Housing Co-operative
  15. ^ "Home". SEASALT Housing Co-operative. Retrieved 2019-07-23.
  16. ^ Exeposé: Could new “co-op” solve Exeter’s student housing troubles?
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ Co-operatives UK Directory: Leeds Student Housing Cooperative
  19. ^ Co-operatives UK Directory: Norwich Student Housing Cooperative
  20. ^ Impact Nottingham: Housing Co-operative Referendum? Why You Should Vote Yes.
  21. ^ "Housing Co-op List". Students for Cooperation. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  22. ^ Creating a National Body of Student Housing Co-operatives
  23. ^ Feasibility Study for a National Body of Student Housing Co-ops
  24. ^ Confederation of Co-operative Housing
  25. ^ Housing co-op plans for students
  26. ^ Bloomington Cooperative Living
  27. ^ College Houses
  28. ^ Dudley Coop
  29. ^ [3]
  30. ^ Kalamazoo Collective Housing
  31. ^ UKSHA (the University of Kansas Student Housing Association)
  32. ^ Cooperative Housing at the University of Maryland
  33. ^ University of Minnesota Students Co-op
  34. ^ Riverton Community Housing
  35. ^ Minnesota Students' Cooperative
  36. ^ Students' Co-Op
  37. ^ Penn Haven Housing Cooperative
  38. ^ Cooperative Housing at Purdue
  39. ^ Santa Cruz Student Housing Co-ops
  40. ^ Stanford Housing Cooperatives
  41. ^ Tri Co-ops
  42. ^ [4]
  43. ^ STUCCO Cooperative Ltd
  44. ^ Canberra Student Housing Co-op
  45. ^ Bareport Housing Co-operative Archived 2014-09-04 at the Wayback Machine