We conduct legal research on land and housing issues and publish easy-to-read legal information on our 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!
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.
In this video, the Northern California Land Trust, Oakland Community Land Trust, and the Law Center cover the legal nuts and bolts of permanently affordable/shared equity housing, including different legal models and funding mechanisms to remove housing from the speculative market.
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.
The Resilient Communities Legal Cafe provides direct legal advice, workshops, teach-ins, discussions, and legal services supporting the creation of:
Find the dates and locations for each Legal Cafe on our Legal Cafe events calendar.
Our Teach-ins provide practical, participatory, and action oriented discussions around food, housing, livelihoods, transportation, and more! Many of our most popular teach-ins focus on housing co-ownership, innovative ways of financing land and housing, and more. Check our events calendar for upcoming events and teach-ins!
Past Teach-ins have included:
- The Gritty, Moral Solution to the Housing Crisis with David Giesen
Legalizing Tiny Homes: The Ten-Year Plan
Chapter 9 of the Law Center’s book, Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy, focuses on legal tools for the creation of more economically sustainable housing models.
The Law Center is creating detailed legal case studies of communities and housing solutions that emphasize sharing, affordability, and sustainability. This work looks particularly at models of shared housing, including cohousing communities, ecovillages, and housing cooperatives. The legal case studies are designed to allow other groups to replicate existing housing models. Click here for one legal case study by the Sustainable Economies Law Center.
Housing and Land Policy
Policy Brief on Short-Term Rentals: Coming soon!
Housing and Land Advocacy
AB 569: A bill to facilitate the development of cooperative housing in California
UPDATE September 29, 2014
Over the weekend the Governor signed another bill that Sustainable Economies Law Center helped create! This bill, AB 569, will facilitate cooperative housing development in California, especially the creation of Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives (LEHCs). LEHCs provide residents with a unique form of equity stake in their home that restricts the resale value of shares to keep the prices low when regular market forces would otherwise drive them up.
This is the culmination of three years of work by a coalition of organizations, including the Sustainable Economies Law Center, the California Center for Cooperative Development, the Bay Area Community Land Trust, and other organizations that support affordable and cooperative housing throughout California. Assemblymember Ed Chau backed the bill and helped it through the legislative process.
So many people are seeking more stable and affordable housing in California, especially in the Bay Area's volatile housing market. The legal landscape surrounding the creation of cooperative housing in California is unnecessarily complex, which is why we helped write and support AB 569.
AB 569 will remove two of the most significant barriers to the cooperative ownership of housing and make one minor amendment to facilitate the operation of smaller housing cooperatives. AB 569 will address these barriers by making the following amendments:
1) Remove Barriers to Financing for Cooperative Housing: Until AB 569 goes into effect next year, the California Subdivided Lands Act prohibits the sale of housing cooperative shares when the units are subject to a mortgage secured by the entire property, which has the effect of banning housing cooperatives in California, since most cooperatives finance the purchase of a building with a single blanket mortgage. AB 569 creates safeguards to protect members of cooperatives, while allowing a cooperative to actually obtain a mortgage.
2) Modify the Situations in which Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives are Exempt from the Public Report Requirement: This expands the opportunities under which Limited Equity Housing Co-ops can secure an exemption from the costly public report requirement by adding state or federally charted credit unions and state or federally certified community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to the list of financing agencies qualified to enter into the regulatory agreement under the public report exemption.
3) Remove Burdensome Election Procedures for Collectively Governed Housing Cooperatives by exempting housing cooperative where every member serves on the board of directors from burdensome election procedure in the California Davis Stirling Act.
SELC and the rest of the coalition that worked on this bill also hoped for amendments to the California Subdivision Map Act that would remove other unnecessary barriers to creating cooperative housing in California. We got a lot accomplished with the bill this year by amending many confusing provisions of law, which required educating legislators about housing cooperatives. We didn't want to run the risk of the bill getting further stalled by adding more layers of complexity, but we hope to be part of efforts in the future to make more revisions to state laws so they are more conducive to housing cooperatives.
Click here to sign up for SELC's program newsletter and receive occasional action alerts and updates!
SELC is supporting AB 1024, An Act to facilitate cooperative ownership of housing in California, along with several other organizations around the state. The bill passed unanimously out of the Committee on Housing and Community Development in the California State Assembly last month and is heading towards the Judiciary Committee. Click here to learn more.