We envision a world where every person has a home, and housing is a right rather than a commodity. We prioritize working alongside low-income communities and communities of color – those who historically and currently have the least housing security – to develop legal structures and policy mechanisms that remove housing from the speculative marketplace and give communities control over land and housing resources. In particular, we promote cooperative housing, community land trusts, and other cooperative mechanisms for creating truly affordable, community controlled, and ecologically sustainable housing.
The Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Housing Program provides education, research, legal advice, and advocacy to promote more just, sustainable, and cooperative housing models.
Projects and Resources
Incubation of East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative: In partnership with the People of Color Sustainable Housing Network, the Law Center is piloting a new model of collective land ownership that mobilizes community capital to preserve affordable and democratically controlled housing and commercial spaces. Read more about this model on our PREC Pilot Project page, or visit EBPREC’s website.
Aging Cooperatively: Elders deserve to live with housing security in a community of their choosing and retain self-determination for as long as possible. The Sustainable Economies Law Center is increasing its legal support for cooperatively-owned, resident-controlled housing options for seniors. That's why we've brought on a Borchard Fellow for Law & Aging, Julie Gilgoff, to help realize this vision. To find out more, please visit our Aging Cooperatively webpage.
Legal Services: Our Center provides one-time legal advice for sustainable housing projects at our Resilient Communities Legal Cafe. Occasionally, we develop longer-term relationships with clients to create particularly unique and replicable housing models, though our capacity to do this is quite limited.
Legal Research and Online Resources: We conduct legal research on land and housing issues and publish easy-to-read legal information on our brand new online legal resource library - CommunityHousingLaw.org. This website is still a work in progress, so stay tuned for more information on starting housing cooperatives, community land trusts, and other forms of shared, cooperative, and equitable housing!
Public Education: We often host teach-ins and community conversations on a range of issues related to cooperative housing and community control of land, including this webinar on financing permanently affordable housing. Visit our events calendar to see what's coming up!
Policies and Advocacy
Policy Recommendations for Equitable Short-Term Rental Regulation
Short-term residential rentals, like those facilitated by online platforms including Airbnb, Homeaway, and Flipkey, have become a popular alternative to traditional hotels in recent years. A drastic increase in short-term rental (STR) activity has many cities feeling the negative cumulative impacts of STRs on housing prices and availability, neighborhood quality, and public revenues. However STRs can also provide some benefits, including creating opportunities for income generation, diversifying travel options, and spreading tourism dollars to local residents and businesses. Our policy recommendations for equitable short-term rental regulation balance the potential benefits of STRs with the need for protection of important public interests. Click here to read or download Regulating Short-Term Rentals: A Guidebook for Equitable Policy.
The Sustainable Economies Law Center and several key partners successfully introduced and passed AB 569, a bill to facilitate cooperative housing development in California, especially the creation of Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives (LEHCs)! Click here to learn more.
News and Blog
The latest updates on our advocacy work to create more sustainable and cooperative models of housing and land stewardship.
- Read our latest blog on "Community Development and the Commons" here.
- Read our "Slow Homes Manifesto" here.
Why Are We “Rethinking Home”?
All human beings need economically sustainable housing solutions. However, the burden of housing ourselves is heavy and the predominant options are limiting. Throughout the world, landless people’s movements are vocalizing the essential unfairness of the fact that so many people must struggle to simply secure a place to physically exist, much less make a livelihood, on the planet.
The struggle is not confined to the poor. Middle-income people in the U.S. are floundering to determine how their current housing arrangements will be financially sustainable into the future. The speculative marketplace drives many of society’s decisions about land and housing, and contributes to the scarcity of land resources. Land and housing resources have also been made artificially scarce because we have parceled them into ever larger and more expensive single-family boxes. We are “rethinking home,” because we want to challenge and change many of the predominant models for housing ourselves, and create more cooperative and just alternatives.