May 11, 2014
View the notes from the May 11 general body meeting
April 9, 2014
View the notes from the April 9 general body meeting
March 23, 2014
Volunteers from CHUM are wanted at the College Park Community Library - stop by the Church of the Nazarene on Rhode Island Ave or contact Rebekka.
There's still time to submit a statement of intent to run for an exec board position!
View the notes from the March 23 general body meeting
March 5, 2014
Got housing preferences for the fall (where you'd like to live, who you'd like to live with)? Contact Rachel!
We're tabling for the Earth Day Festival in Stamp on April 22. Interested in helping? Contact Susan!
Elections for the exec board will be held at the general body meeting on April 9. If you're interested in running, send a statement of intent over the membership listserv.
View the notes from the March 5 general body meeting
Feburary 26, 2014
We have begun to accept new and returning members on a rolling basis for the 2014-2015 school year. If you have applied but not received a decision, you won't have much longer to wait!
View the agenda for the March 5 general body meeting
Feburary 16, 2014
A new late payment policy has gone into effect. Members with a balance of over $50 left on their accounts five days after charges are due (the 20th of every month) will be charged a $20 late fee unless they have an approved payment plan or Rent Emergency loan.
We are seeking a representative to serve on College Park's Neighborhood Stabilization and Quality of Life Committee, to be elected at the next general body meeting. Interested members should submit statements of intent over the membership listserv.
View the notes from the Feburary 16 general body meeting
What is cooperative housing?
A zero-equity housing cooperative is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to provide affordable housing and foster community among residents through shared meals, chores, and events. Housing cooperatives are always democratically owned and managed by their members.
Usually, the housing cooperative owns property or is working toward property ownership (in our case, the latter).
You may have heard of housing cooperatives in New York or other cities in which residents own a condo or apartment and engage with other members in the collective management of the apartment complex or community. Individuals hold title to condos or other units and can sell their units at a profit. While this has some similarities to our model, namely member ownership and management, it is very different – in the model we practice, the nonprofit organization that members run holds title to property, not individuals, and the organization cannot sell property at a profit. Hence, it is a zero-equity model.
In general, cooperatives around the world operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance in 1995. Cooperatives trace the roots of these princples to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.
Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations; open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibility of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.
Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members --those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperatives-- who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
Members' Economic Participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.
Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative's autonomy.
Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.
Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.
What is CHUM?
CHUM is a zero-equity housing cooperative serving the community near the University of Maryland in College Park, just outside Washington DC. We have an open membership policy, meaning all members of the community willing to contribute to the cooperative in certain specified ways are welcome. Additionally, CHUM believes cooperating with non-members and improving the vitality of the College Park community is very important. We host weekly community potlucks open to all of College Park. Finally, many CHUM members are vegetarian or vegan, promoters of social justice, and environmentally conscious.
As an intentional community, we have several structural elements to keep individual houses and the entire organization running smoothly:
Specific policies vary, but all of our houses share several structural tenets:
Share chores using a chore wheel or a variety of other methods
Pay into a grocery fund every 2-4 weeks that is used to buy shared food
Maintain a cooking schedule so that someone cooks dinner for the house all or most days of the week
Hold weekly or biweekly house meetings to share updates and concerns, and make changes to house policy with consensus
Various committees handle the regular proceedings of CHUM, like the application process, rent collection, and peer mediation
Occasional short-term projects are handled by workgroups
A board of directors composed of a president, secretary, and treasurer is elected annually
Changes to CHUM policies and the bylaws can be made with consensus of attending members at biweekly general body meetings.
By working together and pooling our knowledge and resources, we can keep housing costs in CHUM lower than anything else you'll find in College Park:
Rent in a double ranges from $260 to $390 per month, while rent for a single room ranges from $375 to $515.
Each resident's total utility costs (electricity, gas, water, internet, and TV in some houses) are $30-60 per month
Each house decides how much to spend on groceries, but most have found that $80 per person is enough to feed everybody each month
We're able to keep food costs low by buying in bulk and sharing - most houses cook and eat dinner together at least five nights a week.
We also aim to provide housing for low-income individuals, and we don't want to deprive anyone of a roof over their head just because they're in financial stress. That's why we offer payment plans and rent emergency loans so that members can pay their rent in small installments over several months, or if necessary, get their rent due date extended, penalty-free, for up to 30 days.
