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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

How ‘Tenant Stewards’ Are Using TOPA to Form a Co-op

Organizers are excited about Northwest D.C.’s Baldwin House, planned as both an affordable housing cooperative and a mutual aid hub. The tenant association reached a compromise allowing some residents to stay, assigning their TOPA rights to a group that will convert their building into a limited equity cooperative intended to remain permanently affordable. As part of the agreement, other tenants will take buyouts from the newly formed nonprofit and move out. The remaining tenants—one long-time resident and another who moved into the building last summer—will live in the building as “tenant stewards,” along with new tenants after an application is made public.

Zuleima Santos, a 24-year-old recent college graduate, heard about the Baldwin House Community Collective while organizing tenants in her family’s apartment on Park Road. She’s now helping to plan the cooperative and hopes to move into the building next year, though the apartments will have a public application process for tenant stewards. 

“Hopefully next year I will have a home I can afford,” Santos says. “We like to call ourselves tenant stewards instead of tenant owners because we feel like we’re stewards of the earth and the world.”

Read the rest at Shelterforce


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