Skip to main content

Full text of "Get your own home the co-operative way"

See other formats





By Elsie Danenber^ 


by Elsie Danenberg 

If you are in the middle-to-low income 
brackets, you have undoubtedly discovered 
that you cannot afford to build your own 
home. The few families that have built 
are saddled with unbearable mortgages 
and carrying charges. No you and millions 
of other Americans can't swing it. Not by 
yourself, you can't. 

But it may surprise you to learn that 
more than 30,000 families all over the 
U. S. have built their own homes families 
with very limited capital. They've done 
it merely by banding together into groups, 
or co-operatives, in order to purchase their 
land jointly, obtain materials in large 
quantities, and contract as a unit for 
architectural and building services, and 
for equipment and furnishings. 

This book is simply the actual story of 
how some of these groups built homes of 
their own at savings of hundreds to thou- 
sands of dollars. No detail of planning 
and financing is omitted. Mistakes are 
treated as fully as successful achievements. 
The groups range in size from six families 
to several hundred. In composition, they 
range from literally penniless miners and 
farm laborers to university professors, 
architects, scientists, engineers and busi- 

From the collection of the 




i a 



San Francisco, California 






by Elsie Danenberg 




A Corporation 


Chapter Page 


Birth of co-operatives in Rochdale, England Rochdale 
principles growth of co-ops in Great Britain co-ops in 
Europe, Iceland, Asia, Palestine, South America, Africa, 
Canada first co-ops in United States, first co-op law, rise 
of Grangers, rural co-ops, oil co-ops producing co-ops, 
marketing co-ops, purchasing co-ops, servicing co-ops 
credit unions, hospitals, stores Co-operative League of 
USA National Co-operatives, Inc. taxes paid by co-op- 
eratives housing co-operatives in Europe, Asia, Australia, 
South Africa, Australia, South America, Alaska, Nova 
Scotia, Canada, and the United States. 


Formal and informal housing co-ops extent of co-opera- 
tion types of sponsorship self-help co-ops types of 
communities: urban, rural, suburban homesteads co- 
operative communities balanced communities occupa- 
tions of members: manual, clerical, farming, factory, pro- 
fessional how to organize a housing co-operative in 
twenty-one steps. 


Outline of twenty-one steps to guide new co-ops organi- 
zational expenses incorporation, charters, by-laws, laws 
governing co-ops use of debentures, preferred stock, com- 
mon stock, bonds use of legal instruments including 
ground leases, construction contracts, surety bonds, mort- 
gage deeds, quit claim deeds, warranty deeds, fee simple 
selection of site options costs of development FHA-in- 
sured and VA-guaranteed mortgages, conventional financ- 
ing combined FHA- and V A- financing down-payments 

iv Contents 

Chapter Page 

and equity purchase of land constructions loans per- 
manent financing, blanket mortgages and release clauses 
mortgage reduction and types of payment reserves 
FHA requirements types of contractors' contracts, per- 
formance bonds, completion bonds, mechanic's liens final 
by-laws monthly payments and rentals WET Bill tax 
exemptions table of monthly charges for FHA-insured 
homes leases and purchase contracts useful pamphlets 
on financing housing co-operatives. 













16. MUTUALS 142 



Cresttuood Madison, Wiscon- St. Paul and Minneapolis, 
sin 148 Minnesota 151 


Kenosha, Wisconsin 152 South Bend, Indiana 152 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania .. 152 Front Royal, Virginia 153 

St. Louis, Missouri 152 





Dayton, Ohio 153 

Audubon Park, New Jersey. . 154 
Dallas and Grand Prairie, 

Texas 155 

West Acres, Michigan 155 

Oak Park, Dayton, Ohio 155 

Mineral Wells, Texas 156 

Greenbelt, Maryland 156 

Duluth, Minnesota 157 

Linden, New Jersey 157 

Other Mutuals . .157 


Naylor Gardens, Washington, New Brunswick, New Jersey. 162 

D - c 158 Mishawaka, Indiana 162 

Charlotte, N. Carolina 158 Chicago, Illinois 162 

} r'T g nl' N ' ^ "" ^o Lorain > Oh ' ' 163 

Toledo, Ohio 159 .,, , Tr , T7 . . . 

Eaton Rouge, Louisiana 159 ^arleston, West Virgin* ... 163 

Dayton, Ohio 161 Larchmonj, New York 163 

Salt Lake City, Utah 161 Abington, Pennsylvania 164 

Columbus, Ohio 161 Silver Springs, Maryland .... 165 

Palos Verdes, California 161 Cold Springs, Kentucky 165 



Granger, Iowa 166 Winchester, Massachusetts ... 177 

Lexington, Massachusetts .... 167 Chicago, Illinois 177 

lona, Idaho 168 Milwaukee, Wisconsin 177 

Niles, Illinois 169 Stamford, Connecticut 178 

Schenectady, New York 170 Melbourne, Florida 178 

Chapel Hill, N. Carolina 170 Millinocket, Maine 179 

Indianapolis, Indiana . 171 Yellow Springs, Ohio 179' 

New Brighton, Minnesota ... 171 Detroit, Michigan 179 

Mount Pleasant, New York. . 172 Macedonia, Georgia 180 

Indianapolis, Indiana 173 Celo, North Carolina 180 

Boulder, Colorado '. . . 173 Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania . . 181 

Watsonville, California 173 Ramapo, New York 181 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 174 Hollywood, California 182 

Syracuse, New York 175 Chicago, Illinois 182 

Dayton, Ohio 176 Media, Pennsylvania 183 

Glenview, Illinois 176 West Haven, Connecticut ... 184 



Front Top One of the two-story stone houses with stream- 
lined kitchens built by miners in the self-help co-operative com- 
munity of Penn-Craft, East Millsboro, Pennsylvania. Cash out- 
lay for each house was $2000. Every home represents 35,000 
hours of man labor. 

Front Center One of the cement block homes built co-op- 
eratively by the American Homesteading Foundation at Mel- 
bourne, Florida. Units cost $7000. 

Front Bottom One of a group of brick homes, costing from 
$5500 to $8000, in a co-operative community in Front Royal, 
Virginia. The development was sponsored by the Textile Work- 
ers Union. 

Back of Jacket Aerial view of Legion Village, a community 
of 250 homes in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, sponsored by the 
American Legion. Houses cost from $6300 to $7700. 


lona, Idaho. Before and after. . . 22 

Columbia, North Carolina. Before and after 23 

Granger, Iowa. Before and after 54 

Mutual Housing Association in Los Angeles, California 55 

Snake Hill, Belmont, Massachusetts 86 

Veterans' housing in San Jose, California 87 

Bryn Gweled, Feasterville, Pennsylvania 118 

Greenmont Mutual Housing Development in Dayton, Ohio 118 

Projected student residence, University of Washington, Seattle. . 119 



There are many advantages in the co-operative method of building 
homes. Most of the disadvantages arise from the members' incom- 
plete acceptance of the work-together principle. It is not to be expected 
that all those who join a housing association will be imbued with 
mutualism. Co-operators are made, not born. The give-and-take neces- 
sary for the smooth functioning and for the success of the co-operative 
must be learned just as surely as the intricacies of financing the project 
must be learned. The extent to which this work-together principle is 
practiced will determine, in large measure, the success of the co-opera- 

Listed as a "disadvantage" of the true co-operative (in which title 
to all land and all houses is held by the corporation), is the possibility 
that if the co-operative should fail, the individual would lose every- 
thing. Such an eventuality may be circumvented in two ways: (1) by 
the establishment of reserve "cushions" to provide against "lean 
times," when the members might fall behind in their monthly pay- 
ments in sufficient numbers to financially embarrass the corporation. 
The reserves would have to be large to support the corporation in case 
unemployment were widespread. (2) By the insertion in the mortgage 
agreement of a clause to the effect that a member who is paid-up cur- 
rently will be able to obtain personal title to his house by paying the 
unpaid balance of his share of the mortgage applicable to his property. 
Under such a plan as the latter, Bannockburn Co-operators, Inc., Mary- 
land, proposed to operate, during the early years of its organization, 
when co-operative ownership of all land and houses was planned. 
Difficulties in obtaining financing caused a change in thinking and 
the group reverted to individual ownership of the homes. 

Why form a co-operative? What does it "get you" anyway? These 
are questions which will be injected eventually into a housing discus- 
sion if not at the first meeting, then at the second or the third. They 
are warranted if the group does not understand the benefits which 
accrue from working together as a unit, and if the group has no reali- 
zation of the advantages which attended other co-operative associations 
organized before its own. 


viii Introduction 

Appreciable savings have been effected by the co-operative housing 
groups discussed in this book, in the following ways: 

1. Through the bulk purchase of land. It is always less costly to 
buy a large tract and divide it into individual lots than it is for each 
individual to make a separate purchase of a single lot. 

2. Through the elimination of the speculative profit of the real- 
estate promoter. 

3. By purchasing tax delinquent land or land marked for re- 

4. In co-operating to under-write the cost of developing the prop- 
erty, including the construction of roads, and the installation of the 
utilities of water, sewerage, gas, and electricity. 

5. Through the collaborative use of architectural and engineering 
Services with resultant reduction of fees. The architect's fee varies. 
Maximum fees are prescribed by the American Institute of Architects. 
The tables followed by the Connecticut Chapter of the AI of A are 
used throughout New England. Some of the fees believed to be too 
high are in process of revision. A summarization of the fees follows: 

a. For a single, individual dwelling, the architect's fee should be 7 
per cent of the estimated construction cost (if the house is not even- 
tually constructed), or 7 per cent of the total construction cost (if the 
house is constructed). In some parts of the country the percentage may 
run as high as 10 per cent. 

b. For developments of row houses, garden apartments, apartment 
houses, or individual homes (with a limit on the number of basic 
plans), the architect's percentage fee decreases as the total cost of 
construction increases. Thus: 

c. For developments costing under $50,000, the architect's fee 
should be 6 per cent of the estimated construction cost or 6 per cent 
of the total construction cost. 

d. For developments costing $50,000 to $100,000 5.4 per cent; 
$100,000 to $200,0005.36 per cent; $200,000 to $400,0005.32 
per cent; $400,000 to $600,000 5.24 per cent; $600,000 to $800,000 
5.16 per cent; $800,000 to $1,000,0005.08 per cent; $1,000,000 
to $2,000,0005 per cent; $2,000,000 to $3,000,000 4.1 per cent; 
$3,000,000 to $4,000,0003.47 per cent; $4,000,000 to $5,000,000 
3.02 per cent; over $5,000,000 2.67 per cent; and so on. 

6. Through the use of one contractor and the simultaneous con- 
struction of a group of houses, with a preferable minimum of ten. In 
some instances discussed in this book, savings were effected by sharing 
construction cost economies; in other cases, by a reduction of the con- 

Introduction ix 

tractor's profit percentage. While 10 to 12 per cent is the usual charge, 
it may run as high as 1 5 per cent. 

Mass construction and the streamlining of operations, possible when 
a number of houses are erected at the same time by the same builder, 
meant lower total costs in many instances. 

7. By the purchase of building materials and supplies and house- 
hold equipment from wholesale establishments or through regional 
supply co-operatives. 

8. By the Association's acting as its own contractor. 

9. Through the use of a master title, one title search, one set of 
mortgage papers, one warranty, one survey fee, and one recording fee, 
instead of fifty or a hundred. 

10. Through permanent operation and maintenance of some or all 
of the property. Maintenance costs were frequently lower in the co- 
operative community (whether homes were individually owned or 
co-operatively held) than in rental communities of comparable size 
and value. In addition, members had the advantage of parks and play- 
grounds co-operatively developed and maintained with costs equally 

11. Through tax savings possible by group operation under urban 
re-development acts or under limited-dividend statutes, in some states. 

12. By interest savings through collective bargaining. 

13. Through community services: stores, gas stations, and garages; 
a nursery co-op, a housemaid's co-op, a gardener's co-op; a laundry 
service; a buying club for furniture, electrical equipment, or daily food 
provisions; a shrub or tree nursery; or a co-op service for the repair of 
radios, television sets, washing machines, refrigerators, and oil burners. 

14. Through the incorporation of self-help in the construction of 
the homes. Some poured their own basements; others dug ditches for 
underground electric and telephone conduits; several took part in rais- 
ing the superstructures or in shingling and clapboarding the exteriors; 
many labored on the interior decorating painting, papering, or finish- 
ing floors; and not a few managed their own landscaping. 

The accomplishments of a co-operative are not limited to dollars 
and cents. These are the tangible assets. The manifestation of the in- 
tangible assets is the plan for a better way of life in which the in- 
dividual has a part, working with his neighbors toward a common 
end with mutual advantages for all. 


The Story of Co-ops 

In co-operatives, members work together toward a common aim for 
their mutual benefit. Co-operatives usually have no political affiliations, 
are not confined to any race, religion, creed or color. They number 
among their members men and women from all walks of life the 
miner and the manufacturer, the baker and the banker, the farmer and 
the factory worker, the office clerk and the oil driller, the artist and 
the architect, the doctor and the potato digger, the homemaker and 
the horticulturist, the lawyer and the fisherman. 

In a dingy warehouse on Toad Lane in Rochdale, England, twenty- 
eight mill workers opened a shop on December 21, 1844, with a bar- 
rowful of butter, flour, oatmeal, sugar, and candles, bought with pen- 
nies pooled from weekly savings, and the modern co-operative move- 
ment was born. 

From that beginning, the idea developed and spread around the 
world, embracing practically every field of endeavor from marketing, 
manufacturing, and mining to farming, oil refining, and housing. 

Not alone on tuppence worth of porridge did the Rochdale Society 
of Equitable Pioneers build its future. Its members founded an asso- 
ciation on principles so sound that they became the basis for the ver- 
satile and expanding co-operative movement embracing tens of mil- 
lions of families around the world. 

The Rochdale shop wasn't the first co-operative venture in England, 
but it was the first truly successful one. Its predecessors were a co- 
operative community fostered by Robert Owen, wealthy manufacturer, 
and a string of stores started by Dr. William King of London. Both 
projects failed, mainly because their sponsors provided all the material 
and all the money and the members advanced nothing. History proves 
that the most successful co-operative enterprises are founded on the 
united efforts and the combined investments of all members. 

2 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

While most of the Rochdale pioneers were flannel weavers, there 
were other craftsmen among them a tailor, a printer, an engineer, a 
hatter and a cabinet worker. All of them, including the lone woman 
member, Ann Tweedale, were very poor. Low wages and high company 
store prices combined to tax their family budgets to the breaking point. 
Reducing the cost of living would help make ends meet. Alone, no 
man could manage that. Together, they were prepared to try. 

Charles Howarth, a warper in a cotton mill, was probably respon- 
sible for the first draft of the policies and aims of the society which 
provided for: (1) the establishment of a store for the sale of provi- 
sions and clothing; (2) the building of a number of homes for mem- 
bers; (3) the manufacture of articles for the employment of members 
without employment or suffering because of low wages; (4) the pur- 
chase of land to be cultivated by the members when out of employ- 
ment; (5) the establishment of a self-supporting home colony of 
united interests; and (6) the opening of a temperance hotel for the 
promotion of sobriety. 

Tackling the store project first, the members built up a capital by 
each contributing two pence less than a nickel every week for a 
year. At the end of that time the shop was opened with $70 worth of 
merchandise. The ridicule of the town soon changed to commendation 
when the little establishment began to prosper. By the end of the year, 
it had done $3,500 worth of business, selling to members and to non- 

It is to this Rochdale group that co-operatives are indebted for the 
principles on which they operate today. An object of derision at the 
time, these principles seem to us now nothing more or less than com- 
mon sense. The original draft provided : 

1. All goods to be sold at prevailing market prices. 

2. All merchandise to be sold for cash. 

3. Membership to be open to men and women regardless of party 
or creed. 

4. One vote to be allowed each member regardless of shares owned. 

5. Full information, based on proper accounts and audits, to be 
presented to members. 

6. Interest payments for the use of capital to be restricted to a fair 

7. Fair and honest dealings to be maintained in all business. 

8. Savings to be returned to patrons in proportion to the patronage 
of each. 

9. A portion of all savings to be used for education and expansion. 

The Story of Co-ops 3 

On these principles the Rochdale pioneers prospered. By the end of 
a century the Society listed 36,809 members and capital of nearly two 
million dollars distributed among a hundred enterprises. By 1947, 
Rochdale had grown to a city of ninety-two thousand of whom 32,116 
were members of the co-operative movement, and the first little enter- 
prise had expanded to include: fifty-three grocery stores, seventeen 
butcher shops, six shoe stores, three drapery shops, three chemists' 
shops, one tobacco store, one tobacco factory, two coal wharves, one 
sweets shop, one laundry, two gentlemen's outfitters, and one slaughter 

The co-operative idea spread rapidly through Great Britain. A 
hundred years after the organization of the first society in Rochdale, 
there were nine million co-operative members in the country, supply- 
ing 25 per cent of the country's food and a sizeable portion of other 
commodities and services from automobiles and clothing to banking 
and insurance returning 120 million dollars yearly to members in 
savings on purchases. 

Meanwhile, from Great Britain the co-operative way of doing busi- 
ness spread to other countries, and before the close of the century there 
was scarcely a country in Europe without a co-operative similar in all 
or some respects to the Rochdale Society. Moves toward co-operation 
between co-operators of various lands began in 1884 when French 
co-operators sent greetings to the British Co-operative Congress. In 
1892, an organization known as the International Co-operative Alliance 
was formed. It grew with such rapidity that by 1941, it represented 
seventy-five million families in different countries around the world. 

Outside of England the strongest developments are found in the 
Scandinavian countries: Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. In 
Sweden, co-operatives "dared to set their own prices" and thereby 
presented a pattern for the rest of the world. In Denmark, co-opera- 
tives were started in 1886 and when the Nazis overran the country in 
1940, some farmers belonged to as many as ten different co-operative 
societies. Finland, in the early years of its co-operative development, 
joined forces with Sweden to form the Scandinavian Co-operative 
Wholesale, known as SCW, in order to buy goods at better prices by 
pooling their .orders. 

In other countries, co-operatives met with varying degrees of success. 
Iceland, for example, has been called the "most completely co-operative 
country in the world." There, 75 per cent of the population belongs 
to co-operatives. In Germany, one in every four persons belonged to a 
co-operative before Hitler's time, but he destroyed many, and others 

4 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

became government-controlled. In Russia, all the co-operatives were 
taken over by government when the Soviets came into power in 1918. 
Their independence was restored three years later, but only the rural 
co-operatives, with an estimated sixty million members, retained it 
after 1935. 

While co-operatives grew slowly in Asia, India had 100,000 socie- 
ties by 1939, and China had 170,000 "Indusco" branches in 1943. The 
number of China's co-ops has dropped since the end of the last World 
War. Japan also had a thriving co-operative movement. Palestine built 
a national economy on a co-operative basis with such success that the 
Arabs began to follow the example. In South America, governments 
took the lead in promoting co-operatives and in supplying funds. In 
Africa, the co-operative movement became strongest in the south. In 
Canada, 25 per cent of the farm crops are marketed through co-opera- 
tives, and the fishermen of the Maritime Provinces also have their co- 
operatives through which they sell their catches. 

In the United States, the oldest form of organized co-operative 
effort is mutual insurance. Benjamin Franklin sponsored the first enter- 
prise in Philadelphia in 1752. A co-operative dairy commenced opera- 
tions in Goshen, Connecticut, in 1810 and in the same year a cheese 
dairy was established at South Trenton, New York. Ten years later, a 
group of Ohio livestock producers started to make joint shipments to 
a terminal market. 

In 1845, the first consumers' co-operative store was opened in Bos- 
ton, Massachusetts. Jesse Williams built his famous cheese factory in 
Oneida, New York, in 1851 and within five years the first butter fac- 
tory was erected in Campbell hall, Orange County, New York. 

The farmers were not far behind the dairymen in organizing co- 
operatively. In 1857 the Dane County Farmers' Protective Union was 
formed and built a grain elevator at Madison, Wisconsin. In I860 the 
farmers in Bureau County, Illinois, formed a co-operative hog auction, 
and three years later the first farmers' fertilizer association was organ- 
ized at Riverhead, Long Island, New York. The year 1867 saw the 
formation of the first known co-operative association for the marketing 
of fruit, in Hammonton, New Jersey. 

The first law recognizing the co-operative method for buying and 
selling appeared on the Michigan statute books in 1865 under the 
title "An Act to authorize the formation of mechanics' and laboring 
men's co-operative associations." 

The second period in the history of American co-operation com- 
menced in the late sixties with the rise of the Grangers, also known 

The Story of Co-ops 5 

as the Patrons of Husbandry, who took the lead in sponsoring co- 
operative organizations among the farmers. At the same time the 
Sovereigns of Industry came into existence and encouraged consumer 
co-operatives in the New England and Middle Atlantic states. 

In the 1880's the Knights of Labor came to the fore and tried to 
foster producers' or workers' co-ops in which the workers shared 
ownership of the industry. The push given co-ops by the Grangers 
lasted well into the twentieth century and large co-operatives were 
formed in various parts of the country. They were engaged in growing 
oranges, drying fruit, dairying, raising livestock, operating grain ele- 
vators, growing tobacco, wool, walnuts, raisins, vegetables, cranberries, 
grapes, potatoes or fruit, and in raising poultry and marketing eggs. 

The average householder has little idea of the magnitude of the 
rural co-operative movement in this country where four out of every 
ten farmers belong to one or more co-operatives. Unlike Great Britain 
and Europe, where the co-operatives are composed mainly of industrial 
workers in the cities and towns, the United States has developed a 
network of farm co-operative associations which have a bigger mem- 
bership and a larger business volume than associations of like nature 
anywhere in the world. And in the newest field of development, that 
of oil drilling, refining, and distribution, American co-operatives stand 
foremost among co-operatives in all nations. 

The third period in the history of American co-operation, which 
lasted from 1890 to 1920, found the co-operatives in the rural areas 
widening their spheres to include telephone companies, insurance 
companies, irrigation associations, co-operative creameries, grain ele- 
vators, fruit marketing combinations, and purchasing co-operatives. 

The Farmers' Co-operative and Educational Union and the American 
Farm Bureau Federation gave co-operatives a new lease on life. They 
were greatly helped by immigrant farmers from European countries 
where Rochdale practice was common. 

In 1917, seventeen organizations in Minnesota and Wisconsin or- 
ganized the Central Co-operative Exchange, later known as the Cen- 
tral Co-operative Wholesale with headquarters in Superior, Wisconsin. 
By 1940, the association was doing an annual business of $3,865,984 
and included forty thousand families in its membership. The Central 
Co-operative Wholesale is not to be confused with the Central States 
Co-operative, Inc., an association formed in 1936 and serving Illinois, 
Indiana, Ohio, and southern Michigan. 

During this period the Dairymen's League Co-operative Federation 
of New York was formed. The Co-operative Grange League Federa- 

6 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

tion Exchange, Inc., and the Eastern States Farmers' Exchange, founded 
at the same time, are the largest co-ops of their kind in the country 

As the co-operative movement spread across the country, little 
groups combined with larger groups to form strong associations in 
every state. They included the orange growers in California, the tobac- 
co growers in Kentucky, the beef distributors in the Midwest, the wool 
growers in Montana, the poultry shippers in New York, the lima bean 
growers in one section of California and the almond growers in an- 
other; the pecan growers in Georgia, the tobacco raisers in Maryland, 
and the cattle raisers in Nebraska. 

During the second decade of the twentieth century, local associa- 
tions for receiving and forwarding to market farmers' products were 
increasing at guinea pig rate. Nearly seven thousand associations for 
marketing farm products were formed and about thirteen hundred or- 
ganizations for purchasing supplies. Next, all the raisin growers in 
California organized to form what is now the Sun-Maid Raisin 
Growers' Association; the National Milk Producers Federation was or- 
ganized in Chicago in 1916; the Poultry Producers of Central Califor- 
nia came into being and now has six thousand members, and the 
Washington Co-operative Egg and Poultry Association which has 
25,000 members today, was organized; and in the West, the Farmers' 
Union Live Stock Commission, which handles 800,000 animals a year, 
was organized among the farmers in five states. 

The fourth period of American co-operation commenced in 1920 
when the bottom dropped out of farm prices and farmers' marketing 
co-operatives took a new turn. Attempts were made 'to create large- 
scale associations to handle the entire output of specified crops in the 
important producing areas. 

Contemporaneously with the commodity marketing experiment, as- 
sociations were being formed according to patterns that were proving 
satisfactory. Among the new entrants to the co-operative field was the 
Minnesota Co-operative Creameries Association, now the Land O'Lakes 
Creameries, Inc., marketing 100 million pounds of butter a year; the 
Utah Poultry Producers Co-operative Association, which provides six 
thousand poultrymen with marketing service; and thirteen wheat pools 
with 98,000 members. 

When motorized equipment replaced the horse on the farm, the 
need for gas and oil resulted in the formation of the first oil-purchas- 
ing co-operative in 1921. Eight years later, six hundred such co-opera- 
tives had organized. By 1945, two thousand co-operatives handled 200 

The Story of Co-ops 

million dollars' worth of petroleum products. Today, four hundred oil 
wells in Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Texas, and Kentucky, provide crude 
oil which passes through co-operatively owned pipelines to the ten 
co-operative refineries. 

In order to understand the complexity of the co-operative movement 
in the United States, it is necessary to have clearly in mind the four 
types of co-operatives: 

1. Producing Co-operatives. These are co-operatives in which the 
members as workers raise, extract, or make goods. The self-help co- 
operatives which developed during the depression of the 1930's were 
primarily producing co-operatives. Producer co-operatives have not 
been signally successful in this country. 

2. Marketing co-operatives. These are co-operatives which undertake 
to market crops or other products for members. Often these associa- 
tions, as a necessary part of their job, act as producing co-operatives 
for the user. For instance, they churn butter, manufacture cheese, can 
fruits, or process vegetables. 

Marketing co-operatives were successful from the start. While most 
of the producer co-operatives had disappeared by 1940, the marketing 
co-operatives were developing rapidly, with sales amounting to 4 bil- 
lion dollars in a single year about one-sixth of all farm products sold. 

3. Purchasing co-operatives. These co-operatives procure goods and 
services needed by- members whether for consumption or production. 
Those that serve farmers are called "farm supply" associations. They 
may provide farmers with goods or services that they need in farm 
production, or as consumers. Associations providing consumers with 
groceries, clothing, or other goods or services for general consumption 
are properly called "consumers' co-operatives." As a matter of fact, all 
types of purchasing co-operatives are often called "consumers' co-oper- 
atives," since these associations are organized by those who consume 
goods either as producers or consumers. Purchasing co-operatives often 
do much manufacturing or processing incidental to their purchasing 
job. By 1944, the consumer co-operatives in the United States were 
doing more than 750 million dollars' worth of business annually, 
somewhat more than half of this being developed by farmers' groups. 

4. Servicing Co-operatives.' These co-operatives provide technical or 
professional services to their members. They may provide members 
with insurance, financial assistance, electric power, hospitalization, 
telephone service, burial service, housing or other needs. 

Of all the service co-operatives, perhaps the most important to the 
whole movement is the association formed to loan money to members. 

8 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Some are called "credit unions." The first state law allowing credit 
unions to operate was passed in the early 1900's. Today, credit unions 
operate both under state and Federal laws. Loans may mean just a few 
dollars to tide a member over until his next pay day or several hundred 
dollars to pay for an emergency operation or in some cases real estate 
loans. Usually, members know each other personally or have some com- 
mon bond, such as belonging to the same church or labor union, or 
working within the same office. 

The oldest type of service co-operative is that which insures mem- 
bers against damage or loss of property. The youngest co-operatives 
are those organized to provide their members with refrigerated food 
lockers. Another type of service organization is the campus co-op, 
which provides college students with housing, meals, books and school 
supplies, laundry service, and the like. 

The rural electric service co-op was depression born. In 1935, only 
one farm in ten was serviced by public utilities. Then the Government 
encouraged responsible groups to extend electrical service by offering 
them loans through the Rural Electrification Administration, and the 
light and power co-operatives came into being. By 1945, almost half 
of America's farms had electric power, and most of the nine hundred 
Government borrower groups for this service were co-operatives. 

In the field of health a pioneer consumers' enterprise was the Farm- 
ers' Union Co-operative Hospital at Elk City, Oklahoma, initiated in 
1929 by Dr. Michael Shadid. Today, this co-operative provides medi- 
cal, dental, and surgical care with clinical and hospital service for some 
ten thousand co-operators at costs much less than they would have to 
pay at private rates. 

In Los Angeles a group of physicians launched the Ross-Loos Clinic 
in 1929. The clinic serves thirty thousand employed persons with 
complete medical, surgical, and dental care, plus hospitalization, at 
similarly low costs. In the same year a group of Texas teachers first 
set up an experiment in group hospital insurance. In the nation's capi- 
tal the Group Health Association of Washington, D. C. (confined to 
Government employees) was formed in 1937. It has ten thousand 
members. Three other large associations are the Group Health Mutual, 
Inc., and the Group Health Association of St. Paul, Minnesota, with 
25,000 members, and the Group Health Co-operative in New York 
City with ten thousand members. 

While the co-operative movement as a whole broadened its activities 
in an ever widening circle, several of its member associations were 
making spectacular progress. Outstanding example is the Pacific Supply 

The Story of Co-ops 

Co-operative in the Northwest which has a membership of seventy 
thousand families in six states and did a $12,500,000 business in 1946. 
On the West Coast, the Associated Co-operatives of California became 
statewide in 1944 and a year later listed twenty thousand members 
and a $250,000 volume of business. 

The co-operative movement spread to the trade unions. The Ameri- 
can Federation of Labor has regularly endorsed consumers' co-opera- 
tion for more than twenty-five years. First of the CIO unions to come 
out for co-operatives was the United Rubber Workers, next the Steel 
Workers, and then the United Transport Employees of America. 

Before 1934, consumers' co-operation had been largely a city move- 
ment. About this time the Co-operative League of the U. S. A., estab- 
lished in 1916 to promote consumers' co-operation, broadened its mem- 
bership to include the strong farmers' purchasing associations. The 
League has done much to popularize the idea of consumer control over 
goods and services. In 1933, National Co-operatives, Inc., was formed, 
charged with commodity procurement on a nationwide scale for the 
regional co-ops. Working together, the two form the pillars of the 
co-operative structure of America the League "for education," and 
the National "for business." 

The Co-operative League was created to assist old societies in prop- 
erly carrying on their business and educational affairs, to help new ones 
organize, to spread the knowledge of the co-operative movement 
throughout America, and to give a sense of unity and common pur- 
pose to the co-operatives of the nation. The League is engaged in the 
constant production of materials in pamphlet and book form. It spon- 
sors and directs national educational conferences. It operates and main- 
tains the Rochdale Institute in Chicago, which is specializing in the 
techniques of carrying on co-operative business enterprises and the 
philosophy and program for the consumers' co-operative movement. 

National Co-operatives, co-partner of the League, has centered its 
program on the three purposes for which it was set up: (1) to pur- 
chase, manufacture, produce, and distribute co-operatively for and to 
consumer co-operative wholesale associations; (2) to provide better, 
more economical methods for purchasing, manufacturing, producing, 
and distribution; and (3) to assist in the organization, financing, and 
operation of consumer co-operative wholesale associations. 

The increasing strength of city consumers' co-operatives is illustrated 
in the growth of the Eastern Co-operative Wholesale Society, now 
Eastern Co-operatives, Inc. Since its founding in 1936, this Co-opera- 
tive has built its business into a volume of more than six million dol- 

10 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

lars annually. It is the largest co-operative purchasing federation de- 
voting its efforts mainly to serving city consumers' co-operatives. About 
two hundred units in eleven states are affiliated with this Co-operative. 
During the past twenty-five years, co-operative business has estab- 
lished itself in a number of new fields. The' extent of its diversification 
and the spread of its membership is illustrated by a survey, made in 
1946, which listed: 2,810 stores with 690,000 members; 125 service 
stations with 810,000 members; 1,353 farm supply co-operatives with 
710,000 members; fifty other commodity co-operatives with 24,000 
members; sixty-eight medical co-operatives with 140,000 members; 
forty-one funeral associations with 36,400 members; fifty-nine housing 
associations with 2,100 members; 325 campus co-ops with 28,000 
members; 235 miscellaneous co-operatives with 122,000 members; 850 
rural electric co-ops with 1,149,700 members; 9,099 credit unions with 
3,037,700 members; five thousand telephone co-ops with 330,000 mem- 
bers; and eight insurance associations with 800,000 members. 

It is often charged that co-operatives do not pay their full share of 
taxes. Co-operative associations do pay the same property taxes that 
similar business organi2ations are required to pay on property, divi- 
dends on shares, and corporate reserves not credited to patrons as re- 
funds. But farmers' marketing and purchasing co-operatives that meet 
conditions prescribed by Congress are exempt from Federal income 
taxes. Moreover, the Bureau of Internal Revenue has permitted co- 
operatives or other businesses which are not entitled to exemption as 
agricultural co-operatives to subtract from their total income the 
amounts they pay out in patronage refunds, and to compute their in- 
come taxes on the remainder. Many states exempt farmers' co-opera- 
tives from state income taxes also. 

In the case of consumers' co-operatives, the Bureau of Internal Re- 
venue looks upon patronage refunds as rebates upon the business trans- 
acted with members rather than as a true income of the association. 
Commercial businesses which return their profits to their customers can 
also deduct such refunds from their taxable income. 

There has been little mention in the preceding pages of co-opera- 
tive housing projects. In the early history of American co-operation, 
there were few and their growth was slow. Unlike America, Europe 
developed housing co-operatives simultaneously with its industrial and 
agricultural co-operatives. 

European housing co-operatives may be divided into two classes: (1) 
co-operatives that are essentially savings and credit societies, providing 
their members with advances to enable them to build or buy homes; 

The Story of Co-ops ll 

and (2) co-ops that build houses for sale or rent to members. Co-op- 
eratives of the second type are far more numerous, accounting for nine- 
tenths of the total number of housing societies, although they repre- 
sent only one-third of the total membership. 

In England the building societies, which resemble our building and 
loan associations, have grown faster than the housing co-operatives. 
By the end of 1937, there were one thousand building societies in 
England with a membership of 3i millions. At the close of the same 
period, there were 336 co-operative housing groups with 37,000 mem- 
bers. Co-operative housing societies fall into two main groups: tenancy 
societies which own the houses and lease them, and house-purchase so- 
cieties which provide houses for eventual ownership. 

In Scotland the first housing co-operative project followed the col- 
lapse of a row of railroad workers' tenements in Edinburgh in 1861, 
which made a great many families homeless. The Edinburgh Co-opera- 
tive Building Society organized a building co-operative which erected 
two thousand units. In Wales, a co-operative housing association was 
formed as early as 1908 to build houses for quarry workers in Aber- 
daron on a seventy-three acre tract of land. 

France had 238 building societies by the end of the first decade of 
this century, 63 per cent of which operated on a co-operative principle, 
while the remainder were joint stock companies. Together they erected 
4,569 cottages and 3,653 flats. In Germany the National Federation 
of German Co-operative Building Societies constructed 1,353 houses 
and 614 apartment units during World War I. A garden city for four 
thousand families was built at Nuremberg on a co-operative plan. By 
1935, the Federation included 2,700 groups. Belgium developed its 
co-operative housing slowly, partly because there were so many pro- 
fessional organizations in existence and partly because the savings 
banks granted credits to members for the construction of homes. 

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics issued a decree in 1924 de- 
signed "to assist Workers' Co-operative Housing Societies of USSR" 
by providing financial aid in housing projects. Three classes of housing 
co-ops were established: those which administered and rented in exist- 
ing municipalized houses, those which consisted of societies of workers, 
and those which consisted of citizens as such, workers and non-workers. 
The last two were described as building co-operatives. 

In Czechoslovakia, under the Czech Government in power before 
World War II, housing co-ops were under the supervision of the 
Ministry of Social Welfare and were required to confine their activities 
to the construction of houses and to the sale or lease of family dwell- 

12 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

ings. Loans were made to housing societies at low rates by the Govern- 
ment and by consumer co-operatives. 

Italy promoted housing co-operatives through the National Credit 
Institute for Co-operatives. A large share of its assets was contributed 
by the Government. By 1924, Rome had 120 co-operative housing so- 
cieties. Government aid also helped housing in Switzerland to get a 
start. In Zurich, co-operative building societies are aided by the city in 
financing the erection of dwellings, one of the stipulations being that 
each applicant must provide 6 per cent of the purchasing price. Best 
known co-operative community is Freidorf, near Basle, developed in 
1919 and housing 150 families, most of whom are employees of the 
Swiss Co-operative Union. By 1936, there were 230 housing co-opera- 
tives in Switzerland. 

In Poland, the outstanding contribution to co-operative housing was 
made by the Co-operative Housing Society of Warsaw. Twenty build- 
ings were erected, totaling 1,700 apartments which were leased to 
members, title remaining with the Co-operative. By 1936, the Society 
had a membership of 1,780, nearly, 40 per cent of whom were em- 
ployed in manual occupations. Co-operative housing groups are taking 
a major part in the rebuilding of Warsaw, bombed during the last 
World War. 

Holland, strong advocate of co-operative housing, has promoted 
two types of societies : those whose construction activities were confined 
to providing homes for members, and those of semi-philanthropic 
nature, which rented homes to low income groups. In either case, the 
Government advanced 90 to 95 per cent of the capital required. Al- 
though the societies planned, promoted, and operated the develop- 
ments, they did not own them. At the end of a fifty-year amortization 
period, the city housing department assumed absolute ownership. 

Government aid was also responsible for the construction activities 
of many of the housing co-ops in Austria. In Vienna, 2,600 houses 
were built on city-owned land in the early twenties, the city supplying 
the co-operatives with funds up to 85 per cent of the building outlay. 

The Scandinavian countries have been foremost supporters of the 
co-operative housing movement, with Sweden in the lead. In Sweden, 
more than in any other country in the world, co-operative housing has 
been closely related to the general co-operative movement. Early hous- 
ing societies were called "housing clubs" or "workmen's housing asso- 
ciations." Since there was no co-operative legislation in 1880, they 
were organized as stock companies. The practice was to buy the houses 
already built and to rent, not sell, to members. 

The Story of Co-ops 13 

In June, 1916, the Stockholm Co-operative Society, known as SKB, 
was formed as a semi-public association, with the aid of the Stockholm 
City Council. It was primarily a rental society. Each tenant invested 10 
per cent of the cost of his apartment, the city loaning the other 90 per 
cent. SKB is today one of the principal real estate owners in the city. 
By 1937 it had accommodated two thousand families in new homes. 

In 1923, the Tenants' Savings and Building Society, known as HSB, 
was organized in Stockholm, followed in three years by the formation 
of the national society. The national society operates as a financial 
center, obtains loan funds from the Government, sells "building loan 
certificates," and accepts from members deposits in its savings fund. 
In every city there is a parent society operating under the national. 
Every co-op building project in the city is a separate local or daughter 
society. The parent society in each city prepares plans for the small 
local projects, makes contracts for construction, supervises construction, 
finances construction in large measure, and finally grants a first mort- 
gage on completion. Any second mortgage needed is obtained through 
state or city agencies. When ready for occupancy, the home is sold by 
the HSB parent society to the local co-operators who assume responsi- 
bility thereafter. 

HSB has a unified purchasing agency through which pass all orders 
for materials that go into HSB houses. It also has an architectural 
office and numerous factories producing building materials. It has ini- 
tiated a special HSB Home Protection Insurance for members and has 
extended activities to a summer colony called Arsta Havsbad. Co- 
operative nurseries and playgrounds are integral parts of every HSB 
house. New are the "Co-operative Child Hotels," where children are 
received for care when parents can't keep them at home or must be 
away for a few days. In a little more than twenty years, HSB has pro- 
duced more than forty thousand dwellings. In 1945, it had a member- 
ship of 37,000. 

In Norway it is estimated that one quarter of all the houses are co- 
operatively owned. After World War I, the Government established a 
system under which housing societies were granted funds outright, or 
as loans without interest or amortization. To prevent speculation, the 
Government stipulated that all grants must be matched by municipali- 

Denmark's oldest co-operative housing society was founded in 1805 
by a group of workers who built sixteen thousand dwellings under a 
lottery system. The Workmen's Co-operative Building Society, founded 
in 1912, is an example of the genuine housing co-operative in Den- 

14 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

mark. Each apartment house operates as a separate branch of the main 
society, but is under independent management. About one-third of all 
new houses in Copenhagen are now built under co-operative leader- 
ship. Finland's co-operative housing activities have been hampered by 
the popularity of "joint stock lodging societies" a profit motivated 
form of housing peculiar to this little country. 

In India the Saraswat Co-operative Housing Society, organized in 
1895, built a number of homes for workers, charging rents which were 
30 per cent below those charged for comparable accommodations in 
those communities where the houses were erected. 

In Australia, the Government Co-operative Enterprises has provided 
model homes for 6,060 families in the slums of Adelaide. Co-opera- 
tive housing has been* very successful in the New South Wales prov- 
ince, which has a Co-operation Act under which a "Community Ad- 
vancement" society may borrow 100 per cent of the cost of its build- 
ing development from the Government. The Co-op society then sells 
the houses to its members on a quasi-rent basis. By the end of five 
years, the tenant has acquired considerable equity in his dwelling. In 
New Zealand there are one hundred building societies operating under 
the consolidating building society measure of 1908. The Government 
offers loans at low rates for home buying and building, yet there is 
surprisingly little Government control. 

The first building society in South Africa was formed in Natal 
seventy-five years ago. In 1935, a hundred scattered groups were or- 
ganized under the South Africa National Association of Building So- 

In South America, many of the countries have had co-operative hous- 
ing societies since the turn of the century. One of the oldest Argentine 
consumer co-operatives is El Hogar Obrero, "The Worker's Home," 
which is the parent society of the country's consumer, credit, and hous- 
ing co-operatives. It was intended from the beginning to provide 
housing credit, and has built and continues to build small family 
dwellings as well as large apartment houses. In Medellin, Colombia, 
the Co-operative de la Vivienda, "Dwelling House Co-operative," has 
made plans to build seven hundred homes in a planned community on 
the outskirts of the city. 

Alaska has several housing co-operative projects, although no or- 
ganized housing co-operative movement. The largest project was initia- 
ted by a group of veterans from Pennsylvania. 

Halifax, Novia Scotia, boasted the first co-operative housing group 

The Story of Co-ops 15 

in the Dominion of Canada, called the Permanent Benefit Building 
Society of Novia Scotia. 

The famous Tompkinsville experiment in Novia Scotia produced 
ten houses co-operatively built by miners under the direction of Rev. 
J. J. Tompkins of St. Francis Xavier University at Antigonish and 
Mary Arnold, formerly active in co-operative housing work in New 
York City. The Government of Novia Scotia advanced money up to 
75 per cent of the cost. The manner in which the miners operated 
under a self-help program and planned their community to provide 
acreage for growing food and for the development of farming inter- 
ests in times of unemployment has become well known in the United 

Under an act passed in 1874, building societies in Canada may not 
only accept deposits but may also issue debentures which provide a sub- 
stantial part of their funds. The past ten years have seen the formation 
of a number of co-operative housing groups in Canada, the more re- 
cent being in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan, and in Edmonton 
and Calgary, Alberta. 

It should be noted that most of the co-operative housing projects in 
Europe were government aided, either by outright grants or by loans 
repayable at low rates of interest. The path of co-operative housing in 
the United States has been more difficult than that in Europe, because 
the Government does not yet extend financial aid or assistance to co- 
operatives for the erection of homes. They must get along on financing 
plans actually set up for other types of private enterprise which aids 
are not ideally suited to co-operatives. 

The first known co-operative communities in the United States were 
developed within a few years of each other. In 1825, Robert Owen, 
wealthy English manufacturer, established a co-operative village at 
New Harmony, Indiana. He planned his community on a thousand 
acres of land, with the houses arranged in a rectangle in the center 
and the community members living together and using a common 
kitchen and dining room. He established co-operative farming and co- 
operative hat, shoe, and candle factories. Script was used instead of 
money, and labor hours were exchanged on a basis of time rather than 
skill. The venture lasted five years. 

John Humphrey Noyes, an American religious leader who founded 
a community of Perfectionists at Putney, Vermont, developed his co- 
operative community in Oneida, New York. Homes were built by the 
members and saddles and silverware were manufactured in the com- 

16 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

munity. In 1881, the development was reorganized. The new stock 
company, known as the Oneida Community Ltd. confined all indus- 
trial activity to the manufacture of silverplated ware. This community 
prospered where Owen's project failed, because the workers and not 
the sponsor organized and operated the co-operative. 

Organized co-operative housing made its initial appearance in apart- 
ment house projects in the big cities. In the early 1920's, four groups 
of buildings were constructed in the better section of San Francisco at 
costs ranging from $9,500 to $25,000 for each apartment. Constructed 
under a non-profit plan, they were examples of a limited type of con- 
sumer co-operation, although sponsored by outside interests. In the 
typical plan of procedure, the promoter found and assembled interested 
participants and received a commission for his services which was 
added to the construction cost. Evidence of ownership in a community 
home was called a lease which was, in effect, a deed to one's apart- 
ment for the nominated fifty-year life of the corporation. All sub- 
scribers had a voice in the operation of the homes through the election 
of officers or through committees which protected their collective in- 

In Washington, D. C, the first co-operative apartment building was 
erected in 1920. Despite strong opposition from local bankers, realtors, 
and attorneys, all apartments were sold within a week. A co-operative 
corporation was formed and took title, while the tenant owners received 
a perpetual lease. Payments were either cash in full, or one-third cash 
and the balance in payments over eleven years. Much of the financing 
was done through the large insurance companies at better terms than 
the bankers would allow. 

Chicago started early in the century operating small apartment houses 
on a co-operative plan, and one authority states that by 1924 there 
were a hundred such buildings in the city. 