Why should College Park have a zero-equity housing co-op?
In a metro area with high demand, affordable housing options are scarce – worse, student demand for housing drives rental prices up further. One major role of a co-op in this environment is to try and counteract this pressure on pricing by permanently preserving properties as affordable dwellings.
In addition, our co-op's unique proximity to the University brings forward the possibility of exposing future leaders or University affiliates with an alternative model for solving the problems of economic disparity and community degradation. Co-ops are especially unique in the requirement that membership be actively involved and crucial in determining the direction of the co-op. The principal of member ownership is important both personally and societally. This not only gives members greater autonomy over their own lives but also leads them to engage and involve themselves outside of the co-op because they now have invaluable experience in consensus decision-making, running a business, and generally being active participants in an institution.
Finally, co-ops are unique in the close bonds they foster amongst members and in the way they connect with their neighbors as a permanent fixture of the community. A higher-density, community-centered model of living that brings together strangers to live together and help each other is an excellent alternative to traditional family structures that are not available or desirable to everyone.
Co-op Housing University of Maryland (CHUM) began when a group of people from the university community came together to talk about lack of affordable housing in College Park. Demand for student housing drives up rents in neighborhoods surrounding the university, and a large transient population fractures the sense of community in the neighborhood.
While the university was busy building more dorms, and developers were constructing luxury high-rise apartments along Route 1, CHUM was imagining what an alternative would look like. Rather than renting from the university, corporations that own large apartment complexes, or single family property owners who often charge high rents for a small supply of poorly maintained properties, residents could own and manage their own properties in a way that allowed for affordable higher-density living and the maintenance of a community despite transient populations. University affiliates and other residents could coexist peacefully, share in greater responsibilities and freedoms like setting their own rent and establishing a sustainable culture, and interact with their neighbors in a positive way.
Sound like a fantasy? It isn’t. They’re already doing just that in places like Boulder, Colorado; Bloomington, Indiana; and even right next door in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Food culture is an important part of co-ops. CHUM houses share groceries and dinners; we have vegan-friendly CHUM-wide meals every week, and residents in individual houses eat dinner together up to five times a week.
As the group grew, CHUM incorporated in the state of Maryland and residents signed leases on three properties for the 2010-2011 year. While they were still at the mercy of their for-profit landlords, CHUM residents used their inaugural year to perfect the principles of cooperative living (like a shared organizational structure, collaborative events, and shared meals), build up the cause of a cooperative housing community in College Park, and start planning for the future.
For the 2012-2013 year, CHUM has expanded its membership to SIX houses and wants to increase its presence in the community by planning more community events.
For the 2013-2014 school-year, we moved from of two of our smaller houses, to larger, more CHUM-friendly residences.
CHUM welcomes those interested in the concept of cooperative ownership and living to have dinner with us, room with us, and find ways to make a true co-op in College Park a reality.
CHUM’s current endeavors as of 2/20/2014:
Applying for 501c3 tax exemption → ACHIEVED!
Raising down-payment money for our first CHUM-owned house
Working to get this unique form of cooperative housing recognized as a valid form of group living by the city and county
Move to bigger (and better!) houses → Semi-Achieved!
North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO):
CHUM's current bylaws, the rules of the organization:
While more established student housing co-ops tend to own their property, we are a very young organization, and all of our houses are rented from local landlords while we build capital to eventually purchase our own house. Our five houses are split between two neighborhoods: Calvert Hills and Berwyn.
Google Map of Houses
These three houses are all within three blocks of each other. Downtown College Park is a ten-minute walk away, as is the College Park station on the Washington DC Metro Green Line. The #104 College Park Metro is a free shuttle bus that runs frequently throughout the day from the station to the Stamp Student Union at the center of the UMD campus, and downtown DC is about 25 minutes away by train.
Lakeland and Berwyn
These houses are roughly a mile from the Calvert Hills houses, and aren't as accessible from the Metro. However, they are a 5-to-10-minute walk from shops on Route 1 and a 10-to-15-minute walk to the northeast part of campus - home to the engineering and computer science buildings. Free Shuttle-UM buses (#114 University View, #117 Blue after 5:30pm, #125 The Circulator, #132 The Varsity, #135 University Connector) run throughout the day from the neighborhood to various parts of campus.
