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A student housing cooperative, also known as co-operative housing, is a housing cooperative for student members. Members live in alternative cooperative housing that they personally own and maintain. These houses are designed to lower housing costs while providing an educational and community environment for students to live and grow in. They are, in general, nonprofit, communal, and self-governing,[1] with students pooling their monetary and personal resources to create a community style home. Many student housing cooperatives share operation and governing of the house. As with most cooperatives, student housing coops follow the Rochdale Principles and promote collaboration and community work done by the members for mutual benefit.

Most student housing coops in Canada and the United States are members of North American Students of Cooperation.[citation needed]


Several of the earliest US student cooperatives (e.g. at Northwestern University and Wellesley College) had begun by at least 1915, for the purpose of housing female students.[2] Most student housing cooperatives are formed to provide an alternative dorm for students who are unable to afford college due to housing costs. For example, the Harriet E. Richards House [3] at Boston University (1928) was established to provide a cheap alternative to dorm life for women scholars.[4] The Berkeley Student Cooperative, amongst others, started during the Great Depression to help provide affordable food and housing for Berkeley students. Other early examples that started in the Depression years: the Cooperative Living Organization at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida founded in 1931 and the Michigan Socialist House at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan founded in 1932.

Others were formed to provide a more inclusive and supportive environment for students. Many student housing cooperatives are focused around socialist principles or political activism (Michigan Socialist House), veganism or vegetarianism, racial or ethnic identity (Biko), or environmental concerns.

Throughout the twentieth century, student housing cooperatives expanded, but some floundered. Many formed coalitions in the face of rising debt or bankruptcy.[5] The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) was formed in 1968 as a way to link existing cooperatives together while educating and improving cooperatives across North America.[6] Today, NASCO primarily serves as an association that promotes development and communication amongst coops and promotes communal living.

Management of Student Housing Cooperatives

There is not a standard way of running a housing cooperative. Most student housing cooperative members have full voting privileges on issues such as rent, future members, and community activity and then maintain an elected board of committee members who oversee the running of the cooperative.[7] Many student housing cooperatives require work shifts that help lower the overall cost of living. These may include chores or cooking. Some coops award points to the type of chore and members are required to complete a certain number of points a week.[8] All cooperatives expect members to contribute assistance throughout the year to keep the cooperative running smoothly and efficiently. It is up to the individual coops as to whether the members elect a board or committee to oversee the entire cooperative.

Partial List of Student Housing Cooperatives


Two student housing co-operatives are presently operating in Australia:


Student co-operatives are situated in close proximity to colleges and universities. The biggest student housing co-operative in the world is Waterloo Co‑operative Residence Inc. in Waterloo, Ontario with 1300 resident members.

The East Coast is represented by:

Central Canada is represented by:

The West Coast is represented by:

Many of the co-ops are members of The Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada and NASCO.


In France L’Association de Coopération pour le Logement des Etudiant·es de France (L'ACLEF), founded in 2015, exists to take on the management of empty properties to rent to students. L'ACLEF operates CoopColoc, housing students in Paris and Bordeaux alongside Campus & Toits in Toulouse. [16]


There is one operational student housing co-operative in Switzerland:

United Kingdom

Photo of Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative
Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative houses 106 members

There are four operational student housing co-operatives in the UK:

There are also initiatives at various stages of development to establish housing co-operatives in Glasgow,[19] Manchester[20] and Bristol.[21]

All operating coops and initiatives are members of Students for Cooperation, a UK wide federation of student co-operatives which includes a number of other groups across the UK working to establish student housing co-operatives.[22] Students for Cooperation commissioned a report on establishing a National Body of Student Housing Cooperatives (NBSHC) to help support and grow the UK student housing cooperative movement.[23][24] In 2018 this new body, Student Co-op Homes, was launched as a secondary co-operative for raising finances to buy property to lease to student housing co-operatives.[25][26] The organisation has similarities to North American Students of Cooperation.