In New York City there were a few small co-operative apartment 
buildings as early as 1870. The Finnish immigrants in Brooklyn were 
among the first to operate an apartment house on a co-operative basis 
without public or private subsidy. The first large co-operative housing 
project for Negroes, known as the Paul Lawrence Dunbar apartments 
on Eighth Avenue, was sponsored by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. All five 
hundred suites were sold under a co-operative plan before the middle 
of 1928. This development eventually reverted to rental housing. The 
biggest co-operative apartment house project was commenced in the 
Bronx in 1926, under the sponsorship of the Amalgamated Clothing 
Workers of America. The development expanded until by 1948 it en- 

The Story of Co-ops 17 

compassed fifteen buildings with 1,753 apartments built or near com- 
pletion. Amalgamated is the nearest thing the United States has to 
HSB of Sweden. 

In this book, one hundred projects embracing about thirty thousand 
families are discussed, some of them large, some of them small, but 
all of them co-operative to a greater or lesser degree. There are hun- 
dreds of others in this country, but their number and their nature can- 
not be known until a survey is made, state by state, town by town. 

Co-operative housing came into existence when individuals dis- 
covered that they might accomplish together what they could not do 
alone acquire homes for their families. 

On the wall of the office of the manager of the Amalgamated Go- 
operative Apartments in the Bronx is a letter from Franklin D. Roose- 
velt containing a quote from the late Charles Steinmetz, which should 
be remembered by all home-seekers: 

"Co-operation is not a sentiment. It is an economic necessity." 


of Housing Co-ops 

The housing co-operatives described in this book differ in many 
ways: in the extent of co-operation, in the type of sponsorship, in the 
amount of self-help involved, in the manner of financing, in the kind 
of community urban or rural and in the make-up of the membership 
(some consist predominantly of factory workers, some of farmers, some 
of clerical workers or members of the professions, and some are com- 
posites of many occupations) . A mixture of employments provides the 
most satisfactory type of membership. 

The extent of co-operation is dictated partly by the desires of the 
members and partly by circumstance. It varies all the way from a 
minimum, confined to purchase of the land, to full co-operation, in- 
volving ownership of the property and the homes by the corporation, 
and operation of the community by the co-operative. A number of the 
associations started out in high hopes of developing true Rochdale co- 
operatives with title to the homes vested in the corporation, and mem- 
bership open to all regardless of race, creed, or color. Difficulties in 
obtaining financing forced them to change their plans, and they re- 
verted to individual ownership of the homes and to a membership com- 
posed "of the Caucasian race only." Those that survived and realized 
their plans did so, in most instances, by obtaining private loans or 
straight bank mortgages, instead of loans insured by the Federal Hous- 
ing Administration or guaranteed by the Veterans' Administration. 

Few of the associations have limited their co-operative activities to 
purchasing the land. Most of the groups carried on together through 
the site planning, the installation of utilities, the legal and architectural 
services, and the construction, at the end of which phase, each in- 
dividual took title to his dwelling with unrestricted control from that 
point forward. 


Types of Housing Co-ops 19 

It is difficult to pigeonhole co-operatives by drawing definite lines 
to indicate where co-operation began or ended. However, most of the 
co-operatives may be included in one of the following classifications: 

1. Co-operation extending only through the purchase of land. 

2. Co-operation extending through the land purchase, site planning, 
installation of utilities including roads, water and sewerage, and the 
legal and architectural services. 

3. Co-operation extending through all the phases in the second 
category, plus construction of the homes. 

4. Full co-operation, including co-operative ownership of both land 
and homes, and co-operative operation of the community and the com- 
munity-held property. 

5. Co-operation only after the completion of the project, as in the 
case of Government-built projects such as Greenmont in Dayton, Ohio; 
Walnut Grove in South Bend, Indiana; and Nay lor Gardens in Wash- 
ington, D. C. 

Many of the groups which fall into the second and third categories 
provided for co-operative operation of the development after comple- 
tion and for control of the community lands and buildings by their 

Co-operation may be very informal, after the manner in which four 
professors in Winchester, Massachusetts, built their homes, or it may 
follow a set pattern through the medium of a regularly incorporated 
association, with each provision set forth in the by-laws or in the mem- 
bership contracts. Good examples of the latter type are the Mutual 
Housing Association, Inc., in Los Angeles; the Peninsula Housing As- 
sociation, Inc., in Palo Alto, California; and Bryn Gweled Homesteads, 
Inc., in Feasterville near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to name a few. 

Mention must be made here of that large number of so-called co- 
operatives which are not really co-operatives at all. They vary all the 
way from borderline co-operatives to "commercial co-operatives" 
developed by builders or realtors trading on the accepted meaning of 

Sponsorship of the true co-operative may be active, with the sponsor 
taking part in the formation, financial aid, and operation of the com- 
munity; or it may be passive, with the sponsor merely providing the 
initiative for the organization of the group. There are many types of 
sponsorships all of which are described in this book. They include: 

1. Sponsorship by a Co-operative Housing Association. Crestwood, 
in Madison, Wisconsin, is an example. 

2. Sponsorship by an individual. Monsignor Luigi Ligutti of the 

20 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Catholic Rural Life Conference sponsored the development of the 
Granger Homesteads near Des Moines, Iowa. 

3. Sponsorship by public-spirited citizens and a city or state govern- 
ment, as was the case in the formation of the Garden Homes Company 
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

4. Sponsorship by a charitable, religious, or community service or- 
ganization. The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, 
sponsored Penn-Craft in East Millsboro near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 
the Celo Community in Celo, North Carolina; and Little River Farm 
in Abbeville, South Carolina. 

5. Sponsorship by a labor organization. The United Auto Workers, 
CIO, fathered the development of the Racine Co-operative Homes As- 
sociation in Racine, Wisconsin; a second project in Kenosha, Wiscon- 
sin; and a third in South Bend, Indiana. The Amalgamated Clothing 
Workers sponsored the erection of the Amalgamated Housing projects 
in New York City. The American Federation of Hosiery Workers was 
responsible for the building of the Carl Mackley Apartments in Phila- 
delphia, Pennsylvania. The Textile Workers' Union of America spon- 
sored the development of Stonewall Heights at Front Royal, Virginia. 
There are several others. 

6. Sponsorship by a business organization. Fifty-one houses in Mil- 
linocket, northern Maine, were built under the sponsorship of the 
Great Northern Paper Company. 

7. Sponsorship by a Veterans' organization. Under the direction of 
the American Legion, 250 homes were built in Legion Village, Baton 
Rouge, Louisiana. The AMVETS, a World War II group, formed the 
Veterans Co-operative Housing Association to operate Naylor Gardens 
in Washington, D. C, an apartment house project of 748 units. In 
Philadelphia, the American Veterans' Committee, another World War 
II organization, organized the American Veterans' Housing Co-opera- 
tive for the erection of 183 homes. Many other veteran-sponsored 
projects are discussed in this book. 

8. Sponsorship by another co-operative. The North Shore Co-opera- 
tive Society, Inc., for example, initiated the formation of Co-operative 
Community, Inc., which built Redwood Village in Glenview, Illinois. 

Self-help has been incorporated, to a greater or lesser degree, in 
the programs of many of the co-operative housing projects. Examples 
are Pioneer Homes in Watsonville, California; Penn-Craft in East 
Millsboro, Pennsylvania; Bryn Gweled in Feasterville, Pennsylvania; 
Tanguy Homesteads in Cheney, Pennsylvania; York Center Com- 
munity Co-operative, Villa Park; Illinois; lona Homes, lona, Idaho; 

Types of Housing Co-ops 21 

Oakwood Community, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Aquino Park, 
veterans' community in Campbell, San Jose, California; Light of 
Tyrrell Community in Columbia, North Carolina; Macedonia Com- 
munity in Macedonia, Georgia; Hyland Home Owners' Association in 
Dayton, Ohio; Redwood Village in Glenwood, Illinois; Melbourne 
Homes in Melbourne, Florida; Millinocket Homes in Millinocket, 

The financing of housing co-operatives takes various forms. Most 
of the groups whose projects are described in this book followed a 
similar pattern, obtaining funds through members' down-payments, 
the sale of stock or debentures, and the contracting of mortgage loans 
from insurance companies, banks, and other financial institutions. A 
few were aided by union funds. Some received support from Federal, 
state, county, or city governments. 

Types of communities fall into three main categories: the urban 
developments which are usually apartment houses; the rural develop- 
ments which may take the form of homestead projects or co-operative 
communities; and the suburban developments which are usually in- 
dividual residences, row houses, or garden apartments. 

A homestead, to be worthy of the name, must include, besides the 
house, sufficient acreage to permit the homesteaders to raise their own 
fruit and vegetables and to keep chickens and cows. A community 
farm, for the production of stock feed and the raising of produce for 
the commercial market, is an advisable inclusion. The Granger Home- 
steads near Des Moines, Iowa, averaged five acres to a member; Bryn 
Gweled in Feasterville, Pennsylvania, and Tanguy Homesteads in 
Cheney, Pennsylvania, each allot two acres to a member. The Krepps 
Farm project, the second development undertaken by the American 
Friends Service Committee in East Millsboro, Pennsylvania, provides 
each individual with ten acres. Pioneer Homes in Watsonville, Califor- 
nia, divided its holdings into plots of two acres each. Individual hold- 
ings in the Duluth Homesteads in Duluth, Minnesota, ranged from 
3J to ten acres. 

A co-operative community is one in which co-operation extends be- 
yond the co-operative ownership of homes and land and into the daily 
work life of the members. Best example is Macedonia, Georgia, where 
all property, houses, farm stock, farm equipment, farm buildings, 
dairy, sawmill, and woodworking shop are co-operatively owned and 
operated. Members gain their subsistence from the farm or shop, and 
all wages are pooled, being apportioned according to the size of the 

22 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Housing co-operatives have adopted varying types of planning. 
Sonic follow (lie commercial development p.illern with the houses in 
rows or blocks making little or no precision lor open spaces or com- 
munity l.nuls. Others have sought planned communities, providing lor 
parks and playgrounds, a community hall, curvilinear streets \vitliout 
through thoroughfares, and possibly a co-operative store and gas sta- 
tion. Larger developments may add swimming pools, tennis courts, 
shopping centers, and theaters. 

A few, like Bannockburn Co-operators, Incorporated, near \Yash 
ington, D. G, are seeking to build a balanced community, incorporat- 
ing all the best features of the planned community and providing tor 
a variation in types of dwellings to include single- family units, row 
houses or duplexes, and apartments. 

The make-up of the membership in a housing co-operative may be 
confined to one trade or profession or it may be so varied as to repre- 
sent a good cross-section of any average community. Many co operatives 
start within a group of members allied in the same type of work, hut 
soon expand to include memhers engaged in other occupations. 

Thus the initial members of a Chicago group were newspaper em- 
ployees. In another group they were architects, and in a third "oku 
farm laborers. People in all sorts of occupations have initiated our 
other housing co-operatives: miners, university professors, teachers, 
social workers, churchmen, shipyard workers, engineers, electrical and 
radio workers, auto-tire cord workers, university service employees, 
screen cartoonists, hosiery workers, musicians, and needle workers. 

The business of organizing a housing co-operative entails a careful 
plan of procedure, competent legal guidance, expert technical assist- 
ance, good management, and perseverance. 

Ralph Evans, president of Associated Co-operatives, Inc., of Oal 
land, California, and vice president of the Peninsula Housing As- 
sociation which is building four hundred homes for members in 
Palo Alto, California, offers an outline for the promotion and develop- 
ment of a housing co-operative which is designed for a large pro^t. 
but which may be modified to include even the smallest of housing 
developments. The suggested steps include: 

1. Call together a small harmonious group not over eight or ten 
who will meet frequently and talk over a general plan. Estimate the 
probable membership goal. Decide about the amount of land that 
would he needed, hearing in mind what m.iv he- available. In consider- 
ing the site, think not only of home sites, but also of space for com- 
mons or park land, availability of schools, utilities, transportation, and 

On the potato of lon.i, Kl.iho, a family of ei#lu lived in the 
room puiinwl .11 upper right. Another family of six occupied 
slu-il shown .n Ich Oi !',.im/iM.. .1 M li help co-operative, the farmers 
ommunity. The lower photo sho\\s .1 typical cottage in 

The mud-chinked shanty at the top of the page was "home" to 
the John Dunbars before they joined a group-housing project in 
Columbia, North Carolina, and built this new whitewashed bungalow 
with the aid of credit union funds. 

Types of Housing Co-ops 23 

the business district. If the project is to support a market and service 
station, it will require a minimum of two hundred families. 

2. Incorporate under the co-operative law or other suitable 
statutes. The services of an attorney are usually necessary in helping 
to draw up the Articles of Incorporation and the by-laws. He will also 
make arrangements for the permit to issue memberships and securities. 
Proceeds of sale of shares should first be impounded and then released 
upon the order of the corpbration commissioner. The attorney should 
be retained in an advisory capacity after incorporation. Expenses at this 
stage should be kept at a minimum, so the incorporating group will 
not lose heavily if the project does not go ahead. All these preliminary 
expenses should not exceed $200 to $300. 

3. Elect a board of directors to meet frequently and carry on the 
business of the corporation. It is highly desirable to have several per- 
sons of co-operative, business and housing experience in the group. 

4. Set a membership fee which will be rather a substantial amount 
say about $200 so that members will be making a definite commit- 
ment in joining. Provision for added investment necessary to purchase 
and develop land at a later date should be included with the applica- 
tion for membership. Membership and investment (in California) 
must be limited to persons holding legal residence in the state, or a 
permit must be secured from the Securities and Exchange Commission. 
(Note: Some states have no such limitations. Others require that a 
certain number or a certain percentage of the membership be legal 
residents of the state.) 

5. Hold some small meetings with friends of the original group to 
present the general plan and get a reaction to it. Encourage questions. 
This will build up a method of presentation for larger meetings. 

6. Prepare some mimeographed or printed material to mail to those 
who may be interested. A general statement of objectives should be 
made. A request for further information, perhaps in the form of a 
questionnaire, will reveal the interest of the prospective member. When 
the questionnaire is returned, a mailing, setting out the project in detail 
to date, should be made. From these returns, a mailing list should be 
built up. A small mimeographed news letter should be sent at regular 
intervals to all those on the mailing lists. 

7. Hold public meetings with a well-qualified architect or engineer 
as the main speaker. Some of the members should explain the project 
and discuss the merits of co-operative housing. Build up the mailing 
list by asking those present to leave names and addresses if they are 
interested in further information. 

24 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

8. When the membership grows enough to indicate success of the 
project, get a reliable real estate agent to locate suitable tracts of land. 
Try to get an option on a desirable site and use it to make a more 
positive appeal for membership. The owner should be told frankly that 
a rather long period is required to build up membership to complete 
purchase. The owner should be kept advised of progress. 

9. The directors should appoint members to work on various phases 
of development and planning. These phases may include: membership 
and publicity, site development and utilities, architecture, land owner- 
ship and restrictions, and finances. 

10. Draw up an estimate of finances required to purchase the land 
and develop it, with roads, and utilities (water, sewerage, electricity), 
ready for building. Make the required investment an obligation of 

11. When the membership reaches twenty or thirty, it will be 
necessary to have about half-time office help to carry on the mailing- 
mimeograph-bookkeeping work. Some paid help will have to be used 
before this time. Volunteer work should be used to a large extent at 
all times. Not only will it keep expenses down; it also educates mem- 
bers and keeps up interest. 

12. An architect and affiliated engineers should be engaged, at least 
in an advisory capacity, to aid in site selection and help in different 
phases of planning and committee work. 

13. Purchase the land as soon as it is financially feasible. A mortgage 
can be secured to aid member-financing in the purchase. 

14. Prepare a printed and illustrated pamphlet for use in promoting 

15. Architect and engineers should prepare a site plan outlining 
the complete development contemplated. This should include roads, 
commons, business district, recreation areas, as well as residence lots. 

16. Allocate building sites to members. Prices should be established 
by the paid staff of the architect. 

17. Employ a permanent community manager. A thoroughly quali- 
fied and trained man should be selected and paid an adequate salary. 

18. The architect should prepare plans and specifications for the 
houses and the community and business buildings. 

19. Install roads, utilities, and sewer facilities all work prelimi- 
nary to home construction. 

20. Join your regional wholesale so you can secure wholesale prices 
on the building materials and household appliances available through 
National Co-operatives, Inc. 

Types of Housing Co-ops 25 

21. Let contracts for home construction in as large lots as feasible, 
preferably one hundred or more. 

Small housing co-operatives which do not contemplate more than 
thirty or forty houses may modify any of the above steps to suit the 
extent of their project and the size of their pocketbooks. Thus a 
corps of architects and engineers would not be feasible on a small 
project, but some architectural supervision is an absolute necessity. 
The York Center Co-operative Community, Villa Park, Illinois, per- 
fected a plan whereby members submitted their individual plans to an 
architectural firm for advice and revision at the rate of $6 an hour. 

Likewise, smaller co-operatives which cannot afford a community 
manager may utilize the services of one of their members, preferably 
one with building experience, during the construction period, paying 
him so much an hour with a limit to the amount he may charge in any 
one month. The veterans in Aquino Homes, San Jose, California, 
operated very satisfactorily under such an arrangement. At the conclu- 
sion of construction, instead of the "permanent community manager" 
suggested for the big projects, the small co-op may turn over the opera- 
tion of the community to its member directors. 

The last step outlined by the Peninsula Housing Association Incor- 
porated, calling for the construction of homes "in lots of one hundred 
or more," for the purpose of economizing through mass production, 
would not, of course, apply to the small co-op. 

Savings should be made on the simultaneous construction of any 
number of houses, however small. It has been the experience of several 
housing co-operatives that builders are willing to make concessions and 
reduce their profit percentage if awarded contracts for a minimum of 
ten houses. Materials may frequently be bought more economically for 
several residences than for one. 

As a whole, Peninsula's outline may serve as a guide for any housing 
co-operative, regardless of the size of its membership or the extent of 
its project. 


Financing Housing Co-ops 

The chief difficulty which every co-operative housing association 
must master is the problem of financing. With that enigma satisfac- 
torily resolved, there is little excuse for the failure of any project. To 
aid the new organization in determining what to do first and how 
to do it, the following outline, incorporating the various steps in finan- 
cing, is offered: 

1. Collect membership fees to provide organizational funds. 

2. Determine the amount of land desired and the price the asso- 
ciation wants to pay. Plan the number of houses to be erected and find 
out from members the price range they hope will cover the units they 

3. Decide on the legal form to be used in the formation of the 

4. Select the site and make arrangements for the purchase of an 

5. Draw up a list of approximate costs for development of the 
property, including roads, water and sewerage installations, and elec- 

6. If plans include FHA-insured mortgages, consult informally 
with the nearest Federal Housing Administration office regarding plans 
for the project. 

7. Arrange for members to make definite commitments for the 
lease or purchase of a specific unit. 

8. Determine the approximate equity required from members and 
collect a substantial down-payment or share money from each member. 

9. Purchase the land as soon as feasible. Some co-ops acquired their 
sites before the mortgage commitment was made. Others waited until 

10. Begin preliminary negotiations for a construction loan, if one 
will be necessary, and for permanent financing. 


Financing Housing Co-ops 27 

11. Make decision on the type of permanent financing. 

12. Plan the method of mortgage reduction and make provision for 

13. Apply for loans. 

14. Solicit bids from contractors and decide on the type of contract. 

15. Prepare the final by-laws. 

16. Decide on the exact rent or monthly payments. 

17. Draw up leases or individual contracts. 

18. Collect the balance of equity from members. 

19. Close the construction contract. 

20. Execute the construction loans. 

21. Execute the permanent loans after construction is complete. 
The following is a description of the financing steps just outlined. 

The figure at the beginning of each step corresponds to the figure in 
the outline. 

1. Organizational expenses. These vary, but should be kept to a 
minimum. Initial expenses include the incorporation filing fees, a small 
retainer fee for the architect, the cost of a land option, the office ex- 
penses, the initial legal fees, the cost of conducting a membership 
drive, and the incidental expenses, with some amount set aside for 
necessary travel. Except in large projects, it is not recommended that 
a salaried manager be hired until construction is complete. 

In most states, the cost of filing the incorporation papers will not 
exceed $50 exclusive of the attorney's fee for preparing the legal 
forms. The cost of the option depends on the landowner. Some of the 
housing co-operatives paid from $100 to $200. Some paid nothing at 
all. The funds for office expenses consisting mainly of postage, tele- 
phone, stationery, and descriptive pamphlets should not be large. 
Small projects would do well to curb their desires for nice offices and 
fancy brochures. Some of the most successful co-operatives described 
in this book started their business life in a member's parlor or kitchen. 
Pamphlets can be typewritten or mimeographed until the association 
develops a bank account that warrants glossy print photographs and 
engraved stationery. Preliminary expenses on projects of fifty to one 
hundred units should not exceed $15 per projected unit and should 
be covered by the initial membership fee. 

Many of the housing associations require a down-payment of $200 
to $500 immediately after the applicant is admitted to membership. 
This is a good plan. It signifies the serious intent of the member to 
carry through and provides the organization with working capital for 
the down-payment on the land and the development of the property. 

28 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

2. Size of the land. Members must decide on the size of the property 
they want, the approximate price they feel they can manage, the num- 
ber of houses to be erected, their size, and their approximate cost. 
While the latter can be only a guess in the beginning, it will serve to 
indicate to the association whether the members want $10,000 or 
$20,000 homes. An architect may be brought in to assist the site selec- 
tion committee in the choice of the property and in the planning of 
the houses. He should be in on any conferences with the FHA. 

In the formative stage of the development, the architect will usually 
agree to serve for the payment of a small retainer fee which covers 
only his cost of rough sketches, tentative estimates, and advice. The 
association generally agrees to pay the full fee when final drawings 
and specifications are submitted. 

3. Legal form of the association. Incorporation should precede the 
purchase of the property, as it usually prevents individual liability for 
the debts or obligations of the association. As a general rule, in an 
incorporated association, each member is liable only to the extent of 
the total amount of his share subscriptions, paid or unpaid. But where 
there is no incorporation, he is liable for the full amount of the asso- 
ciation's indebtedness. 

The articles of incorporation establish the legal status of the asso- 
ciation. The law under which incorporation takes place will specify 
the essential information which is required in these articles. Although 
most of the co-operative statutes specify what the articles must contain, 
their final drafting is a job for an attorney familiar with laws govern- 
ing corporations. Because it is easier to amend by-laws than it is to 
amend a charter (the articles of incorporation), co-operatives sometimes 
specify in the charter certain provisions considered essential to sound 
co-operative functioning, even though the law does not require it. 

There are several different types of corporate forms which may be 
used. The type depends on the laws of the state and the particular 
needs of the project. A list of the applicable laws is included in Bul- 
letin No. 858 of the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, available from 
the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, for twenty cents. 

The ways of incorporating include: (1) incorporation under the co- 
operative association, co-operative housing, or limited-dividend housing 
laws; (2) incorporation under non-profit, benevolent, or fraternal cor- 
poration laws of the state, if these are broad enough to cover the 
project; or (3) incorporation under the business corporation laws. In 
some states the association might incorporate under an urban re- 

Financing Housing Co-ops 29 

development law. In such case, there may be specific benefits in the 
form of partial tax exemption or assistance in site acquisition. 

In those states where there is no co-operative law or an inadequate 
one, recourse may be had to incorporation under the District of Colum- 
bia Co-operative law. Investigation should be made first, however, to 
see what disadvantages might attend such a procedure. The York Cen- 
ter Community Co-operative, Villa Park, Illinois, incorporated first 
under the D. C. law. But the State of Illinois denied the Co-operative's 
application for registration on the grounds that the Illinois Corporation 
Act does not permit not-for-profit corporations to issue stock or pay 
dividends, as is allowed under the D. C. law. So it 'was necessary to 
incorporate all over again under the Illinois laws. The advice of an 
attorney, in such instances, is a time saver and a money saver. The 
attorney will also be helpful in ascertaining the corporation's tax lia- 
bility under the various incorporation laws, and in defining the rights 
of members to share in the assets of the corporation in the event of 
dissolution. His services are also necessary to prepare and file the 
necessary documents. 

If the corporation is to be capitalized, the best type of capitalization 
is a single class of common stock. Some states do not permit not-for- 
profit corporations to issue stock. This discussion pertains to those that 
do. The single class of common stock is readily understood and ac- 
cepted by individuals who have no special training in financing. Al- 
though provision may be made for future payments of dividends, it is 
more advantageous to rebate savings as patronage refunds in accordance 
with co-operative principles. 

The more complex forms of capitalization involve the use of de- 
bentures, preferred stocks, and various classes of common stocks. A 
debenture is a bond or note, forming one of an issue. As a debt which 
the corporation is pledged to pay, it takes its place along with the 
other claims on the corporation and has preference over common 
stock. The interest payments on a debenture do not constitute a tax- 
able distribution of the corporation, for such costs are regarded as a 
business expense, just as if the money were borrowed from a bank and 
interest paid on the debt. 

Preferred stock represents an ownership interest entitled to its in- 
terest return, and repayment prior to any settlement to common stock 
holders. Interest paid on both preferred and common stock is taxable. 
Sale of preferred stock has been used to finance co-operative corpora- 
tions, the stock generally being issued to a limited number of members, 

30 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

friends, or associations willing to invest a portion of their capital in 
the development. However, co-operative organizations whose members 
expect to deduct from their taxable income the pro-rata interest and 
real estate tax payments made by the association on their behalf, should 
not utilize preferred stock. 

Bonds are a part interest in the assets of the corporation. They may 
be utilized to raise a portion of the funds for financing a project, but 
this type of financing should not be necessary under the high-percent- 
age single-mortgage loan. Bonds might be sold to raise the funds for 
development of that portion of the property not used initially for home 
sites. However, bonds bear interest, which adds to the cost of improve- 
ments financed in this way. Compelling contractors or building mate- 
rial firms to take bonds for a portion of their contract is likely to re- 
sult in a higher cost than would have been the case if payment had 
been in cash. 

In the business operation of the co-operatives, legal instruments of 
all sorts must be prepared and executed so that they are satisfactory 
to the parties concerned. The variety and the number depend on the 
type of operation and the methods of financing. 

These legal instruments may include: the deed transferring title to 
the house to the organization; the title to the land, if the land is pur- 
chased; or a ground lease, if the land is rented. Except in those in- 
stances where the organization does not engage a general contractor or 
any subcontractors, a construction contract must be prepared and exe- 
cuted in a form satisfactory to the mortgagee or lender, and to the 
FHA, if the loan is to be eligible for insurance. The construction con- 
tract should provide that the builder furnish a satisfactory completion 
bond. Construction advances to be FHA-insured, require the builder 
to -provide assurance of completion by a surety company bond in an 
amount equal to at least 10 per cent of the construction cost, or by 
an escrow deposit, in an approved financial institution, of cash or 
securities in an amount equal to 10 per cent of the construction cost. 

The mortgage deed and the mortgage note or bond are additional 
instruments which generally must be prepared and executed. If the 
loan is insured by FHA, standard forms prepared by FHA for each 
state must be used. Some amendments of these forms are permissible. 

The entrance of the legal instruments into the life of the housing 
co-operator brings with it a host of confusing terms and phrases. The 
words mortgagee and mortgagor are commonly twisted. The mortgagee 
is the one to whom the property is mortgaged, i.e.: the bank or finan- 
cial institution or private party. The mortgagor or mortgager is the one 

Financing Housing Co-ops 31 

who mortgages, that is, who grants property as security for a debt or 

Then there are all sorts of property deeds, of which the warranty 
is the most common. The quit claim is the poorest kind of deed and is 
used usually to obtain a release of such claims as the party giving it 
may hold. In effect, the seller says: "I sell to you as I possess. I don't 
say the title is good or it isn't. I sell you what I think I have." In 
this case, the buyer takes a chance. There may be no choice. It is quite 
probable that the seller acquired the property through a quit claim 

A warranty deed is a warrant or guaranty of good title. The seller 
may enumerate certain items of which he is not sure. He might, for 
instance, indicate he was uncertain of one boundary line of the prop- 
erty. In such case the buyer is not responsible. Any claims made later 
against him, may be referred to, and settled by, the seller. Regardless 
of the deed, some lenders require a survey anyway, to make sure the 
house is being built on the land designated in the deed, and that the 
metes and bounds of the property are as delineated in the deed. 

The term fee simple is an indication of the greatest possible owner- 
ship. It is an English term originating in feudal law, and it is used to 
describe an estate or property which may be deeded, transferred, mort- 
gaged, or bequeathed. 

4. Site of the development. The next step is to select the site and 
make arrangements for the option to purchase. The cost of the option 
and its duration depend entirely on the owner. The usual length of 
time is sixty or ninety days, although it may be as little as thirty days 
or as much as six months. Get a long option five or six months if 

5. Costs of development. At this point, it is well to draw up a list 
of approximate costs which will be entailed in developing the prop- 
erty. These costs include: constructing the roads, installing sewerage 
lines or septic tanks, installing water lines or drilling wells, and con- 
tracting for electrical and telephone service. Most of the discussions 
of housing projects in this book give figures on the costs of such 

Once the costs of development are known, it is possible to figure 
the price of the improved lot. This price should include at least the 
cost of roads, water and sewerage lines. There is quite a variation in 
the differential between the cost of the raw or unimproved lot and the 
cost of the developed or improved lot. In Usonia Homes, Mount 
Pleasant, New York, the cost of the raw lot was $260 and the cost 

32 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

of the developed lot, $1260; in the Home Owners Co-operative Inc., 
Syracuse, New York, the unimproved lot cost $200 and the improved 
lot, $600; in Melbourne, Florida, the raw lot cost $75 and the devel- 
oped lot, $250; in the York Center Community Co-operative, Villa 
Park, Chicago, the unimproved lot cost $430 and the developed lot, 

6. FHA^-msured mortgages. If application for FHA mortgage in- 
surance is contemplated, it is important to discuss the project in the 
very early stages of formation with the staff of the nearest FHA field 
office. This is essential, so that the procedures, the eligibility require- 
ments as to structural standards, the financing, the corporate organiza- 
tion, and the administrative and management procedures can be dis- 
cussed and utilized in the planning, organization, and development of 
the project, before any unalterable decisions are made, or any sub- 
stantial sums of money disbursed. 

There are many ways of financing a housing co-operative. The choice 
should be dictated by the institution or plan that offers the most satis- 
factory terms. If the loan is to be insured by the Federal Housing 
Administration, or guaranteed by the Veterans' Administration, the 
maximum interest rate and the amount which can be borrowed are 
prescribed by these agencies. 

Conventional financing refers to operations conducted by private 
lending institutions without Federal assistance, that is, without bene- 
fit of FHA insurance or VA (Veterans' Administration) loan guaran- 
tees. A conventional bank loan mortgage is frequently called a straight 
bank mortgage. The principal disadvantage of the latter is the large 
down-payment required. Thus, an individual may be able to secure an 
FHA-insured mortgage for 80 or 90 per cent of the FHA valuation of 
his property, but only a 60 or 65 per cent straight bank mortgage loan. 

The FHA lends no money. It insures mortgage loans on residential 
properties (made by private lending institutions), and it insures 
financial institutions against loss on loans for remodeling, repairing, and 
improving various types of property. Titles I and II, formulated by the 
Federal Housing Administration shortly after it was established under 
the National Housing Act in 1934, and Title VI (a war emergency 
measure) pertain to housing. Very few of the projects discussed in 
this book were insured under Title I. Pioneer Homes in Watsonville, 
California, is an exception. Title II may be summarized as follows: 

TITLE n, SECTION 203. Mortgages on one- to four-family houses, 
new or existing, are insured under this section. Valuations are based on 

Financing Housing Co-ops 33 

long-term economic soundness. They may be defined as "stable valua- 
tions" based on the term of the mortgage. 

In the case of new construction approved by the FHA prior to the 
start of construction, the maximum mortgage loan under Section 203 is 
80 per cent of the FHA-valuation, but cannot exceed $16,000. The 
maximum term of the mortgage is twenty-five years, and the maximum 
interest rate is 4^ per cent plus J of 1 per cent mortgage loan insurance. 

There are exceptions in the case of new, single-family homes for 
owner-occupancy, approved by the FHA prior to the start of construc- 

a. A loan of $6300 or less, may be up to 90 per cent of the FHA- 

b. A loan up to $9500 may be 90 per cent of the FHA-valuation on 
the first $7000 and 80 per cent of the balance, up to $11,000, (the 
appraised mortgage value). 

c. A loan of $6000 or less may be up to 95 per cent of the FHA- 
valuation, and for a term of thirty years. 

The table given on the pages following this discussion explains the 
manner in which Title II, Section 203 operates with respect to new, 
single-family homes for owner-occupancy, with appraised mortgage 
values of $7000 to $15,000. 

In the case of existing construction mortgaged under this title and 
section, the maximum loan is 80 per cent of the FHA-valuation, the 
maximum term of the mortgage is twenty years, and the maximum in- 
terest rate is 4^ per cent plus ^ of 1 per cent mortgage loan insurance. 

TITLE H, SECTION 207, Multi-family rental housing. Amounts: the 
FHA-insured mortgage loan for private housing including co-opera- 
tives cannot exceed $5,000,000 or more than 90 per cent of the es- 
timated value of the property when the proposed improvements are 
completed. The term of the mortgage loan for non-profit and co-opera- 
tive ownership corporations is forty years. The maximum interest rate 
is 4 per cent plus \ of 1 per cent mortgage loan insurance. The maxi- 
mum mortgage for non-profit corporations has recently been increased 
to $8100 per family unit or $1800 per room. 

TITLE vi, SECTION 603. Mortgages on new, one- to four- family 
houses for both rental and sale were insured under this section. It 
expired April 30, 1948. 

TITLE vi, SECTION 608. Mortgages on multi-family rental projects of 
eight or more units were insured under this section. It expired March 
31, 1949, but it may be renewed. 

34 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Under the GI Bill of Rights the Servicemen's Readjustment Act 
the Veterans' Administration may guarantee or insure a portion of the 
mortgage loan made by a financial institution to a veteran. The loan 
may be as much as 100 per cent of the property value established by 

The provisions of Section 501 (of the GI Bill of Rights), as they 
apply to one-, two-, three- and four-family structures owned by individ- 
ual veterans, permit the guarantee of a maximum of 50 per cent of the 
loan, but not to exceed $4000 per dwelling unit per veteran. In Decem- 
ber, 1945, the act was amended to allow the mortgage lender to adopt 
an insurance plan instead of a guarantee of part of the loan. The 
maximum interest rate permissible on such loans is 4 per cent, and 
the maximum term of the loan is twenty-five years. The purchase price 
or cost of the property cannot exceed the VA-appraisal value. 

In April, 1947, two plans were announced to provide basic formulas 
for the financing of large, multi-unit housing projects for veterans, 
under the GI Bill. 

Under one of these plans, each participating veteran acquires title 
to his proportionate share of the property. The veteran receives exclu- 
sive right to occupancy of the designated apartment and the right in 
common to the use of project facilities, and he enters into an agree- 
ment for the management and the maintenance of the property. 

The second plan provides for veterans to form a corporation which 
holds title to the property and assumes responsibility for the mortgage. 
The corporation, in turn, sells stock-membership certificates to the 
participating veterans, entitling each veteran to a perpetual or long- 
term lease on a designated apartment and to use of the community 
facilities. The corporation provides management and maintenance and 
assesses the tenants proportionately. 

The lender financing the project receives a Government guarantee 
from the Veterans' Administration covering 50 per cent of the mort- 
gage liability of each participating veteran, up to the legal maximum of 
a $4000 guaranty for each veteran occupant, as provided by the GI 

Combined FHA- and VA-financing involves combining a first loan 
insured by the FHA under Section 203 of Title II of the National 
Housing Act, with a second loan guaranteed by the VA under Section 
505 of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act. Under this combined plan, 
it is possible for veterans to borrow as much as 100 per cent of the 
VA-appraisal value of the house. 
If the first loan is insured by FHA under Section 203, the maxi- 

Financing Housing Co-ops 35 

mum mortgage may not exceed 90 per cent of the first $7000 (ap- 
praised valuation), and 80 per cent of the amount in excess of $7000, 
on homes up to $11,000 (appraised valuation); and straight 80 per 
cent on homes in excess of $11,000, but not exceeding $20,000 
which would mean a maximum mortgage of $16,000. The second loan 
(VA-guaranteed) may not exceed 20 per cent of the VA-appraisal or 
cost, nor in any case may it be more than $4000. The two loans com- 
bined may not exceed the purchase price of the property or the VA- 

It is well to remember that when 90 per cent mortgage loans are 
obtained under Section 203, all plans and specifications must be sub- 
mitted to the FHA prior to beginning construction. 

Veterans in several of the housing co-operatives discussed in this 
book were able to obtain 100 per cent financing not always by the 
same means. Examples are: the American Legion project in Charlotte, 
North Carolina; the Larchmont Veterans' Building Corporation in 
Larchmont, New York; and the Homeless Veterans, Inc., in Salt Lake 
City, Utah. 

While it seems like a wonderful idea to be able to acquire a home 
without making much of a down-payment, the fact remains that the 
smaller the down-payment or equity, the higher the monthly charge. 
The larger the down-payment on the house, the better, not- only be- 
cause it reduces the monthly charge, but because it solidifies the mem- 
ber's interest in his house and in the development, and provides the 
corporation with working capital when it needs it most. However, it 
is always desirable that a member mortgagor have a dependable income, 
and that he have additional liquid reserves. 

Some cash working capital is required no matter under which plan 
the development operates. Generally, this amounts to about 3 per cent 
of the estimated cost and is used to pay taxes, insurance premiums, 
certain organizational expenses during the construction period, and to 
cover pre-occupancy expenses. If the project is to be built under an 
FHA-insured mortgage, funds will be required to cover taxes, hazard 
or liability insurance, mortgage insurance premiums, and loan closing 

Provided the land does not absorb all the first down-payments, 
the remainder of the down-payments or equity may be used as work- 
ing capital. If land costs absorb all the equity, additional cash will have 
to be collected from members to provide the working capital. Many 
housing co-ops start out with too little cash on hand and then find 
they are unable to meet current bills because money has a habit of go- 

36 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

ing out faster than it comes in. The co-op will get off to a good start 
with a good-sized equity down-payment. 

7. Commitments for the houses. Members of the organization should 
commit themselves to lease or purchase a unit of a particular size or 
type at an early stage in the planning of the project. The commitment 
must be tentative, for the cost of producing the units and the monthly 
charges will not be known at the time the commitment is made. The 
organization should take precautions to ascertain that the member will 
be able to meet his monthly charges out of his current and anticipated 
income without difficulty and, of course, should not encourage a mem- 
ber to assume more than he can carry. 

Most of the housing associations set up membership selection com- 
mittees or "screening committees" during the early weeks of a mem- 
bership drive. The sole purpose of such groups is to find out, by means 
of a questionnaire, if the applicant will be able to carry the financial 
obligations he seeks to assume. 

8. Equity requirements. It should be possible to determine the ap- 
proximate equity required from members and to collect a substantial 
down-payment or share money from each individual. In the case of 
the corporation, "equity" refers to the difference between the amount 
of the mortgage and the total cost of the completed project. This dif- 
ference is made up of the capital stock outstanding, cash, land-value, 
and any paid-in surplus. In the case of the individual member, the 
equity is represented by his down-payment. In either instance, the 
equity represents the amount contributed by the members. In most co- 
operatives, it is understood that the individual's equity increases each 
time he makes a monthly payment and that his mortgage indebtedness 
is thereby reduced. 

On a twenty-year loan, under the level-payment plan, the indi- 
vidual's equity is increased by half of the original loan by the end of 
thirteen years, minus the amount which must be charged for 

The cash for the equity financing is raised through the purchase of 
shares by members of the association. A subscription agreement is 
signed by each member, binding him to the purchase of a stated 
amount of the shares or debentures of the corporation. A sample share 
subscription agreement may be found in the appendix of Bulletin No. 
858, published by the U. S. Department of Labor and obtainable from 
the Superintendent of Documents in Washington, D. C, or from any 
of the regional co-operative wholesales, for twenty cents. Some of the 
corporations term the shares "members' interest." In any case, the 

Financing Housing Co-ops 37 

shares, the equity, or the member-interest constitute the same thing 
the down-payment. 

How big should the down-payment be ? In the case of a large rental 
type project such as an apartment house, the member's equity must 
equal the equity required by the corporation for the apartment the in- 
dividual is to lease. The amount of that equity will be determined by 
the size of the mortgage. The larger the mortgage, the smaller the 
necessary equity. 

In the case of dwellings individually owned, the down-payment is 
usually 10 per cent of the total cost of the house and the improved 
lot, that is, if a 90 per cent mortgage is planned. If, on the other hand, 
an 80 per cent mortgage is secured, then the down-payment must be 
at least 20 per cent of the total cost. If a 60 or 65 per cent straight 
bank mortgage is obtained, then the down-payment must be 35 or 40 
per cent of the total cost. 

In any case, the down-payment should be sufficient to cover the cost 
of the lot and its improvements, including the installation of roads, 
sewerage, and water. 

As a general rule, the required equity or down-payment should be 
paid in full before construction starts. Members unable to pay the full 
amount of the equity at first, sometimes are allowed to pay on install- 
ments. If the co-operative is formed long enough ahead of time, the 
equity can be built up month by month so that members will have suffi- 
cient equity to make the necessary cash contribution when construction 
starts. In such manner did each member of Usonia Homes, Inc., 
White Plains, New York, build up a $2000 equity over a period of 
four years. 

9. Buying the land. Purchase the property as soon as feasible. Be- 
fore financing can be arranged and construction begun, the association 
must demonstrate outright ownership of the land, or must produce a 
contract for the use of the land (a "ground lease"). If the land is 
leased, the terms of the lease must extend beyond the terms of the 
mortgage, to protect the lender, and should exceed the estimated physi- 
cal life of the improvements (buildings) on the land, to protect the 
association. Taking title to the land is the most common method of 
acquiring control. Remember that the title must be searched to see if 
there are any mortgages, liens, or assessments against the property. 

10. Construction loans. The construction loan, sometimes called a 
building loan, is of temporary duration. It is for the purpose of financ- 
ing the physical construction of the properties and generally terminates 
after the completion of the structures. Not all mortgage lenders engage 

38 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

in this type of financing. Some are prohibited by law and others are 
not equipped to assume the responsibility which construction lending 

On the other hand, some financial institutions making permanent 
FHA-insured mortgage loans also make construction loans, and often 
the same mortgage instrument may serve as both construction and 
permanent loan, with a minimum of legal and other expenses. Such 
a financing plan could apply to the type of joint project in which con- 
struction and financing proceed on an individual structure basis with 
the association assuming only general planning and management func- 

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation will participate with banks 
in loans for financing builders. The amount of working capital which 
the builder must provide and the terms of the loan will be established 
by the RFC upon the merits of each individual case. Non-profit cor- 
porations are not eligible, however, for RFC loans, although a private 
builder undertaking a project for a non-profit corporation may be 
eligible for such loans. RFC loans are of a short-term character, suit- 
able for construction loans but not for permanent financing. In some 
instances, the RFC Mortgage Company, a subsidiary of the RFC, may 
make a permanent loan at commercial terms, provided: private financ- 
ing is not available, the property is sound, and the Association has 
sufficient equity to assure a solvent operation. 

When mortgage-lending institutions will not or cannot make con- 
struction loans, it is necessary to arrange separate financing for the 
construction of the buildings. Almost any financial institution that 
makes FHA-insured loans (and most of the savings-and-loan associa- 
tions) will also make building loans. The members of the Larchmont 
Veterans' Building Corporation in Larchmont, New York, constructed 
their homes on individual building loans which were assigned td the 

In the event that construction loans may not be available, the mem- 
bers might raise a revolving fund by the purchase of additional stock 
or by depositing funds with their association to build the various dwell- 
ings. Then, as each building was placed under the first-mortgage financ- 
ing, the association's revolving fund would be repaid. 

11. Permanent financing. When the time arrives to decide the per- 
manent type of financing best suited for the project, it is advisable to 
have the full membership, or at least the board of directors (rather 
than just the finance committee), make the final decision. Members 
may wish to review the various financing plans available; to discuss 

Financing Housing Co-ops 39 

the advantages and disadvantages of a blanket mortgage covering the 
vholc number of dwellings, with title held by the co-operative; to con- 
sider the advisability of inclusion of a release clause which would pro- 
vide for the releasing of individual dwelling units from the blanket 
mortgage as they are paid for; and to consider the arguments in favor 
of homes individually financed and mortgaged. 

The finance committee should submit to members: recommendations 
on the types of financing, the types of mortgages, and the particular 
institutions offering the best financial terms. It might be pointed out, 
also, that if an individual wishes to accelerate payment of his mortgage 
faster than the rate decided on for the project, he is better off with- 
drawing and re-mortgaging his own property. 

12. Mortgage reduction. The method of mortgage reduction 
(amortization) and the provision for reserves are two important financ- 
ing steps which every housing co-operative must consider. There are 
two main plans under which mortgage loans may be repaid. The first, 
called "the declining-total-payment method" (known also as "the 
fixed-payment-to-principal-plus-interest method"), enables rapid liqui- 
dation of indebtedness during the earlier years of the mortgage. Under 
this plan, the monthly payment on the principal remains constant 
throughout the life of the mortgage, while the interest charge declines, 
since it is computed on the outstanding balance of the debt. Thus, the 
total monthly payment of principal-plus-interest declines as time goes 
on, permitting a progressive reduction in the member's monthly pay- 
ments. As a precaution, however, the monthly payments may be main- 
tained at the original levels, using excess to prepay the mortgage or 
build up reserves. 

The second plan is known as the "level-payment" or "level-annuity" 
plan, under which the total monthly payment remains constant 
throughout the life of the mortgage. This method reduces the mortgage 
principal little in the early years, as a large part of the payments in 
those years goes for interest. 

The declining-total-payment method has one advantage in that the 
total interest payment made in repaying the loan is somewhat reduced. 
The level-payment plan, on the -other hand, has two main advantages : 

(1) the individual knows exactly what his monthly payment will be 
over the period of the loan, with the exception of fluctuations in taxes; 

(2) the plan provides the smallest monthly payment for the greatest 
amount of mortgage. Under section 203 of Title II, the FHA requires 
the use of the level-payment plan. The VA leaves the method of pay- 
ment to the lender. 

40 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

One more point to consider is the term of the mortgage. In housing 
co-operatives where there are a good number of middle-aged members, 
it is wise to keep the period of amortization as short as possible, so that 
the mortgage principal is paid before the principal earner in the family 
is retired. 

