For the last century, housing cooperatives have provided residents of major American cities increased opportunity for homeownership — especially for low-income and lower-middle-class residents for whom homeownership may not be financially feasible.
Some of Chicago’s first co-ops were created in South Shore, a community that in recent years has seen a sharp uptick in evictions. Community members have pushed for an increase in affordable housing as well as policies and programs to help South Shore residents remain in the neighborhood. In July, the city approved a pilot program that will provide loans and grants to condo and co-op owners living in multi-unit buildings in South Shore and whose homes need repairs. The pilot program was created after years of pressure from local leaders, housing advocates and residents who feared displacement and wanted housing protections ahead of the Obama Presidential Center’s opening. Though the program is a welcome resource, many of the organizers’ demands have yet to be fulfilled.
City Bureau reporters surveyed more than a dozen South Shore residents about their views and feelings on housing co-ops, as we explore whether they could play a bigger role as an affordable housing solution. We learned that there is a lot of confusion about what co-ops are. Below we answer some of the most common questions. Later this year we’ll publish a more in-depth report on co-ops in Chicago.