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Cooperative Housing In Portland

The non-profit Portland Collective Housing Syndicate has an opportunity to purchase the building that houses the IWW union hall and the Back To Back Cafe. We want to turn the top two floors (10 studio apartments) into low cost cooperative housing. We need your help and support.
Cooperative Housing In Portland
Cooperative Housing In Portland
The Portland Collective Housing Syndicate is a year old non-profit
corporation dedicated to preserving affordable housing and collectivizing
ownership of residential property. The PCHS currently has an opportunity to purchase the building at 612-616 East Burnside. This is the building that houses the IWW Union Hall, The Back to Back Café, The office of The Cross Border Labor Organizing Coalition (CBLOC) and The Portland Central America Solidarity Committee. The top two floors of this building contain 10 affordable studio apartments-some of which are currently occupied by activists working with the IWW and the Back To Back Café. One of the apartments is being rented as an office by the non-profit organization Danzine. On PCHS board of directors are a core group of dedicated, experienced volunteer activists who among other things have helped give Portland the Red And Black Café, The Back To Back Café and the IWW hall. Among the things that make this such an exciting opportunity is generous financing package offered to us by the current owner. Our goals in purchasing this building are to:

. preserve affordable housing in central Portland
. create a vibrant, holistic community that incorporates a cooperative workplace
and housing
. acquire a property that can be leveraged in the future to purchase additional
cooperative housing.
. permanently establish cooperative culture in the heart of Portland.

If you are intrested in bringing low cost cooperative housing to Portland, we need your help! We need money in the form of donations or low interest loans. The financing we've been offered thus far has been relatively high interest financing. Any loans at less than 8% would be welcome, would help make the building cheaper to manage and insure our success. We also need advice from people experienced in commercial real estate transactions. We welcome participation (and scrutiny) from all interested parties. The PCHS will begin a series of informational events at the IWW hall soon. If you would like to be on a contact list or have any questions or offers of support send an email to  hedlunch@yahoo.com or call Nancy at 503-703-5282. We have until December 1st to make this happen. Wish us luck!
kill the landlord 19.Oct.2002 13:28


don't get me wrong i think its a great idea and i support what oes on in that building but why should people who are struggling to pay their own rent help out an elite group o 'activists' with their own living situation? unless you are hoping there are some sympathetic millionaires reading this site, your own your own.

one way to finance 19.Oct.2002 15:10

not on the pchs board

To the renter above, this is the chance for lower income people to get out of the landlord system.

For those with money in savings, maybe one way to get this place started would be to apply for membership, and if voted in write out a legal agreement to pay your first year or two worth of rent/monthly room charges up front. That could go towards coming up with the necessary money for the downpayment, which is usually the biggest hurdle. If I understand correctly, the more money offered by the buyers in the initial downpayment the lower the interest rates on the mortgage that banks/credit unions are willing to offer.

hate to be a downer 19.Oct.2002 22:08


not on the pchs board: what you say makes complete sense but i'm sure that they won't just let anybody apply. they probably already know who is going to be involved. not to sound to down on the whole idea but it is my suspicion (and i hope i'm wrong) but this project is only really going to help white, middle class, probably aged 20-30, 'activist' type people- not those who are genuinally 'low income', and not out of choice.

externalites, co-op dynamics, etc 20.Oct.2002 15:03

not on the board

First, I think it would be foolish to let anybody live there. You probably don't mean that literally, but, having lived with dozens of housemates, I'm now highly particular on who I want to vote in... A 10 minute interview doesn't cut it. Someone that I've known, or a good friend has known for a while, is a far better pick than a stranger off the street. With that kind of dynamic, you're right in that a clique could easily develop, but sometimes your friends already have a place and the only one applying is a stranger. They need a place. You need there money to pay house bills.

Second, a cooperative tends to offer more affordable living opportunities since no portion of the rent goes to profit.
Everything goes back into the house or to its residents...
Naturally that attracts low income people.