When the question of building up reserves is discussed, the mem- 
bers might consider a plan whereby the stock subscription required of 
each member is increased from 5 to 10 per cent above that actually 
needed for the financing. The additional paid-in shares can be used to 
prepay the mortgage and to provide an emergency financial cushion. 

Several housing associations have built up separate small emergency 
or contingency funds which provide "future security" for their mem- 
bers. Under the plan, each member pays in $2 a month to a trust fund 
against which he may draw in times of sickness or unemployment, to 
meet his monthly payments. 

13. Applying for loans. Before applying for an FHA-insured loan, 
the Corporation should be certain it can meet the primary require- 
ments which are : ( 1 ) evidence that the applicant will be able to secure 
clear title to the land prior to the closing of the permanent mortgage; 
(2) demonstration of its ability to raise the required working capital; 
and (3) commitments from a sufficient number of members to enable 
the project to operate without default on its financial obligations. 

14. Contracting bids. Solicitation of bids from contractors and a 
decision on the type of contract to be used, is the next step. There are 
three major types of contracts: (1) "cost-plus-a-percentage-fee," (2) 
"lump sum," and (3) "cost-plus-a-fixed-fee" with a stipulated maxi- 
mum price. 

/The first type is not desirable for either co-operative organizations 
or for individuals with limited resources. In this type of contract, there 
is no "ceiling" on the total cost. Moreover, the contractor has no in- 
centive to keep costs down, since his fee (usually 10 per cent of cost) 
increases as costs increase. 

The second type, known as the "lump-sum" contract, would be 
more desirable, since the co-operative would know in advance exactly 
how much the whole project or the individual house would cost. It 
has one drawback. Any economies in construction go to the contractor 
and not to the co-operative. Careful periodic inspections would thus be 
necessary to make sure that the costs were not reduced at the expense 
of the quality. During the past few years of uncertain materials costs 
and rising labor costs, builders have been reluctant to negotiate fixed- 
price contracts. 

Financing Housing Co-ops 41 

The third type, the "cost-plus-fixed-fee," with a guarantee upset or 
maximum price, offers the co-operative several advantages. In this type 
of agreement, the contractor agrees to build for the actual cost of the 
materials and labor plus a stipulated fee. He further agrees to charge 
the association no more than the amount designated in the contract re- 
gardless of the cost actually incurred. 

Under such an arrangement, the association knows the maximum 
construction cost in advance. Any savings in construction may be re- 
turned to the co-operative or may be divided between the contractor 
and the co-operative, depending on what arrangement the latter is 
able to make. 

The "cost-plus-fixed-fee" type of contract meets with FHA ap- 
proval, since the FHA requires that the construction be performed 
under a contract with a maximum price, if construction advances are 
to be insured. In large rental projects, in some instances, construction 
advances can be insured, step by step. 

In selecting the contractor, it is important that one be chosen whose 
financial standing is sufficiently good to enable him to obtain adequate 
credit from suppliers of building materials, and to gain acceptance by 
a surety company for the writing of performance or completion bonds, 
when such are required. 

In a performance bond, the surety company agrees to indemnify the 
owner against loss occasioned by, the failure of the builder to perform 
and complete the building contract according to the terms and speci- 
fications, and free and clear of any mechanic's lien. A mechanic's lien 
is a recorded claim made by a workman or a supplier against a prop- 
erty or building. In the case of a house under construction or a 
house constructed, it is a bill the builder hasn't paid. States differ in 
their interpretation of the laws governing mechanic's liens. 

In a completion bond, usually required on all large projects, the 
surety company agrees to indemnify the lender or lessor (one who 
leases) against loss occasioned by the failure of the builder to com- 
plete the construction contract (and free and clear of any mechanic's 
liens) within a specified time for completion, and/or the owner's 
failure or inability to deliver title to the property free and clear of 
any and all encumbrances, except for the lender's lien (the mortgage) . 

In case a completion or performance bond is not executed, the con- 
tractor should have sufficient liquid assets to set up a trust account, 
satisfactory to the mortgagee who makes the loan, to insure completion. 
In the case of the Veterans' Building Co-operative of New Brunswick, 
New Jersey, which went into receivership in the spring of 1948, neither 

42 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

a performance bond nor a completion bond was executed. When 
prices ran too high and completions were too slow, no one was 

15. Preparing the final by-laws. The by-laws supplement the arti- 
cles of incorporation, otherwise known as the charter. They should 
specify in detail the regulations and procedures under which the or- 
ganization is to operate. They should state how the board of directors 
is to be elected usually by the members and should stipulate the 
directors' duties; state how the officers are to be selected, and their 
duties; detail the types of committees; and the voting rights of the 
members. In addition, the by-laws should contain terms for redeem- 
ing the equity of a withdrawing member, and the conditions govern- 
ing the business functions of the corporation. 

A model set of by-laws for a co-operative housing association is 
contained in the appendix of Bulletin No. 858 of the U. S. Bureau of 
Labor Statistics. There is nothing, of course, to prevent an association 
from drawing up a preliminary set of by-laws before this stage, if 
it wishes. 

16. Monthly payments. It should at this time be possible for the 
Corporation to decide the exact amounts of monthly rentals or monthly 
charges, now that costs have been computed and the amount and terms 
of the mortgage determined. Development costs, construction costs, 
and mortgage costs, must all be known before trying to figure, with any 
degree of accuracy, the real estate taxes, corporate and other taxes, 
allowances for vacancy and rental losses in a rental project, and the 
reserves for replacements and repairs. If the project consists of single- 
family dwellings, individually owned, the debt service, taxes, and in- 
surance charges are billed directly to the owner. The only charges to 
be pro-rated would be those paid by the organization. 

Monthly charges in a project where houses or apartments are co- 
operatively held will include fixed charges and operating expenses. The 
fixed charges cover: interest on share capital, if any is to be paid; 
interest on any bonds, preferred stock, or debentures issued by the as- 
sociation; interest on mortgage indebtedness, amortization payment at 
least as large as the depreciation on the property (otherwise the shares 
lose their value) ; taxes; mortgage insurance, if FHA-insured; and fire 
and liability insurance. 

Operating expenses vary according to the type of dwelling. They 
may include: wages of janitors, helpers, office and administration ex- 
pense; cost of fuel; cost of electricity and power; cost of water; re- 
pairs; renovating, painting and so forth; elevator expense; cost of 

Financing Housing Co-ops 43 

garden; insect-extermination expense; legal and accounting fees; mis- 
cellaneous operating expenses; and cost of equipment and supplies. 

Monthly charges in a project where the houses are individually 
owned will be figured in the same manner as if the individual lived 
on a side lot by himself and not in a co-operative community. The main 
difference is this: since the houses built co-operatively usually cost less, 
the monthly charges should be correspondingly less. The cost of operat- 
ing the community and the cost of improving and developing the 
common lands may be raised: by a separate monthly charge; by a 
monthly payment included in the regular monthly charge; by special 
assessments levied when the need arises; or by the use of surplus or 
savings accruing from the operation of community commercial facilities. 

How large a financial "load" should one assume? How much should 
one pay a month? These are questions which the incoming member 
must decide and which the Corporation must help to answer. It gen- 
erally has been conceded that a family should not buy a home costing 
more than two and a half times its annual assured income. On this 
basis, the family with a $5000 income should not pay more than 
$12,500. More recently, housing economists have stated that the 
figure should be kept to twice the family's income, which would mean 
that the house should cost not more than $10,000. 

These same economists state that the monthly rental, or the monthly 
charge for home ownership, should total not more than one-fifth of 
the monthly "take-home" pay. This would mean that a family with an 
income of $70 a week ("take-home") should pay not more than $60 a 
month for its shelter. 

To give prospective home owners an idea of the monthly carrying 
charges on FHA-insured homes in the $7000 to $15,000 price range, 
the tables on the following pages are presented. 

More favorable mortgage arrangements for co-operatives would 
have been possible under the original provisions of the Wagner- 
Ellender-Taft Bill. One section of the bill, proposed as an amend- 
ment to the National Housing Act, provided for specific Federal as- 
sistance to nonprofit mutual ownership housing corporations, raising 
the insurable percentage of the appraised valuation of the housing 
unit, and lengthening the term of the mortgage. 

A tax exemption of $1000 on the assessed value of the property is 
allowed veterans in many states. Thus, if a veteran owns a house as- 
sessed at $9,000, he pays taxes on only $8000. If his wife also is 
a veteran, the couple may be entitled to $2000 exemption. Disabled 
veterans, in many states, are allowed still greater exemptions up to 

44 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

$3000 in Connecticut, depending on the extent or degree of dis- 
ability. Since some states allow nothing, it would be well for the 
veteran to check the law in his own state before figuring out his 
tax exemption. 

The town property taxes and the fire insurance premiums listed in 
the accompanying tables are "estimated," since the tax rate will differ 
from one town to another and from one state to another. Likewise, 
the fire insurance premiums will differ, depending on the locality and 
on the type of house insured. 

Note: New provisions of Title II, Section 203 stipulate that: 

1. A loan of $6300, or less, on single-family for owner-occupancy, 
may be up to 90 per cent of FH A- valuation. 

2. A loan up to $9500, on single-family for owner-occupancy, may 
be 90 per cent of FHA-valuation on the first $7000, and 80 per 
cent of the balance up to $11,000. 

3. A loan of $6000, or less, on single-family for owner-occupancy, 
may be up to 95 per cent of FHA-valuation and for a term of 
30 years. 

The above table and the three provisions listed herein pertain 
to new construction approved by the FHA prior to the start of 

17. Leases and purchase contracts. The lease or purchase contract 
outlines the principal conditions of membership, of occupancy, and of 
withdrawal. Bulletin No. 858, published by the U. S. Bureau of Labor 
Statistics, contains a model lease for a co-operative housing project. A 
purchase lease might include: (1) the time for fulfillment of the con- 
tract and the terms of payment; (2) the conditions under which the 
occupant may terminate his membership or transfer his property 
interest; (3) the provisions whereby the organization may repurchase 
the property interest of a member; (4) the services provided by the 
organization and the price of certain repairs and services. 

18. Equity. The required equity should be paid in full before 
construction. The co-operative should avoid being placed in the position 
of having insufficient funds to meet its necessary expenses. If a member 
is not able to fulfill his equity obligation in time, the association may 
wish to arrange an extension of credit through a bank or credit union, 
on the member's personal note, without obligating the association in 
any way. 

19. Construction contracts. The construction contract may now be 
closed. This contract must be satisfactory to the mortgagee or lender, 
and to the FHA, if the loan is to be eligible for insurance. Plans and 

Financing Housing Co-ops 


O H 








T3 t> 

CM (N XT -<r^ vo vo r-> oo 
t~- o cci'O OS<N <r\ w i-i 

r- 1-* CN 



t-t i-4 (N <N (N r 




^3 Ivor-- oo oo os 8 c o O rt c 

l-Hl-<l-4r-ll-4i-ll-4(N_, , U 

fOO O rno O fdO rt w S 

crior^-rrior--mo c d g'g 

iVO O XJ> 00 <N \ 

Os ON O .-< *-< (N 


<N (S <N <N (N (N CN C 

O O O O O O 

46 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

specifications for the improvements are a necessary part of the con- 
tract. Most mortgage lenders require that provision be made in the 
contract for inspection of the construction by their own representatives, 
especially if a large loan is involved. 

20. Construction loans. If provision has been made for a construction 
loan, the advice of a competent attorney, experienced in the con- 
struction and real estate fields, should be obtained prior to the execu- 
tion of any legal instruments. 

21. The permanent loans should be executed after construction is 

The foregoing outline is offered to help you over the rough spots, 
and not as a guidebook to successful financing. Individual associations 
may wish to change the order of the steps as they are given here, 
to elaborate on some, and to include others. It has been the object 
of this chapter to present housing co-operatives with as much helpful 
information as possible and to present it simply. The data has been 
assembled from various sources, including the National Housing 
Agency, the Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans' Administra- 
tion, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U. S. Department of 

The following are some of the pamphlets which housing co-opera- 
tives will find helpful when confronted with the problem of financing a 
development: "Mutual Housing," published by the National Housing 
Agency, Washington, D. C.; "Organization and Management of Co- 
operative and Mutual Housing Associations," Bulletin No. 858, U. S. 
Department of Labor; and "Non-Profit Housing Projects in the United 
States," Bulletin No. 896, published by the U. S. Department of Labor. 
The first costs fifteen cents; the second, twenty cents; and the third, 
twenty-five cents. All three are obtainable from the Superintendent 
of Documents in Washington, D. C. 


Bryn Gweled, Pennsylvania 

A few miles from the somber city of Philadelphia with its cramped 
streets, raucous markets, and milling people is a charming bit of 
Welsh countryside with smooth meadowlands and grassy slopes, and 
etched against the Lincoln green of wooded hills are the mono-pitch 
roofed homes of Bryn Gweled, a co-operative community of white 
collar workers. 

With but little difficulty, I could see again the slopes of Plynlimon 
Mount in North Wales, the stark cattle, black faced, outlined on the 
steeps, the Welsh mountain sheep white puff balls against the grass- 
gray pool. 

But I was in Pennsylvania, not Britain, in Bucks County, not Mont- 
gomery, and the thick fields and oak woods before me were Bryn 
Gweled and not Llanidloes, and the woman beside me was a minister's 
wife bent on digging out the dockweed and the dandelions that were 
chocking her petunias. 

"We're plain people," said Mrs. Dewees Singley, suspending her 
weeding operations for the moment to explain. "Don't ask too much 
of life. Sort of feel that a lot of trouble in this world is caused by 
greed. We just want decent homes, decent communities in which to 
bring up our children. Not all the frills, not all the latest fashions, but 
good things and we're willing to put forth a little effort of our own 
to get them." 

Plain people they may well be, with no hankering for frills, but 
they have succeeded nevertheless, in unifying in their homes the most 
modern of architectural ingenuities, the most progressive ideas in 
design. There are sun decks, solar playrooms, glass block kitchens, 
radiant heating under the floor, panel heating in the baseboards, 
studio living rooms, picture windows, steel sash, copper hearths, rain- 
tray cooled roofs, sun control overhangs, sliding closet doors, cement 
slab floors, concrete joists, dual purpose rooms, two level plans, clere- 


48 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

story ventilation (tiny windows above eye level), not to mention 
root cellars, television, radios, and underground electric and telephone 

Not all the modernizations are incorporated in one house, to be 
sure, but each has something to offer, and all were built at costs well 
below current market prices, because the members contributed thou- 
sands of hours of their own labor in the construction of their homes. 

A good many of the homesteaders are Quakers, but membership 
is open, and there are no bars to race, creed, or color. Houses are in- 
dividually owned, but the land on which they stand is held by the 
Co-operative, Bryn Gweled Homesteads. Individuals receive a lease at 
the time of membership. 

Settlers include a doctor, two ministers, three artists, an architect, a 
buyer, two student counselors, two teachers, an accountant, a manu- 
facturer of sweeping compounds, three social workers, three educators, 
two draftsmen, a tool designer, a physicist, three engineers, and a 
labor mediator. 

Sitting on the Singley porch overlooking 240 acres of beautiful 
hill and dale, and listening to the stories of these pioneers who lived 
in cellars while they built their castles, the name Bryn Gweled, which 
is Welsh for "Hill of Vision," took on double meaning. 

"This was a real co-operative from the start," said Mrs. Sarah 
Ramberg, wife of the physicist. "Most of us commenced with little. 
We built the cellars first then roofed in, living underground you might 
say, until the upstairs was finished. We kept one cellar ready for any 
new family. That way we saved paying double rent." 

We walked down the graveled path to the home of a "cellar dweller" 
absent at the moment. The excavation, one end of which was at ground 
level with full windows, was the present home of a father, mother, 
and three children. Curtains walled off the bedrooms. Plumbing, a 
partial bathroom, heater, kitchen stove, and sink made the place livable. 

"Not exactly royal," said Mrs. Ramberg, "but it could be lots worse. 
This is the way many of us started. Being right on the site made it 
easier to utilize all spare hours in working on the house." 

The Ramberg house is a cinder block structure on two levels to con- 
form to the site slope. Flat topped, gray as slate, it seems to grow out 
of the hillside. Integration is further accentuated by the terrace doors 
on the side which occur at points where floor level and grade meet. 

The block walls, unfinished except for waterproofing, are capped 
by a built-up roof with wide overhangs. Blocks were also used to con- 

Bryn Gweled, Pennsylvania 49 

struct the chimney and fireplace. Some of the interior walls are block 
while others are paneled. In the cement slab which forms the floor 
are the radiant heating coils. 

The model kitchen is designed with rows of glass blocks above 
the counters, thus lighting the working spaces and eliminating the con- 
fusion of grabbing a beer opener when an egg beater is desired. 

One side of the living room adjacent to the row of picture windows 
across the front of the house is plastered. A large porch is placed for 
view. A snug home any way you look at it. 

The whole community is built on a hillside with every house except 
one boasting a flat, shed, or inverted roof, often on two levels. Land 
has been cleared, plots graded, a swimming pool built for the children. 
It looks far different from the tangled bramble and poison ivy den 
which greeted the newcomers in 1939. 

In the fall of that year, three Philadelphia families, the Newtons, 
the Wilsons, and the Pottses, drawn together through the common 
desire to move out of the city, talked over the possibility of forming 
a community of their own in the country. Seeking ideas, they went 
to see Ralph Borsodi, economist and exponent of a decentralized com- 
munity organization movement and originator of the School of Living, 
Suffern, N. Y. 

After visiting Borsodi's "productive homesteads," the Philadelphians 
were sure such a community was just what they wanted. They were 
not sure, however, that they wanted to go "all out Borsodi," for they 
veered away from the idea that the community should be self -sufficient 
and discourage outside work. 

Each individual preferred to retain his present employment, relegat- 
ing farming in the new community to second place rather than first. 
In such manner did the plan develop. - 

Meanwhile the three original families joined forces with a group 
led by Herbert Bergstrom, head of a south Philadelphia settlement 
house, and set out on a hunt for land. 

There was much for sale but prices were high, so the families 
settled for 240 acres in Southampton township, a piece of property 
notable chiefly for its sour meadows, brambled slopes, rotting out- 
buildings, and tangled woods. Only the most imaginative could visualize 
the beautiful country which had intrigued the Welsh of Bucks County, 
a century before. 

But it had possibilities and a breath taking view from any vantage 
point. It was just twenty miles from Philadelphia, and not much more 

50 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

than a mile from three shopping towns: Feasterville, Churchville, and 
Southampton. Moreover it cost only $18,000, which, at $75 an acre, 
was cheap enough. 

No one had the $18,000 necessary, so at the first meeting, December 
11, 1939, each family was asked how much it could advance toward 
the total. Within fifteen minutes the whole amount was pledged. 

And how was this money to be repaid members? It was decided to 
issue certificates of indebtedness to cover the cost of the land, the 
building of the roads, and the installation of the utilities. These certif- 
icates, to be held by community members and interested outsiders, 
would bear four percent interest and would be redeemable upon six 
months' notice. 

During the next several months, weekly meetings of the group were 
held to work out details and purposes of organization and member- 
ship. On May 20, 1940 Bryn Gweled was incorporated as a non- 
profit association under the laws of the State of Pennsylvania, without 
issue of stock. 

The first annual meeting was held June 9, at which time the initial 
twenty-six families entered the second phase of their financial pro- 
gram and prepared a plan which would carry them through the 
development period until such time as the community reached its 
operating maximum of seventy families. 

At this meeting and at each annual meeting thereafter, the total 
budget for the next twelve months was computed and divided by this 
operating maximum of seventy, in order to arrive at a figure which 
would be the amount of a monthly assessment against each family. 
These assessments, which range from $9 to $11, depending on land 
holding, include interest on community indebtedness, amortization of 
the capital, and the county taxes. They vary each year with the budget. 

Now it was quite obvious to the Corporation that until the level of 
seventy members was reached, the total assessments would not cover 
disbursements. To bridge the gap, an additional "special assessment" 
was made on every member. For his special assessment, each member 
received a non-interest-bearing certificate of indebtedness. It was 
planned that these certificates would be refunded when the initial 
development stage was over. In this way, the Corporation could meet 
its operating expenses with an incomplete membership and avoid 

In July, 1940, purchase of the land was completed and the title 
was transferred to Bryn Gweled Homesteads, Inc. 

In the weeks that followed, evenings were devoted to laying out lot 

Bryn Gweled, Pennsylvania 51 

lines, planning the community land, estimating road costs and im- 
provements, and figuring on water and sewerage installations. 

In the winter the members tackled the problem of bringing electricity 
and telephones into the property. They didn't want poles strung across 
their green hills, but the cost of underground conduits was so high 
it seemed out of reach. Then Gordon Fredendall, one of the members 
who was an electronic engineer, suggested that if the members did part 
of the manual labor, they could possibly bring the figure down to a 
reasonable level. 

A plan was worked out with the Philadelphia Electric Company and 
the Bell Telephone Co. whereby members would dig and back-fill the 
ditches. In the final reckoning, Bryn Gweled spent only $125 on the 
installation of underground electric and telephone cables. At least 
$2,000 additional expense was saved because the homesteaders hired 
a mechanical ditch digger to excavate the trenches. They also installed 
the conduits and back-filled the ditches. No mean gesture from a 
group of gentle-handed individuals many of whom had never seen a 
pickax except in a store window ! 

Other development costs were kept at a minimum through the efforts 
of members who turned night into day and week ends into shifts, 
clearing the brush, battling the poison ivy, banking the slopes to check 
erosion, digging manholes, planting trees, and rough-grading the roads. 

In May, 1941, lots were chosen, first excavations made, wells drilled, 
septic tanks installed, basements poured and picnics engineered by 
the women "to make work taste better." In October, 1941, the first 
family moved into a cellar. 

The organization of Bryn Gweled Homesteads includes a board of 
directors, officers, and various standing committees, including those 
concerned with publicity, community activities, site planning, and 

The membership committee invites applicants to visit Bryn Gweled, 
talk with the members, and attend meetings. The community picks its 
members with care. There aren't many "ifs and buts," yet Bryn 
Gweled wants to make sure that families will be congenial and work 
together. While members need not have a common background, it is 
deemed essential that they have some similarity of interests, if only in 
the joy of growing big onions. 

Racial, political, and religious tolerance are firmly integrated in 
Bryn Gweled's community character. Applicants are asked to sign a 
questionnaire, one portion of which reads : 

"There may be German, English, Italian, Chinese, Russian, Negro, 

52 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Jewish, Japanese and other members living on the Homesteads. Does 
this meet with your approval for such things as eating with them, 
swimming with them and working with them co-operatively?" If the 
prospective member feels he is unable to sign such a statement, he 
is given his hat and speeded on his way. 

Applicants are admitted only after an affirmative four-fifths vote 
of the entire community. Incoming residents pay a membership fee 
of $50 which is not returnable. 

The first pleasant task is the selection of the two-acre plot on which 
the new home will be erected. Title to the land remains with the cor- 
poration, the individual being given a ninety-year lease instead of a 
deed. Houses are individually built and financed, and each family 
has title to its home subject to certain restrictions in regard to sub- 
letting, sale, and inheritance. 

No house may be sublet for more than a year without community 
permission, nor may the house be sold to, or inherited by, non- 
members. Individuals wishing to sell must offer the Corporation first 
rights to purchase at a fair price or to accept a new owner. Children 
cannot inherit a house but may be voted into membership. 

The 240 acres of land offer a variety of home sites. The property 
is T-shaped, tied together by a macadam road based by the home- 
steaders with the help of a rented bulldozer. Surfacing was done by a 
contractor at a cost of $5000. Difficulties in construction may be 
gauged by the fact that the acreage includes three hills, two streams, 
wooded patches, steep slopes, meadows and marshes. 

The gentle slopes were plotted into eighty lots of two acres each 
for individual building sites. The site planning committee assisted 
members in placing and planning their homes. While no particular 
type of architecture was dictated, most of the members leaned toward 
a version of the typical Pennsylvania Dutch farmhouse. 

But the three architects who joined the community as members 
Paul Beidler, Robert Bishop, and Walter Robinson had other ideas, 
and by lecturing and showing pictures of famous modern homes, they 
finally convinced members that they should be as progressive in their 
houses as they were in their social ideals. With these sentiments, a 
fourth architect, Cornelius Bogert, concurred. 

All but one member was convinced. He built a two-story Colonial 
house high on the hill. It looks a little out of place, especially as 
most of the others are low, flat-roofed structures with a unity based on 
their fitness to the land. Most of the houses utilize large amounts of 

Bryn Gweled, Pennsylvania 53 

glass, brown stained wood, and cinder blocks; yet they diverge as widely 
in character as do the personalities of their owners. 

Inevitably there were troubles when the homesteaders sought to 
foist their new ideas on the local builders. Some of the homesteaders, 
acting as their own contractors, solved the problem by subletting to 
several contractors. Thus Gordon Fredendall, an engineer, hired a 
separate contractor so that he would not have to change from panel 
to hot-air heating, which was the only system his builder "understood." 

The large amount of labor incorporated in the houses by the 
owners including masonry work, carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, 
roofing, painting, and landscaping brought down the costs materially. 
Actual comparisons therefore are difficult. Houses ranged from a figure 
of $7,000 to $13,750. 

The Lampe's house cost $12,000. Chester Lampe is a high-school 
science teacher, and his wife, Mary, is a dental technician. They saved 
an additional $2,000 above the $12,000 through their own work, which 
included general contracting, some minor excavating, building retaining 
walls, stone steps, pointing bricks and stone work, painting, laying 
concrete floors in the basement and garage, constructing book shelves 
and storm doors, laying a 120-foot under-drain for the basement, 
constructing a leaching pool, and landscaping the property. 

The Lampe house is built on a hill with a gradual slope to the 
north, selected with a view to incorporating existing old stone walls 
into the plan. Included are two bedrooms, living-dining room, study, 
kitchen, bath and garage. 

Solar south walls are open to sun and view. The large living room 
is partially divided by a partition which projects around the study 
area. Windows in the living room, kitchen, and one bedroom open 
onto a walled sunken garden in the rear. 

The house is built of stone, the portions above the windows being 
framed and finished in horizontal boarding. The roof has an inverted 
pitch (in reverse position) with wide overhangs. On the interior, 
all masonry portions have been left exposed while framed portions 
are plastered. In the basement, Lampe has a workshop complete to 
electric kiln and pottery wheel. 

Al Schroeder, an electronic engineer, incorporated a water-cooled 
roof in his home. A shallow pool covers the one story house so that 
there is a four inch sheet of water to repel summer heat. In winter the 
water is drained and the black composition surface absorbs heat from 
the sun's rays. This house is built of stone; windows are steel sash; 

54 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

and the interior includes a large work room which houses a television 

Joe Diano, a stained glass artist, laid his own floors, put on redwood 
siding, installed rock wool insulation, and added paneled walls and 
ceilings. In this instance the contractor took the house only as far 
as the sheathing stage. 

The Singley house, which cost $7,000, is the smallest of all, yet 
includes a living room, kitchen, laundry, heater room, four bedrooms, 
and bath. It is on two levels with living and master bedroom facing 
south and opening onto a deck which runs the full length of the 
house. The. construction is cinder block with the upper section finished 
in horizontal wood siding. 

The Morris home, on a more grandiose scale, cost $13,750 and in- 
cludes a large living-dining room, L-shaped, an enclosed terrace 
porch, a streamlined kitchen, sliding closet doors, sliding storm and 
screen sash, clerestories for cross-ventilation and added light, wood- 
paneled rooms, four bedrooms, study, storage, and a garage "large 
enough for square dances." 

A beamed studio room, copper hearth and heatilator, and recessed 
lighting which Elliston Morris himself installed, fascinate the prospec- 
tive home-owner. 

Homesteader Morris came down off his sundeck to show us around 
and point out the concrete retaining wall he'd built, the irrigating 
system he'd installed, and the new overhang to the south. He surveyed 
his handiwork. 

"It's solid, I can tell you that," he thought out loud. "It won't 
fall down or crack up. No frills, of course. We're plain people." 
' Ray Newton, social worker with the American Friends Service Com- 
mittee, collaborated with his wife in putting the finishing touches on 
their house. He is very proud of his second-story sundeck with fire- 
place, and Babette thinks just as much of her modern kitchen with 
separate lights over each working area. 

Each homesteader put in a certain amount of labor on his own 
house, some more than others. Thomas Michener, draftsman, was 
his own contractor and saved half the cost of the house by taking time 
off between jobs and building the unit with the aid of one carpenter. 

Neighbors helped each other in the construction of the homes, and 
they worked together in the development of the common property. 
Groups shared ownership of the orchard sprayer, the power cultivator, 
the pressure cookers. There was co-operative buying in the purchase 
of vegetable seeds, berry bushes, and fruit trees. In the early years of 


Moving from dilapidated huts 
fronting on sewers (above) to five- 
room houses and fruit farms (be- 
low) changed the lives of fifty 
mining families in Granger, Iowa. 
Their new homes cost them $17.50 
a month. 

**w-c "* 

8 1 1 


Bryn dueled, Pennsylvania 55 

the Co-operative, the homesteaders organized a community pigpen. It 
had netted each member half a pig by the time rationing ceased and 
negated the need for such a service. 

Once, one of the men brought back three hundred pounds of fish 
from the Philadelphia wharves. It was divided and placed in the com- 
munity's frozen food lockers in a near-by town. 

The women in the community co-operate in shopping expeditions, 
in caring for each other's children, in community sewing groups, and 
sometimes in window-washing bees. 

Nor is the social program disregarded. There is group singing at 
the Fredendalls' (they have a pipe organ) ; picnicking in the woods; 
folk dancing at the Morrises', and television entertainment at the 
Schroeders'. The Corporation is now developing a community center 
building which will be used for meetings and social activities and 
will probably incorporate a nursery, guest rooms, and a dance hall. 

The Homesteaders are well satisfied with their life and their com- 
munity. But will their children be of the same mind when they reach 
adolescence ? Only time can tell. 

The development, admirably suited for adults who enjoy the semi- 
isolation which their country community offers, may not appeal to teen- 
agers for that very reason. Twenty miles from the city, it is also an 
automobile ride to the nearest markets, post office, school, and churches, 
and five miles from the nearest movie in Hatboro. 

As for the disappointments, the homesteaders feel that they have 
not saved as much money as they might, had they been able to buy 
all their materials co-operatively. Since each built at a different time 
and on an entirely different plan, such savings were not to be 

As a co-operative experiment, . Bryn Gweled is a success. Certainly 
the members achieved much together which they could not have 
achieved alone, and they were able to build far better houses at much 
less cost under the co-operative self-help plan than any one of them 
might have managed by himself. 

The project is growing, slowly but with certainty. Thirty families 
form a solid base for Bryn Gweled's future security. Stone by stone, 
brick by brick, these families are building their homes and their com- 
munity together. 


Mutual Housing Association, California 

Perched on the cactus-ridden ridges of Kenter Canyon in Los 
Angeles, is the only luxury housing co-operative in the United States, 
the only Shangri-La, the only mountain-top community built like a 
modern version of a medieval fairy tale. 

Five hundred families, drawn together through common desire to 
live in a community of their own planning, formed the Mutual 
Housing Association Inc., with a membership comprised of doctors, 
lawyers, stock brokers, college professors, manufacturers, office man- 
agers, engineers and accountants. 

Houses of modern California architecture, flat-roofed, glass-sided, 
with walled gardens, ranging in cost from $8500 to $25,000, are 
being built along the summits of the steep slopes. The development 
is called Crestwood Hills, a name which hardly does justice to the 
wild beauty of the country. Of the 800 acres of hill and dale, only 
250 acres have been subdivided. The remaining 550 are reserved for 
park and picnic grounds, bridle and bicycle paths, and a swimming 
pool in the depth of the valley. 

The houses are to be individually owned, but the community in- 
terests including the nursery school, parks, playgrounds, tennis courts, 
bowling green, movie theater, pool, gas station, and shopping center 
are to be run on a co-operative basis. While the community could 
not set itself up as inter-racial because of the restrictive covenants 
which bind all property in the exclusive Brentwood area, the mem- 
bership is screened to exclude any who might have racial prejudices. 

The community is a dream of co-operative planning. With no 
financial worries the property was paid for in cash the members 
have been able to give full play to their ingenuity and imagination in 
the planning of homes and community lands. If a member wants a 
house with four terraces and three levels on the edge of a craggy 


Mutual Housing Association, California 57 

knoll, he can have it. There are hundreds of variations from which 
to choose. 

To reach the site, I traveled north of Hollywood, along Sepulveda 
Boulevard into Tigertail Drive, residence of many celebrities. Passing 
the green bungalow of screen star Lana Turner on the left, I turned 
into a broad sandy road with the canyon country before me and the 
Santa Monica mountains beyond. 

The view from the ridgetops straight down to the sea was breath- 
taking even though drifts of mist obscured the outline of the shore. 
It did not obscure the beauty of the immediate landscape: the thin 
sanded crags splotched with prickly cacti, the uneven roll from 
summit to base of the chaparral, that medley of shrubs so closely 
woven as to resemble a needlepoint pattern, with its gray coastal brush, 
rusty mock heather and lavender sage, dappled by the bright green 
of the tree tobacco, the white fleece of the coyote bush, the deep 
red of the sumac's flat-packed fruit, and the dead yellow of the storax 
sheaths, fair stripped by browsing goats. The mistletoe hangs high 
in this part of the country, clinging to the empty branches of the 
cottonwoods, and the poinsettias, common as clover, rear their woody 
branches beneath the sad sweep of the eucalyptus trees. 

Four musicians hankering for an acre and a pool where they might 
live in peace and privacy, initiated the project. They found their 
haven in the canyon country between Bel Air and Brentwood, and 
told all their friends. That was in May, 1946. By August, everybody 
and his aunt had visited the spot and announced intentions of settling 
there. The group of prospective homesteaders increased so rapidly it 
was decided to form a non-profit corporation along co-operative prin- 
ciples and to buy sufficient acreage to build a planned community 
for 500 families. 

Property values in this section of the country are high, but by 
purchasing a large tract of land, the corporation was able to acquire 
800 acres for $300,000, which brought the cost down to $375 an 
acre. Improvements, including the grading, roads, landscaping, water, 
sewerage and electricity, were estimated at $700,000, making a total of 
$1,000,000 for the developed land. 

Each member, on acceptance, was required to make a $2000 deposit. 
This initial payment by 500 members gave the Corporation a bank 
balance of $1,000,000. Cash was paid for the land. Later, the original 
owner accepted a mortgage for $100,000 on the 550 acres which are 
to be held as common land. It is planned to pay off this mortgage 
from income derived from the community center. While development 

58 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

costs will run 25 per cent greater than anticipated, there will be no 
additional assessment on membership. The increased expense is to be 
absorbed by pricing the lots at $2200 to $2600. 

When a member joins, he must pay $25 for a membership certificate 
and is thereby entitled to one vote in the Corporation. Applicants must 
fill out an exhaustive form, eight pages in length, listing their assets, 
liabilities, personal references, credit references, insurance holdings, 
annual earnings, annual expenses, type of business or position, and 
estimated "net worth." 

To help members decide on the size of their house and its ap- 
proximate cost, the Corporation suggests that they figure $8.50 for 
every square foot of living space. In a minimum house of 1000 square 
feet, the cost would be $8500, exclusive of lot. To this amount must 
be added $500 for landscaping. 

Careful planning with minute attention to detail has marked the 
project from its inception. It has paid dividends. Each step has been 
analyzed, dissected and scrutinized, before any final decisions have been 
made. Consequently, there have been few setbacks. 

The first big project was the road. Ten tractors carved out 7 miles 
of it through the hills. The contractor was paid by the day for his 
tractors and operators. No engineer was used. 

Installation of city sewerage and water lines was next. Crestwood 
property presents difficulties since lines must be carried to a height of 
1600 feet, almost twice the present height of city utility elevations. 

Design of the entire project is in the hands of four men well known 
in the field of modern architecture: Whitney R. Smith and A. Quincy 
Jones, architects; Edgardo Contini, engineer; and Garrett Eckbo, land- 
scape architect, who is assisting in the site planning. Aiding Eckbo are 
Robert Royston and Edward Williams. 

The landscape architects are under agreement to design the con- 
struction of the parks and playgrounds, game courts, swimming pools, 
bowling greens, bridle paths, bicycle paths, picnic grounds, walks, 
ramps, terraces and trails. They must plan for fences, arbors, outdoor 
grills, and seats; and they must design the plant nursery and supervise 
the planting in the wild life area, the planting and raising of fruit 
and shade trees, and the breeding of small animals and fish. In 
addition they must prepare a master plan covering the location and 
types of trees to be planted on the residential plots. For these plots 
they are required to design 20 different and original basic landscaping 
plans to fit the basic house designs pf the architects. The landscape 
architects, who work in partnership, will be paid $100 for each plan. 

Mutual Housing Association, California 59 

The landscape architects must also prepare 500 individual variations 
of the basic landscaping plans, including 100 special variations of those 
home sites of unusual shape, size or grade. For each of the 400 
individual variations, the firm receives $15; for each of the special 
variations, $50. Furthermore, the architects will be paid $200 for 
each acre of landscaping designed for the community-owned land, 
the $200 per acre to be paid on a maximum of 20 acres. And lastly the 
landscape architects will receive a percentage of the market value of 
all landscaping work done. When the agreement was signed, the land- 
scaping firm was paid $2000. The balance is being paid the first of each 

Lots average a 90-foot frontage and are about 100 feet in depth. 
As all plots are along the ridge tops, none lacks a view. 

Houses vary in size and design, the smallest offering 1000 square 
feet of living space and the largest, twice that. California's modern 
style of architecture is admirably suited to the difficult contours of 
Crestwood Hills. While some of the 20 basic plans feature a compact 
layout all on one floor, many of the homes are on two or even three 

Exteriors will be of plywood, fir, or gum, waterproof resin-bonded, 
with stucco where desired. There will be no plaster; all interior 
partitions are to be of plywood. Living quarters will face away from 
the road. Large glass areas are designed to take advantage of the view 
and harmonize outdoor with indoor living. There will be no cellars; 
the houses are to be erected with concrete slabs on grade. Large fire- 
places, storage walls, big rooms opening one into the other, and roof 
overhangs to take advantage of sun in the winter and shade in the 
summer are "musts" in every plan. Patios, porticos, carports or garages, 
and fences, walls or hedges for privacy, will reflect individual mem- 
bers' needs and desires. 

So that members may examine the various types of houses before 
they make their choice, the architects are building 4 model homes 
at the north end of the city on contours similar to those of Kenter 
Canyon country. 

Houses will be financed individually. Veterans who are able to 
obtain full financing are entitled to a return of the first payment of 
$2000 made to the Corporation. 

A member who finds it necessary to withdraw from the Association 
will receive either the book value of his proportionate interest in the 
net worth of the Association as determined by the semi-annual audit, 
or the total sums paid by him to the Association whichever is less. If 

60 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

he wants to sell, he must give the Association 60 days' notice and the 
option to buy or designate a buyer. Value of the house and lot will be 
determined by a board of three licensed appraisers. 

In one corner of the property is a 15-acre nursery boasting $50,000 
worth of orchids. The Mutual Housing Association hopes the city 
of Los Angeles will purchase it at some later date and there erect a 
school large enough to take care of the children of Crestwood Hills. 
For the time being, they will be transported into town by bus. 

Commercial interests have been quick to see the possibilities of the 
community. The Board of Directors has already been approached by 
the owners of a riding school who would like to start a co-operative 
project on the property, and by the operators of a motel who think 
the new residents will have plenty of guests and should have a place 
to board them. 

Business of the Mutual Housing Association is conducted by a 
general manager, full time, and several salaried clerks. There is an 11- 
member Board of Directors, each of whom receives $250 a year. Be- 
sides its administrative functions, its supervision of the advisory com- 
mittees on budget and finance, architectural landscaping, and public 
relations, the Board fosters the activities of the Commercial Services 
Committee and the Member-Relations Committee. 

The Commercial Services Committee governs the installation of 
restaurant and catering services, wearing apparel shops, the drug store, 
auto service, house 'furnishings, appliance and hardware shops, laundry, 
dry cleaning, and beauty shops and the credit union. 

The Member-Relations Committee has charge of organized recreation, 
community work projects, the hobby and work shops (which are to 
include photography, ceramics, and woodwork), the amusement areas 
(including motion pictures, drama, music and arts), the social activities 
(parties and dances), the library and historical records, and the educa- 
tional activities (which will include a pre-school for children and an 
adult education class in co-operatives) . 

Funds for running the community activities, for transportation, and 
for the maintenance and improvement of the property, will be raised 
either by a series of assessments on the membership, or by means of a 
revolving fund such as is utilized by the California Co-operative Fruit 
Growers' Association, wherein each member pays in $10 a month for 
10 years and then withdraws like amounts for the next 10 years. 

The Corporation believes it has saved members 50 per cent in the 
cost of the development of the lots by purchasing the raw land and 
installing utilities for the whole community in one operation. And 

Mutual Housing Association, California 61 

there are other savings. Professional fees were reduced by planning all 
the homes at once and dividing the cost among members. Mass build- 
ing and the repetition of certain designs should also result in consider- 
able savings. Furniture and appliances will be purchased by the Associa- 
tion in wholesale lots or at reduced costs through the Associated Co- 
operatives, Inc. in Oakland, California. 

Unique in the annals of co-operative housing is a savings plan orig- 
inated in the Mutual Housing Association. It involves a 10 per cent 
"kick-back" of salaries into the co-op coffers. The manager, the con- 
tractor and the engineer have all agreed to the plan. 


Amalgamated Housing, New York 

Pioneering in large-scale housing developments, the Amalgamated 
Clothing Workers of America has sponsored the erection of 1,753 
apartments in Manhattan and the Bronx, New York City. The first, 
built in 1926, remains, after twenty-three years, America's model in 
low-cost co-operative housing. The last, constructed in 1948, follows all 
the Rochdale principles which contributed to the success of its sister 

The desire of a small group of workers in the ACWs credit union 
to provide decent homes and freedom from fear of eviction for 
members of the needle trade who were living in lower East Side tene- 
ments, plus a housing shortage with its accompanying high rents, were 
factors responsible for the development of the first undertaking. Seven 
projects were launched: three by the Amalgamated Housing Corpora- 
tion in the Bronx, two by the A. H. Consumers Society, Inc. in the 
Bronx, one by the Amalgamated Dwellings, Inc. in Manhattan, and 
one by the East River Co-operative Apartments, Inc., now known as 
the Hillman Housing Corporation, in Manhattan. 

In no case were union monies used for construction. However, to 
help the first projects in their initial financing, temporary loans were 
made by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers' Credit Union, the Amal- 
gamated Bank of New York, the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, and 
the Amalgamated Center. All of the projects were developed by the 
same group and under the same leadership Abraham E. Kazan. Mr. 
Kazan, who is president of the Amalgamated Housing Corporation, 
vice-president of the Hillman Housing Corporation, and president of 
Amalgamated Dwellings, Inc., organized all the projects and is still 
managing them. 

The eight buildings erected by the Amalgamated Housing Corpora- 
tion in the Bronx and the two built by the A. H. Consumers Society, 


Amalgamated Housing, New York 63 

Inc. in the Bronx, stand together on a triangular tract of land overlook- 
ing Van Cortlandt Park. 

The first six buildings erected by the Amalgamated Housing Corpora- 
tion in the Bronx in 1926 and 1927 are Holland brick in mixed colors, 
walk-up type, five stories high. Deed restrictions prohibited the erection 
of an apartment house on the site. In the compromise effected to make 
the building of the apartment possible, the AHC agreed to eliminate the 

The two buildings erected by the Amalgamated Housing Corporation 
in the Bronx in 1929 and 1931 were also of Holland brick, six and 
seven stories high with elevator service. They are known as Buildings 
No. 7 and 9 because Building No. 8 was not erected until 1948. The 
two built by the Consumers Society (now transferred to the Amal- 
gamated Housing Corporation) on the same site, known as Buildings 
No. 10 and 11, were of domestic red brick, two and three stories 
high. The total of ten buildings forms a rectangle covering half the 
ground, with gardens occupying the other half. 

The Amalgamated Housing Corporation was the first limited-divi- 
dend company to operate under the jurisdiction of the New York 
State Housing Law. The advantages of complying with the terms of this 
law were several. First, there was a twenty-year exemption from local 
taxes on "improvements," which, of course, include any buildings. Since 
the cost of the "improvements" usually figures out to about six times 
the cost of the land, it is easy to see the savings that should result. 
In this instance, the Amalgamated Housing saved nearly $30,000 a year 
or $2.11 per room per month. In return for the exemption, the 
Corporation agreed to limit rents to $11 a room. Other .advantages of 
operating under the State Housing Law included exemption from 
franchise, income, mortgage, recording, and other state taxes. 

The first six buildings constructed by the Amalgamated Housing 
Corporation cost a total of $1,970,000, of which $315,000 was ex- 
pended for land and $1,654,359 for the erection of the buildings. 

Construction cost averaged $1,437 per room or thirty-nine cents per 
cubic fpot, including the basement space. There are 319 apartments 
totaling 1,256 rooms. A twenty-year mortgage for $1,200,000 was 
obtained from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company with interest 
at 5 per cent, instead of the then usual 5J per cent, which saved the 
Corporation $97,865. Payments by the tenant members at the rate of 
$500 per room and the sale of 6 per cent preferred stock to tenants, 
union members, and friendly organizations, provided funds to meet 
the remainder of the construction cost. 

64 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

The seventh house, built by Amalgamated Housing in the Bronx in 
1929, cost $1,003,021. Building No. 9, erected by Amalgamated Hous- 
ing in the Bronx in 1931, cost $570,000, as detailed in the table on 
the pages following. 

The first apartment building erected by the A. H. Consumers Society, 
Inc. in the Bronx in 1941, and known as Building No. 10 in the series 
erected on the same site, cost $180,447. The second building, called 
No. 11, built in 1947, cost $271,651, as detailed in the table on the 
pages following. This building was limited to veterans of World War 
II. Nearly 70 per cent of the original tenant co-operators in all the 
Amalgamated buildings still live in the project. 

