Residents of the Columbus United Cooperative (CUC) celebrate an end to their 13-year housing struggle as they take ownership of their building as a permanently affordable, resident-owned limited-equity housing cooperative (co-op).
In August, a unanimous vote of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors allowed their 21-unit apartment building to convert to a housing cooperative. Now the residents can purchase “shares” in the co-op for $10,000, allowing them to become cooperative home owners with control of their building’s finances, membership and maintenance and the ability to pass down their home to their children.
The action brings to an end a 13-year struggle against displacement of the building’s residents and the first truly affordable home ownership opportunity in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood. The majority of these home owners earn less than 50 percent of area median income, while most of the city’s below market rate condominiums are priced affordable for households earning 80-120 percent of area median income.
This is not only a local milestone, but of national importance. The residents of 53 Columbus Ave. have been working with the San Francisco Community Land Trust (SFCLT) to protect the building and to convert it into a permanently affordable housing cooperative. The CUC-SFCLT collaboration is the first community land trust in the country to use a housing cooperative explicitly to prevent the eviction of current residents.