Thank you Berkeley Student Cooperative!
The Berkeley Student Cooperative recently awarded SCHA with a $10K grant to pursue our co-expansion project to combine forces with the UC Davis tri-coops. We thank the BSC for their generosity and support in supporting co-ops everywhere!
Solar Community Housing Association (SCHA) is a Davis-based 501(c)(3) non-profit that has been providing environmentally conscious and affordable cooperative housing since 1979. SCHA owns & operates three cooperative houses: The Sunwise Co-op, the J Street Co-op, and Cornucopia Co-op. SCHA is also managing the Domes at UC Davis. Residents of the houses and the domes maintain their living spaces and serve on the organization’s board of directors.
On these pages you’ll find more about who we are, our involvement in the community, and resources for members and other housing cooperatives. Welcome!
“We encourage and create community and respect for environment through affordable, cooperative housing.”
Our Articles of Incorporation outline our founding principles. They clearly commit us to not only providing a service through low-income housing, but an educational mission promoting sustainable lifestyles and housing equity, and an outreach mission to support other similar community groups & non-profits.
“Sustainable” means many things- and we are always trying to broaden our definition of it. At the moment, we approach it from two angles: environmental sustainability and social sustainability. Our organization works toward environmental sustainability by including energy-efficient building features, growing some of our own produce, sharing resources (from housing appliances to garden equipment to labor), promoting sustainable transportation (bikes, in-fill housing). In addition to environmental sustainability, our organization emphasizes social sustainability. SCHA is an equal opportunity and low income housing provider- we work hard to educate our members about systemic oppressions and underlying economic and cultural barriers that co-operative culture might perpetuate. We want to share our knowledge and experiment with the community — through house tours, workshops, and volunteer engagement in our projects.
Cooperative is another word loaded with different meanings. Many co-ops (including the International Cooperative Alliance) identify with the seven Rochdale Principles, which define a member owned and operated organization. They have their roots in business cooperatives and do not cover all housing cooperatives that are not completely member owned. We are members of NASCO (North American Students of Cooperation), and are usually represented at its annual meetings. We support local cooperatives in a variety of ways as part of our mission. See “supporting local co-ops” under Outreach and Education.
Like many but not all housing cooperatives, we believe and practice a consensus decision making process. (Notably our founders did not specify a consensus structure). Consensus process models also vary, and are often addressed in our workshops.
We have fixed our definition of affordable in accordance with state tax requirements as making less than 80% of Yolo Median Income (look up limits here). To qualify, a potential resident must be a) a student at an institution of higher learning, or b) meet this affordability requirement on becoming a member. Residents that exceed this limit after becoming members are currently given a one-year grace period to find alternative housing. As part of our educational mission, membership is limited to a period of six years, creating perpetual turn-over whereby new members may experience affordable, cooperative living.