In 1948, all the Bronx projects were re-financed, including the first 
six buildings, and Buildings, 7, 9, 10 and 11, with a mortgage loan for 
$6,500,000 obtained from the Bowery Savings Bank at 3J per cent 
interest. The loan covered Building No. 8, under construction, and 
other buildings to be erected. Note that Buildings 10 and 11, built by 
the Consumers' Society, are included. These buildings have now been 
transferred to the Amalgamated Housing Corporation. 

Membership in the Amalgamated housing developments was not 
limited to any one trade, nor to unionists. However, preference has 
been given to wage earners, members of labor unions, and to those 
who could be included in the "moderate" income group. In the Bronx 
Buildings, applicants were required to raise half of the investment, 
while the rest could be met with a ten-year loan from the Amal- 
gamated Bank in New York City. The Jewish Daily Forward, a labor 
newspaper in New York City, deposited $150,000 in the bank to cover 
the loans. 

Members wishing to move from the property experience no difficulty 
in redeeming their shares. Reserves for the redemption of those shares 
have been built up through the years by contributions by the residents 
of half their patronage refunds from the Amalgamated Housing 
Corporation. In the spring of 1948, these reserves totaled $236,616.87. 
Patronage refunds apportioned among the members as a result of the 
economical operation of the project during the year 1945-1946 totaled 

Community projects in the Bronx apartment development include: 
a day camp employing seventy counselors, a pre-school nursery, folk 
dancing, book reviews, classes in current events, children's dancing and 
nutrition, and Sunday morning forums on topics of general interest. 

Co-operative business activities other than housing include: distri- 
bution of milk and electricity, running a laundry service, operating 

Amalgamated Housing, New York 65 

a food store in the development, making loans to new applicants una- 
able to raise the required investments, and purchasing the stock of 
outgoing members in cases where there are no new applicants to take 
the places of those who want to leave. 

As far as the co-operative operation of the development is concerned, 
all the Amalgamated projects are run in the same manner. Every co- 
operator has one vote. The co-operators elect a board of directors, the 
house committee, and special executive committees such as the Camp 
Committee which operates the summer day camp for children. 

In Manhattan, the Amalgamated Dwellings, Inc. erected an apart- 
ment house in 1930 covering a square block bounded by Grand, Sheriff, 
Broome, and Columbia streets. The structure, six stories in height, 
contains 236 apartments with a total of 930 rooms. There are eight 
automatic elevators. The high cost of the land cut down the size of 
the landscaped court which occupies only 40 per cent of the grounds, 
the buildings occupying 60 per cent. Rental charges for the apartments 
run about $12.50 per room. 

Financial assistance for the Amalgamated Dwellings in Manhattan 
was undertaken by Aaron Rabinowitz, member of the State Board of 
Housing at the time, and Herbert Lehman, then lieutenant governor. 
The two sponsors advanced $800,000 during the construction of the 
project, although the actual work was carried on by the union group. 
Cost of the downtown building was $1,064,713, which averaged 
$1,272 per room and about thirty-eight cents a cubic foot. The price 
of the land $445,287 was high, bringing the total cost of the de- 
velopment to $1,520,000. It was financed by a mortgage loan of $960,- 
000 from the Bowery Savings Bank for ten years at 3^ per cent in- 
terest, plus $60,100 from the sale of debenture bonds. The remainder 
consisted of members' down payments. The bank mortgage was re- 
newed at the end of ten years. Amortization is at the rate of 2j per 

Through the generosity of the sponsors, who deposited $350,000 
in the Amalgamated Bank of New York, applicants were able to ob- 
tain loans up to 70 per cent of their required equity investments. 

The Amalgamated Dwellings Co-operative Services, Inc., whose 
stockholders are identical with the stockholders in the Amalgamated 
Dwellings, Inc., carries on the business activities of the project, includ- 
ing the distribution of milk and electricity. 

The East River project, now known as the Sidney Hillman project, 
was undertaken under an urban redevelopment law, the purpose of 
which is to facilitate slum clearance and reclaim blighted areas. The 

66 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Hillman Housing Corporation sponsored the erection of three twelve- 
story buildings containing eight hundred apartments and a total of 
3,047 rooms. The project, commenced in 1947, covers eight blocks 
abutting the Amalgamated Dwellings' project on Grand Street in Man- 
hattan. On the northwest corner is a playground and on the northeast 
corner, Public School No. 110. Buildings occupy 25 per cent of the 
land area, the rest being devoted to gardens and courts. 

A mortgage was obtained from the Mutual Life Insurance Company 
for twenty-five years at 3J per cent interest. The insurance company 
limited itself to a loan not to exceed $5,600,000, or 80 per cent of the 
estimated cost of $7,000,000. A year after the first estimate was made, 
it was believed the cost would run close to $9,000,000. Sponsors 
raised 20 per cent of the initial estimated costs through the sale of 
stock or debenture bonds to applicants for apartments. The prospective 
member subscribed for stock or debentures in the corporation at the 
rate of $600 per room. Of this amount, $100 was paid at the time of 
application and the rest by the time construction was complete. The 
average room rent was set at $15 a room. No rent refunds or rebates 
were expected during the first five years. All savings were to be applied 
toward the reduction of the mortgage indebtedness. 

The cost per room was estimated at $3,000, more than twice the 
cost per room in the first six buildings erected by the Amalgamated 
Housing Corporation in 1926. The land cost $1,800,000 and the build- 
ings were expected to cost $7,200,000, bringing the total to the $9,- 
000,000 figure previously given. It was estimated that the cost of 
the Hillman project would run as high as eighty-eight cents a cubic 
foot. The first project erected by Amalgamated cost thirty-nine cents 
a cubic foot. 

The City agreed to accept the previous assessed value of the land as 
the tax base. The value of the improvements that is, the buildings 
and any improvements to the land was to be exempt from taxes for 
twenty-five years, after which the Co-operative will pay taxes on the 
full assessed value. The return on the investment is limited to 6 per 
cent of the actual cost of the project. 

In this development, the level annuity plan of amortization is en- 
forced, under which the total monthly payments remain the same, but 
with an increasing amount of each payment being applied to the prin- 
cipal to reduce the mortgage liability. As the mortgage is reduced, the 
equity of "paid-in" monies of each member is correspondingly in- 

The phenomenal success of the co-operative building projects under- 

Amalgamated Housing, New York 67 

taken by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America gives cre- 
dence to the hope of the sponsors that it will be possible to extend 
the Sidney Hillman project as far as the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive 
on the East River. 

Abraham Kazan, who has been the prime mover in all of the hous- 
ing projects, is a firm believer in building the co-operative way, point- 
ing out that it builds homes for members at cost, engages the interest 
of members by imposing responsibility, establishes a close bond among 
the occupants, tends to make a tenant a self-respecting citizen, devel- 
ops ideas of self-government, and, finally, requires no cash subsidy 
from state or nation. 

There are other co-operative apartment house projects in New York 
City worthy of mention. One of them is Farband House at 2925 
Mathews Avenue in the Bronx. The building, which contains 130 
apartments, was erected in 1928 at a cost of $682,000. Minimum 
down payment per room was $400. 

In Chicago, the Frederick Douglas Co-operative Homes Association 
owns a thirty-six apartment house building erected at a cost of $300,- 
000. The four-room apartments cost $7,260 to $8,000 with an aver- 
age monthly charge of $55, and the five-room apartments cost $8,500 
to $9,500 with an average monthly charge of $65. The thirty-six mem- 
bers own the Association; the Association owns the Building; and the 
Co-operative is operated by a board of directors elected by the mem- 
bers. Each applicant, upon joining the Association, received a member- 
ship certificate and a "perpetual ownership" contract for his apartment. 

The hundreds of other co-operative apartment house projects found 
in the large cities of the United States range from the true Rochdale 
type to commercial "co-ops" which in extreme cases represent a method 
of selling high-priced housing for the greatest possible profit. 

There are undoubtedly many apartments organized under limited 
profit circumstances that make co-operative ownership a better buy 
than the commercial "co-op." In some of these, members have little 
part in the management of the housing. In others, they may have pur- 
chased title to an apartment, rather than a share in the co-operative. 

The following are some of the co-operative ownership projects in 
New York City some of them completed, some under construction, 
a few still in the planning stage. They include both true co-ops and 
commercial co-ops. 

They are: Great Oaks in Riverdale, Bronx, with six hundred apart- 
ments ranging in cost from $13,500 to |24,000; Riverdale Towers, 
also in Riverdale in the Bronx, with 106 apartments ranging, in 


Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 









Amalgamated Housing Corp. 
1926-1927 Six Bldgs. 

1929 Bldg. No. 7 




Limited Dividend 
Co. organized 
under New York 
State Housing 

Van Cortlandt Park 
Mosholu Parkway 
and Jerpme Park 


1931-1932 Bldg. No. 9 



1948 Bldg. No. 8 under 


Formerly Consumers' So- 
ciety Inc. now trans- 
ferred to Amalgamated 
Housing Corp. 
1941 Bldg. No. 10 




Organized under 
regular corpora- 
tion law 
Now under State 
Housing Law 

Van Cortlandt Park 
Mosholu Parkway 
and Jerome Park 

1946-1947 Bldg. No. 11 




Amalgamated Dwellings Inc. 





Limited dividend 
company organ- 
ized under New 
York State Hous- 
ing Law 

Grand, Sheriff. 
Broome and Co- 
lumbia Streets 

Hillman Housing Corp. 
Formerly East River Co- 
operative Apts., Inc. 

Organized under 
Companies Act 

Grand, Sheriff, 
Broome and Co- 
lumbia Streets. 





Amalgamated Housing, New York 



Member's Share 

Cost of Project 


1926-1927 six bldgs. 
All five stories high. 
Walk up. Made of 
Holland brick 
Buildings cover one 
half of property 

Applicants subscribed 
for $500 in stock for 
each room, meeting 
half the investment 
in cash and the rest 
by loans through the 
Amalgamated Bank 
of New York 

$1,970,000 total cost 
1,654,359 for six bldgs. 
315,000 for land 
1,437 per room 
39* cu. ft. 

The first six buildings 
financed by $1,200,000 
mortgage for twenty 
years from Metropoli- 
tan Life Insurance Co. 
at 5 per cent interest. 
Remainder of cost was 
financed from tenant 
payments and sale of 6 
per cent preferred stock 
Building No. 9 was 
financed by a mortgage 
loan for $380,000 from 
the Metropolitan Life 
Insurance Co. at 5 per 
cent interest. Rest from 
In 1948, all the Bronx 
projects were re- 
financed, including 
Bldgs. No. 1 to 6. 
Bldgs. No. 7, 9, 10 and 
11 (the latter two for- 
merly belonged to Con- 
sumers' Society), Bldg. 
No. 8 now under con- 
struction and other 
buildings planned. The 
new mortgage for 
$6,500,000 was ob- 
tained from the Bowery 
Savings Bank at 3i per 
cent interest 

$1,003,021 Bldg. No. 7 
1,322 per room 
41 T W cu. ft. 

1929 Bldg. No. 7 and 
1931 Bldg. No. 9 are 
seven and six stories 
high of Holland 
Buildings cover one 
half of property 

$ 570,000 Bldg. No. 9 

Two and three stories. 
Domestic red brick 
Buildings cover one 
half of property 

Investment of $500 in 
each room required 
for Bldg. No. 10 and 
$600 for Bldg. No. 
11. Corporation ac- 
cepted part in notes 
payable over period 
of years and part in 

$ 165,513 Bldg. No. 10 
14,934 for land 

257,651 Bldg. No. 11 
14,000 for land 
3,000 per room 

One building, six and 
seven stories high 
Building covers 60 
per cent of property 

Investment of $500 in 
each room required. 
Member able to bor- 
row up to 70 per cent 
of equity 

$1,520,000 total cost 
1,064,713 for bldg. 
445,287 for land 
1,272 per room 
38* cu. ft. 

$960,000 mortgage ob- 
tained from Bowery 
Savings Bank for ten 
years at 3i per cent 
interest. $60,100 ob- 
tained from sale of 
debenture bonds and 
rest of cost came from 
members' down pay- 
ments. Mortgage was 
renewed for ten years. 
Amortization now 2i 
per cent. 

Three buildings of 
domestic common 
red brick. Twelve 
stories high. One 
with penthouse. 
Buildings cover 23 
per cent of property. 

Applicants required to 
put up $600 in cash 
for each room de- 

$9,000,000 total cost 
7,200,000 for bldgs. 
1,800,000 for land 
3,000 per room 
88* cu. ft. 

$5,600.000 mortgage ob- 
tained from Mutual 
Life Insurance Co. for 
twenty five years at 3i 
per cent interest. Amor- 
tization at rate of 2} 
per cent. Twenty per 
cent of estimated cost 
raised by sale of stock or 
debenture bonds to ap- 
plicants for housing. 

70 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

monthly charges from $84 to $129 per apartment; Bell Park Gardens 
in Bayside, Long Island, which plans eight hundred family garden 
apartments to cost $8,280 to $11,031 per unit; (this is a limited- 
dividend project under the sponsorship of the New York State Divi- 
sion of Housing) ; Group Homes which plans the conversion of a ten- 
story building on Riverside Drive into small apartments for tenant 
owners; a small apartment house on East 84th Street occupied by eleven 
veteran families; a nineteen-story penthouse apartment on Fifth Ave- 
nue which includes 162 suites and ten doctors' offices; an eighteen- 
story penthouse apartment on East 66th Street; a twelve-story pent- 
house apartment building on East 71st Street; and several apartment 
houses in Jackson Heights, Queens. There are two in East Paterson, 
New Jersey: the Elmwood Co-operative Apartments, Inc., and the 
Park View Co-operative Apartments, Incorporated, which were orig- 
inally sold at about $3,300 per room under speculative auspices. 

Before purchasing in any of the above co-operatives, a prospective 
tenant should carefully investigate and analyze the set-up. Some em- 
body plans or defects which may jeopardize or wipe out the purchaser's 


Penn-Craft, Pennsylvania 

"You're crazy to work like that. You'll never own those houses. 
Wait and see. You'll be back in your shacks." So jeered the neighbors 
as a struggling little group of miners in south-western Pennsylvania 
ditchdug and hauled, sweated and sawed, mixed and mortared, dog- 
gedly determined to complete the job they had started building their 
own homes. 

Today, fifty miners in the co-operative community of Penn-Craft at 
East Millsboro own two-story stone houses, complete to streamlined 
kitchens, built-in showers, oak floors, and central heating. And their 
costs are just $13 a month. 

Back aches and brawn built the houses not money. The houses 
were valued at $6,000 when finished. They could not be duplicated 
now for twice that amount, if built conventionally, yet the cash cost to 
the miners was only $2,000. That was for land and materials. The 
labor was their own. Each house represents about 3,500 hours of man 
labor, worked out in off days, spare time, and Sundays. On a basis of 
eight hours a day, six days a week, it would take one man a year and 
five months to build his house. Actually, many of the houses were 
three years in the building, because the miners were unable to work 
steadily on them. They had jobs at the bottom of a coal shaft that oc- 
cupied some of their waking hours. 

Would you do it? Would it be worth that much to you? It was 
to these miners. For years they'd lived in a collection of shacks in 
Fayette County shacks without water, without electricity, with dirt or 
stone floors, with yards fronting on coal-dusted alleys. It was no 
novelty for them to work with their hands. All they needed was in- 
spiration, direction, supervision, and the cash. The American Friends 
Service Committee provided all four. 

The miners formed study groups, learned how to drive nails, mix 
mortar, lay sewer pipes. One stone mason and one carpenter instructed 


72 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

and supervised. The houses were built with the labor of two skilled 
and fifty unskilled workers. 

The community now includes not only the original fifty houses, 
each with two acres of land planned for vegetables, fruit, and poultry; 
but also a co-operative food store with five hundred frozen food lockers, 
a community center for educational entertainment activities, and 
a sweater knitting mill which the miners also built. 

Across the road is the Krepps Farm, Penn-Craft's Project No. 2. A 
tract of 165 acres, it has been divided into fifteen sections of ten acres 
each. Five of the new members now building are sons of the home- 
steaders in Project No. 1. 

Half a mile from the Krepps Farm is the Taylor Farm of 250 acres, 
which will be Project No. 3 as soon as the second homesteading ex- 
periment is complete. 

To reach Penn-Craft, I had to take a complicated seventy mile trip 
from Pittsburgh to Brownsville, to East Millsboro, and then down 
into the valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Leaving behind the 
Smoky City's five hundred churches, busy pickle factories, noisy steel 
mills and meat packing plants, the bus rolled steadily south through 
town after town, each a duplicate of the last, each with the same grimy 
little houses and false-fronted stores plastered with chewing tobacco 
signs and health food ads. Then suddenly we rounded a curve and 
came upon the great Monongahela. 

Broad and sluggish as it meandered nonchalantly through the hills, 
the river was picturesque even in the winter drizzle which glistened 
on its stony sides and half-obscured the tiers of tenements, gray slate 
and brick, on the far shores. Surface skiffs skimmed the waters around 
the white paddle tug boats and long lines of barges black with coal; 
then raced the freight trains along the banks, to disappear in a blanket 
of mist. Hemmed by green hills, edged by gray flats and yellow-lighted 
factories, crossed by myriad bridges, it is an intriguing river. 

Forewarned by colorful stories of what the miners had done to the 
bit of ragged countryside they'd developed, I was yet unprepared for 
the beauty spot into which we drove through the rain. On either side 
of the road the land rolls high. Atop these summits were the homes, 
sturdy structures of gray fieldstone with white gabled ends and sweep- 
ing roofs of slate. Planted evergreens stood by the doorways and 
marked out the neat gardens. The poultry houses and barns had each 
been integrated with the home of its owner and with the buildings of 
the whole community. It did not seem possible that miners, tradition- 
ally tied to tin roofs and tumbledown shacks, could have achieved such 
a model village! 

Penn-craff, Pennsylvania 73 

In 1937, when Clarence Pickett, Homer Morris, and Stanley Hamil- 
ton, members of the American Friends Service Committee, conceived 
the idea of a self-help housing project, the miners were living in hope- 
less squalor. Only half the mines in Fayette County were operating; 
most of the men were on but two days a week; and a quarter of them 
were drawing "relief money." Their children were suffering from 
malnutrition; their wives were sick and discouraged; and their own 
morale was as low as the dirt sills across which they dragged weary 
feet each night. 

The miners were paying $10 a month for their shacks. The Friends 
believed that, by paying $10 a month plus $3 for taxes and insurance, 
a miner could amortize a $2,000 loan at 2 per cent in twenty years. 
Under a co-operative arrangement, with the miners supplying labor to 
build their own homes, such a plan would be practical. 

Would the miners be interested? The idea spread like wildfire. 
More than two hundred families evinced a desire to take part. Thus 
encouraged, the American Friends purchased an abandoned farm of 
two hundred acres in Fayette County, advancing the money from a 
$230,000 fund of grants and gifts, which included an $80,000 grant 
from the U. S. Steel Corporation. 

Work groups were formed and .financing plans made. It was ex- 
plained to the miners that within the $2,000 figure, the cost of the 
land, the roads, the public utilities, and the outbuildings must be fi- 
nanced. The amount of the cash expendable for the house thus shrank 
from $2,000 to $1,700. 

Classes started. Under the supervision of the two skilled workers, 
the men learned cellar construction, roof framing, and plumbing in- 
stallation. Quickly they acquired new skills and initiative. 

The job was no cinch. The place was overrun with underbrush and 
brambles. Before the first cellar was dug, the land had to be cleared, 
roads built, water and sewer lines laid. Of the two hundred families 
that had first applied, many dropped out. The work was too hard or 
the project too long drawn out. As A. Hurford Grossman, of the Phila- 
delphia Friends' Office, phrased it, "No man on trial had to be re- 
jected. The weak ones rejected themselves." But fifty stuck it out. They 
were a representative cross section of the coal mining population: 
Welsh, Poles, Rumanians, Russians, Syrians, Italians, Germans, 
Negroes, Croatians, Slovaks, English, Americans and even one Ameri- 
can Indian. 

The miners arranged their hours on a workmanlike basis. Each man 
kept a time card recording the number of hours he put in on his own 
house, as well as the number he put in on the houses of his neighbors. 

74 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

The man with the largest number of hours to his credit was given 
first consideration when it came time to decide whose cellar should 
be dug next. Labor was swapped on an equal basis. That is, if a man 
dug ditches for five hours, he was given the same credit hours as the 
man who painted for five hours. No worker was criticized for lack of 
skill; but if he loafed, he was subjected to a torrent of upbraiding by 
the others, sufficient to force him into a semblance of streamlined 
efficiency or out of the community. 

Poultry houses were built first. In these, the miners and their fam- 
ilies lived some of them for two years until their own homes were 
finished. Big families added a brooder house to the poultry house to 
provide sufficient bedroom area. So solidly were the chicken houses 
constructed that many are still being used for homes this time to 
house returning GI sons and their brides. One way to solve the hous- 
ing problem! 

The men learned to work together, how to get along together, re- 
gardless of race, creed or color. And the boys took a hand. When 
they achieved some proficiency in swinging hammers and sawing 
planks, they were incorporated in the work crews and credited with 75 
per cent of a man-hour. 

Several houses were built at the same time. It was easier to handle 
the project that way because it meant that at no time need any crew 
be idle. The carpenters worked on Job No. 3, the plasterers on Job No. 
2, the plumbers on still another house. And so it went.. 

The American Friends Service Committee found ways and means 
of cutting costs. In the matter of sand alone, $180 was saved on each 
house. David Day, Penn-Craft's first manager, bought a crusher and 
a tractor and showed the miners how to make their own sand at a 
cost of fifty cents a ton instead of the usual $3. The workers even 
made their own window frames, reducing the cost from $15 to $2.50 
and thus saving $100 on each house. By using narrow widths of 
flooring "mill throwouts" they saved another $60 on each structure, 
and because they were willing to buy bathtubs with legs instead of the 
built-in variety, they were able to chalk up another $33 economy for 
each homesteader. Someone conceived the idea of unscrewing all the 
legs and blocking in the tubs to resemble the women's "heart's desire"; 
so everyone was happy. 

The miners made their biggest saving in the choice of construction 
materials. By trucking sandstone from nearby quarries, and collecting 
field stone from the old walls on the farm and from abandoned coke 

Penn- craft, Pennsylvania 75 

ovens, they were able to build stone houses much cheaper than they 
could have built frame structures. 

The stone walls were built with a minimum of labor. Under David 
Day's direction, a system of movable forms was devised which en- 
abled the workers to "pour" a wall in short time and then transport 
the forms to the next house where they would be used over again. 
Since little hand work was utilized and less supervision, it was pos- 
sible to save $200 on each structure. 

In the spring of 1938, the first family moved in; and by the mid- 
dle of 1943, all fifty were installed. By the summer of 1948, ten of the 
homesteaders had paid off their obligations to the American Friends 
and owned their houses free and clear. 

Most of the houses contain six or seven rooms with approximately 
eleven hundred or twelve hundred square feet of floor space. An archi- 
tect was hired to draw five plans, and variations of these basic arrange- 
ments were designed to suit individual needs. 

Remember the old Welsh pictures of the weary miner, after an 
exhausting day, stretched out in his stockinged feet, on the old bed- 
stead in his one-room shack? Nothing like that at Penn-Craft. The 
head of the family enters the basement, takes a shower, and changes 
to clean clothes before entering the living part of the house. There 
is no place for coal-dusted workclothes in the cretonned living room, 
or in the modern white kitchen where his wife is beating up the pan- 
cake batter in the new electric mixer. 

One of the first owners refused to accept his deed because it referred 
to him and his wife as "tenants by entirety." It was useless to explain 
that in Pennsylvania that was the legal term for "owner." He'd have 
none of it. He'd been a tenant all his life and now, God willing and 
the money in hand to make it so, he meant to be an owner and noth- 
ing but ! 

Disregarding advice, the homesteader sent the deed back to the 
American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia, and asked for a 
change in terminology. On receipt of the "corrected" deed, which now 
read "owners with survivorship," he took it to the county court house. 
The officials refused to accept the document. Chagrined, the miner re- 
turned the deed to Philadelphia, accepting his role of "tenant by en- 

A few of the houses have been sold yet there seems to be little de- 
sire in the community for profiteering. As A. Hurford Crossman 
points out, "A self-help project does not have the tendency for specu- 

76 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

lation that a normal community faces. When a family has put over 
three thousand hours of hard labor into the building of a home, that 
home no longer represents a speculative investment. The family's life 
is built into it, and the owner, therefore, has no temptation to sell for 

The miner's hope of being able to save $3 a month the difference 
between his old $10 rent and his new $13-a-month carrying charge 
has been realized through the produce from his garden. It was esti- 
mated that the fifty families had spent $25,000 a year for perishable 
foods, or about $10 a week apiece. A goodly portion of such food is 
now grown right in the backyards. Acreage at Penn-Craft is utilized 
in two ways. Each homesteader owns two acres on which he raises 
berries, vegetables, and poultry. The rest of the land about 110 acres 
is operated as a commercial farm. One of the tenants, Bill Baum, 
rents the property from the American Friends on a three year lease at 
$250 a year. The dairy of thirty cows provides milk at several cents 
less than the local market price; and hogs, slaughtered on the farm, 
provide pork at seven to ten cents a pound below current prices. 

Greatest help to the housewife is the Co-op store, which was started 
in a cow shed with a capital of $25 and now grosses more than $100,- 
000 a year. The new stone building has five hundred frozen food 

Early in 1939, the homesteaders started a new project. Beset by fre- 
quent strikes and layoffs, they thought it best to provide a supplemen- 
tary source of income. Result: a knitting mill which has been turning 
out six thousand dozen sweaters a year. Gross sales are $400,000 yearly 
and total wages are $120,000 yearly. The building is stone, and it, too, 
was erected by the miners, each man donating one hundred hours of 
labor. There are seventy employees, thirty from Penn-Craft and forty 
from neighboring communities, who work under the direction of 
Superintendent Louis Gallet. Mr. and Mrs. Gallet left Austria just 
before the Nazi purge. Gallet, a knitter by trade, introduced imported 
hand-knitting machines and is now operating and buying the mill 
property. Two additions have been made to the structure since it 
started. Employees subscribe to a benefit fund over which they have 
complete control. In the planning is a credit union, which will in- 
clude not only workers in the mill, but also any of the homesteaders 
who may want to participate. 

Heart of activities at Penn-Craft is the old farmhouse which has 
been remodeled into a community center. Here are the library, the club 

Penn-craft, Pennsylvania 77 

rooms, a hall for dancing, and indoor games. Activities include the 
Mothers' Club, a baby clinic, a maternal health center, a nursery school, 
a girls' club group, a Scout group, a baseball team, a hobby club, the 
Young People's Council, lectures on parenthood, husband's nights, and 
health talks. Special rates for tonsil operations have been arranged by 
the co-op. Membership in the center costs $5. 

A new community center will be built when the Penn-Craft Rec- 
reation Co-operative is incorporated and can hold property. At that 
time, the American Friends Service Committee will deed the com- 
munity hall, the baseball grounds, and land for a shopping center to 
the Co-op. The Co-op will thereupon enlarge the scope of its activities 
by building a new hall for dances, roller skating, and bowling, and by 
providing store space to be leased on a concession basis for shoe-re- 
pairing, hairdressing, and barber shops. 

The new Co-op will be independent of the Penn-Craft Co-opera- 
tive Association which runs the store, the feed business, and the frozen 
food locker plant. 

It was inevitable that the success of the first project should give rise 
to a second; and while Project No. 2 differs in a great many respects 
from the first, it offers wider scope for experimentation than the orig- 
inal development. It is being built on a tract of land 165 acres in 
size, a stone's throw from Penn-Craft. The property has been divided 
into lots averaging ten acres, and each individual will manage his own 
farm. There will be fifteen homes when the development is complete. 

It has become increasingly apparent to the Friends Service Commit- 
tee that the day is not far distant when most of the coal shafts in the 
vicinity will "run out," leaving the miners with no means of liveli- 
hood. The best replacement would seem to be agriculture, since the 
land is fertile and can well support mixed farms devoted to truck 
gardening, fruit growing, and cattle raising. 

To convert miners into farmers is a job in itself, but the success of 
the first project, wherein the miners learned to raise at least enough 
produce for their own families, encouraged the American friends to 
try a second project on a larger scale. That the idea appealed to the 
miners may be seen in the rapidity with which the second project is 
taking form and in the enthusiasm with which the individuals are 
building their houses and planning the development of their ten acre 
plots. One of the new homesteaders already has his entire acreage set 
out in young fruit trees. 

Costs have advanced alarmingly since completion of the first proj- 

78 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

ect. Nevertheless, the new homes will be built at a price far below 
the current market figures, mainly because most of the labor will be 
supplied by the miners themselves. 

Materials will cost about $4,500. Add to this, four thousand hours 
of labor at $1 an hour and you have a total cost of $8,500 for a struc- 
ture which would easily bring $13,000 in the open market. Labor is 
exchanged under the same plan followed in Penn-Craft's first project. 
Those homesteaders who are engaged full time in outside employment 
hired skilled mechanics to help. Penn-Craft enjoys amicable relations 
with all unions. 

Most of the houses will have six or seven rooms and full cellars, 
and most of them will be built of cinder blocks made on the property. 
Penn-Craft owns four hand-operated cinder block machines which 
were purchased at a cost of $60 apiece. At the time, supply companies 
were charging fifteen cents each for the blocks. The co-ops made their 
own for eight. The blocks are waterproofed after erection with 
Thoro-Seal and then stuccoed or painted white. One house has utilized 
block for the first story and finished the second in brick veneer. Two 
others are of frame construction, stone veneered. 

Interior partitions are of rock lath and plaster, painted or papered. 
Kitchens include built-in cabinets, electric stoves, and washing ma- 
chines. Homes are heated by a hot-air system, coal fired. 

Much of the wood used in the houses was cut out from the Taylor 
Farm, Penn-Craft Project No. 3, a half-mile distant. Cherry, ash, 
beech, maple, and walnut are in abundance. John Kellam, manager at 
Penn-Craft, told me there were at least 30,000 board feet of floor- 
ing in standing timber on the Taylor Farm and another 30,000 feet 
which could be converted into two-by-fours, two-by-sixes, and two- 

Flooring is kiln-dried, tongue and grooved at Scottsdale Wood 
Products Co. in a neighboring community. Since Penn-Craftsmen can- 
not bear to waste anything, a good deal of the flooring is in narrow 
widths, one and a half inches, so that the last sliver of hard wood 
can be used. It makes surprisingly durable floors. 

Savings have been effected through the use of Army surplus doors; 
and while some of the members made their own window frames, sev- 
eral of them purchased Truscon steel casements. 

Nothing was spent on architects. House plans, acquired from the 
Farm Security Administration, were "cut to fit the cloth" by Kellam. 
"A good deal of the fitting was done right on the job," laughed 
Kellam. "Houses were going up so fast I couldn't keep ahead of them. 

Penn-craft, Pennsylvania 79 

However, we have one consolation. If mistakes are made, they can 
be corrected at little cost beyond our own labor." 

The houses in both Project No. 1 and Project No. 2 have septic 
tanks. Water is purchased from the General Water Co. on individual 
meters. The proximity of water supply lines was a prime reason for 
choice of the property. A second reason was the fact that county and 
town roads are so located as to touch every homestead, and the houses 
can be built along these roads. 

A number of roads had to be constructed through the first project, 
and each homesteader was charged a proportionate share of the cost. 
Eventually the Town will take over the maintenance of these highways. 

Under the financial plan set up for Project No. 2, homesteaders may 
borrow up to $4,000 from the American Friends Service Committee 
for the duration of the construction period at 4 per cent interest. This 
figure must cover cost of house, land, share of the water system, and 
a proportion of the project manager's salary. The contract states that 
within one year after occupancy the homesteader must refinance with a 
bank on a mortgage basis so that the money loaned him may be re- 
turned to the Friends' revolving fund, ready for use in the develop- 
ment of the next project in this case the Taylor Farm. If he is unable 
to secure a mortgage, however, the Friends will carry him until he can 
arrange his own financing. 

The monthly payment is not fixed, as it is in the usual plan based 
on the number of years of amortization, but varies according to the 
monthly earnings of the individual. Thus John Jones, earning $90 a 
month, will pay $10 a month on his loan; while John Brown, earning 
$217 a month, will pay $40. In each case the monthly payment in- 
cludes payment on the principal, interest, taxes, and fire insurance. 
This idea of "variable payments" was adapted from a plan developed 
by the Farm Security Administration. 

The Friends feel that when the educational process in community 
co-operation has sufficiently developed, it should be possible for the 
project manager to withdraw. In other words, there ought to be a 
time at which it can be said that the people have been rehabilitated. 

"People are not re-made overnight," said A. Hurford Grossman, 
"and to inculcate the true spirit of community living, co-operative or 
otherwise, is not a short-time problem. In fact, I have many times ex- 
pressed the real hope of Penn-Craft as being woven around the second 
and third generations. The fact that five of the second project families 
are sons of the first project homesteaders indicates some success in this 

80 Get Your Oivn Home the Co-operative Way 

"It is certainly a fact that these young people have a different out- 
look on life and probably a sounder basis for developing character 
than these same people would have had, had they been brought up in 
the mining patch. 

"The difference between renting from the Company and owning 
one's own home is far greater than the physical difference between 
the stone house and the mining patch hovel. 

"It isn't so much the comfort of the new way of life as it is the 
philosophy. Now, when a youngster breaks the window in his house, 
he fixes it because it is his house. He doesn't pass the buck on to the 
landlord who is his enemy to begin with, at least in his own mind. 
From his parents he learns a pride in ownership. From his life in the 
community he develops a sense of responsibility. He is the second step 
forward in the process of rehabilitation of the family." 


Seattle, Washington 

Anders staggered into the student house, a load of dirty dishtowels 
in his arms, and called out to the girls studying at a round table by 
the open window: 

"How's about a little soapsuds on these utilities?" 

"Not a bad 'idea," commented Manager Muriel, inspecting the sad 
linens. "What's the swap?" 

"I'll be over right after math to cut your lawn, I swear it!" said 
Anders, retreating backwards through the doorway with upraised 

Exchange of labor is one of the features of the planned program of 
the Students' Co-operative Assoc. Inc., of the University of Washing- 
ton at Seattle, which has helped make this co-op one of the largest 
student housing groups in the country, owning seven of its ten houses, 
with assets of $88,000. 

The Association has developed out of the mutual self help of 2300 
past and present members, drawn from all parts of the United States 
and Canada, France, Norway, Denmark, India, Egypt, China, and 

Starting with twenty-seven students who invested $10 each in an 
idea which they hoped would provide them with a place to live so they 
might finish school, the SCA has grown during fourteen years of co- 
operation to the point where its houses are filled, a waiting list 
lengthens, and plans are being completed for the erection on co-op 
property of a brick dormitory to house 180 men and women at a cost of 

From a central kitchen, the Association serves four hundred stu- 
dents three meals a day, caters for teas and dinners, and fills its frozen 
food lockers every year with thousands of quarts of fruits and berries 
picked by members. 

Not content with housing its own countrymen, the SCA has gone 


82 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

farther afield, and for the second year is offering foreign students 
robm-and-board scholarships on a co-operative basis. 

From its inception, the SCA has been on its own. Students started 
it, developed it, nursed it through the depression years, paid for each 
house out of their co-op savings and membership fees, and formulated 
those policies which spelled success. There, has been no outside finan- 
cial help not a gift, not a sponsored dollar. The accomplishments are 
tangible evidence that a group of young people, blessed with the right 
leadership and a willingness to work together, can organize and oper- 
ate a going business concern. 

Co-operation pays. Three hours a week at the dishpan or on the 
nether end of a broom, plus a membership in the SCA, enable a stu- 
dent at the University of Washington to obtain room and board for 
$1.57 a day. Those at the school who toil not, neither do they spin, nor 
belong to the co-op, pay $2.20 a day. 

Walter Honderich, an engineering student with an idea, provided 
impetus for the start of the student co-op. In the depression years of 
1933, there were many at the University so pressed for funds that they 
were forced to consider leaving. Honderich gathered together twenty- 
seven of these young men and each put up $10 to purchase food and 
to rent the first co-operative house, now known as Macgregor. 

The organization was run on a cost-sharing basis with assessments 
made each month to cover estimated expenditures. It grew rapidly, the 
members assuming more and more of the responsibilities of the mana- 
ger, Honderich, until today SCA is run entirely by the student direc- 
tors. The board of nine determines policies, makes final decisions on 
all operations, and hires four non-student employees the manager, 
the food supervisor, the assistant, and a part-time dietitian. Working 
with the student board is an advisory board with no voice, which in- 
cludes a professor at the University, a business manager, a public school 
superintendent, a chemist, a master in arts and sciences. 

Each co-op house is governed by its own board of directors, elected 
by the members. The members, in turn, elect the overall SCA board. 

By the second year of operation, membership in the SCA had in- 
creased to such an extent that it was necessary to expand into seven 
houses in order to prevent a number of small co-operatives from 
springing up all over the campus. 

The Students' Co-operative Association was incorporated August 30, 
1935, under the laws of the State of Washington, with authorized 
capital stock of $40,000, to include three hundred shares of common 
stock at $1 each and 39,700 shares of preferred stock at $1 each. The 

Seattle, Washington 83 

Association adopted a Rochdale plan of operation with no restrictions 
as to race, color, or religion. 

The following year, the Neitro Sanitarium was purchased for $6,000 
and converted into the "Brooklyn Unit." Modernizing and furnishing 
the house cost $4,000. 

In the summer of 1936, an old garage was acquired and the Central 
Kitchen and Co-op office established in its present location, 1114 East 
45th street. Rent is set at $100 a month. Students hope this figure will 
continue indefinitely since it would cost $6,000 to erect a suitable 

In equipping the kitchen, the SCA saved money by purchasing a 
number of Navy cooking utensils. As modern a unit as could be found 
in any streamlined restaurant, the kitchen includes a steam table de- 
signed by a student engineer, two cooking vats, a large pressure cooker, 
electric stoves, power mixer, two walk-in coolers, a quick-freeze unit, 
first of its kind in Seattle, and an ice cream freezer. Between twelve 
hundred and thirteen hundred meals are served each day. Deliveries, 
timed to fifteen minutes to keep the food hot, are handled by students 
working part-time in the kitchen. 

Nettie Jean Ross, a gray-eyed red head, pushed aside a degree in 
bacteriology three years ago to take charge of the Students' Co-opera- 
tive Association as secretary-manager. She is the heart of the organiza- 
tion. When I asked her how she came to switch from microscopes to 
mastermixes, she answered quite simply: 

"I'm more interested in people than bugs." 

Nettie is on the receiving end of a good deal of teasing by students 
who tell her she better marry before it is too late. But she only laughs 
and says she wants to see the new SCA dormitory erected before she 
leaves. The secretary-manager is paid $250 a month plus meals, figured 
at $30, making a total of $280. 

At the present time there are 270 students in the Co-operative with 
twelve hundred more, all past members, in the Alumni Association 
which was formed in June, 1945. 

When joining, each member buys $5 worth of stock, non-interest 
bearing and not refundable, and is entitled to one vote in the corpora- 
tion's business. In the early years, membership cost $15 but the figure 
has since been reduced to the present $5. 

Those dormitories hiring house mothers pay $100 a month and 
board. Student house managers get $50 a month and board. While 
most of the men's units started with house mothers, the males shortly 
decided to do their own managing and save the money. 

84 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Both men and women students put in three hours a week at some 
household duty washing dishes, cleaning house, waiting table, or in 
the garden. Frequently the houses swap labor, the boys serving at 
meals in return for shirts expertly ironed and suits pressed. 

A good many of the students hold part-time jobs either on the 
campus or downtown, working as clerks, waitresses, dishwashers, 
garage mechanics, gardeners, librarians, or baby sitters. Clerical work 
at the University pays $.65 an hour, but baby sitting pays $.75. 

The co-op houses are something more than dorms. They contain 
clubrooms, social halls, libraries, and shops selling soaps, toothpastes, 
school supplies, and cosmetics at cost. These shops not only break 
.even, they save money, applying the funds to new draperies, new rugs, 
or perhaps a record changer or a radio for the house. 

Most wonderful of all, there's a snack kitchen in every co-op house 
where students can dig in between meals and refuel on milk, peanut 
butter, and Dagwood sandwiches, and all for free. 

In 1946 increased enrollment, caused by the influx of veterans, 
forced the SCA to purchase two more houses, each with a capacity of 
fifty men, bringing the total number of houses owned or leased by 
the Corporation to ten. 

How did a little struggling student co-op manage to acquire so 
much property ? Let's see how they did it. 

The first house, Synadelphic A on 16th street, (Synadelphic in Greek 
means "co-operative sisters") was purchased in 1940 at a cost of 
$8,000. The students were fortunate in that the owner was Mrs. Bertha 
K. Landies, former mayor and widow of a geology professor, who 
was much interested in the co-op. She asked no down payment and no 
interest on the total, which was to be paid at the rate of $75 a month. 
All but $2,300 has already been paid. 

The second house, Macgregor A on 22nd street, was bought in con- 
junction with Macgregor B, next door, in the year 1941 at a cost of 
$9,000. The units are named after the house mother, Mrs. Nell Mac- 
gregor, a writer. The two houses have a combined capacity of sixty-five 
students. The co-op made a cash down payment of $1,000, agreeing 
to pay off the balance at the rate of $125 a month. Both units are now 
owned outright. 

The fourth house, whose name Rofcre has proven a tongue twister 
to visitors, was bought in 1943 for $11,000. When the students took 
option on this unit two years previously, the price asked was $8,700. 
After some argument, the co-op acquired it at just that price, buying 
it outright. There was already a mortgage on the place which had to 

Seattle, Washington 85 

be paid off as originally written, $50 a quarter. Today, not a cent is 

The word Rojcre is made up of the first letters of "Robert Owen, 
Founder of Co-operatives in Rochdale, England," and is pronounced 
Rah- ff -cray. 

Rofcre B, next door to Rofcre A on 18th street, was purchased in 
1945 at a cost of $13,000. The co-op was able to pay down $7,000 
in cash and to acquire a bank mortgage for $6,000 at 4 per cent, to 
be paid off at the rate of $120 a month. Some $3,600 is still owing. 
Rofcre A houses twenty-five students and Rofcre B, thirty-five. 

The two houses bought in 1946 were Macgregor C and Mavrick, 
the" latter named after Lt. Tommy Mavrick, killed in the death march 
on Bataan. Macgregor C, which houses twenty-five students, cost 
$23,869. A down payment in cash of $11,369 was made and a bank 
mortgage for $12,500 acquired which had to be paid at the rate of 
$200 a month. The co-op is still $8,008 in debt on this proposition. 

Mavrick House cost $14,825. A down payment of $6,325 plus a 
bank mortgage, of $8,500 evened that score. Charge per month, $150, 
with $4,462 still owing. Mavrick can accommodate twenty-five stu- 

That accounts for the seven houses purchased by the co-op. All of 
the mortgages were written in such manner as to permit the students 
to pay them off as fast as they were able. 

The three other houses run by the co-op are rented. Synadelphic B 
on 16th street, which can take care of twenty-five students, rents for 
$100.62 a month. Sherwood House on 17th street, which accommo- 
dates twenty-five, rents for $166.75 per month. "I" House, the old 
International House of the YMCA, known as the Little United Na- 
tions, houses thirty-two, and rents for $175 a month. 

There are no plans to buy any more houses, nor to spend further 
funds on the present ones. The SCA is anxious to hang on to its sav- 
ings until such time as the new dorm can be built. 

Renovating old houses is an expensive proposition. Nettie Ross 
pointed out that in one instance the SCA had to pay $4,000 for rewir- 
ing three houses. 

For how long can the co-op stall the improvements demanded by 
the city health and fire departments? The fire department wants all 
staircases enclosed and the health department insists there should be 
one bath for every eight students, whereas the present ratio is one bath 
for every eleven. 

It was a marvel to me how any organization operating on such a 

86 . Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

slim margin could save enough cash to make a down payment on one 
house, let alone half a dozen. But according to the young manager, 
the payments were made from moneys accruing from membership 
fees, room rents, and savings in the kitchen possible because of low 
overhead, economical operation, and extras from outside catering. 

There were other small revenues from various sources, including 
income interest, cash discounts, patronage refunds, service charges, 
garage rental, forfeited room deposits, and two large windfalls. The 
first was a $4,000 check received for the sale of the "Brooklyn Unit" 
acquired early in the co-op's history. The house was sold when a 
number of its members were called to service at the outbreak of World 
War II. 

The second large receipt came from the U. S. Government and 
totaled $8,000. The SCA paid taxes on its holdings for the years 1941, 
1942, 1943, and 1944. Then the Government declared the property 
exempt as a social institution and returned the moneys. 

It is noteworthy that while the book value of the buildings, exclu- 
sive of furnishings, is set at $47,000 and the lots are valued at $17,500, 
an insurance adjustor last year put a replacement value on the build- 
ing of $225,000. 

To give other student groups a better idea of what it costs to run 
a college housing co-op, and what percentage of the whole each item 
represents, I have included the last operating statement of the Seattle 
group. It covers a period of fourteen months. 

The Students' Co-operative Association draws no line at race, creed, 
or color. During the past year there were in the membership, three 
Negroes, six Nisei, and eight students from India. 

Foreign students are welcomed. Each year the association offers one 
room-and-board scholarship. It costs the co-op $360. Bjorne Stiansen 
of Norway was the first to come under this plan. A student in aeronau- 
tical engineering, he was admitted to the school on a U. of W. schol- 
arship. Stiansen made expenses while studying, by working in a lum- 
ber camp in his spare time. Dick Oesterman of Denmark was the 
second applicant. He registered in journalism and gained practical 
knowledge and pocket money by working part time on one of the 
Seattle papers. 

Relatives and friends of the foreign students are not forgotten. One 
day a week the co-oppers drink no milk. The money saved, amounting 
to $40, is used to purchase four CARE packages, each containing 
twenty-five pounds of food, which are sent overseas. 

The SCA does not confine its co-operative spirit to the campus. 





Ezra Stoller: Pictorial Services 

Contemporary modern architecture features the houses built by a 
co-operative group on the top of Snake Hill, Belmont, Massachusetts. 
This is the home of Harry B. Wissmann. 