CHUM is a consensus-based, egalitarian organization where any member of the College Park community may pay dues or, alternatively, attend a certain number of consecutive meetings, and receive one vote in the decisions the organization makes. CHUM has a Board of Directors elected annually from within its dues-paying membership, but input from the entire community is welcome at board meetings and in board decisions. CHUM also has a number of volunteer committees open to all members of the community, dues-paying or otherwise, who are interested in cooperative living. If you have a question, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and a board member will get back to you!
President - Rebekka Paisner - contact
Treasurer - Landry Horimbere - contact
Secretary - Aleah Pisarz - contact
New Membership Committee Chair - Hannah Swearman - contact
Mediation Committee Chair - Jim Sullivan - contact
Have questions about the website? Feel free to email the website committee at email@example.com.
BOF (Bringers of Fun)
Point Person: TBA
Point Person: Landry Horimbere - contact
The finance committee consists of CHUM's treasurer and a finance manager from every house. Finance managers collect annual and monthly payments from CHUM members for rent, utilities, groceries, and membership fees. The finance committee is also responsible for creating an annual budget, keeping track of CHUM's finances throughout the year, and distributing funds to other committees as needed.
Point Person: Rebekka Paisner
Point Person: TBA
Grocery Committee is in charge of organizing bulk buying for the greater benefit of the co-op. We aim to lower costs per person to make food as accessible as possible. We aim to source food from sustainable places, other cooperatives, and local organizations that benefit the community.
We want good, affordable, fresh, local, sustainable bulk food for our residents, boarders, and potluck attendees and other friends of CHUM. We want to coordinate a system that is easy to understand financially and easily distributes food to CHUM houses. We want our system to easily accommodate a wide range of dietary preferences and never require someone to pay for food that they do not support the purchase or consumption of.
Handbook and History
Point Person: Remy Riot
The Handbooks & Histories Committee is dedicated to preserving and creating CHUM traditions and histories. Through the creation and use of handbooks, yearbooks, and house archives, we strive to empower CHUM members to take an active role in preserving their own histories, memories, and experiences within CHUM. We seek to create a base for processes and procedures to provide examples of cooperative living for new CHUM members and other co-ops to build on and improve. Finally, we hope to bring together the collective memory and histories of what CHUM was, is, and can be.
Point Person: Hannah Swearman - contact
Housing Committee exists to seek out new properties for CHUM to rent or acquire. Housing Committee's current responsibilities are in the short term to continue to maintain a suitable set of rental houses for upcoming years and in the long term seek out an ideal property for purchase.
Point Person: Jim Sullivan - contact
Mediation Committee is CHUM's internal conflict resolution resource, dedicated to ensuring that CHUM is a safe-space for all members of our community. The mediators working in this committee will remain objective and unbiased, and will hear testimony from all involved parties. Mediation Committee can mediate conflicts related to lifestyle clashes, house meeting, common space or possession usage, or wherever mediation is requested.
If you feel that you need the help of mediation committee then please feel free to contact us. There is a general email, firstname.lastname@example.org, that is maintained by the committee. If you don’t feel comfortable contacting the committee as a whole you can contact any of the mediation committee members.
Point Person: Hannah Swearman - contact
The New Membership Committee handles our entire admission process: writing the application, conducting interviews, and assigning rooms to new members.
Outreach and Organization
Point Person: TBA
Overview: The Outreach and Organization Committee is responsible for the organization and distribution of CHUM materials intended to inform the community and educate members. If no material exists for a given purpose the committee is responsible for developing the material if knowledgeable, and contacting appropriate committees to request information if they are not. The Outreach and Organization Committee will work closely with the website committee to develop content, disseminate information and make documents accessible to all CHUM members and appropriate parties. (For example our flyers would be publicly accessible, but our contact lists would be given member-only access.) Ideally, New Membership would also have a symbiotic relationship with this committee.
Point Person: TBA
Point Person: Eric Weiss
We (poorly) manage this site. If you have any complaints, suggestions, or if you wish to send us the highest of fives, you may email email@example.com.