Co-op movement in Ann Arbor


By Chanel Stitt
Staff Writer

Walking into a large house in Ann Arbor, one might find a total of 150 people living there. Cooperatively-run homes give students the chance to rent a place to stay at an affordable rate.

Ann Arbor has 16 co-op houses for students to live in. They are located in central, north and south areas of Ann Arbor. Each renter holds a responsibility within the house to keep it running.

The rates for a room range between $550 to $610 a month. There is a board in each house, along with cooking and cleaning teams.

Some students at Washtenaw Community College have utilized this opportunity and are members of the board at their houses. Julia Selig, the board representative of her house at Mich-Minnie’s, has grown from being a part of the co-op movement over time. This is her second year being a part of the organization.

“We share work hours and everyone owns the place. It’s for students by students,” said Selig.

As a house, they buy things in bulk for everyone to eat. By doing this, Selig says they create less waste. They also support and listen to each other which helps them grow as individuals she mentioned.

It is possible to live in the non-profit co-ops just for a summer, which has a rate of $200. The same accommodations will take place and everyone will still have to work four hours a week to keep the house running.

Students are able to earn scholarships living in these houses as well. The scholarships are geared towards monthly rent, which would be lowered if all tasks as a leader are completed. They could be earned from opportunities coming of being a board member.

Being a part of a co-op can look good on a resume as well. The whole system is education based where students can learn about management and building skills together to keep their houses running.

The Vice President of recruiting and marketing, Alexandra Friedman, has been living in the co-ops for three years. She is also a student at WCC who was passionate about the co-ops and worked her way to becoming the vice president of her committee.

“I really enjoyed being able to join something I care deeply about,” Friedman said.

Friedman believes that the co-ops are very supportive, affordable and they have a good use for all resources.
Local stores such as People’s Food Co-op (PFC) are cooperatively ran. PFC was created for people to buy foods from local farmers and businesses.

“It is more community based than some businesses that have their headquarters elsewhere,” said David Hall, Outreach and education leader of the store. “In cooperatives, our money stays right here. No one gets rich in cooperatives.”

Going back into history, the cooperative movement in Ann Arbor started when people were upset at the cost of rent in the 1920s and 1930s. The original price was two dollars a week which included a place to live along with meals for the week.

Michigan House is the oldest co-op in North America and it is still running today.

To find out more information about the co-op movement, visit www.icc.coop.

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