Seattle, Washington 


Operating Statement, July 1, 1946, to August 31, 1947 

Room and board, own houses $127,244.93 86.54% 

Board, University residences 13,466.66 9.16% 

Miscellaneous revenue 6,320.61 4.30% 

Total Revenue Received $147,032.20 100.00% 

Operating Expenses 

Food expense own houses. 48,361.17 32.89% 

Food expense University residences 8,311.34 5.65% 

Salaries and wages 33,103.61 22.52% 

Payroll taxes 1,412.05 .96% 

Delivery expense 973.20 .66% 

Supplies own houses 4,539.58 3.09% 

Supplies University residences 144.70 .10% 

Laundry 1,118.48 .76% 

Fuel 4,301.90 2.93% 

Electricity 2,859-13 1.94% 

Water 792.13 .54% 

Gas 1,331.32 .91% 

Repairs and maintenance 9,437.57 6.42% 

Rent expense 8,583.81 5.84% 

Depreciation expense 9,295.12 6.32% 

Insurance 1,355.60 .92% 

Property taxes 1,986.76 1.35% 

Capital stock tax 

Legal and auditing 491.98 .33% 

Interest 918.67 .62% 

Telephone 1,717.36 1.17% 

Advertising and publicity 1,505.67 1.02% 

Dues, subscrips., donations 93.71 .06% 

Newspapers 199.81 .14% 

Key expense .22 

Bad debts and collection expense 38.84 .03% 

Alumni association 

Miscellaneous expense ' . 283.65 .19% 

Total Expense $143,079.26 97.31% 

Net Margin 3,952.94 2.69% 

When the Group Health Association in Seattle was struggling to gain 
a firm financial footing, the co-op purchased a $500 bond. 

Many of the co-ops hold membership in the Group Health which 
now lists twelve hundred members, has a staff of eighteen doctors, 
and owns a fifty bed hospital. 

88 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

The SCA belongs to the Pacific Coast Student Co-op League, which 
includes co-operative groups in the University of British Columbia at 
Vancouver, Montana State University, Oregon State University, the 
University of Oregon, the University of California in Los Angeles, 
the University of California, Washington State College, and the Uni- 
versity of Washington. 

The Students Co-operative Association also belongs to the North 
American Student Co-op League with headquarters in Chicago. Mem- 
bership in the Pacific group costs the SCA ten cents per member per 
year, while membership in the national group costs fifteen cents per 
member per year. 


Racine, Wisconsin 

Racine, Wisconsin, is a city of 76,000. Located on Lake Michigan 
at the mouth of the Root River, it is a humming manufacturing center, 
adjacent to the cheese and butter country. Many of its population are 
employed at the Case Co., famous for its plows or on the assembly 
lines of the farm machinery factories. Johnson wax is made here. So 
are automobile and house radiators and power lawn mowers. The 
average annual wage is $4015 one of the highest averages among 
American cities. 

If a visitor asks who lived in Racine before the Danes arrived, the 
answer is always the same: "No one. Racine was in Denmark." More 
than half the people in Racine are Danish. Many of them belonged to 
the local co-ops in Denmark and hence find it quite natural to form 
and join co-operatives in their new homeland. In their newest co-op 
they are building 372 houses on 112 acres of land. 

In June, 1945, two months before VJ Day, members of District 
Council No. 8, United Auto Workers, CIO, in session one summer's 
night, became involved in a discussion of the local housing shortage. 
Someone asked: "What happens when the boys come home?" That 
meeting eventually led to a plan of action. A housing committee was 
organized within the Council, the UAW put up a "kitty" of $100 to- 
ward expenses; and the Housing Committee and the Education Coun- 
cil of the UAW were asked to work together to "see what you can do." 

The $100 was used to publish a leaflet which exposed the profiteer- 
ing in private housing in Racine and suggested, in its place, a co- 
operative housing development. The Racine Consumers Co-operative 
offered to help, and through its educational field man, Hans Schmidt, 
gave assistance in gathering names of interested consumers. 

Racine already had a co-bperative credit union, a co-op store, and 
a co-op filling station all well supported by the population. Many 
of the members of these co-operatives were interested in getting a 
home and preferred to do it the co-op *way, if it were possible. 


90 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

That fall, the Racine Co-operative Homes Association was formed. 
A steering committee was set up and the Association decided to finance 
its own promotion. Its independence of other organizations was thus 
established. However, this did not prevent other union groups from 
extending a helping hand. Both Local 172, UAW-CIO, and Local 195 
of the A.FL Blacksmiths contributed funds. 

Membership in the Association included a wide diversity of occu- 
pations, with factory workers and farmers outnumbering the other 
classifications. There were a good many white-collar workers, including 
clerks, superintendents, chemists, and metallurgists; eight school 
teachers; four firemen; and two policemen. . The average age of adults 
was thirty-five years; the average number of children to a family was 
three. Membership was not inter-racial. 

Hugh Reichard, director of the Education Council of the UAW, 
was elected president. He has been the "mother" of the organization 
from the beginning, nursing the project through its aches and pains, 
constantly figuring ways to cut costs. 

In March of 1946, the Association received its corporate charter, 
adopted by-laws, and elected a board of directors. Capital stock of the 
corporation was listed at $40,000. At the time of incorporation, there 
were just 100 members. The membership fee was set at $10, not re- 
turnable. Each member had to buy a minimum of six shares of com- 
mon stock at $25 a share. One vote was granted each family unit, re- 
gardless .of the amount of stock held. No proxies were allowed. 

Houses are individually owned, the title being transferred to the 
member on completion of the unit. Common land is held co-operatively 
and the community projects such as shopping center, filling station, 
garage, ball fields, recreation grounds and community hall are to be 
operated by the Racine Co-operative Homes Association. 

To assist in the construction of the project, the Association hired 
Robert L. Pine and Associates of Dayton, Ohio. The Pine firm has 
guided several other large housing projects at fees running about 5 
per cent of the total cost. 

The next step was to purchase the land. After examining several 
pieces, the Association chose a property adjoining the city limits, with 
a bus line passing the property and a public school across the street. 
City water and sewerage were available and the land fronted on a 
paved road. Through the efforts of Attorney Jack Harvey, the property 
was annexed to the city and thus became entitled to all benefits. The 
Association named its development Green Crest. 

The tract, 112 acres in all, cost $50,000. Half the amount was paid 

Racine, Wisconsin 91 

in cash from monies accruing from membership shares and partial 
down-payments. A mortgage for the other $25,000 was acquired from 
the West Racine Bank for a period of one year at 4 per cent interest. 
The mortgage was paid in full at the end of six months from funds 
supplied by new share money and partial down-payments. 

A short time later the Association sold 5 acres of land to the Bishop 
of Milwaukee to be used for the erection of a Catholic church and 
parochial school on the property. Another area, similar in size, is be- 
ing held for a Protestant church, possibly Lutheran. 

In Racine, the average lot is 40 feet in width. But in Green Crest 
there are none narrower than 60 feet. William A. Dean, Chicago land 
planner, plotted 372 home lots, averaging 60 by 125 feet and leaving 
ample space for parks, playgrounds and commercial areas. The cost 
of the unimproved lot was estimated at $115 and that of the developed 
lot at $750. The difference, $635, was broken down into development 
costs as follows: $200 per lot for water, $200 for sewerage, $135 for 
sidewalks, and $100 for roads. Subsequently, the FHA placed a loan 
value of $1000 on each lot. 

In the center of the property, 4 and f acres of oak-forested land have 
been set aside for a park. This area has been deeded to the city of 
Racine which will maintain the property and co-operate in the in- 
stallations of those features which the co-operative finds desirable. 
The Association and the city are also co-operating in the building of 
the roads. The city furnishes 5J inches of crushed rock and ^ inch of 
stabilizing material, and the Association finishes off with a black tar- 
red top. On satisfactory completion of the roads, all of which must 
have a 50 foot right of way, the city will take over and maintain them. 

When plans were firmly in hand, the developers, Pine and Asso- 
ciates, moved in, assisting in the organization of the group, in the 
financing, engineering, contract negotiating, construction, landscaping, 
and finally the disposal of the dwelling units to the individual owners. 

To keep construction costs at a minimum, a good deal of on-site 
fabrication was planned. To that end, a power saw was set up in the 
dairy on the property, and all winter long the carpenters milled doors, 
windows, frames, cornices, trim, gable ends, and even staircases. 

Plumbing pipes, wash basins, sinks and bathtubs were stored in the 
corn crib. The chicken house provided adequate storage for paints, 
varnishes, plasters and cement; while the vegetable storehouse served 
as shelter for both air- and kiln-dried lumber. 

In the old farmhouse, the contractors tacked blueprints over the rose- 
flowered walls in the living room and covered the violets in the dining 

92 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

room with sketches of the eight basic types of homes from which the 
would-be owners might choose. 

Architectural styles vary from Cape Cod and Colonial to California 
contemporary, solar and contemporary modern, with a Normandy in- 
cluded for good measure. Many of the homes are one-story, but there 
are a number of story-and-a-half and several two-storied structures. 
Some have flat roofs; some have gables; some have gambrels. 

Estimated costs of the first 25 houses ranged from $8200 to $9200. 
Most popular was a two-story house in the top price bracket which had 
three bedrooms upstairs. First excavations were made in December, 
1947. By mid-winter 8 houses were finished and 21 basements made 
ready for superstructures in the spring. Six months later 25 houses were 

All lots in the development are numbered and the various types of 
houses so plotted that no two alike are in any line of vision. Skillful 
placement of the, houses flat roof and gable, Colonial and modern 
gives the project the appearance of any other suburban community 
where each resident builds the kind of house he likes best. 

The member, in picking out his lot, makes his selection with an eye 
to the type of house that has been allotted the particular square of 
property in which he is interested. If he doesn't like the house designed 
for his lot, he must find another lot which meets his requirements, both 
as to location and style of house designated. 

Houses are of frame construction with cellars 7 feet 9 inches in 
depth. Cellars are waterproofed in keeping with FHA specifications. 
Either Insulite or Rock Wool is used for insulation. Water pipes are 
copper. A gravity-feed, hot-air heating system is serviced by either 
coal or oil. At one time consideration was given to the installation of 
a central heating plant for the community, but the idea was shelved 
when members voted for individual heating plants. 

Kitchens are equipped with sinks and wooden cabinets. Electric 
stoves are being purchased co-operatively. Floors are of oak, maple or 
birch hardwoods, with linoleum or asphalt in kitchen and bath. There 
is a built-in tub in the bathroom. Closets are in every room and there 
is storage space in the cellar and in the scuttle butts, which can be 
reached through a trap door into the attic. Most of the houses will be 
clapboarded or cedar shingled, with asphalt shingles on the roof. While 
many of the homes are being painted white, the roof colors vary. 

How do you get a house? What do you have to do? How much 
must you pay down? When do you own it? These and a dozen other 

Racine, Wisconsin 93 

questions were bandied over back fences and across kitchen tables for 
weeks before the Racine co-operators were ready to begin operations. 

Well, let us take Jan Johnson for an example. He was interested in 
a flat-top overhang, one-story house with three bedrooms, living room, 
kitchen and bath, listed at $9000. 

Jan joined the Racine Co-operative Homes Association, paying his 
membership fee of $10. This, he understood, was not returnable, but 
was to be used for the Association's overhead. Next, he bought his six 
shares of common stock in the corporation at $25 a share, or a total 
of $150. Now, he made a partial down-payment of $300 in cash on a 
house and lot and was ready to select his dream bungalow. 

From that point forward, Jan had little to do except watch his dream 
take shape. The Association took over, built the house, painted it in- 
side and out, tried the water faucets and the doorknobs and then called 
Jan in to "examine and familiarize himself with the conditions of said 
premises prior to occupying same," in the words of the option-to-pur- 
chase agreement. 

Jan may not like the house, after all. Or perhaps conditions have 
changed and he finds that he must move to another job or another dry 
and will not be able to live in the co-operative community. In that 
event, he will not be more than $25 out of pocket. Jan will lose the 
$10 membership fee, but he will get back the $150 he paid in for six 
shares of common stock in the corporation. He will also get back $285 
of the $300 down-payment he made on his house and lot. The balance 
of $15 will be retained by the Association to cover the cost of "FHA 
paper work." 

However, Jan may not get his money back the same day he decides 
not to move into the new house. The Association reserves the right to 
tell a departing member he must leave his money tied up in the house 
until someone else buys the unit. 

On the other hand, if Jan likes the house, is prepared to go through 
with the deal, and waits only the day when he may move in, bag and 
baggage, then he completes the down-payment and assumes full finan- 
cial responsibility, with the title and the mortgage in his own name. 

Jan has been told that the total cost of his house and lot will be 
$9000, and that this figure covers the expense of all improvements as 
well as the fee of the development firm. There will be no other assess- 
ments. He is reminded that he must make a total down-payment in cash 
equal to 10 per cent of the cost of his house ($900), and that he can 
then obtain a 90 per cent FHA-insured mortgage for the balance. Since 

94 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

he has already made a down-payment of $300, there remains only $600 
to be paid in cash. When he pays that, his individual mortgage is re- 
leased from the blanket mortgage which covers the entire property. 

This blanket mortgage was secured by the Corporation under Title 
VI of the National Housing Act. It is a ninety per cent FHA-insured 
mortgage on the Green Crest Development for twenty-five years at 4 
per cent interest plus -J of 1 per cent mortgage loan insurance. The 
loan was made by two insurance companies. 

When Jan signifies his intention of accepting the house built for 
him, the Association delivers to him a general warranty deed covering 
the house and lot, transfers the mortgage loan to his name, and notifies 
him that he may move into his new home. 

At one time the Racine Co-operative Homes Association considered 
following the example of another co-operative community, wherein the 
houses are individually owned but the land on which they stand is 
held by the Corporation. But the members voted for the individual 
ownership of both lot and house. 

Now what will Jan's house cost him per month? If he obtains an 
$8100 FHA-insured mortgage for 25 years, the amortization of the 
principal plus the interest plus the mortgage loan insurance, will 
amount to $45 a month. Add to this about $1.50 for fire insurance, $8 
for taxes, $2 for the trust fund and $2 for the running expenses of 
the Co-operative and you have $58.50 per month. So much for Jan's 
expenses, provided the house does not cost him more than it was ori- 
ginally figured. Taxes in the district run about 29 mills. A low assess- 
ment would, of course, reduce the apportionment for taxes. 

The $2 allotted to the trust fund is to provide security against the 
future. In times of unemployment or sickness, the member is permitted 
to draw against the fund to pay the monthly charges on his house, up 
to the amount of the equity (money paid in) he has in his house. 

The $2 assessed to cover the cost of operating the Association will 
be used to foot the bill for the manager and secretary to be hired when 
the development is complete. 

The $150 which Jan paid for his six shares of stock will be used to 
develop the co-operatively held property and to run the community 

Several lots fronting on the main road have been set aside for com- 
mercial buildings. These include a shopping center, a gasoline station, 
and a garage. The Co-op will erect and own the buildings and will 
lease them to consumer co-operatives. Over the store there will be a 
community hall to be used for canning co-ops, quilting groups, dances, 

Racine, Wisconsin 95 

movies and meetings. The community hall may be rented to outsiders 
when not in use by members. Funds so received will be used for com- 
munity improvements. 

There will be no special assessments against the members, unless 
the funds for community activities are not sufficient to cover co-opera- 
tive enterprises such as the development of a ball field or tennis court. 

The owner must keep his house and grounds in repair. If he fails, 
a warning by the board of directors will be followed by action through 
the mortgagee. In extreme cases, legal action may be taken to force 

Co-operative life insurance, co-operative automobile insurance, a 
credit union, and a group health plan, also co-operative, will be avail- 
able to all members of the Association. 

If Jan finds it necessary after a period of time to sell his home and 
move out, he may transfer his holdings only to a member of the As- 
sociation, approved by the Board of Directors, or to an outsider ac- 
ceptable to the Board of Directors, who is willing to become a mem- 
ber of the Association and abide by the by-laws and agreements. There 
is no stipulation as to sales price. Jan is entitled to "get what he can" 
for the property. 

Does co-operative housing effect savings? The Racine Co-operative 
Homes Association figures it lowered initial costs of the development 
in the following ways: 

1. The land was purchased "wholesale" in one plot. 

2. There was just one surveyor's fee. 

3. Land planning and development was done all at once at a mass 
production cost. 

4. The architect's fee was lowered to 1 per cent of the total cost. 

5. The contractor cut his estimate per unit, figuring that he could 
save both on labor costs by organizing the work on 372 houses under 
a planned program, and also on multiple purchases of materials and 

6. Savings were made in financing fees and interest rates on the 
basis of a mass project of 372 houses. 

However, mounting prices, special sized windows, and custom de- 
signs contributed to increases ranging from $500 to $2000 per house 
above the original estimates. 

The Racine Co-operative Homes Association is still seeking .ways 
and means of building homes for the bulk of its membership in the 
$8000 to $9000 price class. 


San Jose, California 

Sixty ex-servicemen own homes at Aquino Park, Campbell, near San 
Jose, California. When the project is finished, 80 cottages will stand 
on the 30-acre tract developed under the direction of Valley Homes, 
Inc., a veterans' co-operative housing development. 

The snug little community is concrete evidence of the perseverance 
of those who live there. The road to realization wasn't lined with 
peach and prune blossoms. There were plenty of rocks and rubble. But 
the veterans were determined to build homes, even if they had to 
erect them on their own. They hurdled every obstacle with the same 
tactics: "If one thing doesn't pan out, try another." 

There was the lumber that never came through; the loan that didn't 
materialize. There were the creditors who hounded them constantly; 
the plans that wouldn't jell; the windows that warped; the doors that 
wobbled; the plumbing that went in upside down; the roofs that devel- 
oped queer angles. 

They bought a piece of land on a shoestring; financed it through 
sheer audacity; designed their own homes when the architect failed to 
meet their needs; begged and borrowed money when the banks looked 
askance at their self-help plans; fought back stubbornly when the 
unions objected to their swapping labor with neighbors, and ended by 
completing the project themselves. 

San Jose lies in the fruited Santa Clara Valley, which produces 80 
per cent of the world's prunes. The city is 50 miles south of San 
Francisco, has a population of 60,000, and houses four colleges: 
University of the Pacific, M. E., State Teachers' College, College of 
Notre Dame, and St. Joseph's College. There are woolen and silk fac- 
tories, lumber mills, tanneries, iron foundries, machine shops, and 
canning establishments within its boundaries. 

Valley Homes veterans are a representative cross-section of the com- 
munity clerical workers, factory employees, salesmen, merchants, 
tradesmen, electricians, carpenters, and plumbers. 


San Jose, California 97 

No one on the West Coast seemed much interested in the co-opera- 
tive aspects of the project when I asked for information. I was told 
"It's just a commercial proposition." The reverse was true, as I dis- 
covered when I persisted in making the trip to see for myself. 

This is what happened. In the beginning, the vets sold lots on their 
tract; then as construction on the houses progressed, they spent more 
and more time on carpentry work and less and less on looking for 
customers. A real estate firm agreed to sell the last few remaining lots 
on a $95 per lot commission. That was the "commercial" aspect. 

In Valley Homes I found a tight-knit community with more co- 
operation between members than was evidenced in a good many of the 
more publicized co-operative housing projects. John helped Nathan 
hang his doors. Nathan helped John dig sewer lines. Both assisted 
Ben in shingling his roof. And so it went. 

Why did this community prosper when so many other veterans' 
projects have fallen by the wayside? Because the men and women in 
the group started with the determination to see the thing through no 
matter what unforeseen difficulties bogged their footsteps; because 
they were willing to help themselves and waited on no one; because 
they counted every penny before it was spent; because they eliminated 
expensive offices, clerical help, and illustrated brochures. 

The houses were built with varying degrees of self-help. In some 
cases the veteran contracted only for the interior finishing. In others, 
he took on the job when the builder had completed the shell of the 
house. In a few instances, the ex-serviceman constructed the unit from 
start to finish. One member saved $3000 by doing his own contracting 
and carpentry work. 

Provision has been made for a co-op store, park, and playground. 
Schools, buses, and shopping centers are near at hand. The dark clouds 
of troubled finance have taken on a rosy hue. The property mortgage 
papers were burned just a year and a half after the loan was made. 
The story is a good one. 

In October, 1945, a small group met to discuss the housing situation. 
Some of the couples were living with in-laws; others existed in 
doubled-up quarters; many had nothing better than two rooms and a 
gas ring. Far into the night they argued, until one of them clamored: 
"Look here. We've done enough talking. Why don't we do something? 
We've got to get homes. No one is going to give them to us. We've 
been on the receiving end of a lot of hurrahing but little else. If we 
could build our own shelters in Bataan and Burma, we can build them 
here. While everyone is telling us it can't be done, we'll just saw and 
saw and saw." Which is just what they did. 

98 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Securing an option, without any deposit, on the land they wanted, 
the group incorporated under the general corporate laws of California, 
non-profit, for $12,000, with 80 shares at $150 each. The owners 
asked $32,000 for the land. Banks would offer only a 60 per cent 
straight mortgage on the property a total of $19,200. The vets needed 
the entire $32,000. They conceived the idea of raising the valuation 
of the property, on paper, to a point where 60 per cent of the total 
would net them the necessary $32,000. 

To that end they listed all estimated improvements and expenses, 
and all estimated income items in this fashion: 


Land purchase $32,000.00 


Streets and paving $9,500.00 

Power lines 

Gas lines 

Water lines, refundable 5,200.00 

Surveying and engineering 1,000.00 

Legal fees 300.00 

Architectural services 4,000.00 

Financial expense 500.00 

Title and insurance 500.00 

Administrative and miscellaneous | 1,000.00 22,000.00 



Memberships, 80 at $150 each 12,000.00 

Sale of crops, apricots and prunes 1,500.00 

Sale of house on property 1,500.00 3,000.00 

Refund, water deposit 5,200.00 

Sale of lots to members, 80 at $450 each 36,000.00 

Total estimated income $56,200.00 

The veterans figured their development costs well just how well 
may be judged by a perusal of their financial sheet as it appeared a 
year and a half later. I have included it at the end of this chapter. 

Sixty per cent of $54,000 is $32,400, or more than the Valley 
Homes needed. The figures made a presentable picture. Calculations 
were simple enough. It was a little more difficult to convince a bank 
that the risk was a good one, especially as banks are loathe to loan 
money on property which can show only "paper" developments. 

After several turndowns, the veterans found a resident in a nearby 

San Jose, California 99 

community who was willing to take a chance. He offered them a 
$32,000 mortgage for one year at 5 per cent, provided they would 
agree to raise an amount equal to half the mortgage money as a guar- 
antee of good faith. This they did by putting up $12,000 comprised 
of 80 membership fees at $150 each, plus $4000 in small loans offered 
by members. 

Less than a year later, the loan was refinanced and an additional 
$5400 acquired; but by that time the vets were on their feet in fact 
some of them were already settled in their new homes. The mortgage 
loan on the land was paid in full a year and a half after it was made. 

The property was laid out in 82 lots, 80 for homes and 2 for a 
future store. In addition, 2\ acres were set aside for a park so planned 
that no road skirts its borders. It can be reached only by footpaths 
between the gardens. A community clubhouse, playground, and pool 
are also planned. A trained nurse who will take care of the children 
of those mothers who want to go shopping or have to work is also on 
the program for the future. 

Membership fees are $150, $100 of which are set aside for improve- 
ments and development of the property. In addition, the corporation 
may assess its members up to $100 a year for maintenance and im- 
provement of the common property. Profits from the store are ex- 
pected to pay any other corporation expenses. Valley Homes Inc. will 
both own and run the co-op store and the co-op gas station. 

The cost of an average developed lot 73 by 150 feet was $650 with 
closing fees running about $22. After purchase, the veteran was al- 
lowed 90 days in which to arrange financing. The ex-servicemen 
financed in various ways. Some obtained 80 per cent FHA-insured 
mortgages, others secured VA-guaranteed mortgages up to $4000, 
several received bank loans while a few obtained private loans or paid 

There is city water on the property but there are no sewerage lines. 
Each house has its own septic tank figured at $300 and included in 
the total cost of the house. City sewerage may be available in five years. 

No vet may sell his house within a year unless he first offers it to the 
Corporation for a period of 30 days at the price he paid for it plus "a 
reasonable allowance for any construction or improvement." If at the 
end of 30 days the Corporation decides it does not wish to buy the 
house, it will accept any purchaser who qualifies for membership. 
This is not an inter-racial community. It is a true co-operative in so 
far as each member is allowed but one vote, regardless of stock held. 

There were some immediate cash returns on the property. A harvest 

100 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

of prunes, apricots and grapes brought $2000. An old house, moved 
later to another location, was sold for $1500 $980 net. 

With mortgage commitments settled, the road and water plans in 
the making, members turned their entire attention to the construction 
of the homes. 

Early in the transactions, an architect was hired to design 80 red- 
wood rustic houses on a basis of $50 for each set of plans. Payments 
were to be made as follows: one-third on signing the contract, one- 
third when construction began, and one-third when construction was 
complete. Most important, the architect agreed to find a contractor 
who would build the houses at a price the vets could afford. 

The architect progressed rapidly with the plans, but not at all with 
the contractor. When wasted time dragged dangerously close to a 
year, the veterans abruptly dismissed the architect, agreeing to pay 
for the 72 plans drawn, and set about finding their own builder. 

Most contractors in the vicinity asked $10 a square foot. One asked 
$11, even though the entire project of building 80 homes was offered 
him. Subsequently, the Valley Homes members found three builders 
who would tackle the job for $8.50 a square foot on an individual 
house basis, with a promise of lower costs if 10 or more houses were 
built at the same time. 

Further savings were anticipated in the mass purchase of materials, 
either in the wholesale market or through the Associated Co-operatives, 
Inc., Oakland, California, in which Valley Homes has membership. 
Cost to the Corporation is $50. 

Most of the houses are cottage-type, a story and a half high, with 
hip or gable roofs. Five are erected on 6-inch concrete slabs, while the 
rest have cement foundations 2 feet high. Exteriors are in redwood, 
stucco, or brick veneer, with roofs finished in asphalt or wood shingles. 

Interior partitions are wood or plaster board, which is painted or 
stuccoed. Ceilings are Celotex. Stoves are electric. All outside doors are 
metal weatherstripped. Provision for storage space has been made in 
the garage. With the exception of the concrete slab units, which have 
radiant heat, most of the cottages utilize wall heaters supplied by 
natural gas. Many also have fireplaces with heatilators. 

Houses range in cost from $5000 to $12,000. These figures include 
the vets' self-help labor hours. In some instances, the contractor built 
the house from start to finish. In others, under an arrangement with 
the veteran, he erected only the shell, the vet taking over the job at 
this point. On a number of the houses all of the labor with the ex- 
ception of the concrete work, was done entirely by the members. 

San Jose, California 101 

So long as each veteran confined his activities to his own house, 
there was no argument with organized labor. But as soon as he com- 
menced to swap his labor with that of his neighbor, there was dissen- 
sion. In several instances, the union issued an ultimatum "that the prac- 
tice must stop or else!" 

"Rats!" was the characteristic answer of the veteran. In which case 
the union men walked off the job. 

A number of the plans drawn by the architect were used, but many 
of them proved too elaborate and were redesigned by the members. 
Some of the co-operators started with a small basic unit, planning to 
add to the house as finances permitted. There was Ted Balgooyen, for 
instance, who taught in the Navy U-12 program during the war and is 
now an instructor in speech and drama at State Teachers' College. 

Balgooyen's lot cost him $950. He paid $550 in cash and the rest 
at the rate of $50 a month. His house and carport cost him $2243 
which included a first mortgage for $1600 obtained from the Surety 
Building and Loan Co., a second mortgage for $400 from Valley 
Homes Inc., and the rest in cash. These figures do not include the cost 
of the lot or the self-help but do include the cost of the carport $400. 
Balgooyen erected a redwood rustic bungalow witn a slant roof, con- 
taining 485 square feet. This unit will become the wing of a U-shaped 
expandable house. 

"I did all the labor on this house except the plumbing and the con- 
crete and electrical work," said Balgooyen. "Didn't know much about 
building. Just watched the others and pitched in. Took me five months 
of week-end work to finish the job. I figure the house cost me $3.80 a 
square foot and the carport, $2 a square foot." 

Ellis A. Rother, former mailman in the USNR, who is now a train- 
ing officer in the Veterans' Administration, financed his home with a 
$4000 VA-guaranteed loan and a $4500 mortgage from the Surety 
Building and Loan Co. The $8500 cost of the house includes $500 paid 
for hired labor but not the cost of the self-help labor contributed by 
Rother. Rother, acting as his own contractor, built a contemporary 
modern house of 6 rooms, 1000 square feet in size. He subcontracted 
the concrete work, and the electrical wiring, and hired a carpenter 
part time. The remainder of the work he did himself, exchanging labor 
with two others on the property. He bought all his own materials. 
When asked where he learned how to build a house he merely said 
"Picked it up." 

Steven B. Anderson, a radio instructor in the Coast Guard during 
the war, was also his own contractor. Anderson paid $675 in cash for 

102 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

his lot and $7825 for his house, making a total of $8500. He obtained 
a mortgage for $4000 from the Surety Building and Loan Co., $2500 
from his mother-in-law, $1500 from his mother and $1500 in cash 
from his own funds. This makes a total of $9500, meaning that Ander- 
son still has $1000 in reserve. The $8500 figure includes $550 ex- 
pended for hired labor but does not include the cost of Anderson's own 
labor. The vet figures he saved $3000 by doing most of the work him- 
self or with the help of neighbors. The "hired labor" included that 
necessary for the rough plumbing and the concrete work. His home 
is a redwood rustic house of 5 rooms, 1060 square feet in size. The 
frame is on a concrete slab containing radiant heating lines. Interior 
walls are of sheetrock with redwood trim. The roof is of thick butt 
shaker shingles. The house took him 14 months to build, working 
week-ends only. 

Del Lucot, chairman of the board of directors of Valley Homes, 
Inc., was able to obtain a bank loan of $9400 with a VA-guarantee 
for $4000, to build his house. Lucot, with the 12th Army group in 
France during the war, is now a state auditor. A contractor asked 
$10,400 to handle the job, but Del completed a number of operations 
himself, putting up siding, installing electric wiring, painting, varnish- 
ing, installing closets and shelves practically all the finishing work. 
All of which brought the actual cost down to $8600. Savings were 
sufficient to enable Lucot to present his wife with an all-electric kitchen, 
complete to dishwasher, stove, refrigerator, garbage disposal unit and 
washing machine. Cost $900. 

The house contains living room, dinette, three bedrooms, kitchen, 
bath, laundry, and garage with storage space. The end result of Lucot's 
creative work on the interior of the house is charming. Unlike the other 
houses in the development, all interior walls in the Lucot house are 
wood, generally knotty pine, finished in pastel stains, shellaced and 
waxed buff in the halls, natural in the living room, and cloud blue in 
the master bedroom. The bathroom, finished in cream tile, features a 
double-sided linen closet open to both bath and hall, a washbowl en- 
cased in closets and a step-help for Baby Joanne. It took Lucot and his 
wife three months to finish the house, working nights and week-ends. 
Mrs. Lucot, seated by the triple windows which overlook the terrace, 
Joanne and the dog at her feet, disclaimed any leadership in the pro- 
ject. Finishing a round of tatting she said: "Del's just wonderful with 
his hands. He can do anything he sets his mind to." 

San Jose, California 103 

"There's no secret to it," said Del. "In the Boy Scouts I learned 
to be handy with tools. On this job when I came up against some- 
thing I didn't know how to do, I found there were plenty to ask and 
willing to show. I helped three others wire and shingle their houses in 
return for their assistance on my place." 

"And how did the unions like that?" t asked. 

Lucot just grinned: "I finished the job, didn't I?" 

During the development of the Valley Homes project, Steven 
Anderson served as manager at $3 an hour with the understanding that 
his charges would never total more than $100 in any one month. When 
the development is complete, no manager will be needed. 

Valley Homes, Inc. has no further financial worries. Estimates of 
expense made in the beginning so closely parallel the list of expenses 
tallied near the end of the development as to be almost incredible. Com- 
pare the figures given earlier in the chapter with those listed below, 
which cover a period of 18 months, and you will agree that the vets 
figured better than they knew. 

Land purchase $32,000.00 

Engineering 1,991.33 

Paving of streets 9,318.86 

Accounting 380.00 

Advertising 168.54 

Architect's fees 3,600.00 

Commissions to realtors 925.00 

Crop expense, prunes 228.64 

Interest 872.46 

Insurance and bonds 251.11 

Legal fees j. 1,141.85 

Office expenses 183.70 

Organization, general 1,623.25 

Picnics 75.46 

Taxes and licenses 588.90 

Title expenses 436.40 

Treasurer's expenses 285.00 

Manager's salary, 18 months 1,695.00 

Net costs to date $55,765.50 


Sale of prune crop $ 2,000.00 

Sale of house and barn 980.00 

Interest received 112.33 3,092.33 


104 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Expected revenue from lot sales 

80 lots at $650 average price 52,000.00 

Less: selling costs on 19 lots at $120 which in- 
cludes $95 commission and $25 for revenue 
stamps, etc 2,300.00 

Balance $49,700.00 

Memberships, 80 at $150 12,000.00 

Total revenue, net $61,700.00 

Less: costs to date 52,700.00 

Balance for expenses and 

further development of tract $ 9,000.00 

This analysis does not take into consideration any costs of, or bene- 
fits from, the 2 -acre park and the two commercial lots. These will be 
assets of the Corporation in addition to the $9,000 balance shown 


Snake Hill, Massachusetts 

In the mountain fastness of Snake Hill, Belmont, Massachusetts, 
live nine families unperturbed by the fact that their co-operative com- 
munity of contemporary modern houses is considered queer, outlandish, 
or downright "red" by the neighbors. 

The co-op group, one of the smallest in the country, originally con- 
sisted of an architect, a lawyer, a chemist, a sociologist, a Harvard pro- 
fessor, an artist, an accountant, a sales engineer, and an entomologist. 
These individuals built flat-roofed houses in defiance of traditional 
New England architecture, disregarded FHA when stipulations bid 
fair to wreck the venture, carved a cracker jack road up their steep hill- 
side when everyone said it couldn't be done, and completed their pro- 
ject without making a single serious error. They are eminently satis- 
fied with what they have accomplished. 

In the middle of winter, with Boston struggling under two feet of 
snow, the trip to Snake Hill seemed an impossible undertaking. Two 
taxi drivers refused to make the attempt, but the third, surprisingly 
optimistic, took on the job with alacrity. 

"Nuthin' to it," said this individual. "Those fellers don't know the 
district or they'd realize that Snake Hill isn't what it used to be. A 
live-wire gang lives out there now. What do you suppose they did? 
Years ago, nuthin' but nuthin' went up that hill in bad weather. 
Not even a hearse. Then last winter the co-opers put steam pipes under 
the road and now you can ride clean, high, and dry clear up to the 

He was right, not only about the road which stood bare of snow 
while 4-foot drifts walled either side of the passage, but also about 
"the live-wire gang." 

Nine years ago, Carl Koch, ambitious young architect with modern 
ideas, was designing furniture for a living and dividing his spare time 
between sketching chairs and tables and scouting the countryside for a 


106 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

piece of land on which to build a house. Restricted in choice because of 
the necessity of being close to Boston and because he had limited 
funds, Koch spent many a weary hour combing the congested environs 
of Cambridge. 

Eight miles from Boston, on the outskirts of Lexington, he found 
"just the piece" a 7-acre wooded tract on a ridged and rocky out jut 
above the housetops. Koch thought the site would appeal to a good 
many of his friends, too. In due course he took fifty couples out to see 
the hill. Some were entranced with the rugged beauty of the place and 
saw in its inaccessibility a "haven." Others were frankly frightened 
at the prospect of trying to man the heights in bad weather. Still others 
disliked the proximity of a sanitarium to the property, fearing the in- 
mates might at times stray from their 800-acre pen into the co-op 
community. Several raved about the view, praised the location and its 
possibilities, and said warmly: "Do save us a lot, and when your other 
houses are up and we see how the road is going, we'll come in and 
build." But they neglected to back up the request with cash. 

Seven families finally agreed to go ahead with the project. They 
held several informal meetings and decided to take an option on the 
land. The property was owned by a builder who had been forced to 
buy the rocky ledge in order to obtain another piece he needed for a 
housing project. His selling price was $4500. 

A hat collection provided $100 for a 60-day option. Then the group 
took up ways and means of raising $4500 and tabulated figures on the 
probable cost of road building, bringing water into the property, and 
developing the lots. 

A plot plan showing the acreage divided into ten lots, with seven 
for houses and three for playgrounds, parks, a tennis court, and a 
swimming pool, was submitted to the town. Each person was to own a 
half-acre. The plan was accepted. Meantime two families dropped out, 
but the remaining five divided the cost and paid for the property in 

They found a contractor who would construct a gravel road for 
$1000. This suited the pocketbooks of the members, but not the town 
maintenance regulation which stipulated that the road must have a 
forty foot right of way and a much more gradual grade than that 
planned by the Snake Hill community. 

It was decided to go ahead with the gravel road, to pay for its 
maintenance within the community, and to rebuild it into a road ac- 
ceptable to the town within ten years. A tarred surface was later added 

Snake Hill, Massachusetts 107 

to the gravel road at a cost of $500 subscribed by the members in an- 
other "hat passing." 

Getting water into the development proved a ticklish problem. 
There were mains along the southern foot of the property, but the 
water could not be brought up the hill because there wasn't sufficient 
pressure. It was necessary then to figure on bringing the water down 
from the north across the land of two neighbors, one of .whom de- 
manded cash for the privilege of crossing his half of the road. The 
controversy was settled when the town announced the right of way 
belonged to the town and not to the property owner. 

Optimistically, the co-op planned to lay electric cables and gas pipes 
on shelves in the water main trenches. But the wives of the neighbors 
rebelled. One of them sent an ultimatum: "The water is enough. I 
don't want to be blown up in a gas explosion." So to keep the peace, 
the members decided to do without gas and to bring in electricity by 

Next came the problem of financing the homes. The group first 
went to the local office of the FHA. The agency agreed to send a rep- 
resentative. He arrived, took one brief look at the property, and said: 
"Nothing doing. The proposition is just plain ridiculous." 

Anxious to obtain FHA-insured mortgages if possible, the members 
talked over the matter with Professor James Ford, Harvard sociologist. 
He wrote FHA headquarters in Washington and apparently lit a fire 
under that conservative office, for one of the officials hot-footed it up 
to Snake Hill, climbed the rocks to the top, peered down over the ridge 
to the main road far below, and then took the next train back to Wash- 
ington. The verdict from federal headquarters was to the effect that 
FHA could not consider the project unless the Snake hill Co-operative 
was willing to construct a permanent road which would meet FHA 
specifications. This, the co-op discovered, would cost $40,000. 

Without wasting further time, the members of the little group ap- 
proached local banks and mortgage institutions in search of financing. 

They secured loans through Street and Company, a Boston mortgage 
firm, and through the Newton Savings Bank. Several obtained mort- 
gages for 65 per cent of the valuation, on 20-year terms at 4J per cent 
interest. These loans could not be paid off under three years or faster 
than 25 per cent a year. Two members were able to pay off in 4 years. 

The Snake Hill Community was organized under a trust agreement 
with all residents as members, sharing responsibilities, protection, and 
benefits. Houses and house lots are owned individually, but the com- 

108 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

mon property is controlled and managed by the Snake Hill Trust. The 
association is not incorporated. Assessments are levied against each 
owner for taxes, for improvements, for utility costs, for road upkeep, 
for liability insurance, for oil charges. The assessments are levied by 
majority decision. Sometimes there is a meeting. More often, the mem- 
bers gather in Koch's kitchen or Zerbe's living room and talk over 
what ought to be done. 

Most of the business is transacted informally yet the community 
operates under very definite agreements. If all members decide to sup- 
port a project such as a tennis court, the cost is apportioned evenly. If 
one member drops out, the others take on his share. But under the 
Trust Declaration, it is agreed that if the dissenting party sells his 
house, the incoming member must assume his share of the cost of the 
court. On the same basis, a swimming pool will be built. Interested 
members will share the cost. 

Odd jobs and ground improvements are accomplished now with 
hired labor because members are engrossed in their own occupations. 
"We work together whenever there is a particular project on hand, 
but the work parties and picnics have been discontinued," said Koch. 

"This is a small community. Houses are fairly close together. To 
attain the privacy some of us need, hedges or fences have been placed 
on property lines. We see each other frequently. We know what is 
going on in the community. But I dare say there is less visiting than 
there would be if our homes were farther apart. 

The first five houses in the community were designed by Carl Koch. 
Low, comfortable-looking houses with flat roofs, they suit the hilly 
landscape. Exteriors are common fir boards, plastered inside. Window 
frames are steel; floors are of pine or oak; heating systems are warm 
air. Four inches of spun glass insulation was used on the roof and 
one inch of Kimsul on the walls. Tobias Brothers of Arlington were the 
contractors. By building the five houses at the same time, they figured 
there was a 10 per cent saving in construction costs. 

A single contractor handled the next three houses. Joseph Richard- 
son was not an experienced builder at the time. A grandson of H. H. 
Richardson, the architect, he built his own house and felt he knew 
enough about the job to build others. Subsequent developments proved 
he did. He and his clients worked out a special type of building con- 
tract whereby an estimated price was agreed upon with the under- 
standing that any savings would be divided equally between con- 
tractor and owner. Likewise, any extra costs would be split, but split 
three ways between contractor, owner and architects. 

Snake Hill, Massachusetts 109 

There were no losses. On the contrary when all bills were in, there 
were savings of $100 to $500 on each house. Building costs ranged 
between $7000 and $9000. (That was, of course, in 1941.) 

Architects for these three houses were Koch, Huson Jackson, and 
Robert Kennedy. The structures, unusual in design, are based on a 4- 
foot module. Sections, composed of cement-coated fiberboard 1^ inches 
thick are placed between redwood framing posts, 4 by 4 or 4 by 6 
feet in size. Floors are made of 2 -inch tongue and groove planking. 
Interior partitions, which are non load-bearing and so can be placed 
anywhere the architect desires, are either of wood or the same cement- 
surfaced fiberboard as that used for the exterior walls. 

Karl Zerbe, an artist, has the largest house. Built on a steep slope, 
the house is arranged on three levels, with the living terrace and heating 
room on the basement level, two bedrooms, bath and shop on the 
middle level, a living-room-dining area, porch, kitchen and studio on 
the third level. 

The house of Richard Kriebel, sales engineer, is also on three levels, 
with a woodworking, carpentry and pottery shop on the basement floor. 
There are four bedrooms in the house although the overall structure is 
only 24 by 32 feet. Space is saved by eliminating walls between kitchen 
and dining corner and between dining and living space. 

Frank Lord, accountant, built a rectangular house on a flat site. A 
sliding glazed panel opens half the wall of the dining space to a 
corner porch. A combination heating system includes radiant coils in 
the downstairs floor and hot water radiators upstairs. 

The new road is a tribute to the ingenuity and determination of the 
members to build a pathway to their haven on the hill. A succession of 
severe winters convinced them that only a drastic modernization of 
the road would make their community easily accessible at all times of 
the year. So they tore up the tar and laid two rows of 1-inch wrought- 
iron pipe 3 inches below the surface down each side of the road directly 
under the car tracks. Half-way up the hill, they built a boiler house to 
provide covering for a domestic hot-water heater. One large circulator 
takes care of an 80-foot rise in the 750-foot length of piping. To widen 
the road, surface it with macadam, and install the heating cost $7200, 
of which $3200 went for the heating equipment. The first winter it cost 
each family $20 to pay for the fuel oil. The system does not have to 
operate all winter, but can be turned on or off at will. Prestone in the 
pipes keeps the water from freezing. 

Future plans call for expansion of the present property and improve- 
ment of the common ground. When Gardner Cushman, lawyer member 

110 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

of the group, was asked how funds would be provided for the proposed 
park and pool, he laughed. "To tell you the truth, I don't know," he 
said. "In the same manner we acquired the other funds, I expect. Our 
planning and provisioning are strictly informal. We meet, decide on an 
improvement, figure out the assessment, then gather in the money. For 
example, I have just collected $10 from each member to pay for the 
fuel oil for the road, meanwhile warning everyone I'd be around for 
another $10 as soon as we received the bills." 


Palo Alto, California 

Ladera (Spanish for hillside) is a middle-class community of four 
hundred families earning comfortable salaries of from $4000 to $8500. 
Many of the members are employed in San Francisco, which is within 
easy commuting distance. There is a score of professions and trades 
represented everything from a lawyer to a longshoreman. Included 
are writers, teachers, businessmen, engineers, accountants, government 
employees, carpenters, bakers, industrial designers, chemists, geologists, 
retired army officers, college professors, airplane pilots, scientists, in- 
surance agents, auditors, photographers, publishers, mechanics, nurses, 
composers, architects, and a dentist. 

Roads and utilities are installed and construction is proceeding. When 
the development is finished, these people will not only be the possessors 
of modern houses acquired at two-thirds the usual cost, but will also 
have created an entire community, complete to stores and service centers, 
parks and playgrounds, recreation centers, a school, and a chapel. 

Three features mark Ladera: its wide diversification of community 
interests; its plan for the inclusion of minority races; and its care for 
the interests of children acres of wooded picnic grounds, a nursery 
school and safe side-walks underpassing all road crossings. 

What the Laderans have done, any other group might do. Not over- 
night, of course. Creating a town takes time. Here are people who in 
the beginning had little in common on which to build a co-operative 
community except the desire to live in a place of their own choosing 
and planning. 

The group made slow progress at first, partly because the acquisition 
of the land took so long. Across many acres the weary homesteaders 
tramped before the final site was selected. Once seen, no other would 
do. I couldn't blame them. The site is only 4 miles from Palo Alto, 
seat of Leland Stanford University, yet because most of the surrounding 
land is owned by the college, it will always be adjacent to open country. 


112 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Gentle grassy slopes, interspersed with wooded canyons and rock 
gullies, provide sufficient variation to suit the most dissimilar tastes. 
Some will build in the low meadows where cattle once pastured; others 
will place their houses on the edge of the cliffs, where garden paths 
will replace the trails hardened by the hoofs of many horses. Contour 
is such that even though the homes will be fairly close together, a rise 
of hill, twin live oaks, or a crest of yellow acacia trees will screen one 
home from the other. 

