Put Brel Hutton-Okpalaeke in your contacts if you are a college student searching for affordable housing. That’s because he is the director of development services at NASCO, North American Students of Cooperation, where the primary focus is on cooperative housing, especially for students.
Now is the perfect time for NASCO – colleges have been raising student housing and board fees at a brisk pace and, unbeknownst to most, schools run those functions as profit centers. They are not usually loss leaders. What’s more, schools know that while all eyes are on tuition increases – jumps in prices for room and board frequently are under the radar.
Enter co-op housing where, frequently, students put in work requirements and an upshot is that savings over university housing and board charges can be substantial.
The downside? It takes a number of years to form a new student housing co-op. Schools increasingly are hostile to such co-ops (they want the revenues!). And many cities and towns are downright hostile towards housing options for significant numbers of unrelated adults.
Add in difficulties in securing financing to pay acquire new housing.
That’s why NASCO is crucial. It helps students navigate these difficult, churning waters.
And know there are real plusses to co-op housing for students. The format teaches how to function in a democracy and, for many, co-op housing is an introduction to cooperatives in general. A few years in a co-op house can lead to credit union membership, membership in food co-op, and maybe even membership in a worker owned cooperative business.