An unsuccessful plan to launch a student housing co-operative took place in 2004, when MMUnion partnered with the National Union of Students and Confederation of Co-operative Housing[27] to offer cheaper cooperatively owned alternatives to city housing for Manchester Metropolitan University students. The NUS plan fell through as NUS management changed.[28]

United States

Artist, student and community co-operatives are common in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of these housing co-operatives are members of organizations such as NASCO.

Currently, the second biggest student housing co-op in the world is Berkeley Student Cooperative, formerly known as the University Students Cooperative Association, in Berkeley, CA with 1250 students living in 17 houses and 3 apartment complexes. Other large-scale co-op systems include MSU Student Housing Cooperative of Michigan State University, the Inter-Cooperative Council at the University of Michigan, and UCLA University Cooperative Housing Association with 400+ students.

Other examples of such cooperatives include:


  1. ^ "About our Cooperative". MSU Student Housing Cooperative. Archived from the original on 2013-12-06.
  2. ^ The Dean of Women By Lois Kimball Mathews Rosenberry
  3. ^ "Harriet E. Richards Alumnae Association - About".
  4. ^ "Mission & Founding". HER House.
  5. ^ "About Us". Riverton Community Housing.
  6. ^ "About Us". NASCO. 14 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Committees". MSU Student Housing Cooperative. Archived from the original on 2014-01-02.
  8. ^ "Workshift". Berkeley Student Cooperative.
  9. ^ STUCCO Cooperative Ltd
  10. ^ Canberra Student Housing Co-op
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Campus Cooperative Residences – Co-operative Community-Based Housing for Students".
  13. ^ "Guelph Campus Co-op - Housing".
  14. ^ "Home". Kingston Student Housing.
  15. ^ Assiniboia Community Housing Co‑operative
  16. ^ Narvarte, Fanny (2021-08-19). "Bordeaux Agglo: des colocs moins chères pour les étudiants" (in French). ISSN 1760-6454. Retrieved 2022-09-30.
  17. ^ "Facebook".
  18. ^ Hadfield, Miles (24 July 2021). "Brighton-based student housing co-op secures first property". Co-op News. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Housing co-operative proposed for Glasgow students - Scottish Housing News". Archived from the original on 2017-05-06.
  20. ^ "Home". Manchester Student Housing Co-operative. Retrieved 2022-04-10.
  21. ^ "Student housing co-operative opens membership applications". Epigram. 2021-04-22. Retrieved 2022-09-30.
  22. ^ "Housing Co-op List". Students for Cooperation. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  23. ^ Creating a National Body of Student Housing Co-operatives
  24. ^ Feasibility Study for a National Body of Student Housing Co-ops
  25. ^ Hadfield, Miles (10 December 2019). "Student Co-op Homes extends share offer after passing £100k". Co-op News. Retrieved 23 April 2022.
  26. ^ "Student Co-op Homes: Co‑operative student housing that puts tenants in control". Co-operatives UK. 15 October 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  27. ^ "Confederation of Co-operative Housing". June 26, 2013.
  28. ^ "Housing co-op plans for students". March 3, 2004 – via
  29. ^ "Home". BCL.
  30. ^ "College Houses". College Houses.
  31. ^ Dudley Coop
  32. ^ "Home".
  33. ^ "Kalamazoo Collective Housing". Kalamazoo Collective Housing.
  34. ^ " - Domain Name For Sale".
  35. ^ "Cooperative Housing at University of Maryland".
  36. ^ "University of Minnesota Students Co-op".
  37. ^ "Riverton Community Housing | Minneapolis Co-Op Apartments".
  38. ^ "Minnesota Students' Cooperative - Living at MSC".
  39. ^ "Students' Co-Op".
  40. ^ "penn haven". penn haven. August 11, 2013.
  41. ^ "Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life - Purdue University".
  42. ^ Santa Cruz Student Housing Co-ops
  43. ^ "Cooperative Houses | Stanford R&DE".
  44. ^ "Tri Co-ops".
  45. ^ "SCA Eugene – We Own It!".