838 Park: A Story of Cooperation Among Cooperatives

838 Park: A Story of Cooperation Among Cooperatives 838 Park became an HDFC (Housing Development Fund Corporation), a limited equity—or capped income—co-op in 2005, and is one of 72 HDFC co-op buildings with 1,349 units in Crown Heights. There are 355 HDFC co-op buildings in Brooklyn with 5,291 units, and 1,283 HDFC co-op buildings and 26,201 units city-wide, according to the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), an organization that supports residents and shareholders to create and sustain affordable housing cooperatives. Most were formed during the 1970s when landlords abandoned thousands of buildings, leaving a significant amount of New Yorkers with a housing crisis. UHAB and residents took matters into their own hand, and through sweat equity, cooperation, and collective ownership secured genuinely affordable and quality housing for low and moderate income New Yorkers. Long-term shareholder Rebecca Robinson-Lawrence recalls, “I have lived at 838 Park Place for almost fifty years and to have your home go from being nearly condemned and/or sold off to a private entity to a moderately priced cooperative is nothing short of a miracle.  No one would […]

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Snapshot: Rania Dalloul

Assistant Communications Director, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board How did you get into this work? I moved to the U.S. in 2013, after working in Beirut, Lebanon for a few years. I was in the field of community development, trying to improve living, housing, and educational conditions of Palestinian refugees through various approaches, each one not really fulfilling the work that I felt was necessary. I tried working with UN agencies, being a field officer, a researcher, a teacher, and helped build a creative education nonprofit, all in the name of working towards building capacity within disenfranchised communities. What I eventually realized was that all of these entities that I had used as pathways to making a difference for the people and land I cared about, were not actually established to dismantle the systems which limit their freedom, but are otherwise there to maintain them. It was a gradual heartbreak—I wanted to disrupt those systems and I couldn’t figure out where to start. Fast forward to New York City, where I ended up working at UHAB with limited-equity housing co-ops, a […]

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Snapshot: Ed Yaker

Board Member and Treasurer for the Amalgamated Housing Corporation Board Member of A.H. Consumers Society Board Member of Herman Liebman Memorial Fund How did you get into this work? I was born and raised here at Amalgamated.  I lived elsewhere for a few years, and when I got my own apartment here as a shareholder, I noticed changes in the neighborhood.  I ran for the board, and was first elected in December 1977.  The night I was elected, Hy Bass who was president at the time said to me, “It’s like a vacuum, it’s going to suck you in.”  Wow, was he right.  There were three years that I wasn’t on the Amalgamated board, but I have been active in this co-op and other co-op organizations more than forty years now. What does ‘solidarity economy’ mean to you? I’m not that familiar with the term but it strikes me as being aligned with the philosophy of “the greatest good for the greatest number of people.”  It’s a natural fit for cooperatives, promoting benefits for all, not just a few. What […]

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Cooperation in Childcare

Last month researchers, developers, academics, and cooperators got together to discuss the following question: how can we use success stories to build out childcare cooperatives as a solution to the problems in NYC? The convening centered around a report done by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Communities, the Democracy at Work Institute, and the ICA Group. According to this research, 52% of low income families in NYC are in need of subsidized childcare, and only 1 out of every 4 of these families are actually accessing these programs (the most common of which are Early Learn, Universal Pre K, Head Start, and Family Child Care).   The problem? Some of these programs are seasonal; for example, Universal Pre K only runs until June. Costs remain between $16,000 and $21,00 per year per child; with inadequate government reimbursement, many New Yorkers (including childcare workers themselves) cannot afford childcare High worker turnover (25%-50%) in an industry that is part time for most workers Low wages, with the average childcare worker making $12 an hour in NYC, combined with lack of benefits Inadequate […]

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Real Estate Investment Cooperative General Meeting

The New York City Real Estate Investment Cooperative—a group of over 400 individuals looking to secure permanently affordable space for civic, cultural, and cooperative uses—held it’s July member meeting on the 27th at the Brooklyn Public Library. The packed room first heard from 596 Acres about different pathways to community land access, and then heard from New York residents looking for support on real estate projects, including the preservation of a historic church and strong community programming in Brownsville as well as affordable housing in Inwood. There are many different pathways to community land access, including but not limited to: city owned land, land stewarded via a lease to trusty non-profit that leases it from the city, community land owned by an absentee owner, or eminent domain for good. In exploring this different modes of ownership, 596 acres’ Mara Kravitz offered examples of land in the city that has become publicly accessible through these means (like the Maple Street Community Garden or El Jardin del Paraiso) while also answering different questions from the membership. Fortunately, thanks to a play the REIC steering committee put […]

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