The D.C. Cooperative Housing Coalition exists to advance the common interests of cooperative housing associations in the District of Columbia and promote cooperative housing as a desirable form of home ownership. It is therefore both an advocacy organization that articulates the interests of members before government officials and regulatory agencies and a service organization that provides information and education to members.
Membership is open to all District housing cooperatives, regardless of size. A volunteer board of directors, elected by member co-ops, governs the Coalition. At least five seats on the board must be filled by representatives of small (50 or fewer units) cooperatives. Activities are financed through annual dues determined by the members at the annual meeting.
The Coalition grew out of an ad hoc group of District cooperatives that formed in response to a judicial ruling that had cast a cloud over many cooperatives by banning proportionate voting. By marshaling the forces of more than 3,000 units, the ad hoc group persuaded the D.C. City Council to resolve the matter. Recognizing the importance to the cooperative housing community of speaking in a single voice and maintaining the ability to respond quickly and knowledgeably to matters affecting cooperative housing, the ad hoc group decided to form a permanent organization. The Coalition was established in 1984 and was incorporated as the DC/CHC, Inc., a nonprofit organization in the District of Columbia, in 1993.
One of the Coalition’s most important accomplishments was its work toward the passage of the 1988 law mandating a specific procedure for cooperative real property tax assessments (D.C. Law 7-205), which provides for an equitable formula for assessing the value of real property owned by cooperatives. Up to that time, the District did not have a prescribed method to estimate the fair market value of a cooperative’s property, and as a result the assessments often were arbitrary, unrealistic, and unpredictable.
The Coalition also successfully opposed a move to charge each cooperative association $3.00 per unit to fund a new government agency to oversee cooperatives and condominiums.
Coalition representatives testified before the D.C. Council in support of a recycling tax credit instead of having the city collect recyclables and successfully opposed a 50 percent reduction in the trash collection tax credit, which cooperatives and condominiums receive instead of having the city collect their trash.
At the heart of these efforts was the representation of cooperatives’ interests before the Council, to emphasize the importance of maintaining parity between cooperative homeowners and single-family/condominium homeowners, and to ensure that cooperatives were not treated as commercial rental apartment complexes.
The Coalition has co-hosted mayoral candidate forums and recognized Council members who work on behalf of the interests of housing cooperatives. It has also promoted public awareness and interest in cooperative ownership by sponsoring events, most notably a series of varied educational programs and a tour of D.C. housing cooperatives to mark the 75th anniversary of the first housing cooperative in the District.
One of the most important benefits Coalition members receive is timely information. The Coalition has conducted seminars and issued newsletters covering topics as diverse as cooperative governance, elevators, rentals, taxes, environmental concerns, and utility purchasing agreements, among others. Consequently, members receive information that enables them to anticipate and address changes affecting their own cooperatives’ operations.
With more than 30 years of history, the Coalition remains the premier organization devoted to advancing and protecting the interests of the owners of cooperative units in the District of Columbia.