Plus, since you have a lot of housemates and some of them tend to be annoying, truly middle class people are rare. I have only once met a middle income person living in a co-op, and I lived in one myself for 4 years. The general trend seems to be that if you can afford it you buy your own house and live by yourself or with your family and deeply appreciate the fact that there are no house meetings.

Third, the key question for Portland is do they provide the city with additional affordable living units? If they can do that they will be benefitting us all, whether we live there or not, by taking some pressure off the housing squeeze that is hiking up area rents.

Just curious 20.Oct.2002 17:18


I'm wondering how it happens that there's a "generous financing package offered to us by the current owner" at the same time that, "The financing that we've been offered thus far has been relatively high interest financing."

Doesn't the owner's package cover the entire price of the building, at a low or moderate interest rate, for sufficient time to be able to pay it off with affordable "rents"?

Or is it that additional expenses would be incurred, such as renovation/remodeling? What else needs "financing": down payment? repairs? longer terms?

A few things 20.Oct.2002 19:03

The board

None of the following has been officially sanctioned
by PCHS.

OK. A few things. The owner has generously offered to finance about 40% of the total price at 8% annual. This might allow a bunch of hard working, low paid, and broke anarchists (only some of us are anarchists), with no credit to buy a building that would normally be totally out of reach. The finacing offered means that we only have to ask a bank for 60%, so banks are taking us seriously. They are also coming in at 8% annual. We are a non-profit corporation
with no credit history. It's tough to get money with out credit. When you can get money it's expensive.

We are poor people who have spent enormous amounts of time working for free because we love it. Not very many of the PCHS organizers/board members actually want to move into the building. What they really want is to live in a house. With this deal they aren't getting anything tangible at all. They are still working their butts off.

Finacing the entire building with very little money down makes the building very expensive to manage. The mortgage payment is huge. The rents are actually going to have to go up a little to make this work. As a resident of this building I'm working my ass off and spending every dime I've got to make my rent go up and insure that for years to come I'll have countless hours of unpaid work maintaining this building. Why the fuck would I want to do that? We are doing this because we believe that at least some residential property in portland should be cooperatively owned. As a person with out access to capitol, working hard and getting
lucky in combination is the only way I'll ever own a home. I would prefer to live in a cooperative than a home I owned myself.

We think that the value of the building we want to buy is going to go up. When that happens and we've paid off some of the mortgage we will be able to refinance the building and use money from that and our established credit to help other poor people move into cooperative housing. We are doing this for anyone who might ever want to live in cooperative housing in portland. If we don't succeed we hope that some one else does. It's something I think should happen.

We already have a full building. Half of the residents don't give a fuck about cooperative anything. We aren't going to kick them out. We are going to let anybody apply. We'll check references and the residents of the building will decide who they want to live with.

We are stretching as far as we can with this deal. We can't afford to lose any rental income with everything finaced at 8%. Getting loans at less than that would allow us some breathing room. It also might help us get financing from a bank period. That's still not a sure thing. Loans to this project would be guaranteed by a legal document and real property. This building is worth what we're paying for it.

Besides the fact that buying this building will lead to buying more cooperative housing, buying this building will effectively freeze the rents on the ten units, preserving low cost housing in central portland. Everbody in the building across the street just got evicted. It's being remodeled and the rents are going up. If someone besides us buys this building we're next.

you need to provide more details 28.May.2004 15:53


40% percent of what?
8% percent interest is to darn much! try to get it between 6.25% - 7.50%!
who is the current owner?
what is the total purchase price?
what would the closing cost be?
ask the owner if he will pay the property taxes for the year you close!
what are the property taxes?
(I hate taxes but paying taxes is a fact of life in this nation!)
what is the amount of cash flow from the room/apartments rents?
what is the amount of cash flow from the cafe rent?
what is the amount of cash flow from the i.w.w. union hall rent?
how many rooms/apartments are there?
how much do utilities run per month?
have you discussed alease/purchase option?
could you apply your security deposits (or a portion of them) to the to the down payment?
have you looked into forming a 501 c 3 (?) non-profit as entity to own the building after/during the purchase?