Under the name Peninsula Housing Association, the Laderans in- 
corporated under the non-profit laws of California. The land, purchased 
from the Joseph M. MacDonough estate, cost $155,000. The portion 
acquired for Ladera was known locally as the Burke ranch and covered 
258 acres. The price paid was almost double that originally asked. 
Competitive bidding by real estate interests boosted the figure. At 'that, 
the property cost the Corporation only $600 an acre, unbelievably low 
for this part of the country. It has already increased 10 per cent in 

As we stood knee deep in an alfalfa pasture on the summit of the 
property, with San Francisco Bay before us, the wooded Santa Cruze 
mountains to one side, and the Santa Clara fruit farms to the other, 
Manager Hubert Hunter indicated a field on an adjoining hillside. 

"There," he said, "is a site of two acres for which the commercial 
developers are asking $8000. It has water, but no sewerage or other 

Of the $155,000 purchase price, all but $50,000 was paid in cash 
by the members. The latter amount was acquired on loan from a bank 
for 5 years at 4 per cent interest. The Association paid off all but 
$10,000 of this loan in less than two years. Development of the prop- 
erty, including installation of water, sewerage lines, gas, and electricity, 
building of roads, landscaping and engineering services, is figured at 
$605,000. This amount added to the purchase price of $155,000 
makes a total of $760,000, or about $2945 an acre. 

Lots vary considerably in size. The average is 80 by 110 feet, but 
a few contain almost 2^ acres. Prices for the developed lots range 
from $1800 to $7000, depending on size and location. Appraisal value 
of the "average lot" has been set at $2900. 

What did the water system cost ? How much was paid for excavation ? 
What of the sewers? The landscaping? The engineering? Did Ladera 
have to "pay through the nose" for its hilly roads? These are the 
questions would-be home owners always ask. The clearest answers are 
in the Peninsula Housing Association's cost estimate. Here it is: 

Palo Alto, California 


Land Purchase $ 155,395.11 

Land Development 

Direct labor by Pen. Hous. Assoc 2,500.00 

Materials & expenses by PHA 5,000.00 

Engineering 60,000.00 

Drainage 67,000.00 

Walks 57,000.00 

Curbs and gutters 81,000.00 

Excavation and fill 85,000.00 

Pavements 105,000.00 

Pedestrian underpass 10,000.00 

Sewers and outfall 151,729.00 

Landscaping public-fee 3,484.00 

Landscaping public-cost 71,110.00 

Other Costs 

County taxes 6,000.00 

Interest bank loan 1,700.00 

Interest certificates, 20% total 2,400.00 

Depreciation 2,500.00 

Water System 

Distribution 106,975.00 

Pressure system 18,000.00 

Power and Telephone Distribution 120,000.00 


Average per Lot 
$ 399.47 

. 8.96 



- (both) 


Total $1,111,793.00 


Electrical and telephone lines are being placed underground, even 
though this installation adds $400 to the cost of each lot. The added 
charge is offset by an increased valuation of the property. Poles strung 
across the property would be cheaper but would decrease the value of 
the lots by 7 to 10 per cent. 

The cost per lot for water service is $321, but the savings in water 
charges over a period of years will in effect amortize the initial invest- 
ment for the water system. Also, assurance has been received from the 
California Water Service Co. that it will buy the operating water 
company from Ladera at near cost if the Association wishes to sell the 
system after the tract is occupied and members are consuming water. 

The Menlo Park sewerage system, ending a mile from the property, 
is being extended to meet the lines being laid by Ladera. 

There are a number of "protective covenants" on the subdivision. The 
most important decrees that members of racial minority groups will be 
welcome at Ladera in the same ratio that they bear to California's total 
population. No mining is allowed on Ladera property; no drilling for 
gas or oil. Neither cows nor pigs may be kept in Ladera. 

Ladera will retain its feeling of country spaciousness even after 

114 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

completion. While houses, roads, and community areas will occupy 
two-thirds of the total acreage, the remaining third will be left un- 
touched. Site plan- of the property includes curving or circular roads 
with only two through thoroughfares. Sidewalks are placed, not along 
the streets, but in a separate network with underpasses beneath the 
road crossings, so that children living anywhere in the property can 
reach the school without having to cross a single street. 

An elementary school building in the center of the property is con- 
templated as a basic part of Ladera. It would be operated under the Las 
Lomitas School District and would take care of the 300 to 400 pre- 
high school children in the community. The Sacramento Planning As- 
sociation looks with favor on the plan. 

Until a new high school is built to serve the southern part of San 
Mateo county probably in Menlo Park Ladera boys and girls will 
attend Sequoia High in Redwood City, with free bus transportation 
provided by the county. 

The Peninsula Housing Association hired two top-flight architects, 
John Funk and Joseph Allen Stein, to design the development. The 
contract between PHA and the architects provides that Funk and 
Stein must do a great many things other than draw doors and windows. 
First, they must negotiate the contracts with their collaborators: Nick 
Cirino, civil engineer; James Gayner, mechanical engineer; and Garrett 
Eckbo, Robert Royston, and Edward Williams, landscape architects 
the same firm that planned the canyon country development of the 
Mutual Housing Association in Los Angeles. 

In addition, the architects agreed to develop the site plan for Ladera 
in collaboration with Eckbo, paying for his services from their fee; 
to design 13 basic dwelling unit-type plans with 7 variations of each 
plan; to develop methods of prefabrication, sub-assembly, and mass 
production for assembly line technique and economy of construction; 
to supervise the project during the construction period; to provide cost 
surveys, furnish an office, employ draftsmen and other necessary profes- 
sional and clerical personnel; to furnish their own transportation in 
and about the Bay area. For all of the above services, the architects 
receive a fee of $40,000, payable at the rate of $1500 a month. They 
also receive office overhead expenses of $500 a month plus reimbursable 
expenses which include draftsmen's and technicians' salaries (limited 
to $3000 a month) workmen's compensation insurance, social security, 
and old-age benefit payroll taxes, travel expenses outside the Bay area, 
and costs of blueprints or reproductions. 

The civil engineering contract covers a design and working draw- 

Palo Alto, California 115 

ings with specifications of roads, paths, heavy grading, drainage, water 
distribution system, and sewage collection system. The fee will be 5 
per cent of the cost of the above work, estimated at $400,000. It also 
includes a design and supervision of the sewage disposal plant, or out- 
fall sewer, for a fee of 6 per cent of the cost of the work, estimated 
at $50,000. Lastly, it covers the preparation of a subdivision map for 
a fee of $500. 

The mechanical engineering contract includes the design, working 
drawings, and specifications for a gas distribution system, electrical 
distribution system, street lighting, and fire alarm and telephone 
facilities. The fee will be 3^ per cent of the cost of the work, estimated 
at $200,000. 

The landscape architects agreed to make the design for landscaping 
the public space and the community area for a total fee of $1250, 
and to prepare 6 preliminary landscape designs for the basic dwelling 
unit types for a total fee of $750. 

Surely this imposing array of architectural talent should produce 
some of the most beautiful homes in California. But those who, for 
one reason or another, do not wish to remain as members can always 
withdraw at small loss. The member, on joining, pays a $200 fee, $150 
of which is returnable on withdrawal. The membership fee is a reim- 
bursable account set aside as a trust fund. Disposal of the fund is 
subject to future determination by the membership and the board of 

A month after joining, the new Laderan invests $1000. Further 
assessments are made at stated intervals determined by the board. 

By the time the owner is ready to begin construction on his house, 
he must have made the total investment in his lot and his share of the 
community development. A veteran is entitled to a refund of his in- 
vestment if he is able to obtain full financing for his house and lot. 

If a member who has already built his house has to sell it, the As- 
sociation provides as follows: "If you must move after Ladera is built, 
you may sell your home just as you would in any other community 
subject only to a first option to the Association to purchase." In this 
case, assessments are returned without interest. 

Houses will be individually financed. The subdivision plan has been 
submitted to the Federal Housing Authority but members may not be 
able to obtain FHA-insured mortgages. The Peninsula Housing As- 
sociation has been given to understand there are three reasons for 
FHA's likely disapproval: Ladera's racial policy, the co-operative set-up, 
and the flat roofs. Like the banks, FHA presumably considers inter- 

116 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

racial housing a bad risk. Their objection to co-op set-ups is reported to 
be their claim that community facilities and parks are never properly 
maintained. No one can offer any explanation for FHA's rumored 
aversion to flat-roofed houses in California. 

The new houses will cost between $8000 and $15,000, with an 
average of $10,000 figured on a basis of $8 per square foot of living 
space. There are 91 plans and variations from which to choose. Mem- 
bers who find none to their liking and wish to use a plan other than 
the basic-unit type, or variations designed by the architects, may have 
a house almost "made to order" if they obtain FHA approval and are 
willing to pay an additional fee of from 4 to 7^ per cent. 

Seven months of study preceded the final drawings on the first 
houses. Eight-page questionnaires were distributed to the members and 
the architects based their designs on the preferences indicated in the 
answers. The feature most in demand was a stall shower. Consequently 
showers were incorporated in all the homes. Next in the list of pref-. 
erences was bigger bedrooms. So all bedrooms were designed to ac- 
commodate twin beds without cramping. More kitchen space was third 
on the list. . . . And so it went. 

The California contemporary style houses designed for Ladera have 
mono-pitch or flat roofs, large glass areas on the living side, terraces 
to combine outdoor with indoor living, kitchens placed conveniently 
near the service yards, children's rooms extended into outdoor space 
for playing. 

Most of the homes will be built of California redwood on con- 
crete piers or a concrete slab. There will be no cellars. The houses will 
be so placed on the lots that the western sun won't have a chance to 
glare through the kitchen windows in the late afternoon and blind 
the housewife preparing dinner. In that way the architects hope to cut 
down on the usual number of scorched pot roasts. 

Local building codes require 1000 square feet of living space. One 
of the smaller homes, estimated at $8000 to $9500 exclusive of lot, 
has 1170 square feet of floor area and includes living room, dining 
area, two bedrooms, kitchen, laundry, bath, and entry. It is placed 
cornerwise on the 80 by 110 foot lot, so that the living areas and 
terrace face away from the road. There is storage area in the single 

A larger house, 1590 square feet, will cost $11,000 to $13,000 
exclusive of lot, and will include living room, dining room, kitchen, 
laundry, entry, three bedrooms, and two baths, with ample storage 
space in the two-car garage. The lot is about one-fifth of an acre. Two 
hundred houses are now under contract. 

Palo Alto, California 111 

Roofs will be tar or gravel with insulation beneath. Window areas 
are large. Partitions will be of varied construction. Folding leather 
partitions will be utilized in some of the units, particularly between 
children's bedrooms which could be thus used as one large playroom 
during the daytime. 

Natural gas will be used for heat and hot water, but cooking will 
be done by electricity. Stoves, dishwashers, refrigerators, laundry equip- 
ment, and bathroom fixtures will be purchased at considerable savings 
through Associated Co-operatives, Inc., in Oakland, California. 

It is estimated that mass purchasing and construction will reduce 
the cost of the homes by 15 per cent. Substantial savings should also 
result from the use of the module unit of construction. By using a 
standard unit of 3 feet 4 inches throughout the community, the builders 
can cut all studs, reinforcements, joists, and the like in a mill on the 
site. Costly hand sawing will thus be eliminated. Another unit that 
will contain all window areas, French doors and ventilating units will 
be assembled at the mill. 

A large co-operative housing community, such as Ladera, offers many 
opportunities for cutting costs. In addition to the short cuts previously 
listed, the PHA cites a 50 per cent saving in purchase of the land, a 10 
to 15 per cent saving in its development, and an architects' fee less 
than half what it would have been if the houses were designed 

A shopping center will be located in the center 'of the community. 
It will include a market, frozen food lockers, gasoline service station 
and garage, restaurant, drug store, barber shop, beauty shop, variety 
store, medical and dental offices, movie theater, woodworking shop, 
nursery, chapel and an auditorium. The Association will own the build- 
ings and lease them. 

There will be many smaller optional co-ops within the larger co-op. 
Thus only those who are interested in horseback riding will be included 
in the stable co-op and assessed for its upkeep. The same will hold true 
for the swimming pool co-op and the nursery school co-op. A nurse- 
maid and housemaid service is planned, members to draw on the pool 
and pay for services by the hour. Gardening services will be provided 
on the same basis. The members have also planned to organize a co-op 
maintenance shop with carpenter, painter, plumber and electrician on 
ready call. 

Management of the community will be in the hands of a board of 
seven directors to be elected by the members and to serve without 
pay. The paid staff will include a general manager, two office clerks, 
and four outside maintenance men. Yearly salaries for these Seven will 

118 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

total about $27,500. In addition, both fire and police protection arc 

Costs of maintenance, operation of the community projects, and im- 
provement of the common land will constitute the usual upkeep ex- 
penses that in an ordinary neighborhood are borne by taxes. These 
will be met at Ladera by charges in the nature of taxes or assessments 
approved by the members. 

It is not difficult for members to appreciate the dollar-and-cents sav- 
ing they make by belonging to a co-operative group, or the fact that 
they own homes in beautiful surroundings at two-thirds the usual cost, 
or that they have an equity in acres of parks and playgrounds as well as 
an interest in the many co-operative businesses in the development. But 
the initiators of the project list an even greater gain: "We try to 
stress the idea that the kind of community that results is even more 
important than the amount of money saved. We're not just selling 
houses. We're selling the idea of co-operative living." 


This is the home of Chester Lampe, in the co-operative 
community of "white collar" workers in Bryn Gweled, Feasterville, 
Pennsylvania. Excavating, road work, and ditch digging by the mem- 
bers lowered the cash outlay necessary for the houses, which ranee in 
price from $7000 to $13,750. 

i :: J *r 

Low rent is one of the pleasant features of the Greenmont 
Mutual Housing development in Dayton, Ohio. The one-story units 
pictured above cost $27.50 a month. 



Bannockburn, Maryland 

Some people use a golf course for making business and social con- 
tacts; others, for the pursuit of their favorite recreation; but down in 
Maryland, forty minutes from downtown Washington, enterprising 
homebuilders utilized a golf course to underwrite the administrative 
costs of their balanced community. 

Mapping out their development across the 124 acres of the Bannock- 
burn Golf Course, the Bannockburn Co-operators, Inc., planned the 
construction of the first houses around the rim of the property, post- 
poning the development of the interior for a later date. By so doing, 
they left the course and the golfers undisturbed, collecting from the 
latter $8,000 yearly rental, sufficient to foot the bills for carrying 
charges, administrative and organizational costs. 

The complete community will serve five hundred to six hundred 
families in single dwellings, garden duplexes, and park apartments. 
Plans encompass a neighborhood shopping center, school and play- 
ground, clubhouse and swimming pool, nursery, community building, 
tennis courts and parks. It is one of the few co-operative developments 
in the country to which the term "balanced community" may be rightly 
applied. The initial plan to retain title to all land and buildings in the 
Co-operative was changed to provide for individual ownership of the 
homes, partly because of the difficulty in obtaining financing under the 
co-operative arrangement, and partly to assist members in their income 
tax obligations (they could deduct real estate taxes from their taxable 
income under the individual ownership plan) . 

The dream simmered for four years. In 1944 there were many 
people in crowded Washington who yearned to get out of the city and 
move their families into rural surroundings. Take the Martins, for in- 
stance. Each night when John came home from his office in the 
Pentagon, he and his wife sat down at the bridge table in their three- 
room apartment and played their favorite game not with cards, but 
with pencil, paper, and house plans. 


120 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

The house would be small, one story in height, designed along simple 
lines but with plenty of room for living, separate bedrooms for the 
children, a real kitchen with a back door, wide windows in the living 
room, perhaps a terrace, and of course a garden. 

Well, that might be possible even in Washington, but the Martins 
wanted something more than just the house. They aspired to sur- 
roundings that would satisfy their desires for country living, city 
proximity, safe play places, school and shopping facilities, a neighbor- 
hood and neighbors to their liking. 

Where to find such a community? In the phraseology of their chil- 
dren, it was just something "out of this world." The Martins were not 
alone in their dreams. They had friends who thought as they did. On 
week ends the couples toured the outskirts of Washington, looking, 
always looking, but never finding just what they wanted. A real estate 
operator sized up the situation by saying: 

"That kind of community just isn't. You'll have to make that to 
order." Slowly the idea took shape. Why not? Why couldn't you plan 
a community as you'd plan a house placing the school and stores 
just where you wanted them, building big houses and small, allotting 
plenty of space for safe areas for the children, planning for tennis 
courts and ball fields where the adults could relax after the dishes were 
done, and a community house for social activities and the business of 
the community? 

Yes, why not? There must be many others who wanted the same 
things. The first step would be to organize and formulate a plan. 
So it was that in May, 1944, a group of families got together and 
formed the Group Housing Co-operative under the sponsorship of the 
Potomac Co-operative Federation. 

The new Co-op had wide vision. Its program included not only 
study of the theory and practice of co-operative housing, but also 
the establishment of co-operative housing communities in various parts 
of greater Washington. 

Membership was open to anyone who subscribed to the principles 
and objectives of the Group Housing Co-operative. The new board 
of directors decided that membership in the GHC would be a pre- 
requisite but not a guarantee of membership in any housing com- 
munity that Group Housing might develop. Eventually the roster of 
GHC will consist of members of the various housing communities it 
has developed and other individuals interested in supporting the idea 
of co-operative housing. 

About the time the new Co-op was formed, a group of architects 

Bannockburn, Maryland 121 

and planners, under the sponsorship of the National Housing Agency, 
designed in great detail plans for the development of a hundred-acre 
site in Washington. 

"This plan furnished a spark to our interest and gave content to the 
talk of housing which we had indulged in," said Mary Fox Herling, 
president of Group Housing Co-operative and of Bannockburn Co- 
operators, Inc. "It gave concrete expression to what many of us had 
been thinking, and demonstrated how a far better neighborhood than 
most home owners now live in could be created by planning in ad- 
vance for a community large enough to provide housing for families 
of varied needs and diversity of incomes, through different dwelling 
types." Mrs. Herling then went on to explain that her group hoped 
to establish a co-operative housing development that would include 
apartment houses, garden apartments, row houses, and detached homes, 
together with large park areas, and areas for educational, recreational 
and commercial facilities. 

There you have in a nutshell a description of a "balanced com- 

For two years, members of the Group Housing Co-operative met 
regularly and discussed plans and prospects. They invited architects 
and community planners to speak at their gatherings. They studied 
other planned communities such as Forest Hills, L. I. and Mariemont, 
Ohio. The} looked into the manner of operation of such co-operative 
developments as the Amalgamated Housing projects in New York City. 

Quite early, the members of the little group realized that until 
they had a definite site they could not hope to attract sufficient members 
to enable them to buy property suitable for large-scale development. 

Weeks of scouring the country produced five sites, and an architect 
one of those who had worked on the NHA plan was hired to study 
the locations. Meantime, a series of eight fortnightly seminars on hous- 
ing was arranged and the meetings were opened to the public. 

As a result, when the board was ready to report on sites, member- 
ship had grown to the point where it was practical to consider buying. 
Now all the Co-op needed was a proving ground for its ideas. Then 
opportunity knocked with a club. 

The Bannockburn golf course, which had been taken over by the 
Potomac River Naval Command and operated as a service recreation 
center during World War II, was put up at public auction. This piece 
of property, just beyond Glen Echo in Montgomery County, Maryland, 
had already been selected by the members as the ideal site for the 
development of their balanced community. 

122 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

The acreage offered both smooth slopes for building and wooded 
tracts for recreation grounds. Water and sewer facilities were available. 
Bus service was handy. There was plenty of room for five hundred, 
even six hundred families. 

Then appeared Difficulty No. 1. While the majority of the co- 
operators wanted to buy the site and to start raising money for the 
down payment, a few of the members who had been clamoring 
loudly for action, suddenly decided they were not ready to go ahead. 

To make matters worse, those who wanted to purchase the property 
became worried about investing substantial sums of money in the 
project, if decisions on its development were to be made by members 
of the organization who had no participating interest in the property. 

In order to protect the interests of those who wanted to invest in 
the site, an arrangement was made with Co-operators Properties, Inc. (a 
District of Columbia co-op, set up some years ago to own properties 
used by co-ops) to act as trustee and receive funds for the purchase 
of the specific site. 

The agreement, entered into by the Trustee, the individual sub- 
scribers, and the Group Housing Co-operative, gave GHC a nine 
months' option on the property if it was secured, and set forth the 
rights of the subscribers. Within ten days, $55,000 was raised. In all, 
190 members subscribed. 

Cash in hand, representatives of the Group Housing Cc :>p attended 
the auction of the Bannockburn Golf Club on April 6, 1946, and suc- 
cessfully bid in the property at $193,000. The co-operators made a 
down payment of $50,000 and the former owners of the property, 
Messrs. Shinners and Dreslin, took back a purchase money mortgage of 
$143,000 at 2 per cent interest payable in three annual installments. The 
low interest rate was the result of an arrangement between the 
mortgagee and the mortgagor, whereby the co-operators agreed to figure 
the amount of interest which would have been paid at 5 per cent, 
and the difference between the 2 per cent rate and the 5 per cent 
rate was included in the purchase price. The mortgage has since been 
paid in full and the property is free and clear. 

Within a week after the co-ops bought the property, they were 
offered $50,000 more for it than they had paid. But they had no 
intention of letting go. They were too happy that they had been able to 
acquire the property. In fact, many of the members felt that had it 
not been for the auction, which galvanized the group into action, they 
never would have raised the money to purchase anything. 

Bannockburn, Maryland 123 

On August 2, 1946, Bannockburn Co-operators was incorporated 
under the laws of the State of Maryland, as a non-profit corporation 
with an authorized capital stock of $100,000 divided into 100,000 
shares at one dollar each. 

The Group Housing Co-operative now assigned its option to the 
new corporation, by-laws were prepared, and a resident selection com- 
mittee commenced the work of choosing residents from among those 
who had applied but were not original subscribers. The Group Housing 
Co-operative remained as the parent organization with the object of 
developing other co-operative housing projects, as it had fostered 
Bannockburn Co-operators, Inc. 

The next step was the planning of the development. Bannockburn 
co-operators had firmly in mind the fact that they wanted a "balanced 
community," so the choice of architects was made with care. Rhees 
Burket, Joseph Neufeld, and Vernon DeMars were retained to study 
the site and recommend the best possible use of the property. Their 
fee was set at 4 J per cent of the total cost of the development, estimated 
at between $6,000,000 and $7,000,000. 

The planning presented one major problem: since the area was 
zoned for single-family dwellings, it would be necessary for the Co- 
operative to ask for a re-zoning of forty acres in the interior of the 
property, in order to include apartments in the plan. 

In anticipation of a possible rejection by the Montgomery County 
Zoning Commission, the architects prepared two plans, the first de- 
signed for duplexes, apartments, and single dwellings; and the second 
restricted to one-family houses. 

In the re-zoning plan, 350 single-family dwellings were placed in 
the strip of land, 150 to 250 feet wide, which rims the property. They 
were widely spaced, in character with the surrounding neighborhood. 
In the interior, seventy-five units in garden duplexes and semi-detached 
houses and 150 units in three elevator apartment buildings, were 

Because of the concentration of families in the apartments, sufficient 
land could be set apart to provide thirty acres of parks with recreational 
facilities, including the swimming pool, tennis courts, and ball fields. 
Five acres were reserved for a school. The shopping center, to cover 
almost three acres, was located near the front of the property, screened 
from adjacent residences by trees and hills. 

Since zoning restrictions confined the number of families per acre to 
six, the Bannockburn co-operators offered to enter into an agreement 

124 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

with the county commissioners to hold the over-all density on the 124 
acres to five families per gross acre. 

The alternate plan, proposed by the architects if the zoning board 
rejected the first, called for a planned community of single-family 
houses in a variety of sizes to meet specific needs, with larger lots than 
the permitted minimum, but a smaller acreage than first planned for 

Four months' work on the site and a scale model resulted in a plan 
characterized as "inspired" by Hugh Pomeroy, Director of Planning for 
Westchester County, New York. The "inspired" plan was presented to 
the Montgomery County Zoning Commission and promptly denied. 
Opposition of neighboring property owners was the only reason given 
for the rejection. 

The denial was hard to understand. .The Chicago Planning Com- 
mission has accepted the principle of such a balanced community be- 
cause it permits a neighborhood development adequate to support 
shopping facilities while avoiding overcrowding. In Europe, such 
planning has already been successfully applied. Reviewing the Ban- 
nockburn plan, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Com- 
mission reported: 

"These petitions are not the ordinary, run-of-the-mill zoning amend- 
ment petitions generally presented to the District Council for its con- 
sideration. Rather, they embody together a challenging and thought- 
provoking proposal to create a complete community, having certain 
characteristics and features which its proponents believe to be eminently 
sound from a planning, social, and economic standpoint. . . . 

"Regarding regional benefits, it can be pointed out that the planned 
community is a stabilizing influence. This dispersal of apartment dwell- 
ings for those who use them, in small groups through large scale 
developments and by controlling the overall density, keeping it at or 
near those established in one-family areas, will prevent in a large 
measure the ill-founded land values which result from speculative 
large-area apartment house zoning. 

"The planned community also promotes the orderly development of 
the region and makes it possible to plan and program community 
facilities without having these plans upset by unexpected and unjustified 
increases in potential density because of too much of a concentration 
of apartment house zoning." 

Not discouraged, the Bannockburn Co-operators made a second ap- 
plication for re-zoning. Meanwhile, they turned their attention to the 
development of a "pilot" area of twenty-four single dwellings on a 
small tract of eight acres on Wilson Lane. From this pilot project it 

Bannockburn, Maryland 125 

is hoped to crystallize Bannockburn's views with respect to design and 
also to verify the accuracy of plans for the detailed building. 

Membership in Bannockburn topped the 250 mark in 1948. Ap- 
plicants must first obtain membership in the Group Housing Co- 
operative, agreeing to purchase two shares of capital stock for $5 each. 
Following acceptance in GHC, the applicant wishing to live in Ban- 
nockburn completed the first step by sending in a check for $205. This 
covered purchase of five shares of capital stock at $1 each in Ban- 
nockburn Co-operators, Inc., plus a $200 deposit to be held in a 
separate account until acceptance as a member. A payment of $300 in 
addition to the deposit was then required to apply toward financing 
the land cost and the initial development of the site. 

A second payment of $500 was required of all members in 1948. 
This brought to $1,000 the amount paid in by each member toward 
the required down payment on his house and lot. It was anticipated 
that each member must invest about 20 per cent of the cost of his 
dwelling and property. Members include professional or administrative 
workers in Federal Government agencies, businessmen, and individuals 
employed in the national headquarters of educational, business, and 
labor organizations. 

The community is operated through a board of eleven directors 
elected by the members. The board conducts the business of Bannock- 
burn and supervises the community activities. Title to all common land, 
the parks and the playgrounds, the shopping center, the clubhouse and 
swimming pool remain in the Co-operative. The $60,000 clubhouse, 
built for the golfers, and part of the initial purchase, has become the 
Community Center for Bannockburn Co-operators, Inc. Separate, small 
co-operatives, operating under the board of directors will run the 
swimming pool, tennis courts, nursery school, and other projects 
planned for the community. These small co-operatives will enroll as 
members only those interested in the particular project. Thus only 
those who play tennis would enroll in the tennis court co-op and only 
they would be assessed for its upkeep. Assessments for the improve- 
ment and maintenance of the common lands will be made monthly on 
all members. 

Houses in the pilot project range in cost from $15,000 to $25,000, 
with a few, more standardized models, in the $14,000 class. The 
structures in the first price group include: aluminum coated reflective 
insulation in walls and bat type vapor seal in ceilings, aluminum 
window frames and screens, bronze weather-stripping on the doors, oak 
floors, plastered interior walls, tiled bathrooms, copper water piping, 
high studio ceilings in living rooms, indirect lighting trough in all 

126 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

living rooms, large window wall with roof overhang, decks or terraces 
(for every house) accessible from the living room, dining alcoves, 
kitchens with sinks, closets, cabinets, electric refrigerator and exhaust 
fan, laundry provided with laundry trays; gas fired automatic heating 
system, recreation rooms in those houses with basements, waterproofed 
foundations, copper flashings and aluminum downspouts and gutters. 
The more standardized models in the lower price class eliminate a few 
of the more expensive items listed, such as high studio ceilings, sun 
decks or window walls. The prices given include the cost of house, 
lot, and all utilities. 

Estimates of the approximate monthly costs on the houses run some- 
thing like this: 




tion, Interest tion, Repairs 

Cost of 



Maintenance Total 




and Taxes 

Replacement Annual 





$ 922.00 

$254.00 $1,176.00 

$ 98.00 















































301.00 1,455.00 






310.00 1,497.00 


Bannockburn is a large project. The total cost of homes and com- 
munity facilities is estimated at between $6,000,000 and $7,000,000, 
which is big business any way you look at it. Co-operative housing 
groups planning similar projects will be interested in Bannockburn's 
tabulation of receipts and expenditures as of March 31, 1948. Figures 
given below cover the entire period during which the co-operators 
worked on the housing project, including a small portion of expenses 
involved in organization and promotion prior to the purchase of the 
property on April 6, 1946: 


Share capital $ 1,255.00 

Equity capital 208,853.33 

Rent from golf course. 

Notes payable balance, loans from members .... 

Exchange checks balance 

Owed to Group Housing Co-operative 






Bannockburn, Maryland 



Administrative and organizational expenses: 

Salaries 5,043.77 

Payroll taxes 212.05 

Legal and auditing 1,511.85 

Corp. Trust Co 152.50 

Office rental 936.83 

Travel expense and other 367.71 

Telephone 349.04 

Meeting hall costs 275.48 

Credit checking 289.63 

Printing, mimeo., off. supplies, postage, etc... 1,795.88 

Dues and subscriptions ....". 7.00 

Franchise tax, for 1946 and 1947 80.00 


Printing, mimeo., off. supplies, postage, etc... 3,566.72 

Shares in Eastern Co-operatives Inc 25.00 


Zoning 735.01 

Architects' fees 29,088.39 

Quantity estimator 255.00 

Site development 457.00 

Consultant's salary 3,502.00 

Travel expenses 182.00 

Property costs: 

Land, building, legal fees 193,605.12 

Cost of carrying property: 

Taxes 2,170.38 

Insurances 1,082.73 

Interest mortgage and notes pay ,4,844.80 

Improvements and repairs 269.51 

$ 8,367.42 


Cash in bank plus $20 petty cash $17,873.67 

Less S. S. and W. T 356.50 

$17,517.17 17,517.17 


It is interesting to note that all the administrative and organizational 
expenses and all the costs of carrying the property, previously listed, 
have been paid by income from the property, that is, the rental of the 
golf course. 


York, Illinois 

On a wide stretch of farmland twenty miles west of Chicago, a 
group of city residents has developed a community where all houses 
and lands are held co-operatively, where children, chickens, and dogs 
are welcome, and where there are no barriers of race, creed, or color. 

Six families, including several faculty members of the Bethany 
Biblical Seminary in Chicago, initiated the York Center Community 
Co-operative in 1944. Six ranch-type houses have been built; twenty 
more are in process of erection; and thirty-nine additional homes are 
planned on the sixty-five acres. 

Chicago, like an octopus with one dormant side, stretches its tentacles 
to the north, to the south and east to Lake Michigan, but not to the 
west. Crowded housing, packed business blocks, and choked thorough- 
fares mark the three sides, but not the fourth. It is amazing to ride 
for half an hour to the west of the seething center and find yourself in 
rolling uplands containing farms some pf which are two hundred acres 
in size. 

When the faculty families commenced their search for land, they 
looked only to the west. There they found ninety acres near Villa 
Park, a bit of a country suburb, which is close to Lombard, Illinois. 
' The York developers visioned a community of people of like hopes and 
desires who would build their own homes and live and work together 
in harmony. Rev. Jesse H. Ziegler, secretary of the Co-op, who is a 
professor of sociology and psychology at the Seminary, puts it neatly: 

"Our York Center Community Co-op started out of the concern 
of a number of people of good will, mostly members of the Church 
of Brethren, who wanted to move out of the city and have more living 
space as well as the security of a small parcel of land to hedge against 
the economic cycle. 

"The Association rapidly welcomed into its membership representa- 
tives of various faiths and races, but has attempted to maintain a 


York, Illinois 129 

high standard of membership in terms of moral and cmc fiber. The 
people who are members include all types from truck drivers to col- 
lege and seminary professors. There is a warm bond of fellowship 
between them." 

In my travels across the country I found that most of the co-opera- 
tive housing developments which originated in a church group were 
successful, not so much because the members belonged to one sect or 
the other or to any particular sect at all, but because they had learned 
to pull together in their church work and carried the co-operative spirit 
into their housing community. I found this particularly true in the 
Mormon settlement in Idaho, in the Catholic community in Iowa, in 
the Quaker developments in Philadelphia, in the Baptist groups in 
North Carolina, and again among the Dunkards the Church of 
Brethren in York. 

The common ground need not necessarily be religious. It may be 
provided by the profession to which the members belong, a union in 
which they are working together toward the same end, or perhaps in 
the collective beliefs and ideals which brought the individuals together 
in the first place. 

The York Center Community Co-operative was incorporated Decem- 
ber 12, 1944, under the District of Columbia laws which provide 
specifically for co-operative housing. Then the York Co-op applied for 
registration under the Illinois laws as a "foreign firm." But the Illinois 
Corporation Act provides that no corporation not-for-profit may issue 
shares of stock or pay dividends, as is permitted under the D. C. law. 
For that reason, the application filed by the York Co-op as a D. C. 
corporation or "foreign firm" was denied by Illinois. 

Application was then made for a charter under the Illinois law, 
based on memberships which were to have a value equal to the value of 
each actual establishment, with no provision for dividends. This was 
accomplished under the General Not-For-Profit Corporation Act. 

The by-laws of the new Association set forth specifically that the 
general policy of the York Center Community Co-operative would 
be governed by the Rochdale principles of consumer co-operation, 
that is: 1 open membership; 2 one member, one vote; 3 cash trading 
wherever practicable in consideration of the association's main purpose 
of providing housing for members; 4 constant education; and 5 con- 
tinual expansion. The fact that the community would be inter-racial 
does not appear in so many words. But it is an actuality, for members 
have been admitted regardless of race, creed, or color. 

All land and buildings are held by the Co-operative. There is no 

130 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

individual title for the home owner. Instead of a deed to his property, 
the individual holds a certificate of value in the Corporation amounting 
to the value of his property. The member has a "perpetual use" right, 
subject to certain conditions set forth in his contract with the Cor- 

A member with sufficient cash available builds on his lot without 
ever getting legal title to his property. A member without sufficient 
capital obtains a mortgage in the following manner: The Co-operative 
gives him a deed to his lot. The member gives back to the Co-operative 
a quit-claim deed undated. The member then borrows from a bank, 
conveying the lot to the lender as security for his loan. After the 
mortgage is recorded, the member's quit claim deed is recorded, giving 
the Co-operative the member's interest and the right to have title 
reconveyed after the mortgage is paid. 

Under this arrangement, the Co-operative is not a party to the 
mortgage and hence not in a position to be involved in a deficiency 
judgment. The Co-operative can lose only that one lot in case of default 
in payments on the part of the member. But the Co-operative is in a 
position where it can legally redeem for the member. By borrowing 
from its surplus, or by arranging a private loan for the defaulting 
member, it can save the member's investment or acquire the lot for 

Many co-operatives make financing possible for their members by 
obtaining one blanket mortgage for the whole project. The York Center 
plan does not operate in this fashion, yet the Co-operative has done 
much to make it possible for its members to get loans at a common 
source on favorable terms, and much to make the needed loans small, 
not only through its "trade labor" plan but through its plan for the co- 
operative purchase, at wholesale rates, of building materials. 

Those members without sufficient cash to pay outright the cost of 
construction of their homes have been able to secure mortagages for 
60 or 65 per cent of the valuation of the house and lot, at 4J or 5 per 
cent interest. In obtaining the mortgage, each member has gone 
through the process just described. 

Members make a total down payment of $560 which includes: $10 
membership fee which is not returnable, $50 on signing the member- 
ship contract, and $500 payment on the building plot. 

The ninety-acre farm in which the York Center Co-op was interested 
was purchased from the Golterman estate for $30,000. On the property 
were two houses, both saleable, which the members figured could be 
translated into cash in a matter of months. With that idea in mind, 

York, Illinois 131 

they raised $20,000 among themselves and borrowed the remaining 
$10,000 from the Villa Park Trust and Savings Bank, on a mortgage 
loan for five years at 4 per cent interest. This amount was paid in 
full at the end of two years. 

With care the members mapped their plots. Of the ninety acres, ten 
were written off as unsuitable for homesites. Five acres were subtracted 
from the total when the large house on the property was sold, and 
five more when the smaller house was deeded to a new purchaser. 
This left the Co-op with seventy acres. 

Lot No. 10, a rectangle 107 by 311 feet fronting on Roosevelt Road, 
was set aside as commercial property to be used for the co-operative 
store. Next, a protective green belt was plotted between a business 
section privately owned, also on Roosevelt Road, and the community 
proper. This piece, three acres in size, is being planted with trees to 
serve as a screen. In the center of the development, 3J acres have been 
allotted for the community park. 

For the purpose of dividing the costs equally, the York Co-op 
figured on the basis of seventy one-acre lots at $30,000. Roughly, that 
would be $430 an acre, raw land. But the property had to be developed 
before the final cost per lot could be figured. So the members tabulated 
approximate estimates of what they would have to pay for roads, survey- 
ing, utility installations, and legal fees as follows: 

Cost of farm $30,000 

Architect 2,000 

Surveyor 3,000 

Roads 10,000 

Miscellaneous 7,000 

Attorney 1,000 


From the $53,000 total, $15,000 was subtracted ($10,000 received 
from the sale of the large house, and $5,000 from that of the smaller 
one), reducing the "cost of developed land" to $38,000. Thus the cost 
of each developed plot, including roads but excluding water or sewer- 
age, would come to $543. Ultimately the average cost per lot was set 
at $550. 

After the site plan was complete, another five acres of the property 
was declared unsuitable for building, reducing the total acreage for 
homesites to sixty-five acres. 

Not all the lots are an acre in size. They range from one-half to 
2^ acres. The lowest price is $330 and the highest, $705. If a member 

132 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

buys a lot which costs less than $550, the balance is returned to him 
when the total costs of the roads and subdivision are met. If he buys a 
lot which costs more than $550, he is required to pay the balance 
when he selects a site. 

The community had comparatively few financial problems. Develop- 
ment costs were low a great deal lower than usual in a development 
this size. True, these costs did not include water, which is always an 
expensive item. 

Under the direction of Ernest Olsen, professional engineer, members 
did much of the work in figuring the relative costs and convenience 
of three types of water systems: one well for each three families, one 
well for each ten families, and a municipal-type system. The latter was 
chosen and the membership voted that the cost must be limited to 
$24,000, a figure that was later increased to $30,000. At a meeting 
held to determine what the members would pay toward the water 
system, pledges of payments plus loans totaled half the cost. 

The membership also voted to assess each individual $400 to pay 
for the system, the balance of the cost to be paid out of the Co- 
operative's reserve funds. This money will be recaptured and returned 
to the reserve when the co-operative community expands sufficiently to 
utilize the water system to the extent of its full five hundred-family 
capacity. Failing that, the Co-op could make its water facilities avail- 
able to private owners in the area. 

A well was drilled through the limestone strata which starts at ninety 
feet and ends at three hundred feet below the surface. Most of the 
pipes were laid in 1948; ten hydrants were installed, and a hand pump 
for fire protection was purchased. Drilling the well cost $2,500. The 
turbine cost $1,800. 

The "water department" of the Co-operative received an unexpected 
"surplus" of $7,000 from the accounting department. When the Co- 
op figured its first expense sheet, $7,000 was listed for "miscellaneous" 
expense. Only $1,500 was spent, resulting in a saving of $5,500. To 
this was added $1,500, the difference between the expected cost of the 
roads, $10,000 and their actual cost, $8,500. The total saved was placed 
in the water account. 

The Co-op was anxious to build the roads so that they would meet 
the requirements of the county which would then "take over" the 
maintenance. Six thousand feet of roads were finished, with a sixty-six 
foot right of way and a twenty-foot finished gravel top. Only one error 
was made, not by the Co-op, but by the contractor. Like the bus driver 
who went berserk and ended up in Florida instead of Brooklyn, the 

York, Illinois 133 

road contractor suddenly detoured while excavating one of the side 
roads, traveling across the corner of one of the residential plots. For 
this misdemeanor, the Co-op withheld $1,800 and the contractor 
promised to retreat from his position and realign the road as soon as 
weather permitted. 

The problem of the third utility, sewerage, was solved through 
the installation of septic tanks by each member on his own property 
at a cost of $350. 

Most of the houses erected are ranch type, with wide overhangs, 
flat roofs, and a generous expanse of glass on the south or living side. 
There is nothing in the by-laws which dictates that a man must in- 
corporate any particular details in his design. However, he must not 
plan a house which will cost more than $20,000, including cost of lot. 
Some of those constructed with self-help labor cost $10,000 or less. 

All plans must be submitted to Pace Associates, present architects for 
the York group, before the first block is laid. Pace charges $6 an 
hour. A member may hire an architect or draw the plans himself. If 
the plans submitted have been drawn by an architect, chances are that 
the bill from Pace will total not more than $12 or $18. On the other 
hand, if the member himself has designed the house, the plans may 
require a good deal of revision, in which case his bill from Pace As- 
sociates would be higher. The requirement that the member must sub- 
mit his plans to the architectural board before building is incorporated 
solely for the purpose of preventing- the erection of any "monstrosities." 

"The attitude we take," said Louis Shirky, a director of the York 
Co-op, "is that a man only builds a house once in a lifetime. So why 
not let him have it the way he wants within reason, of course." 

Most of the homes are single story, flat-roofed, with wide projec- 
tions over the picture windows or glass walls. Exteriors are finished 
in clapboards (asbestos or red cedar shingles), brick, or Wisconsin 
limestone. Some have aluminum casement windows. Plywood panels 
are used for interior partitions, with ceilings of Celotex or Nu-Wood. 
A few members are utilizing block walls, waterproofing the exterior, 
painting the interior, and filling the air spaces with spun glass or 
Celotex insulation. 

Owners who decided on radiant heat are using the new prefabricated 
concrete floor slabs honeycombed for piping. Others have forced hot 
air, oil fired. There is gas available, but it is quite expensive and most 
of the members are buying electric stoves. 

Few prefabs are planned, not because the Association has expressed 
any disapproval, but because the unions in the Chicago district are 

1 34 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

generally opposed to them. Moreover, those prefabricated plans which 
were considered by the Co-op would have been subject to so many 
changes to suit the owners' varied tastes, that the ultimate cost would 
have been exorbitant. One Sears-Roebuck prefab was built on a self- 
help basis during the summer of 1948. 

Members are permitted to live in temporary sections, garages, or 
other outbuildings while their house is being erected. However, plans 
for such must first be submitted to the Board, the exterior must be 
suitably finished, all debris removed, and the grounds kept in order 
during the building period. 

From the beginning it was planned to incorporate a certain amount 
of self-help in the construction of the houses. Under an agreement 
with the building-trade unions, it was understood that there would be 
no cash payments for the hours of labor exchanged between the mem- 
bers. There was no objection from the union to the swapping of hours 
on an even basis. 

"Our meetings sound like a grain exchange," Shirky told me, "with 
the members calling across to each other: 'If you'll show me how to 
shingle the valley on my roof, I'll put in your drain pipes,' or 'How 
about swapping me a few hours on some cement mixing in return for 
some trench digging?' We have several members in our group who 
have had some experience in building. They sure are in great demand, 
and just as willing to give the other fellow the benefit of their knowl- 
edge as if they were working on high-profit contracts. One of the first 
members, Earl Landes, is a builder, and will construct six or eight of 
the ranch houses." 

To help the owner-builders save money on their purchases, the York 
Center Consumers Co-operative has been formed to operate as a buy- 
ing club for members only. Building materials are the first considera- 
tion. Other services will be added later. Ultimately there will be a 
manager who can supervise construction where necessary. 

The Association has a number of co-operative features which will 
terminate with the completion of construction and others which will 
continue indefinitely. For construction purposes, a co-operative clearing 
house has been organized, where labor of members may be traded on 
a basis of time rather than skill. 

Bills are handled co-operatively. Provision has been made for the 
checking by the Corporation of tax and mortgage bills, and in some 
cases they may be paid through the Corporation. Members who are 
unable to meet their monthly installments because of illness or unem- 
ployment will be helped. While no reserve fund has been set up 

York, Illinois 135 

specifically to provide such aid, the Corporation has what may be 
deemed a "surplus" of $7,000 in the water system which eventually 
will be recovered and could be used in emergencies. 

Retention of property titles by the Association is a co-operative fea- 
ture which will endure long after the homes are built. The purpose, of 
course, is to enable the Corporation to exercise control over who shall 
become members of the community and to protect the values for which 
the community is founded. Members who find it necessary to withdraw 
from the Co-operative and to sell their interests must give the Asso- 
ciation six months' notice and a chance to buy-in the membership. 
Value of the property will be determined by three appraisers, and the 
Corporation will either approve a new buyer or purchase the property 

The complete development will include a co-op food store, co-op 
frozen food plant, co-op play park, nursery school, and community 
house. Expenses of development and upkeep will be raised by assess- 
ments. Members agree that the Association may determine the pro rata 
share which each member shall pay for the operation of the commu- 
nity and for community improvements or repairs. Failure to make pay- 
ments when required is cause for expulsion. 

Life in this co-operative community brings with it many privileges. 
There are no bans on children, dogs, cats, chickens, or livestock, nor 
on commercial pursuits. Members "may engage in proper remunerative 
erideavors or enterprises in their homes provided, however, that the 
Board of Directors may determine when any such enterprise or activity 
is detrimental to the community." 

It's a fine place for children. There are no through thoroughfares. 
All the streets are curvilinear, with houses placed to the front of the 
lot, so that the back portion forms an uninterrupted belt of farming 
land. Children attend either the Lutheran parochial school or a con- 
solidated school to which they are transported by bus. 

