Message from Co-Chairpersons ED YAKER & DAVE SMITH

This message was written for the CCC’s 35th Anniversary celebration in May 2001.

Thirty-five years ago, leaders of housing cooperatives associated with the United Housing Foundation decided that they could help their co-ops by meeting together to exchange ideas and information. They formed the Coordinating Council of Cooperatives (CCC), and met voluntarily once a month except July and August. For thirty-five years, the CCC has kept the faith.

Much of what was written in an article by Ralph Lippman twenty-five years ago still holds true today. Even many issues that Ralph mentions are still with us today, and our individual cooperatives still benefit by the unfiltered flow of information.

In addition to information, CCC members working together have been largely responsible for a noteworthy record of legislative accomplishments:

  • Shelter rent tax
  • Exemption from carrying charge increases for low-income seniors
  • Surcharge retention by housing companies
  • Amortization credit for cooperators
  • Elimination of supervisory fees paid to the City and State
  • Exemption from City and State Franchise Taxes and Corporation Tax
  • Inclusion of funding in state and city budgets for NORC programs (Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities)

In addition to these achievements, we have worked on numerous other legislative issues. Furthermore, our member cooperatives have been instrumental leaders in other ways:

  • Our members developed the first NORC programs, and encouraged the growth of NORC programs to other communities. We’ve worked with service providers and philanthropies to form a citywide NORC Coalition, and played an important role in gaining state and city funding for NORC programs. We helped create a not for profit organization to help housing communities develop NORC programs. Recently, NORC SSC received federal funding and is taking NORC national, helping to build programs in several other cities.
  • We were instrumental in convincing the Public Service Commission to allow cooperatives to submeter electricity, and several CCC members were the first to implement this energy saving, dollar saving, fair approach to paying for electrical consumption.
  • We joined with the Pure Water Alliance to oppose the sale of New York’s water system.
  • We helped create the National Cooperative Bank (NCB)
  • We are members of the National Cooperative Business Association/Cooperative League of the United States of America (NCBA/CLUSA), the umbrella organization for all cooperatives nationally, and we are active in the leadership of the national cooperative movement
  • Alone among local organizations, we were singled out by the Credit Union movement for our support against the legislative threat recently posed by the banking community.
  • We actively supported the successful campaign for “dot coop,” the new top level domain identifying cooperatives on the world wide web

Over the past ten years, we have worked in coalition with the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums (CNYC), the Federation of New York Housing Cooperatives (FNYHC) and the Housing Development Fund Corporations Council (HDFC). Together, with one group or another taking the lead, the New York housing cooperative organizations have tackled important issues of concern to cooperative housing:

  • A separate part has been created in Housing Court for cooperatives and condominiums
  • Working on both the legal front and the legislative front, housing cooperatives convinced the IRS to halt its attempt to apply IRS Section 277 to housing cooperatives
  • Through the Action Committee for Reasonable Real Estate Taxes, housing co-ops are achieving more equitable property taxes for New York City cooperators

We have also worked together with the Mitchell-Lama Council and the Urban Homestead Assistance Board (UHAB).

Nurturing our children has been a prime goal of our housing cooperatives, and CCC has been spreading the message of cooperation to our youth. Members have taken youngsters to national conferences or our own CCC Youth Conferences. The sharing of information extends to co-op youth programs.

Since our founding, the cost of energy has been a common concern. In a major achievement, CCC leaders have proudly founded the nation’s first “rural electric cooperative.” Under the visionary leadership of Allen Thurgood, 1st Rochdale promotes cost saving and energy efficiency for cooperatives and other consumers. Allen served for more than ten years as CCC Coordinator, and infused new vigor and enthusiasm. Now, along with other CCC leaders, he has developed a major new cooperative to benefit consumers.

CCC has helped save cooperatives and cooperators millions of dollars. It has spread information that has led to improved governance, community and culture within our cooperatives. It has re-energized cooperative leaders through the shared camaraderie which comes from knowing other cooperative leaders. For many of us, the CCC’s greatest gift has been the marvelous people we have come to know, who we would not have known without it.

Over thirty-five years, the Coordinating Council has changed somewhat. We have incorporated and changed our name to the Coordinating Council of Cooperatives of Greater New York. Some founding cooperatives no longer participate, while other new members have joined us. Cooperators who knew little of cooperatives thirty-five years ago now join with our remaining founders.

In important ways, we remain unchanged. After thirty-five years, volunteer lay leaders still give up their time to benefit their co-ops. CCC representatives study, analyze, and learn everything there is to know about cooperative housing. We still honor our heritage, and the Principles of Cooperation first set forth by the Pioneers of Rochdale, England in 1844.

In the words of Ralph Lippman, written twenty-five years ago, “We built family-oriented, culture-oriented, occupant-involved cooperative communities. It was not ‘real estate’ but communities which were to be built; it was not profit but service which motivated us. In a cooperative the emphasis is on the people rather than on the dollars – and it is the interests of the people which are to be served and the will of the people which is to be respected.”

For thirty-five years, the CCC has helped volunteer cooperative leaders better serve their cooperators. It will continue to do so.

“These splendid cooperative homes of ours, for all their beauty and comfort, are incomplete and inanimate without the spirit of cooperation that must dwell within them.
How is that spirit to be fostered? First and foremost, by a friendliness and mutual respect for each other; by faith and confidence in our various committees and administration; by sincere cooperation, intellectually, artistically and socially
…But let us not be silent and passive. Let each one of us contribute a little of our spare time, our ideas and personalities toward building a spiritual community that will reflect glory and joy upon all of us.
. ..Nothing is impossible! With five hundred families cooperating sincerely and unselfishly, everything is possible. Let us but desire it; desire it strongly! And just as these lovely homes of ours have come into being out of a desire for better things, will our cultural and artistic dreams come true, and then only will the spirit of cooperation find full and lasting realization in our enterprise.”

Herman Liebman