CDF established itself as a player in the senior cooperative housing community in the 1980’s. The Revolving Loan Fund was established in 1986 through a $500,000 grant from the J.M. Kaplan Fund that was matched from other sources, primarily the NCB Development Corporation, to create a million dollar revolving loan fund that would be used for the development of affordable co-operative housing and related services for the elderly, including health care, financial security, and specific physical, social, and recreational requirements of the elderly. Senior co-op housing built with the help of the Revolving Loan Fund is to be operated at the lowest feasible cost so as to be within reach of a significant segment of the elderly community. Revolving Loan Fund money is seed money to cover pre-development costs, which is often the hardest money to get and which helps the project qualify for conventional financing.
Loan applications, which are accepted year round, are reviewed by the CDF board with the advice of an Ad Hoc Committee.
Why is cooperative housing often better for seniors?
- It is affordable.
- It is suitable.
- Seniors and their assets remain in the community.
- Seniors spend their Medicare, Social Security, and other retirement income on goods and services provided by local businesses.
- Seniors keep their equity.
- Seniors retain their independence.
- Seniors have ownership and control.
- Seniors govern.
- Seniors control costs.
- Retaining independence and control longer results in shorter stays in nursing homes, reducing the burden on government
- Houses are freed up for young families.
- Services are available.
- There is greater security.
- There is a sense of community.
- Three is less crime.
Pre-development loans are often the hardest money to get but often leverage many times their dollars. The Revolving Loan Fund made $1,335,640 in 19 loans and grants to various senior co-op housing projects by Real Life Development Services, CSI Support & Development Services, Presbyterian Association on Aging, Leisureville Community Association, Cooperative Services, Inc., Coordinating Council of Co-ops, Network Property Group, NORC, MASH, Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Davis Senior housing Co-op, Stonewall Communities, and Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance to create more than 615 units of senior co-op housing across the country. The Fund’s most recent loans are:
- $75,000 to Davis Senior Housing Co-op to build a 60-unit senior housing co-op in Davis, CA
- $138,600 to Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance and CSI Support & Development Services to builda 62-unit senior housing co-op in a reviving Detroit neighborhood
- $100,000 to Stonewall Communities to build a 100-unit senior housing co-op in Boston. This loan was converted to a grant because the collapse of the housing market made the project unfeasible.
Homestead Housing Center
The senior housing work that began with the Kaplan grant grew in the 1990s. CDF and partners in the cooperative community established Homestead Housing Center to develop rural senior housing cooperatives. Loans were used by Homestead projects to conduct feasibility studies and market research and to design site plans and layouts. This national effort resulted in $3,600,000 in 27 loans and grants to Homestead Housing Center, enabling the creation of 334 units of senior cooperative housing in 16 rural communities, mostly in the Upper Midwest. All 16 cooperatives are still in operation, financially self-sufficient and debt free, and the Homestead model has proven to be sustainable.
Rural senior housing co-ops established by the Homestead Housing Center are in:
|New Hampton, IA||3,900||22|
|Spirit Lake, IA||3976||25|
|Chisago Lakes, MN||1,634||25|
|Grand Marais, MN||1,300||26|
|Redwood Falls, MN||4,859||30|
|St. James, MN||4,300||23|
|Mount Horeb, WI||4,182||24|
Lessons Learned: During the course of the Homestead project CDF learned that it can be difficult to assemble the critical mass of individuals interested in being part of a multi-unit co-op housing project in one rural community. CDF also learned that small rural communities must have a real estate market active enough to provide buyers for senior home owners wanting to sell their single family homes and move into co-op housing.