It's a fine place for adults, too. The York Center Co-operators are 
fortunate in the location of their property from the standpoint of both 
transportation and taxes. The property is a mile and a half from Villa 
Park, which is a railroad stop forty minutes from the Chicago Loop. 
A good many of the members commute to Chicago. Others are em- 
ployed close by. The community includes a wide range of trades and 
professions in its membership: seminary professors, educators in the 
American Friends Service Committee, photographers, clerks, carpenters, 
truck drivers, mechanical engineers, accountants, teachers, a consulting 
psychologist, a welder, a Post Office employee, an elevator operator, a 

136 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

minister, an architectural draftsman, an industrial engineer, a buyer 
of cameras, an assistant bank cashier, an attorney, a housing manager, 
a woodworker, a contractor, a wholesale grocery salesman, a machinist, 
a timekeeper, a telephone line engineer, an office manager, a hotel 
maintenance employee, a publishing house messenger, an elevated train 
dispatcher, a floor covering mechanic, a magazine editor, a water com- 
pany assistant foreman, a mechanic in the pyschology department of the 
University of Chicago, an assistant in the vocational education and re- 
habilitation department of Hines Hospital, and a Seminary dean. The 
average income of the members is $3,500 to $4,500. 

The York Center Community Co-operative has been subjected to 
much criticism from other co-operatives on the grounds that: it was too 
far out of Chicago for commuters; it was too close to Chicago for 
farmers; its lots were too large; its lots were too small; its lots were 
cut like slices of pie; its core of Church of the Brethren members would 
dominate the organization; it is afraid to undertake co-operation in 
joint financing and building; it is too radical in its co-operative hold 
on the property; it is too radical in its racial policies; its leaders are 
insincere on racial intolerance; it has no true co-operative program; its 
houses are an anarchy of architecture. 

Fortunately, the York members are not distressed by such contradic- 
tory criticism. It has interfered neither with the co-operative spirit 
within the community, nor with the erection of houses. Not forgotten 
by them is the fact that the first section of the York Center Co-op was 
designed to meet the needs of specific people and was not meant to 
be all things to all people. Membership in a new section of ninety 
acres will include a wider range of types and classes. 

While other groups dream of Utopias on rosy clouds, the York 
members build in block and stone on firm co-operative foundations. 


Columbia, North Carolina 

Eliza Jones drew herself to full height and with all the strength her 
eighty years could muster quavered in the hushed schoolhouse. I got 
five cents as says there ought to be a savings club in this here com- 

That lone nickel started a string of Negro credit unions across North 
Carolina, lit the Light of Tyrrell in the swampy country on the shore, 
and provided the first funds for the co-operative community built by 
the sharecroppers in Columbia, North Carolina. Farms were retrieved 
from loan sharks; healthy mules replaced worn pack animals; a co- 
operative truck garden was started; a sawmill purchased; and in the 
space of a few years, thirty-four new and remodeled white-washed 
bungalows supplanted the shacks which had housed the colored neigh- 

Father of the credit unions in this part of the state and of the Co- 
lumbia co-operative community is Sylvester Dean, a tall, soft-spoken 
Negro who gave up a college degree so that he might return to his 
people and put to practical use his faith in co-operatives. To gain an 
idea of the magnitude of Dean's task, one must know something of 
the conditions under which the Negroes lived. 

Nowhere is there greater need for decent housing than in the poverty 
stricken areas of North Carolina between Tarbor on the Great Swamp 
and Dismal Creek, which cuts across the marshy lowlands reaching 
down to the sea. Three-quarters of Tyrrell County on the coast is under 
water. Mile after mile stretch the great cypress swamps, the trees stand- 
ing a yard deep in stagnant water, their bare branches tangled in choke 
vines and Spanish moss. The homes of the Negroes and "poor whites" 
stand on stilts, the brown water rippling under the porches. The people 
are poor. In 1939 the average farm worker earned $513. Today he may 
reach $1,000, but not all of that in cash. 

A mid-winter trip gave me some idea of the country. The road from 


138 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Raleigh to Rocky Mount in the east crossed the flatlands, squared off 
into alternate fields of stubbled corn and bare-branched cotton, forgot- 
ten tufts hanging sodden in the rain. In the wood clearings, thousands 
of scrub pine boards stood stacked in X's. From Rocky Mount to the 
coast the swamps predominated, relieved occasionally by a farm boast- 
ing both hogs and cows and perhaps a rectangular vine of Scuppernong 
grapes on four-squared fences, or a stretch of young tobacco plants 
under cheesecloth. 

When the bus on which I was traveling stopped at a railroad cross- 
ing, two passengers alighted, ploughed through the mud and were 
"home." No need to open the front door. There wasn't any. A piece 
of burlap served instead. Cardboard faced the windows in the bulging 
walls. Down the rusting roof rain dribbled, to puddle in the mire. 
Pudding stones supported the sagging porch, one end of which had 
already succumbed to the laws of gravity and rested in the muck. A 
black razorback snouted through a pile of rubbish. And in the front 
yard a doorless "Chic Sales" gaped to the highway. 

More miles of swamp. More mud-chinked shanties and here and 
there native landmarks a mullet fish shop, a decrepit funeral home, a 
juke box dive. 

In such surroundings, Sylvester Dean, the six-foot Negro crusader, 
and his little band of followers are building a co-operative community 
in Columbia in the midst of the cypress swamps between Dismal Creek 
and the Alligator River. With iron in their souls and sand in their 
mule carts, the Negroes are filling the marsh and building white bun- 
galows where shanties stood before. 

The Deans came to Columbia twenty years ago. They live in a cot- 
tage at the end of a winding dirt road. The cottage is built on ground 
so spongy that it was necessary to firm the marsh with sawdust before 
it would hold the piles. 

"We haven't sunk through yet, so I guess it will hold," said Mrs. 
Dean, turning up the space heater to take the chill off the parlor. "All 
the land 'round here is boggy. Two feet down you hit water and under- 
neath that is clay. So when it rains good and hard there's no place for 
the water to go. It just sits on top." 

From the lone nickel loaned to the savings club by Mrs. Jones, grew 
the fund which started the credit ball rolling in eastern Carolina. The 
Light of Tyrrell Credit Union was started in Columbia irf 1939. For 
some months previous there had been a study club which met nights 
to discuss the problems of the Negro community. Members gathered in 
the old schoolhouse an institution which has grown to three times its 

Columbia, North Carolina 139 

original size and is now a large frame building with auditorium, hous- 
ing a grade school and a high school accommodating three hundred 

The group decided to form a credit union because it was the simplest 
form of a co-operative and because it was a natural stepping stone to 
other plans. Under the liberal North Carolina credit union laws, a 
charter was granted by the Office of the Superintendent of Credit 
Unions, North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Six months later 
the credit union was in full operation, making small loans from its 
cash on hand which totaled $360. By the end of a year resources had 
reached the $1,000 figure. Today, the Light of Tyrrell Credit Union 
has assets of $45,000. 

Incoming members pay an entrance fee of twenty-five cents and sub- 
scribe for at least one share of stock at $5, paying for the stock at the 
time of subscription or in equal installments at the rate of twenty-five 
cents per month on each share. Regardless of the number of shares 
held, each member has but one vote. 

No loan in excess of $50 may be made without adequate security 
such as an assignment of shares, the endorsement of a note, or such 
other security as the credit union may consider adequate. No person 
may borrow in total more than 10 per cent of the funds on hand. There 
are no time limits on repayment, but borrowers must pay 6 per cent 
interest. Each year the board of directors declares a dividend to its 
shareholders, usually 3 or 4 per cent. 

Money may be loaned under the liberal North Carolina credit laws 
for anything that is "productive or provident." Farming and building 
may come under "productive." A good many of the loans made under 
the "provident" provision have been for sickness. 

In ten years the Light of Tyrrell Credit Union has loaned its 411 
members $120,110.19 without a single foreclosure. There are now 167 
Negro credit unions in the United States. Eighty-four of them are in 
North Carolina. They list three quarters of a million dollars in assets. 

Dean has been very active in credit union work. Two years ago he 
gave up his position as principal of the high school in Columbia so 
that he might devote more time to the Light of Tyrrell Credit Union 
and to his new job as promotional director of the All Negro North 
Carolina Council of Credit Unions and Co-operatives. The Edward A. 
Filene Good Will Fund has subsidized his salary so that he might ex- 
tend his efforts throughout the state. 

Four townships make up the territory served by the Tyrrell Credit 
Union Alligator, Columbia, Gum Neck, and Scuppernong. In these 

140 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

communities the thirty-four houses have been built or reconstructed. All 
of them were financed by the credit union. This is unprecedented. Few 
states allow credit unions to loan money on real estate. North Carolina 
is one of the few. 

There was much to be done before the houses could be erected. Dean 
found that his people, in the grip of loan sharks, were losing farm 
after farm. They would mortgage their land to buy a mule and then 
the mule, overworked and underfed, would sicken and die and they 
would lose both farm and mule. Recurring failure brought frustration 
and despair to the Negroes. 

Through the eyes of Sylvester Dean, they glimpsed hope of new 
conditions conditions which they would create and which would build 
for them a new life. They began to pool their pennies, day after day, 
week after week. In a short time twenty-five farms were saved from 
foreclosure and fifteen that had already been lost were regained. 

Then nine members of the credit union bought a 588 acre farm 
which they run co-operatively. The cost $22,000 was financed with 
the aid of a $4,000 loan from the Tyrrell Credit Union and an $18,000 
mortgage loan furnished by the Western Salem Bank for ten years at 
6 per cent. On 298 acres of the land, oats, peas, and garden truck are 
grown; corn is raised for stock; and soybeans for oil. Registered breeds 
are now replacing the wornout stock of yesterday. There are six cows 
on the farm, thirty-one hogs, and one hundred chickens. Milk, meat, 
and vegetables not used by the families running the farm are sold to 
members of the Tyrrell Co-op. 

There is a good deal of timber on the farm. Much of the pine was 
cut, processed in the co-operative sawmill owned by twelve members 
of the credit union, and used in the new homes. Wood lots of choice 
white pine owned by the members offered another source of lumber. 

Most of the cottages are a story and a half or two stories in height, 
whitewashed or painted, with wood shingles on the walls and asphalt 
shingles on the roofs. Each house contains from four to six rooms, arid 
everyone has a porch across the front. Those who built new houses 
borrowed from $300 to $1,500 from the credit union for materials 
other than lumber. Labor was exchanged, but on a rather informal 
basis. Thus, if John worked on your house this week end, you worked 
on his house come Saturday next. 

There is a small co-op store in the community. Future plans include 
the erection, on a two-acre section of land in the center of the com- 
munity, of a combined store, cannery, and hammermill to crush grain. 
There will also be a refrigerator plant, a storehouse for farmers' crops, 

Columbia, North Carolina 141 

a boarding house for visitors, a playground for the children, and a soda 

A new home for the Credit Union nucleus of the future building 
project was started during the summer of 1947 in a vacant lot next 
to Sylvester Dean's house. It didn't get very far. A mob of two hundred 
townspeople armed with sticks and stones, infuriated because there 
were white students in the group sent by the Fellowship of Southern 
Churchmen to assist in the project, forced a halt in the construction. 

The building stands half -finished. The plans of the Co-operative 
are half -finished. But the Light of Tyrrell will spread. For the people 
have faith in Sylvester Dean and faith in themselves. *- 



In government and business circles, co-operatives are often called 
"mutuals." This is chiefly because industrial interests are averse to 
association with any enterprise labeled "co-op" on the grounds that 
such an enterprise encroaches upon the realm of private profit. 

In 1940 Colonel Lawrence Westbrook, special assistant in the Fed- 
eral Works Administration used the term to designate "a system of 
rental ownership under which the occupants of homes in a given com- 
munity lease the premises which they occupy from a company owned 
by the occupants themselves." In such a project the co-op takes over, 
for operation and eventual purchase, a completed development. 

In the Westbrook plan, sometimes known as "the Camden plan" 
because it developed in Audubon Park, Camden, N. J., no down-pay- 
ment was required. Monthly charges were low. Each tenant-owner had 
a chance to build up an equity in his property. Homes were maintained 
in good condition. It was easy to move if a larger or smaller house was 
desired. It was easy to leave if another job loomed on the horizon. 
Everyone participated in the management of the community. And, best 
of all, there was a "future security" angle which allowed the member 
to "coast" on his equity in times of sickness or unemployment. 

No individual ever received title to his dwelling. That remained 
with the co-operative or mutual. He did receive a life lease which 
might be passed on to his heirs and he did enjoy freedom from worry 
that the landlord would appear once a year with a rent raise in hand. 

The projects discussed in this chapter became co-operatives after the 
development was complete. Some of them were sponsored by Govern- 
ment agencies and some by private sources. They differ chiefly in the 
extent to which co-operative action was carried. 

Eight of the projects were built under the defense housing program 
of the Federal Works Agency and were earmarked at the time of con- 


Mutuals 143 

struction as future mutual housing communities. The eight are in five 
states and total 4050 units. Several have completed negotiations and 
become full-fledged co-operatives. Others are still in the formative 

Their story is important, not only because they are successful experi- 
ments, but also because they set a pattern which can be adopted in part 
at least by the hundreds of other war housing projects of permanent 
construction, built by the Federal Government and slated for disposi- 
tion in the next few years. The Government wants to retire from the 
real estate business. It is selling out its war housing projects some to 
private individuals, some to commercial groups buying for investment. 
But mutuals organized among the residents are always given first chance 
to purchase. 

When the National Housing Agency now called the Housing and 
Home Finance Agency was created, the eight projects mentioned 
above were transferred to the Federal Public Housing Authority in 
that Agency. Funds were advanced by the Federal Government under 
the provisions of the Lanham Act, but all mutual projects were to be 
self -liquidating from the start and were to carry no rental subsidies. 

The dwellings were placed on a rental basis under direct Federal 
Public Housing Authority management with ownership retained by the 
Government, but with commitments to sell the projects eventually to 
non-profit housing corporations to be formed by the tenants. 

The steps through which the developments passed from the time 
they graduated from the Federal cradle until they became full-fledged 
co-ops or mutuals were clear cut: 

1. The tenants first formed a non-profit mutual home-ownership 
corporation. In the usual procedure, a tenants' committee was named 
at an election wherein all lease-holders were eligible to vote. The com- 
mittee organized the corporation. 

2. The corporation named 9 trustees, 3 representing the public; 3, 
the residents; and 3, the Government. The trustees formulated the by- 
laws, passed on membership applications, and issued membership cer- 

3. As soon as two-thirds of the residents indicated they would sup- 
port the idea, the Federal Public Housing was asked to lease the prop- 
erty to the corporation, giving the corporation the option to purchase 
it at the end of two years of operation. During that time, the corpora- 
tion took over the management. 

4. If the corporation decided to buy, no down-payment was re- 
quired. The corporation received title to the property but gave the 

144 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

FPHA a mortgage for the entire purchase price and a promissory note 
for which the mortgage was security. 

5. The promissory note and the mortgage note obligated the cor- 
poration to make monthly payments of -^ of the purchase price every 
year for a period of 45 years, plus 3 per cent on the unpaid balance. 

Each individual, on joining, paid a membership fee of $5 to $50 
entitling him to one vote in the corporation; and he signed a contract 
agreeing to purchase on the installment plan, over a 30-year period, 
stock in the corporation equal to the value of the house he expected 
to occupy. 

In return, the member received a life-lease on the property on the 
condition that he make his payments regularly. These monthly pay- 
ments included taxes, insurance, administrative expenses, reserves for 
maintenance and contingencies, the payment on his stock subscription, 
and 3 per cent interest. Each month the interest, figured on the unpaid 
balance, decreased. When the member paid off the entire principal or 
cost of his house, his monthly payments would include only taxes, in- 
surance, maintenance, and repairs. 

In those projects where the tenant contracted to pay off his obliga- 
tion in 30 years whereas the Corporation had a 4 5 -year period of amor- 
tization, he enabled the Corporation to make prepayments on the prin- 
cipal owed the Government, thus building up an advance equity for 
use in times of financial stress. 

The agency or supporting factor need not necessarily be the Federal 
Government. But whether public or private, the agency which puts up 
the initial capital exercises full authority over assets until amortization 
retires the largest part of the debt. Then the community assumes com- 
plete control and runs the project through a board of directors, various 
committees, and perhaps other sub-co-ops within the larger co-op. 

More recently, a variation of the mutual housing project above de- 
scribed has evolved. A commercial development company organizes the 
residents into a mutual home-ownership corporation for a fee usually 
3 per cent of the valuation of the property sometimes more. That 
was the way Greenbelt, the Government's model suburban community 
in Maryland, became a mutual. 

Walnut Grove, Indiana 

Walnut Grove in South Bend, Indiana, built during the defense 
housing program of the Federal Works Agency, was completed in Feb- 
ruary, 1944. It covers 81 acres, only 21 of which are occupied by houses 

Mutual* 145 

and lawns. The development is planned on a horseshoe-shaped road, 
the dwellings being placed diagonally on dead-end streets which lead 
off the main thoroughfare. 

There are two playgrounds for children, an adult recreation ground, 
a baseball diamond, community gardens, a community hall, and a 
grocery store. The store is operated by a separate Consumers' Co-opera- 
tive Corporation made up of the same membership as the housing cor- 

Sixty-four of the units are single houses containing two bedrooms. 
The rest are duplexes one, two, or three-bedroom units. Some of the 
dwellings are one-story; many are on two levels, with the kitchen and 
living room on the ground level and the bedrooms and bath several 
steps higher. Raising the rooms in this manner permits cross ventila- 
tion through a row of small windows set in the wall at the point where 
these rooms rise above the lower level of the house. One-story struc- 
tures have half -basements. Two story structures have fu}l basements. 

It is the monotony of the brown houses, like rows of battleships at 
anchor, that strikes the visitor immediately on entrance to the property. 
I almost overlooked the orderliness of the project neat lawns in front, 
tidy yards in rear in my effort to find one note" of relief. Neither the 
position of the houses nor their color can now be changed. It might 
be possible however, to highlight the surroundings by the addition of 
more shrubbery on some lawns and low white garden fences on others. 

According to report, the U. S. Government spent $1,200,000 in 
developing the property, which is in one of the most exclusive resi- 
dential districts of South Bend. The residents expressed no enthusiasm 
over the proposed development that was to bloom in their midst, but 
the well-kept community soon killed criticism. Included in the Govern- 
ment's figure was $80,000 for the cost of the land; $787,610.06 for 
the construction of the dwellings, not including cost of improvements 
and alterations; and $50,000 for the community buildings and store. 
The Walnut Grove Mutual Housing Corporation acquired the property 
for $750,000, agreeing to pay for it on a monthly basis at 3 per cent 
interest. On April 1, 1947, the Mutual completed purchase plans and 
took over the operation of the development. 

The cost of the units and the monthly payments by members were 
listed as follows: one-bedroom duplex apartment $2,397.64, at $40 a 
month; two-bedroom duplex $3,014.68, at $42 a month; two-bedroom 
single house $3,177.60 at $43 a month; and three-bedroom duplex 
$4,088.79, at $46 a month. 

In a year or two payments should be reduced by about $8 a month. 

146 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

The management first wants to establish a reserve with which to take 
care of possible vacancies and collection losses and several repair jobs. 
When the reserves are sufficient, it will be possible to lower the 
monthly payments. 

No down payment is required. But members pay a membership fee 
of $50 which is not returnable except as a credit on the last payment 
on the contract. There are no extra charges for sewage or garbage dis- 
posal, both being taken care of by the city of South Bend. Members 
are metered individually for their own electricity, water and gas. 

The "extended occupancy" or "future security" arrangement at Wal- 
nut Grove is similar to those in effect in most other mutual housing 
corporations. If a member cannot meet his monthly payments, the cor- 
poration will carry him to the value of his equity. If he decides to 
move, his equity is rebated. Equity, of course, consists only of that por- 
tion of his monthly payments credited against principal, less a depre- 
ciation charge. 

There is no rebate from the reserve appropriated for the repair and 
maintenance of the property, because this reserve has been set up to 
keep the dwellings in livable condition for a period of 30 years. "This 
may be a flaw m the plan, but I see no way around it without saddling 
the incoming purchaser with a large down-payment," said the manager. 
"As for the vacancy and collection loss reserve, we have not completed 
our plan of disbursing this to out-going members. We recognize, how- 
ever, that this will have to be done." 

A comprehensive picture of the financial operation of Walnut Grove 
is contained in the accompanying table. 

In July, 1948 the average per unit income and expense figures were 
as follows: 


Dwelling rent schedule (less vacancy loss) $18.38 

Non-dwelling rentals .22 

Membership assessment (less vacancy Joss) 15.26 

Services performed for others .93 

Interest on membership contracts 4.10 

Miscellaneous .09 

Total income $38.98 


Management expense $ 2.66 

Operating service .88 

Dwelling and commercial utilities .09 

Repairs, maintenance and replacements 2.61 

Insurance . .76 

Mutual s 147 

Real estate taxes 6.08 

Other taxes .55 

Cost of service, to others .93 

Collection loss t .09 

Interest on Contract of Purchase PHA 7.30 

Depreciation expense (equipment) .17 

Provision for repairs, maintenance & replacements 4.20 

Provision for vacancy and collection loss 4.44 

Total expense $30.76 

Net income 8.22 

Principal paid to PHA on contract 5.55 

Principal charged to members 6.42 


A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 


Madison, Wisconsin 

In the lake country of Wisconsin, the people of Madison are build- 
ing themselves a co-operative community. The Badger-Staters have 
made a good start. Seventy-one houses have been erected and there is 
room for 130 more on the seventy-five acre tract. Named Crestwood 
after the giant tufts of trees which top the surrounding hillsides, the 
community is a planned project as sturdy as the Danes and Scots who 
built it. 

Lying snug in an alfalfa valley between two wooded hills, Crest- 
wood 4 is six miles from Madison and a mile from the municipal bath- 
ing beach at Lake Mendota. The residents include public utility em- 
ployees, University professors, engineers, research assistants, merchants, 
bookkeepers, accountants, industrial employees, railroad mail clerks, 
chemists, lawyers, and a doctor. The average salary is $3500 a year. 

Annual incomes were far lower in 1936 when several hard pressed 
members of the Wisconsin State Employees Association (an AFL 
union composed of 3500 state, county, and municipal workers) joined 
forces to work out a solution of their common housing problem. 

Enlisting the services of John Bordner, in charge of the Division of 
Land Economic Inventory, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, the 
little group selected the abandoned farm of seventy five acres which is 
now Crestwood. With the help of senior members of the University 
faculty, one hundred people were gathered together who were able to 
put up $150 each to meet the asking price of the property $15,000. 

On September 30, 1936, the Wisconsin Co-operative Housing As- 
sociation was incorporated under the laws of Wisconsin. Capital stock 
was listed at $45,000, of which $30,000 was composed of six hundred 


A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 149 

shares of common stock at $50, and $15,000, of three hundred shares 
of preferred stock at $50 a share. The non-interest-bearing common 
stock, of which each member had to buy three shares, went as payment 
for the land. 

With the idea in mind of obtaining Government-insured mortgages, 
the Wisconsin group approached the Federal Housing Administration. ' 
The FHA turned thumbs down, claiming Crestwood was "not a good 
risk." A year later, Mr. Bordner convinced the Federal Housing's 
office in Milwaukee that the project was sound. He returned to Madi- 
son with FHA's approval of the construction of twenty small houses. 
Today Crestwood has assets of $58,000. 

At the time the Association purchased the property, neither water 
nor sewerage lines 'were available. Proceeds from the preferred stock 
helped finance the installation of the water and sewerage systems, and 
each member was required to buy at least six shares. In addition, bonds 
totalling $7000 were issued. To provide water, the Association drilled 
a 350-foot well, built a pumphouse and installed eighteen hydrants. 
..The well delivers two hundred gallons a minute and can service five 
hundred homes. 

Laying the sewerage and water lines cost little. The University pro- 
vided WPA labor to do the work. In return, the Association allowed 
the school to take stone from an old quarry on the property. Now 
Crestwood has a hillside quarry which forms an ideal amphitheater. 

To provide for the management of the sewerage lines, the Town 
approved the creation of a new sanitary district, selected three Crest- 
wood members to operate the district, keep books, and arrange to issue 
bonds to finance the project. The Association turned over to the new 
sanitary district officers the sum of $11,000, proceeds of preferred stock 
collections, and received in return thirty-year-assessment bonds paying 
5 per cent interest. This money was used to install sewers a mile in 
length to connect with the metropolitan trunk line, and to lay sewers 
in the streets of the development. The Association was to control the 
installation for thirty years, during which time the new subdivisions 
wishing to use the sewer would have to assume a portion of the orig- 
inal cost, so that the bonds held by the Association could be retired. 

In 1946 a new street was opened and in 1947 still another. Sewer- 
age and water installations were financed by the sale of 4 per cent 
callable bonds, that is, bonds which may be called at any time by the 
issuer on payment of principal plus interest up to the time of calling. 
This bond issue was offered to members of the housing co-op and 

150 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

was over-subscribed by 75 per cent. The sanitary district now includes 
the adjoining section of Glen Oak Hills where the Wisconsin Hous- 
ing Co-op owns a number of lots. Cost of utilities to each new owner 
in Glen Oak is $400 to be paid over a ten year period. 

The road problem was settled quite nicely when the town took over 
each street as soon as it supported two houses. 

On joining, the member buys three shares of stock for $150, en- 
titling him to one vote in the Association and the right to select a lot. 
Prices range from $350 to $500. The initial fee of $150 was assigned 
toward the total price of the lot. 

Early houses cost between $3500 and $6000, while those now under 
construction are figured at $10,000 to $12,000. On a $5000 house, 
sewer assessment approximated $6 a year and water assessment about 
$12 for the same period. The ratio is about the same on a $10,000 
house; assessments for sewers and water rise to $40 a year. 

Title to the house and lot is held by the individual who finances 
his new home as best he can. Cape Cod cottages, solar moderns, ranch- 
style types, and Swiss chalets sit side by side in quiet content at Crest- 
wood. Pine, birch, and oak, painted or stained, have been used in the 
construction of some of the homes. Other houses are brick. Many are 
of Waylite blocks. These blocks are made of slag left at the bottom of 
the steel ladles. The slag is broken and mixed with concrete. Blocks 
weigh forty pounds and are 8 by 8 by 16 inches. Costing twenty five 
cents each, the Waylite blocks have many advantages: they are mois- 
ture-resistant, fireproof, easy to paint, and they have insulating prop- 

Co-operative plans and policies marked every step of the develop- 
ment of Crestwood: in the purchase and plotting of the tract, in finan- 
cing, in installing water and sewerage systems, in architectural supervi- 
sion, in supplying title insurance, and in the building of several homes 
for members. The purchase of building material and equipment 
through the Central States Co-operative in Chicago, the Midland Co- 
operative Wholesale in Minneapolis, the Central Co-operative Whole- 
sale in Superior, Wisconsin, and the Consumers Service Co-op in 
Madison, resulted in considerable savings. 

Other co-operative projects include: a baby-sitting group, a grocery- 
buying club, co-operative vegetable gardens, a co-op nursery of six 
thousand young shrubs and evergreens, and a community woodlot 
from which members may cut logs for their fireplaces. But for every 
tree chopped down, a new one must be planted. 

Cost of upkeep of the common land, which includes the ten acres of 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 151 

wood on the hilltops, is paid by members in the form of a yearly as- 
sessment of 1 per cent of the value of each improved lot. 

St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Under the sponsorship of co-operative housing associations, two 
developments were completed in Minnesota one in St. Paul and one 
in Minneapolis both on land which had reverted to the state through 
non-payment of taxes. 

Credit unions played a major part in the financing of the St. Paul 
project. Laws in most states do not permit credit unions to make loans 
on real estate. This is not true of Minnesota, and the Co-operative 
Housing Association of St. Paul composed of members of credit 
unions of federal, state, and city Civil Service employees took full 
advantage of the fact. 

Members of the Association were able to borrow money from the 
Minnesota League Credit Union and the City and County Employees' 
Credit Union, which have combined assets of $2,000,000. The central 
credit union, organized under the State Act, qualified as an FHA lend- 
ing agency and proceeded to make mortgage loans on a twenty-five 
year basis to finance the forty-two individual dwellings. The members 
then applied for FHA insurance and in most cases were able to obtain 
maximum FHA insurance of 90 per cent of the appraised value of the 

The land, which cost the Association $120 for each sixty foot lot, 
was sold to members for $350 per lot, the difference being used for 
Association expenses. The houses cost $3750 to $5400, monthly pay- 
ments averaging $35 and $40 a month. They were completed in 1941 
and 1942. 

Horace Hansen, one of the initiators of the project, is now proceed- 
ing with plans for a second development to be built under the spon- 
sorship of the Co-operative Home Association, an organization which 
operates in much the same manner as the Co-operative Housing As- 
sociation of St. Paul. 

The Co-operative Housing Association of Minneapolis, organized in 
February, 1940, sponsored the construction of eighty-seven dwellings 
on city lots in five adjoining blocks. The land was acquired from the 
state and paid for at the rate of one-third of the delinquent taxes. 

The average house cost $4700. Monthly payments including amor- 
tization, interest, loan insurance, and fire insurance amount to $24.50 
on a $4600 house with a twenty-five year mortgage. Taxes of $8 a 
month make a total of $32.50 per month. 

152 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 


Kenosha, Wisconsin 

Ten miles from Racine, Wisconsin, in Kenosha, a city of fifty 
thousand, is a labor-sponsored housing project. Joining forces, the 
housing committees of the CIO and AFL unions purchased a large 
tract of farmland in 1947, planning single-family dwellings for 222 
families, a community hall, and a shopping center. 

Philadelphia, Pa. 

To provide decent housing for its members, many of whom were 
living in slum districts, the American Federation of Hosiery Workers, 
CIO, sponsored the erection of the Carl Mackley Apartments in Phila- 
delphia in 1934. There are 284 units in the building, ranging in size 
from 2\ to 5 rooms, with rents averaging $31 a month for the smallest 
apartment and $53 a month for the largest. 

To supervise construction and manage the development after its 
completion, the Juniata Park Housing Corporation, a limited-dividend 
corporation, was formed. It operates through a board of five directors 
who, in turn, employ a paid manager and staff. 

Community facilities include three acres of landscaped grounds, an 
auditorium, fifty-nine heated garages renting for $5 a month, a library, 
a craft room, and a laundry. 

Co-operative activities include a large credit union started with $28, 
a nursery school accommodating fifty pupils at $1.25 a week, a swim- 
ming pool, and a grocery store which grosses on an average $2000 a 

St. Louis, Missouri 

Under the direction of the International Ladies' Garment Workers 
Union locals in St. Louis, a small group formed in the spring of 1948 
to develop a co-operative housing association. Using the Swedish Hous- 
ing Co-operative idea as a model, the members organized a "mother 
society" in St. Louis to sponsor separate projects in districts where 
housing is needed. The Dallas, Texas, local of the ILGWU is following 
a similar plan. 

South Bend, Indiana 

When the United Auto Workers, CIO, Local No. 5 in South Bend, 
Indiana, announced that it would sponsor the development of a co- 
operative housing project on the outskirts of the city, five hundred 
applicants paid in $300 each for a total of $150,000 within six weeks. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 153 

A tract of land, 156 acres in size, was purchased for $42,500. The 
property is large enough for the 571 houses planned. Difficulty in find- 
ing a contractor who could build within the price limit set by mem- 
bers, forced the co-op group, in the summer of 1948, to turn to a 
wooden house fabricated by American Homes. This structure, it is 
figured, can be erected for $7000, exclusive of land. There are one 
hundred units under construction in the development which is called 
Edison Park, Inc. Houses are individually owned. 

Front Royal, Virginia 

The Textile Workers Union of America, Local No. 371, sponsored 
the building of fifty houses on fifty-seven acres of land in the Blue 
Ridge Mountains overlooking Front Royal. The property cost $25,000. 

The idea for the development started among a group of auto-tire cord 
workers employed in a viscose plant. Of 3500 in the factory, 3000 
belonged to the textile union. The workers named their project Stone- 
wall Heights. 

The financing of the project was a fine example of co-operation. 
Several of the leaders contributed all their savings; local unions in 
Roanoke, Parkersburg, and Front Royal made loans out of union 
treasuries; and the national union assisted. Finally a loan was made 
through a local bank. 

By August, 1946, all the houses were finished. The first group cost 
$5500 and $6000; the second, $7000; and the final lot, $8000. There 
was no profit at any stage of the operation. Purchasers made a down- 
payment of $650, and monthly payments are $33.68 for a period of 
twenty-five years. Each applicant received individual title to his house. 


Dayton, Ohio 

Greenmont Village in Dayton, Ohio, an oval-shaped development 
of square pastel houses, covers 141 acres and provides for five hundred 
dwelling units. 

Most of the residents are members of the United Electrical, Radio 
and Machine Workers. All are members of locals affiliated with the 
CIO. Each local is represented in the Montgomery County Industrial 
Union Council. This Council, apprized of the Government's plan to 
sell the Greenmont development to a mutual housing group if such 
a group were organized, set up a housing committee and mapped an 
intensive program of education in the industrial plants in Dayton. 

The plan was a success. The Greenmont Mutual Housing Corpora- 

154 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

tion was incorporated in October, 1942, and less than a year later 
signed a lease with the Government with option to purchase. Final 
papers were signed in April, 1947, the purchase price being $1,500,000 
payable over a period of thirty years at 3 per cent interest. The original 
cost of the development was $2,385,000. 

All but fifty of the houses are two stories in height. The fifty units 
housed in single-story structures are doubles, accommodating one 
hundred families. Each unit has one bedroom and costs $27.50 per 
month. The two-bedroom duplex costs $30 a month; the two-bedroom 
single house, $32; and the three-bedroom duplex, $32.50. These 
charges do not include electricity, water, or heat all of which are 
metered to the individual houses. Nor do they include sewerage line 
charges and garbage collection, which cost the members another $2.50 
per month. 

Operating under the board of directors which manages the property 
is a paid staff, including the manager at a salary of $5000; accountant 
$3500; senior stenographer $2800; junior stenographer $2000; main- 
tenance superintendent $4000; two maintenance mechanics, $3000 
each; a maintenance aid, $2500; two laborers at $2300 each; and a 
janitor at $2000. 

The workers have their own co-op barber shop, beauty shop, dry 
cleaning establishment, community hall, church services, school, and a 
volunteer fire department with a town truck on the property. The co-op 
grocery store grosses an average of over $21,000 a month, and the 
drugstore grosses an average of almost $4500 a month. 

Audubon Park, New Jersey 

Two miles from the center of Audubon, New Jersey, the Federal 
Government built a housing project on a mud flat, while everyone 
laughed. Today, Audubon Park is a garden spot marked by curved 
driveways, white cottages, tulips by the wide-paved paths, fir trees by 
the doorways. Its design of operation, now known as the Camden 
Plan, has served as an example for many other co-operative communi- 

Ninety per cent of the residents are shipworkers. From the formative 
group evolved the Audubon Park Mutual Housing Association in- 
corporated July 8, 1941. Six years later, the Association commenced 
negotiations to purchase from the Federal Government the develop- 
ment known as Audubon Park, which consisted of one hundred acres 
and five hundred houses. Cost to the Government was $2,321,000. 
Cost to the Mutual Housing Association will be about $1,500,000, pay- 
able over a period of thirty-five years at 3 per cent interest. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 155 

Henry J. Andreas, one of the initiators of the project, said that the 
cost of maintenance in a mutual home ownership project is 50 per cent 
lower than in a rental proposition because the tenants take an interest 
in their homes. 

Dallas and Grand Prairie, Texas 

In Texas there are two mutual housing projects within five miles of 
one another, each housing three hundred families and both operated 
by the same manager. The development of the Dallas Park Mutual 
Ownership Corporation covers 114 acres and is in Dallas proper, while 
the project of the Avion Village Mutual Ownership Corporation covers 
seventy-eight acres and is in Grand Prairie, a few miles to the west. 

Each development contains both apartments and single dwellings. 
The rental for a one-bedroom apartment is $22.50 per month; and 
for the three-bedroom single dwelling, from $32 to $34 a month. In 
addition, the residents pay $6.75 to $8.50 a month for gas, light, and 

Buildings at Dallas Park are of frame and brick and were completed 
January 1, 1942. The development, which cost $972,166, has been 
appraised at $760,000. Avion Village, which is all-frame construction, 
was completed October 1, 1941, at a cost of $920,094. 

West Acres, Michigan 

West Acres, in Pontiac, Michigan, is an example of a mutual hous- 
ing development sponsored by an individual instead of by a govern- 
ment agency. 

In 1936, when Colonel Lawrence Westbrook was associated with 
the Works Progress Administration, the late Senator James Couzens 
of Michigan told him he would like to sponsor a mutual housing devel- 
opment for automotive workers whom he credited with having built 
his fortune. Couzens put up $550,000 to purchase land and to con- 
struct two hundred homes in Pontiac. No down-payments were re- 
quired. Monthly rentals on a one-bedroom house were listed at $32.70 
and on a three-bedroom house at $43.80. 

Oak Park, Dayton, Ohio 

In Dayton, Ohio, a group of factory employees raised sufficient capi- 
tal to take an option on eighty-six acres of land, immediately adjoin- 
ing the property on which Greenmont Village is constructed (see page 

The new project was sponsored by the Dayton Mutual Homes In- 
corporated and was not financed by the Government. When the initial 

156 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

group had obtained option on the land, the members approached the 
Federal Housing Administration and were able to get from that agency 
a letter of intent that the FHA would agree to insure, under Title VI, 
80 per cent of any loan that might be obtained. Two insurance com- 
panies loaned the money at 4 per cent interest. 

The land was divided into 362 plots. Prefabricated houses of four, 
five, and six rooms were erected at prices ranging from $4350 to 
$4750. Houses are individually owned. Each member made a down- 
payment of $275; monthly payments are $36 to $39 a month. This 
amount includes payments on the principal, interest, taxes, fire insur- 
ance, water and sewerage lines. It also included a "future security" 
angle. Two dollars of the monthly payment was set aside as a trust 
fund to be used if the member, because of sickness or unemployment, 
was unable to meet his monthly charges. 

Mineral Wells, Texas 

The Elmhurst Park Co-operative Housing Corporation was formed 
by the Farris Anderson Post No. 75 of the American Legion in order 
to acquire Elmhurst Park in Mineral Wells, Texas, from the Federal 
Government. The organization, chartered as a non-profit corporation, 
contains many veterans. 

Applicants must invest a minimum of $100 for one share in the Cor- 
poration, but may invest as much as $10,000. The development con- 
sists of 184 dwellings and was constructed in 1941 to house war work- 
ers stationed at near-by Camp Wolters. 

Greenbelt, Maryland 

The Greenbelt Mutual Home Ownership Corporation was formed 
by families living in the nine-hundred-unit model town of Greenbelt, 
Maryland, for the purpose of purchasing the property from the Federal 
Government. Greenbelt is one of three towns planned in 1936 under 
the auspices of the Federal Resettlement Administration as demonstra- 
tions of low-rental model communities. The town is girdled by a pro- 
tective green belt used for truck farming. 

The white asbestos-shingled houses range in size from two to five 
rooms in single and multiple dwellings. The seventeen stores and serv- 
ices of the Greenbelt Consumer Services Incorporated reached a re- 
cord sales volume of $1,726,666.50 in 1947. The town has its own 
bus service. 

The Greenbelt Mutual Home Ownership Corporation has signed a 
contract with the Trans- American Development Corporation of Wash- 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 157 

ington to execute plans for the purchase of the property from the 
Federal Government. The Washington Company received $9 per mem- 
ber on signing the contract, and was to receive $20 per member when 
the deal was consummated. There are one thousand members in the 
mutual association. 

Duluth, Minnesota 

Duluth Homesteads, located on 1220 acres of land seven miles 
northwest of Duluth in the village of Hermantown, is operated by the 
Duluth Homesteads Association, a non-profit organization incorporated 
under the co-operative laws of Minnesota. Individual family units in- 
clude a brick house with combination garage and barn on plots 3i to 
10 acres in size. 

The project was initiated in 1934 by the Subsistence Homesteads 
Division of the Department of the Interior when the Federal Govern- 
ment appropriated $983,994 for the construction of eighty-four homes 
in Hermantown. 

In August, 1939, the development was conveyed to the Duluth 
Homesteads Association by the Federal Government, and in 1947 the 
Government informed residents they might purchase their homes out- 
right and receive deeds to the properties. The sales price of the pro- 
ject to the Association was $225,742, an amount which was secured 
by a note and mortgage to the Government. The average sales price of 
each unit was $2684, and the average monthly payment is $20.30. 

The homesteaders grow most of their own food and some for com- 
mercial purposes. Eighty per cent raise poultry and several have cows 
and hogs. Community projects include a co-operative store with sales 
averaging $70,000 a year, a co-operative locker plant with assets of 
$48,000, and the Hermantown Federal Credit Union with assets of 

Linden, New Jersey 

Organized as a non-profit corporation under the New Jersey laws, 
the Winfield Mutual Housing Corporation operates Winfield Park at 
Linden, New Jersey, with option to purchase the seven hundred-unit 
development from the Federal Government. Winfield Park, a Defense 
Housing Project, cost $4,392,000 almost three-quarters of a million 
more than the amount allotted the development by the Government. 

Other Mutuals 

Two other defense housing projects have been earmarked by the 
Federal Government for mutual home ownership: Bellmawr Park in 

158 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Gloucester, New Jersey, and Pennypack Woods in Philadelphia, Penn- 
sylvania. Bellmawr Park contains five hundred dwellings on 133 acres 
and was erected at a cost of $2,119,000. Pennypack Woods includes 
one thousand units built on 120 acres at a cost of $4,367,000. 


Naylor Gardens 

Naylor Gardens, in Washington, D. C. is a model community of 
748 red-brick garden apartments owned by the Veterans Co-operative 
Housing Association. This Association, formed by the AMVETS, an 
organization of World War II veterans, bought the property from the 
Defense Homes Corporation, a U. S. Government agency, for $5,125,- 
000. The development, which covers an area of forty-four acres, cost 

When the purchase agreement was signed on January 15, 1947, the 
Federal Government agreed to convey the property to the veterans for 
a down-payment of 10 per cent, or $512,500, and upon completion by 
the Association of mutual contracts with three hundred members. A 
year later, the Association fulfilled the stipulations. 

Each member on joining the Association pays a fee of $50 and 
makes a down-payment of 20 per cent of the cost of his apartment. 
Prices start at $5680 for one-bedroom units, $6750 for two-bedroom 
units, and $7990 for three-bedroom units. Monthly charges range 
from $59.50 per month for the one-bedroom suite to $78.50 a month 
for a three-bedroom suite. The mutual member does not receive legal 
title to his residence. Title remains in, the Veterans Co-operative Hous- 
ing Association, each member receiving a certificate of membership 
and a mutual contract which entitles him to perpetual use of his apart- 

The goal is 741 members. To speed the membership drive, the As- 
sociation engaged a real estate firm on the basis of a 3 per cent com- 
mission on all apartments leased through its offices. 

The balance of the purchase price, over and above the down-pay- 
ment, is in the form of a deed of trust note in favor of the Defense 
Homes Corporation in the amount of $4,612,500 with interest from 
January 1, 1948 to January 1, 1968, on the unpaid principal, at the 
rate of 3 per cent a year. i 

Charlotte, North Carolina 

Sponsored by Independence Post No. 262 of the American Legion, 
a group of veterans in Charlotte. North Carolina, built fifty homes for 
less than $8000 each, with 100 per cent financing. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 159 

The cost of the land $25,000 was financed partly by member 
down-payments and partly through private loans. The average price for 
a sixty-foot lot was $500. 

Difficulties in finding a contractor to erect houses for very little profit 
were overcome when Edwin L. Jones, head of the J. A. Jones Con- 
struction Company, offered to build the houses for cost plus $1. By 
July, 1947, fifty white-clapboarded houses were finished. 

Twenty-five of the houses cost $7500 and the other twenty-five cost 
$7825. These figures included the price of the lot, the cost of the 
sewerage lines ($250 per member), the stove, and the refrigerator. 
Each house was financed with a $6500 FHA-insured mortgage for 
twenty-five years at 4 per cent interest plus ^ of 1 per cent mortgage 
loan insurance. In addition, most of the houses had a VA-guaranteed 
loan for twenty years at 4 per cent interest, to a maximum of $1000 
on the $7500 house and $1325 on the $7825 house. Monthly payments 
covering principal and interest, mortgage insurance, taxes, and fire in- 
surance, totaled $50 on the first groups of houses and $52 on the 
second group. Similar five-room cottages in the vicinity were renting 
for $80 to $90 a month. 

Wilmington, North Carolina 

A co-operative housing association known as the Veterans Homes, 
Incorporated, has purchased 584 permanent housing units at Lake 
Forest, Wilmington, North Carolina, from the Federal Government 
for $1,797,000. 

In February, 1948, the veterans met the Government's stipulations: 
a 5 per cent down payment of $89,850 and a membership in the Cor- 
poration equal to 67 per cent of the number of dwelling units in Lake 
Forest. Houses were priced at $2804, $3011, and $3392 for one-, 
two-, and three-bedroom suites, with monthly payments scheduled at 
$37.75, $40.25, and $44.40. 

Toledo, Ohio 

On the banks of the Maumee river, fifteen veterans, incorporated as 
the Inwood Place Association, built homes for themselves in 1947. 
They co-operated through the acquisition of the land, the financing, 
and the construction of the homes. 

Baton Rouge, Louisiana 

An acute housing shortage prompted the Mayor's Veterans' Emer- 
gency Housing Committee in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to suggest to 

160 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

the Nicholson Post No. 38 of the American Legion that low-cost 
homes could be provided for ex-servicemen through use of a tract of 
land then belonging to the Federal Government. Acting on the sugges- 
tion, the veterans formed the American Legion Housing Corporation 
in September, 1946. Two years later, 250 vets moved into new homes. 

A tract of 160 acres was purchased for $74,000, the amount being 
borrowed from the National Home Mortgage Company. By selling an 
artesian well (to the Baton Rouge Water Works Company), two com- 
mercial areas, and thirty-three lots it did not need, the Corporation was 
able to pay up the mortgage within eleven months. 

With the land on a mortgage-free basis, the Corporation officials 
were able to obtain from the Federal Housing Administration a loan 
guarantee for 90 per cent of the construction cost of the project. The 
National Home Mortgage Company acted as nominal mortgagee to the 
FHA for the 250 mortgages totalling a commitment of $1,671,000. 

A construction loan of $1,760,000 was acquired by the Corporation 
from the Crawford Corporation of Baton Rouge the firm hired to 
build the development. The cottage erected was known as the Craw- 
ford House a packaged unit. For the least expensive home containing 
two bedrooms, the veterans paid $6300. This price included the cost 
of the land. The most expensive house, containing three bedrooms, cost 

Veterans moved in without making any down-payments under an 
arrangement whereby the Housing Corporation paid the initial 10 per 
cent and the veterans acquired FHA-insured mortgages for 90 per cent 
of the valuation, at 4 per cent interest plus J of 1 per cent loan in- 
surance. In return for the initial payment, the Housing Corporation 
accepted notes of purchase from the veterans covering a period of three 

Installation of utilities cost little. The Baton Rouge Water Com- 
pany contracted for the water franchise, and the Parish of East Baton 
Rouge organized a new sanitary district to take care of the sewerage 
problem in Legion Village. 

A Legion Village Post has been formed among the members to 
operate the community until a Legion Village Association is organized 
to direct the co-operative activities of the development. 

Legion Village is an example of what may be accomplished when 
public-spirited citizens; town, county, and state officials; local indus- 
tries; financial institutions; and federal housing officials work together 
in the building of a community. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 161 

Dayton, Ohio 

Organized in 1946 by a group of men stationed at Wright Field in 
Dayton, Ohio, a co-operative association named Air Village Incor- 
porated, purchased 110 acres in Van Buren township, Montgomery 
County, plus twenty adjoining lots in Dayton. The development is 
large enough to accommodate four hundred homes. 

Salt Lake City, Utah 

Two World War II veterans were responsible for the formation of 
Homeless Veterans Incorporated, which has built forty-five homes in 
Salt Lake City and plans sixty-one more. 

The organization, incorporated in May, 1946, purchased a tract 
of twenty-five acres for $38,000. The cost was met by membership fees 
of $600 each. 

City sewerage connections were unobtainable, so the veterans instal- 
led septic tanks at a cost of $125 each. The problem of getting water 
into the property was solved by an arrangement under which the Cor- 
poration agreed to pay Salt Lake City ten cents for every hundred 
cubic feet of water used. The water was re-sold to members at a slight 
profit, the money realized being deposited in the Corporation's treas- 
ury to pay overhead costs and community maintenance expense. 

Five-room brick houses were constructed under the direction of the 
Board of Directors and Hamer Culp, Jr., one of the veterans, who 
acted as general contractor at a salary of $500 a month. The homes, 
which are individually owned, averaged $10,000 in cost with garages 
available for $400 extra. 

Columbus, Ohio 

Under the sponsorship of the AMVETS, an organization of World 
War II veterans, a co-operative housing group called the AMVETS 
Homestead Association Incorporated was formed in 1947 in Columbus, 
Ohio, for the purpose of building eight hundred homes for veterans 
and non-veterans. The property, 202 acres in size, cost $82,000. Some 
of the houses will be brick, some will be frame; and the cost will be 
about $10,000. The co-operative has signed a contract with Ronald A. 
Ferguson Associates, Inc., of Cincinnati, counselor for the Brookeplan 
Method of project management, to develop the community. 

Palos Verdes, California 

Sponsorship for the development of Dapal Homes Incorporated at 
Rolling Hills, Palos Verdes, in Los Angeles county, was undertaken by 
the Douglas Aircraft Post No. 523 of the American Legion. 

162 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

A clam-shaped tract of land of thirty-two acres was purchased for 
$49,000. It is large enough for five hundred homes. Road work was 
commenced in the spring of 1948. 

New Brunswick, New Jersey 

Poor management brought to a sudden end the construction of 168 
houses by the Veterans Building Co-operative Incorporated of New 
Brunswick, New Jersey. By the spring of 1948, at which time the vet- 
erans asked for a receiver, thirty-two houses had been erected and 
forty-one more were in process of construction. The project was named 
Twin Pines Manor. 

Mishawaka, Indiana 

Sponsored by the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, 
and the United Rubber Workers, the Veterans Homes of Mishawaka 
Incorporated is building 315 homes on the edge of the town. The 
eighty-acre site was purchased for $25,000. 

Project co-ordinator is Robert Pine of Robert L. Pine Associates. 
His fee is 5 per cent of the total cost of the project, which is expected 
to amount to $3,000,000. A $2,499,000 FHA- and Veterans Adminis- 
tration-insured mortgage has been secured from the Phoenix Mutual 
Life Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The individual 
homes are costing the members from $8600 to $9950. Forty homes 
were finished by the fall of 1948, and it was planned to have 180 
houses completed by the spring of 1949. 

Chicago, Illinois 

With the approval of the Illinois State Housing Board, the Cook 
County Housing Authority is building a fifty-unit project for the Des 
Plaines Veterans Homes, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation. Des Plaines 
is six miles from Chicago. 

With funds provided by the Illinois State Housing Board, the Hous- 
ing Authority purchased the land, installed improvements, and then 
deeded back the land to the veterans who used it as equity to secure 
FHA- and VA-insured loans to build homes. The Authority is respon- 
sible for the construction, letting all contracts, and bearing legal and 
administrative costs. When complete, the homes will be sold and the 
Housing Authority will be repaid the money it advanced. 

The fifty units will be in twenty-five ranch-type duplex homes. The 
plan is to sell each building to a veteran who will become a landlord 
to another veteran in the second unit. Each duplex will cost $13,500, 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 163 

including the land v the landscaping, and all street, water, and sewer 
improvements. The first houses will be ready early in 1949. 

Lorain, Ohio 

The Lorain Veterans Housing Association has commenced construc- 
tion on the first six homes of a fifty-unit project at Lorain, Ohio. The 
members are doing all the work themselves under supervision. Each is 
required to put in sixteen hours a week on the project. 

Some of the houses are one-story high; some are 1J stories. All the 
construction money used so far has been advanced by the members of 
the Association. A revolving fund has thus been created. As soon as 
a home is completed, it is mortgaged, and the money returns to the 
Corporation to be used to start another house. The members receive 
deeds to their homes but must sell back to the Corporation at cost. The 
cash outlay for the house is $6000. Lots cost $500. The members esti- 
mate that it will require 2080 man-hours to complete a home. 

Charleston, West Virginia 

A veterans' co-operative housing association called Hill Top Park 
Incorporated has commenced development of a community in the 
South Hills district of Charleston, West Virginia. The thirty-acre tract 
of land will accommodate 163 families. Houses range in cost from 
$8000 to $12,000. 

Larchmont, New York 

Through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Benno Elkan, a group of 
veterans in Larchmont, New York, was able to acquire five and a half 
acres of land at very low cost, on which to build fifty houses. Under 
the name of the Larchmont Veterans Building Corporation, the ex- 
servicemen erected brick houses with slate roofs at costs ranging from 
$11,450 to $12,100. The figures include the cost of the lot. 

The houses were financed co-operatively under a unique arrange- 
ment. To explain it, let us take the case of a veteran who built a $12,- 
000 house. On being admitted to the Larchmont Veterans Building 
Corporation, he made a down-payment of $600 for three shares of 
stock in the Corporation. He then made application to the County 
Trust Company of White Plains for a $10,000 building loan at 4 per 
cent interest, assigning the loan to the Corporation which acted as 
agent and made payments in his behalf. 

The veteran then made application to the First Federal Savings and 
Loan Company in New York city for a VA-guaranteed mortgage for 
the full amount of the appraisal of his house $12,000 less his $600 

164 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Wdy 

down-payment. In this case, the veteran was granted an $11,400 mort- 
gage for twenty-five years at 4 per cent, the mortgage deal being con- 
summated on completion of his home. 

The purpose of this arrangement was to provide the Corporation 
with sufficient capital to contract for the construction of the homes. 
Under the New York State laws, a business corporation may not bor- 
row more than two-thirds of the money needed for construction pur- 
poses. But there is no law to prevent the individual from borrowing 
the full amount necessary and assigning his loan to a corporation 
which acts as a receiving agent. 

The banks co-operated by reducing the closing fee on each house 
from $208 to $58. In addition, the County Trust Company relin- 
quished a 1 per cent mortgage fee. The $150 thus saved was not re- 
turned to the veteran in cash, but was credited toward the amortization 
of his mortgage. 

Mamaroneck gave the veterans every assistance possible, providing 
roads and utilities and helping to landscape the areas adjacent to the 
development. The houses were completed in October, 1947. 

Abmgton, Pennsylvania 

The American Veterans Committee of Philadelphia sponsored the 
formation of the American Veterans Housing Co-operative at Abing- 
ton, Pennsylvania. The veterans purchased forty-three acres of farm- 
land at $1000 an acre in 1946. 

The co-operative has plans to develop a 216-acre site in Abington 
township outside Philadelphia. Neighborhood opposition is delaying 
the program. In the fall of 1948, the American Veterans Housing Co- 
operative brought suit against thirty of its prospective neighbors, 
charging conspiracy in malicious mischief. The Co-op charged that 
neighbors complained the $9800 houses planned by the veterans would 
jeopardize land values, and that they jammed through zoning changes 
requiring larger lots and much larger houses. 

The Co-op also alleged that their prospective neighbors threatened 
to withdraw large deposits from the Pennsylvania Company for Bank- 
ing and Trusts in an attempt to coerce the bank into repudiating the 
contract under which the co-operative obtained the land. The Co-op 
also charged that the residents tried to obstruct the development by 
inducing building contractors to refrain from bidding on the con- 
struction contracts, threatened the employers of individual members of 
the co-operative, and brought pressure against lending institutions 
which might have financed the development. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 165 

In spite of strong opposition and its million-dollar damage suit, 
the co-operative intends to proceed with the construction of the first 
group of forty-five dwellings on the forty-three acres of land it has 
purchased. Later, it will go to work on the 173 acres of adjacent land 
which it now has under contract. The development contains single- 
family houses and the site plan has been approved by the Federal 
Housing Administration. The individual householder will be granted 
a ninety-nine year lease from the co-operative. 

Silver Springs, Maryland 

Five veterans in Silver Springs, Maryland, bought a piece of land 
together, hired a builder on a cost-plus-fixed-fee basis and built them- 
selves homes at savings of $1000 on each house. The houses, built in 
1947, are Colgate frame prefabricated structures. The average cost was 

Cold Springs, Kentucky 

The Vetvillage Home Builders Association, Inc., was formed by a 
group of ex-servicemen. The veterans are planning a development of 
125 homes in Cold Springs, Campbell County, Kentucky 1 . 


From Connecticut to California, Montana to Texas, fifty thousand 
college students live in houses which they rent or own, and operate 
co-operatively. For many of them, continuation in school was possible 
only because under the co-operative plan they were able to live for two- 
thirds the cost which their fellow students in non-co-operative houses 

Most of the student housing co-ops were depression born. Michigan 
House at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, lays 
claim to being the oldest. It was started in 1932. In the intervening 
years it has housed seven hundred students. There are now five co-op 
houses in Ann Arbor. Another early student housing co-op was founded 
at the A and M College in College Station, Texas, in 1932. In Chicago, 
the United Co-operative Projects Inc. the student co-operative in the 
University of Chicago area manages five houses. 

At the University of California in Berkeley, the Students Co-opera- 
tive Association Incorporated has a membership of 850 students. It 
serves 2500 meals daily to its co-operative members. Assets of the Co- 
operative are $375,000, with an annual volume of business, covering 
room rentals and meals, of more than $260,000. The University of 

166 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

California in Los Angeles has a Co-operative Housing Association with 
a membership of 225. 

Large student housing co-operatives have been organized at: the 
University of Texas, the University of Kansas, Baker University, the 
University of Missouri, the University of Nebraska, North Dakota 
Agricultural School, and Michigan State College. 

There are also student housing co-operatives at the University of 
Wisconsin, at Antioch College, at the v University of Arkansas, and in 
more than one hundred other colleges and universities across the 

To find out how much college students saved by living in co-opera- 
tive houses, the Pacific Coast Student Co-op League made a survey in 
1947 of the costs in eight colleges. University of Oregon co-operators 
enjoyed the lowest proportionate costs in the Pacific group. Room and 
board cost $30 a month as against $51.75 paid by students living in 
non-co-op houses. At Oregon State College it cost the co-operator 
$34.41, and the non-co-op, $55 a month. At the University of Wash- 
ington, co-ops paid $45 while those not affiliated paid $54.25; at Wash- 
ington State College, $36 as against $55 paid by those not living in co- 
op homes; at the University of Montana, $30 a month while others 
paid $47; and at the University of British Columbia, $29.50 while 
students living in non-co-operative houses paid $42. 


Granger, Iowa 

There are fifty houses in the co-operative community at Granger, 
Iowa, which owes its existence and continued prosperity to its sponsor, 
Monsignor Luigi Ligutti, executive secretary of the National Catholic 
Rural Life Conference. 

Granger is in the bituminous coal district of central Iowa. Since 
there is little production in the summer, the miners are idle a good part 
of the year. When Father Ligutti arrived in Granger, he found the 
miners living in dilapidated huts fronting on muddy roads with sewers 
between. They averaged between $500 and $900 in wages a year. 

When the Federal Subsistence Homestead Corporation was created 
in the Department of the Interior, Father Ligutti made application for 
a Federal loan to build new homes for the miners. He eventually 
secured an allottment of $175,000 to build the community. A tract of 
224 acres of land was purchased for $28,243 and in January, 1935, 
the contract for the construction of fifty five- and six-room frame 
houses was awarded. Each family unit includes a house, 'a barn, and 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 167 

two to eight acres of ground. The average house cost the homesteader 
|1925, payable at the rate of $17.50 a month over a period of forty 
years. The homesteads cost the Federal Government $3500 each. Each 
house was subsidized by the Government to the extent of about $1575. 

In 1942, the residents formed a corporation known as the Granger 
Homestead Association, assumed the mortgage obligations formerly 
carried by the Federal Government, offered the homesteads as collateral, 
and received in return deeds to the homesteads. By 1948, thirty-nine of 
the fifty homesteaders held title to their own homes. 

The miners raise all their own vegetables and fruit and grow stock 
feed for their cows, hogs, and chickens co-operatively. Co-operative 
projects include a credit union, a co-operative buying club, a co- 
operative market for surplus products, a co-operative Home Tractor 
Association for the purchase of farm machinery, a co-operative home 
craft club, a co-operative road improvement association, and a co- 
operative bus club which owns the bus used in transporting the 
Granger children to school. 

Lexington, Massachusetts 

Ten architects, six professors, two engineers, a college dean, a 
pediatrician, and a librarian make up the co-operative community taking 
shape on the summit of Six Moon Hill in Lexington, Massachusetts. 

The original group consisted of six members of Architects Collabora- 
tive, a co-operative organization composed of young architects who 
work together on an equal footing and share profits and losses on an 
even basis. When the membership included twelve families, a tract 
of twenty acres was purchased for $16,750 in the spring of 1947. Each 
family was assessed $1500 to pay for the land. Twenty-nine building 
lots of a half-acre each were planned and two acres were set aside for a 
park and community house. Next, a road was constructed through the 
property at a cost of $19,000. The money was raised in twenty-four 
hours when members sold their own bonds or drew on their private 
savings accounts. 

Most co-operatives allow one vote per member or unit family, 
regardless of the number of shares held in the corporation. Six Moon 
Hill wanted two votes per family one for the husband and one for the 
wife. If a bachelor joined, he would be entitled to two votes. The 
matter was solved by the attorney for the corporation. Two classes of 
stock were instituted: Common Stock A, one share per family at 
$1300, non-voting; and Common Stock B, two shares per family at 
$100 each, carrying two votes. Common Stock A would be returned 

168 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

to the corporation by the member in exchange for title to his lot. 
Common Stock B would be retained by the individual and would 
represent his interest in the common land of the property. 

The first three houses were built by the same contractor at savings 
of $200 on each house. If the houses had been constructed from the 
same basic plan, greater savings would have been possible. The first 
house, a contemporary modern built for the librarian in the Harvard 
University Business School, cost $17,000. This figure included the cost 
of the land and the utilities. 

There is neither racial nor color discrimination in the Six Moon Hill 
housing co-operative. 

lona, Idaho 

In the lona Self-Help Co-operative Community in lona, Idaho, Mr. 
and Mrs. Phares Young and their children have lived in a basement 
structure for twelve years. They will build the rest of the house when 
they are debt free. Meantime, the basement is a far better home than 
the granary in which they formerly lived. 

Thirty nouses were erected in lona, but six got no farther than the 
basement. Another project is now being planned to house the second 

lona lies in the flat spud country of Idaho. Most of the residents 
are farmers, descendants of the Mormons who established co-operative 
groups called United Orders in Idaho in 1870. In the depression year 
of 1934, when 80 per cent of the residents were out of work, fifteen 
families formed a co-operative group and applied to the Federal Emer- 
gency Relief Administration for a grant of self-help co-operative funds. 
Included in the application was a request for a revolving building 
fund. The group was granted $1750. The money was used to make 
loans to members for housing purposes. 

As soon as a member could show clear title to a piece of ground 
(most of them owned the lots on which their shacks stood), he re- 
ceived a cash loan of $500 from the revolving fund, plus a loan of 
co-operative labor, that is, part-time assistance from his fellow members 
in the construction of his home. 

With the loan, materials necessary for the construction of the base- 
ment were bought by the co-op's bookkeeper Eugene Olscn, a school 
teacher who fathered the struggling group. The loan had to be repaid 
over a period of two to five years. Payments ranged from $3 to $10 
a month. When the loan was repaid and the member had worked 
out his labor claims, he received title to his property. 

In most cases three loans of $500 were necessary to complete the 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 169 

house. The first loan built a concrete basement 28 by 32 feet which 
provided four rooms. Half the basements have bathrooms. All boast 
the luxury of running water with a tap in the kitchen, electricity, and 
a cesspool. In this basement the family lived while repaying the first 
loan. The second loan covered the cost of the shell of the super- 
structure, and the third, the finish and trim. The manner in which 
the houses were constructed enabled a family, in the space of six to ten 
years, to build and pay for a home worth $2000 to $2500, without 
owing more than $500 in cash at any time, or paying more than $12 
interest in any one year. 

Exchange of labor at the rate of thirty cents an hour brought the 
cost of the house down to a minimum. Work was carried out under 
the guidance of one member who was a carpenter, and a second who 
understood plumbing and masonry work. Further reductions in cost 
were accomplished by utilizing native stone, salvaging lumber from 
demolished buildings, and making building blocks on a secondhand 
machine for two cents apiece. The blocks were made of pumice 
volcanic glass taken from the lava bed hills near-by. 

Co-operative projects included a credit union, a medical and dental 
plan, co-operative gardens, and a widows' insurance program. Under 
the latter plan, each member pays ten cents a month on each $100 of his 
cash loan still owing. If he dies, the co-operative takes a mortgage in 
the amount still owing and gives the widow a deed to her house, 
permitting her to live there the rest of her life without further 

Members co-operated in many other ways: in logging, stone cutting, 
ice storage, trucking, laundry work, sewing, butchering, coal loans, 
livestock loans, buying clubs, growing seed potatoes, raising chickens, 
pigs, and cows, erecting a freezer locker, and building a new Mormon 

Niles, Illinois 

Employees in the composing room of the Chicago Daily News 
formed the nucleus of the Home and Community Planning Association 
which built thirty-five homes in 1948 and plans 242 additional houses 
in Niles, near Chicago, Illinois. Subsequently, members from the typo- 
graphical unions of both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily 
Tribune joined. Many of the members are veterans. 

Seventy acres of farmland were purchased for $119,000, the cost 
of which was defrayed by the $500 down-payment required of each 
member. For the development and maintenance of the community prop- 
erty, each member was assessed $30 a year. 

170 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Rising costs forced an increase in the price of the houses, which are 
now costing between $12,000 and $15,000 each, including the lot. In 
the fall of 1948, two members brought suit against the Association, 
claiming that the houses were costing more than they could afford, that 
the Association had neglected to build any roads, and that the Board 
of Directors was careless, lacked experience, and knew little about 
building. The judge continued the case and the Association and the 
plaintiffs agreed on a new plan. 

There are no membership bars to race, creed, or color in the Home 
and Community Planning Association. 

Schenectady, New York 

A group of engineers employed at the General Electric Company 
in Schenectady, New York, formed a co-operative housing association 
in 1946. The group incorporated as the West Hill Development, In- 
corporated, in 1947, with a capitalization of $60,000 and plans to build 
215 houses. 

On the outskirts of the town, 260 acres of land were purchased 
for $27,000. The money was raised by the members who subscribed 
for 286 shares in the Corporation at $100 a share. 

The preliminary site plan was designed by the engineer-members. In 
the spring of 1948, the first twenty members commenced construction 
on their homes. Because they could not wait until water lines were laid 
throughout the property, these initial members rented a small piece 
of land from the Corporation, drilled a common well, and installed a 
distribution system to service their properties. Houses are individually 

Chapel Hill, North Carolina 

Sponsored by the Service Employees Corporation of the University 
of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, fourteen brick and frame houses 
were built under a self-help plan which reduced the cost of the units 
to less than $5000 each. 

A forty-acre tract of land was purchased by the Corporation for 
$2200 and called Oakwood Community. The project was financed from 
funds advanced by the Service Employees Corporation, by loans from an 
insurance company, and by FHA-insured mortgages. The Corporation 
retained title to the property until the member completed the number 
of self-help labor hours agreed upon, when he received title to his 
house and lot and the property was refinanced. 

The houses cost from $2750 to $5000, and were completed in 1941. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 171 

Each member was required to put in a minimum of $500 worth of 
labor on his own house. 

Indianapolis, Indiana 

Planner House Homes Incorporated was formed in August, 1945, 
under the sponsorship of Planner House, a social settlement in the 
Negro section of Indianapolis. 

Planner House is co-operating with the city's Redevelopment Com- 
mission in working out a plan to provide for the rehabilitation of five 
hundred families in a 160-acre section of the city. The homes will be 
built on a non-profit basis by veterans who will be trained under the 
direction of the Veterans' Administration and the City School Board. 
The community, to be called Fall Creek, will be developed under a five- 
year program. 

New Brighton, Minnesota 

Twelve miles north of the twin cities, St. Paul and Minneapolis in 
the town of New Brighton, is the Circle Pines Community, covering 
1203 acres with room for two thousand families. Forty houses and 
twenty-six apartments in thirteen buildings were constructed in 1948. 

Circle Pines was evolved by three St. Paul business men who paid 
$100 an acre for the land. In July, 1945, the Circle Pines Develop- 
ment Association of New Brighton was incorporated under the non- 
profit laws of Minnesota. The Association's activities will end when 
the development is complete, at which time the members in the com- 
munity will form their own co-operative association for the operation of 
Circle Pines. 

Applicants pay a membership fee of $1 plus $100 for membership 
in the Circle Pines Co-operative which operates the shopping center. 
The Center, which was built before the homes, includes a grocery and 
meat market, five hundred frozen food lockers, a feed store, a hardware 
shop, a gasoline station, and a restaurant. 

In addition to the $1 fee and the $100 subscription, the prospective 
homeowner is required to make a down-payment on his house and lot 
equal to 10 per cent of the total cost. 

The first ten houses erected were Cemesto units. Cemesto is a pre- 
fabricated building panel composed of a Celotex cane fibre insulation 
board surfaced on both sides with one-eighth inch of cement asbestos. 
The original estimated cost of $7500 rose to $9600 before the ten 
homes were completed. 

The next thirty houses were of conventional construction, two- and 

172 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

three-bedroom units erected on concrete block foundations. Costs 
ranged from $10,000 to $15,000. 

Mount Pleasant, New York 

Fifty houses are planned in the co-operative development of Usonia 
Homes Incorporated, located at the north end of Kensico Reservoir, 
in Mount Pleasant, Westchester County, New York. The ninety-five 
acres of hilly land were purchased for $25,000 and paid for in cash 
through loans made by the members. Usonia Homes was incorporated 
in January, 1945, with one thousand shares of stock at $5 a share. It 
is a member of Eastern Co-operatives Incorporated. 

Under the supervision of Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the home 
sites were designed in circles, each covering an acre of ground. Only 
fifty of the plots will be used for home sites, the rest being held as 
community land. There are also two open lots. One will be used for 
recreational purposes and for a demonstration farm for the children 
in the community, and the other will be reserved for a community 
house and several guest cottages. 

The cost of the unimproved lot was figured at $260 and the cost of 
the improved lot with roads, water lines, and sewerage installations 
at $1260 to $1760. Driven wells and a gravity feed system supply the 
water and the houses have individual septic tanks. Preliminary work 
has been completed on two miles of roads through the project. 

From the time of its organization, each family contributed on a loan 
basis approximately $50 a month to a joint savings fund. By the middle 
of 1948, the first thirty-five members had invested $2000 each. New 
members, in addition to paying the regular $100 membership fee, are 
required to match the total savings of the old members. Before con- 
struction begins, each member must have a minimum paid-up invest- 
ment of 40 per cent of the proposed cost of his house and lot. 

A panel of eight architects and engineers under the supervision 
of Mr. Wright is responsible for the design of the homes. A member 
may choose anyone on the panel to design his house. All homes are 
modern-organic in design and feature wide glass areas, roof over- 
hangs, radiant heating, and large terraces. Seven units were under 
construction early in 1949. 

Houses will cost from $10,000 to $30,000. Title to the homes and 
the home sites remains with the Corporation, and houses may be leased 
only to individuals approved by the Corporation. Most of the members 
are middle-income professional people. Membership is not limited by 
race, creed, or color. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 173 

Indianapolis, Indiana 

Nucleus of the Home Owners Co-operative Incorporated was formed 
among members of the Indiana Farm Bureau Co-operative Association. 
Twenty acres of land were purchased on the edge of Indianapolis for 

Under an arrangement between the Home Owners Co-operative In- 
corporated and the Marion County Farm Bureau Co-operative of 
Indianapolis, the first ten families building in 1948 were able to buy 
their building materials at 5 per cent above cost. 

This project is an example of the development of one co-operative 
from the membership of another co-operative, and of the co-operation 
between three co-ops to the mutual advantage of all. 

Boulder, Colorado 

Faculty Court in Boulder, Colorado, was built by eight members of 
the faculty of the University of Colorado. Pooling their resources, they 
purchased a city block on "tax title," that is, land available at low 
cost on payment of delinquent taxes. The lots cost the families $500 

Colorado ranch style houses were erected. As the project was started 
in 1939, construction costs were low and the members were able to 
build houses at prices ranging from $5500 to $9000. The average 
monthly cost to members is $55. In addition, there is an annual 
assessment against each member for the care of the common play- 
ground and for the taxes and for the nipkeep of the community 

Watsonville, California 

Three developments in Watsonville, San Jose, and Stockton, Cali- 
fornia, providing housing for 123 families in the low-income groups, 
were sponsored by John and Tom Porter. of Watsonville. The first* 
project called Pioneer Homes was built on an eight hundred-acre 
ranch in Watsonville owned by the brothers: John, who is head of a 
lumber supply house, and Tom, who operates a twelve hundred-acre 
truck farm. It was commenced in 1939. 

The ranch was unsuitable for farming. It might be used for home 
sites. But who would buy such wild, hilly land? Tom pointed out 
that a good many of his tenant farm laborers, then living in 
shacks, tents, or dilapidated auto courts (at $15 a month), needed 
homes, and that decent homes with land for vegetables might be 

174 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

sufficient inducement to keep them in Watsonville all year around, so 
their labor would be available when needed. 

Knowing that most of the laborers had no cash and that few earned 
as much as $1000 a year, the Porters decided to start the development 
on a small scale. A thirteen-acre tract by the railroad was divided into 
plots of two acres and one of three acres. A few months later a second 
tract was opened. 

The first thirty-eight houses were four-room units built on a self- 
help program under Title I of the National Housing Act which re- 
quired no down-payment. The cost to the prospective home owner was 
$400 for a two-acre plot. The materials for the house cost $325. The 
labor cost nothing, for all the work was done by the members under 
the supervision of the Porters. 

The brothers figured that over a period of two years the $325 ex- 
pended for materials could be repaid by payments of $14.48 a month 
on an FHA-insured loan. After the loan on the materials was paid, 
the workers would continue to pay $14.48 a month until the cost of the 
land was cleared. To obtain bank financing, the Porters underwrote 
each loan with a personal note. At the end of seven years, most of the 
workers in the initial group owned their homes outright and only one 
had been unable to meet his payments. 

The second group of houses was built under Title II, requiring a 10 
per cent down-payment but allowing the purchaser to make the payment 
in labor. When the development stretched to the hillsides of the ranch, 
the Porters found it necessary to install a water system at a cost of 
$26,000. This will be mutualized when the development is complete 
and will be operated by the community. 

The community now includes shed workers, boxmakers, farmers, 
laborers, truck drivers, construction workers, and quarry workers. They 
have their own community association which operates the development 
and their own schoolhouse which was built on the property through 
their efforts. 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

The Milwaukee Co-operative Homes Association has purchased 
thirty-eight acres on the northwest side of Milwaukee for the construc- 
tion of 133 homes. 

The $29,000 purchase price of the property was raised by selling 
each member $300 worth of stock. Of this, $150 was considered part 
payment on the land and home and $150 was considered a share or 
equity in the Association. Construction has been delayed pending an 
arrangement with Milwaukee for the installation of water and sewerage 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 175 

Syracuse, New York 

Six miles from Syracuse, in the town of Camillas, the Home Owners 
Co-operative, Inc., started construction of its first thirty houses less than 
a year after its organization in June, 1947. The development, called 
Westerlea, includes 108 acres and is planned for 156 homes. 

A tract of rolling farmland was purchased for $30,000 and paid 
for by membership stock purchases and a purchase money mortgage 
obtained from the Syracuse Trust Company for $15,000 payable in 
installments at 5 per cent interest over a period of five years. The prop- 
erty was divided into 156 homesites with thirty acres retained for parks, 
playgrounds, and commercial use. 

Roads cost the co-operative $5500 and the water system cost $60,000, 
of which $42,000 was paid by the town of Camillus. The town also 
assisted in the road building. After the road base was constructed, the 
town accepted dedication of the roads and appropriated sufficient funds 
to gravel them. 

On the property were a barn and several buildings valued at $15,000. 
In an apartment in one of the buildings, the Lee Trimms, two of the 
initiators of the project, set up housekeeping, using their living room 
as an office for the development's business. In such manner overhead 
was kept to a minimum. There were no fancy brochures or advertising 
costs. All clerical help was provided by the members. This was necessary 
to keep down the costs. Most of the members are white collar workers 
averaging $4000 a year. 

The houses are contemporary modern. There are seven floor plans 
ranging in size from 1000 to 1500 square feet and containing five 
rooms. To facilitate construction and save money, the Co-operative 
set up the Westerlea Construction Corporation which builds the houses 
under contract with the members. The first houses two-bedroom units, 
24 by 48 feet cost $9000 exclusive of the lot. Others have been 
designed to cost from $7500 to $9000. The houses are individually 

Dayton, Ohio 

In 1930, with big plans but little money, thirty families in Dayton, 
Ohio, formed the Hyland Home Owners Association, a non-profit 
corporation. For two years, members made weekly contributions to a 
trust fund until they had sufficient capital to buy 104 acres seven miles 
outside the city. 

The tract was divided into three-acre plots and twenty houses were 
built under a self-help plan. Construction of a community house 60 by 
30 feet was completed in 1948. 

176 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

Glenview, Illinois 

Proof that houses can be built co-operatively at less cost than they 
can be built individually, no matter how small the community, may be 
seen in the story of Redwood Village in Glenview, Illinois. 

Ten families who belonged to the North Shore Co-operative Society 
in near-by Evanston decided to build homes together. They formed 
the Co-operative Community, Inc., in 1939 and purchased a wooded 
tract of five and one-half acres in Glenview for $4000. 

Paul Schweikher, the architect,, reduced his fee from 10 to 7 per cent 
when he was given the contract to design all the homes. Contractor 
Edward B. Hawkins likewise reduced his profit fee from 10 to 7 per 
cent and agreed to divide with the co-operators any savings he could 
manage above the price he had quoted for each house. 

Seven houses were built, the last being completed in 1942. They are 
finished in redwood beveled siding and contain four or five rooms. 
Their costs ranged from $8000 to $11,500, including the lot. The 
members figured they made the following savings by building co- 
operatively: $1500 to $1700 in the group purchase of land; $210 to 
$330 in architect's fees; $320 to $510 in contractor's profits; $100 to 
$150 in the mass purchase of building materials, making a total savings 
for each family of $2130 to $2690. Three more families plan to build 
this year. 

Winchester, Massachusetts 

Four professors in Winchester, Massachusetts, worked out a plan 
for co-operative living which is still successful after eight years. To- 
gether they bought a small estate on Mystic. Lake, not far from the 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology where the professors were staffed. 
They saved money on legal fees, in utilizing one architect for all the 
houses, and by purchasing the property in one piece. Because there 
was a group of homes, the town of Winchester extended the sewer- 
age lines 350 feet to one end of the property, and installed the water 
main in the same trench. 

Each family has two-thirds of an acre for house site, garden, and 
playground for the children, and each has private shore frontage. Not 
formally co-operative at all, the families share boats and wharves, 
garden equipment and carpentry tools, and purchase together supplies 
for the improvement of the property. 

Chicago, Illinois 

Evergreen Co-operative, Inc., of Chicago, started as a study group in 
1946. It is planning a development of multiple or row houses for 
twelve hundred families on a square mile of land. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 177 

The Association was incorporated under the District of Columbia 
Co-operative Laws. It is a member of the Co-operative Federation of 
the Chicago Area, Inc. Under the present plans, houses and land will be 
held co-operatively, members accepting 99 year leases to their homes in 
lieu of titles. 

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

Initiated by Socialist Mayor Hoan, a co-operative housing project 
which provided homes for 105 families was built in Milwaukee in 1920. 

The Mayor prevailed on the Milwaukee Housing Commission to 
sponsor the passage of a state law which authorized the formation 
of housing corporations on a co-operative basis. These corporations were 
permitted two kinds of capital: common stock to be held only by the 
tenant owners in amounts equal to the value of the premises occupied 
by them, and preferred stock to be held by investors. The common 
councils of cities and the boards of supervisors in counties were au- 
thorized to subscribe. The plan could be duplicated in Wisconsin to- 
day, for the law is still on the state statute books. 

Houses built by the Garden Homes Company cost $5000 including 
the lot. Tenant-members paid $45 a month for a five-room house. 

Stamford, Connecticut 

With a membership of twenty-one families, a housing co-operative 
composed of chemists, engineers, and instrument designers in the 
American Cyanamid Corporation of Stamford, organized in 1948 and 
purchased land in Darien, Connecticut. 

The co-op, called Boulder Ridge, Inc., bought forty-two acres for 
$34,000 with funds supplied by the members. Each applicant paid 
a membership fee of $100 plus a down-payment of $2000 credited 
toward the cost of his lot. Single dwellings are planned. 

Melbourne, Florida 

On a ridge between the Indian and St. Johns Rivers, near Melbourne 
in southern Florida, the American Homesteading Foundation, a non- 
profit association incorporated under the laws of Ohio in 1946, pur- 
chased 160 acres of land at $75 an acre. 

The property was divided into 150 home sites, each three-quarters 
of an acre in size, with acreage set aside for recreational areas, a com- 
munity hall, a craft shop, a store, tourist courts, and trailer camps. 
Each individual paid a membership fee of $750. 

The houses are concrete or cement block, three rooms and bath, 
erected at a cost of about $7000 including the cost of the land. By 1948, 
seven houses had been built, five more were under construction, and 

178 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

future houses were planned at the rate of one every month. Members 
saved money by doing some of the work themselves. 

The site plan, designed by Louise Odorne, graduate of Ohio State 
University, includes the development of orange groves and truck 
gardens. Members also cultivate flowers for shipment by air to north- 
ern cities and grow tropical fruits which are shipped out of the state. 
Membership is composed largely of ex-social workers and educators. 
The community has organized an American folk school. 

Millinocket, Maine 

Through the co-operative efforts of a paper company, a bank, several 
business houses, and a group of people who worked nights and week 
ends to construct their own homes, fifty-one houses were built in 
Millinocket in the lake country of northern Maine. 

The Great Northern Paper Company, principal industry for the 
6300 inhabitants of the town, started the enterprise in 1947 by divid- 
ing a tract of land it owned into fifty-one lots and selling the lots 
at $240 each to employees and villagers who would build their own 
homes. Self-help work teams went into the woods and cut logs for 
lumber. Others cast cement blocks. The Great Northern offered special 
rates for the use of its horses and trucks. It also furnished without 
cost a bulldozer and an operator to excavate and backfill, a cement 
mixer and an operator, and other miscellaneous equipment. To guide 
the co-operators, the Company provided the services of several expert 
carpenters. There were times when as many as forty members worked 
on one house. The Bangor Hydro-Electric Company supplied current 
free at night so the men could work on their homes after dark. 

The houses are one or two stories in height and contain five or 
six rooms. Many have garages. The dwellings were erected at costs 
ranging from $4000 to $6500, exclusive of the cost of the lot. 

Through the efforts of the Great Northern Paper Company, the 
Millinocket Trust Company agreed to make loans which would be 
liquidated in ten or fifteen years at 5 per cent interest. 

The members developed a community park a year after the project 
was commenced. 

Yellow Springs, Ohio 

Ten veterans formed the Yellow Springs Co-operative, which plans 
a garden apartment development in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The mem- 
bers hope to save money by joining forces with the co-operative 
Riverside Homes in Detroit, Michigan. The two groups will use the 
same architect, a similar site plan, and will buy supplies together. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 179 

Detroit, Michigan 

An engineer and an architect, with plans to develop a co-operative 
community of five hundred homes, bought a tract of land of seventy- 
two acres in Detroit for $800 an acre and undertook the work neces- 
sary to plan the project, have the land re-zoned, and organize the 
prospective co-operative set-up. This procedure is the reverse of the plan 
followed in the development of most co-operative communities. 

Donald Monson, engineer in the Detroit City Plan Commission, and 
Philip Brezner, Detroit architect, bought the property with their own 
funds and then designed a site plan to include park apartments, single 
dwellings, duplexes and row houses, a community hall, a shopping 
center, athletic and recreational grounds. Land will be turned over 
to the ultimate co-operative ownership corporation at purchase price 
plus development costs. The building company will be a profit corpora- 
tion, but the owning corporation will be a Rochdale Co-op, with title to 
all land and buildings remaining with the Corporation. 

Macedonia, Georgia 

Six miles from Clarkesville, Georgia, is the co-operative community 
of Macedonia, Georgia. The members are businessmen, lecturers, teach- 
ers, and students. Many were Conscientious Objectors during the war. 

Forty people, many of them living in houses they themselves built, 
receive their entire support from the community. It is estimated that 
fifty families can be accommodated on the eleven hundred acres. 

No one has any money in Macedonia. No one receives any. Houses, 
shops, mills, barns, pastures, cows, chickens, store, farm equipment, 
and the woodcraft shop where children's building blocks are made are 
owned by the community. Wages are pooled, and families draw sub- 
sistence checks only to foot current costs of food and clothing. 

Five new houses have been constructed and a number of others were 
rebuilt. Morris Mitchell, professor at the Alabama State Teachers' 
College, initiated the project. There are no bars to race, creed, or color 
at Macedonia. 

Celo, North Carolina 

A community similar to Macedonia, Georgia, is being developed by 
the Celo Community, Inc., on the banks of the South Toe River in 
Celo, North Carolina. The main difference is that in Macedonia, mem- 
bers depend wholly on community projects for their subsistence, where- 
as in Celo many of the members have outside interests which contribute 
to their financial support. 

180 Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

The American Friends Service Committee, Quaker organization, 
sponsored the project, purchasing the 1250 acres of land with funds 
supplied by the Marquette Charitable Organization of Chicago. Eleven 
families have settled in Celo, most of them building their own homes. 

Wtlkmsburg, Pennsylvania 

Under the name of Parkway Co-operative Association, thirty electrical 
engineers, mechanical engineers, and physicists from Pittsburgh, joined 
forces to purchase thirty acres of land in Churchill Boro, two miles 
from Wilkinsburg. The property cost $30,000. 

On the acreage at the time of purchase was a nine-room house which 
was converted into three apartments for members in 1947. The land 
has been divided into eighty building lots. Single-family dwellings are 
planned and will be individually owned. Each member holds stock in 
the community house and in other community facilities, which will be 
co-operatively owned and operated. 

Ramapo, New York 

A group of businessmen desiring homes within commuting distance 
of New York organized Sky View Acres, Inc., in Ramapo, New York 
in 1946. A tract of 150 acres was purchased for $30,000. A twenty- 
year mortgage for $16,000 at 4 per cent interest was obtained, the 
balance of the cost being paid with members' share subscriptions. 

Eighteen acres were sold to the State of New York for a parkway. 
Of the remaining 132 acres, 108 were divided into homesites ranging 
in size from one and one-half to four acres, and the rest was retained 
for community land. The property will accommodate forty families. 

Most of the houses planned are one-story expansible units to which 
two or three bedrooms may be added later. The homes have been 
designed to enable members to undertake a number of the subdivisions 
of the construction work. Savings were effected because the members 
used the same architect and because they utilized similar materials that 
were purchased in quantity. Construction began in the fall of 1948. 

Members make a down-payment of $1000. Of this amount, $100 is 
retained by the Corporation for development purposes and $900 is 
applied toward the individual's lot. Houses are to be individually 

There are no paid officers in the Corporation and most of the clerical 
work has been done by the members. After the development is com- 
plete, the Corporation will operate the community. 

A Survey of Other Housing Co-ops 181 

Hollywood, California 

A group of union screen cartoonists, intent on solving their respec- 
tive housing problems, was responsible for the formation of Com- 
munity Homes, Inc., which plans a co-operative community of 280 
homes on property located in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood. 

In 1946 Community Homes purchased 106 acres of land for $230,- 
150, paying for the property in full with funds acquired through mem- 
bership down-payments. Each veteran member made a down-payment 
of $750 on joining the Corporation, while non-veteran members paid 
$1500. Initial plans called for the construction of frame houses with 
exterior walls of redwood siding and stucco. 

Chicago, Illinois 

Under a land re-developrnent program, the Co-operative Residences, 
Inc., plans a community of 125 dwelling units in apartments and row 
houses to be built on a six and one-half-acre tract in south Chicago. 

Application was made in 1948 to the Land Clearance Commission 
to purchase the property under the Illinois Slum Clearance and Re- 
development law at a cost of thirty-five cents a square foot. 

Media, Pennsylvania 

Ten families, threatened with eviction, organized the Fellowship Co- 
operative Homesteads, Inc., which is developing Tanguy Homesteads 
on 167 acres of farmland in Cheney, Jiear Media, Pennsylvania. 

The project was started in January, 1945, when Robert Willson was 
evicted from his home. Willson called together the members of a 
small group who had been meeting for two years and planning a co- 
operative housing development. 

Ten families pledged $1000 each toward the purchase of land and 
instructed Willson to buy a farm of 110 acres which only three of 
them had seen. The property cost $30,000. Of this amount, $15,000 
was paid in cash as follows: $10,000 in member loans, $3000 from the 
sale of a fruit farm on the property, and $2000 borrowed by Mr. Will- 
son. A bank mortgage was obtained for the remaining $15,000. 

The farm was divided into forty-two-acre homesites, the rest of the 
land being devoted to community interests which include a co-operative 
farm. On the property was a sixteen-room farmhouse. This accommo- 
dated the Willsons and two other families who converted it into apart- 
ments. A fourth family moved into a shed; a fifth rebuilt an old 
garage; and a sixth occupied a trailer until the first house was built. 

182 , Get Your Own Home the Co-operative Way 

This unit, a flat-roofed, cinder-block structure containing three bed- 
rooms, cost $8000. 

The Tanguy homes are being built by five members who trained at 
the school for low cost housing at the Fellowship Center in Walling- 
ford. The Tanguy plan is to retain these five members as a building 
crew on an all-year basis, guaranteeing them a minimum of $3000 in 
wages per year. 

The houses constructed after the block home are expansible units 
to which two or more rooms may be added later. The first unit erected 
cost $5500. 

In 1948 the Tanguy members purchased a second farm of 87 acres 
for $27,000. The purchase money was raised through the sale of three 
houses and twenty acres of land, plus $4000 in member loans, and a 
bank loan of $3000. 

There are no color lines at Tanguy. Four of the first ten families 
were Negroes, and a section of the second farm has been set aside for 
faculty members of the Cheney State Teachers' College, a Negro in- 
stitution. Many of the first Tanguy members were Conscientious Ob- 
jectors during the last war. 

West Haven, Connecticut 

Financial difficulties have delayed construction in the development 
planned by the Co-operative Homes of West Haven, Inc. 

A tract of seventy-two acres known as the Elm Terrace Golf Course 
was purchased in 1947 at a cost of $30,000. Original plans called for 
the erection of 122 homes. 

No matter what your profession or job, 
you can find here people like yourself 
who formed a group within their com- 
munity, their union, their church, their 
office, or even among their friends and, 
by co-operative effort, built their own 
homes. Some of the groups formed true 
and complete co-ops; others adopted some 
co-op features; still others formed only 
the loosest sort of association. But all of 
them got houses of quality and beauty 
superior to anything they could have 
obtained under separate contracts. 

The first and only detailed account of 
co-operative housing in the U. S., this 
volume is indispensable to all individuals 
and organizations interested in any phase 
of housing public or private. 


Elsie Danenberg has more first-hand 
material on group housing than anyone 
in the country. She has followed its devel- 
opment closely for years, has written 
about it, and has counseled numerous 
groups on their problems. In gathering 
material for this book she spent several 
months visiting co-op housing develop- 
ments from coast to coast. The information 
is, therefore, complete, authentic, and up 
to date. 


201 East 57th St., New York 22, N. Y. 


. si I I