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Solar Community Housing Association (SCHA) is a non-profit that has provided affordable, sustainable, and cooperative housing in Davis, California since 1979. SCHA is governed by its resident members (~100) and is comprised of three cooperative houses (Sunwise, J Street, and the Cornucopia Corner Co-op) along with two student cohousing communities on the UC Davis campus (the Baggins End Domes and Tri Co-op Houses). Over the last five years, SCHA has experienced rapid growth and expansion and is currently working on integrating a set of social justice goals to ensure its communities are more inclusive, equitable, and just.
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“We encourage and create community and respect for environment through affordable, cooperative housing.”
Sustainable “Sustainable” means many things- and we are always trying to broaden our definition of it. At the moment, we approach it from two angles: environmental sustainability and social sustainability. Our organization works toward environmental sustainability by including energy-efficient building features, growing some of our own produce, sharing resources (from housing appliances to garden equipment to labor), promoting sustainable transportation (bikes, in-fill housing). In addition to environmental sustainability, our organization emphasizes social sustainability. SCHA is an equal opportunity and low income housing provider- we work hard to educate our members about systemic oppressions and underlying economic and cultural barriers that co-operative culture might perpetuate. We want to share our knowledge and experiment with the community — through house tours, workshops, and volunteer engagement in our projects.
Cooperative Cooperative is another word loaded with different meanings. Many co-ops (including the International Cooperative Alliance) identify with the seven Rochdale Principles, which define a member owned and operated organization. They have their roots in business cooperatives and do not cover all housing cooperatives that are not completely member owned. We are members of NASCO (North American Students of Cooperation), and are usually represented at its annual meetings. We support local cooperatives in a variety of ways as part of our mission. We believe and practice a consensus decision making process. Consensus process models also vary, and are often addressed in our workshops.
Affordable We have fixed our definition of affordable in accordance with state tax requirements as making less than 80% of Yolo Median Income. To qualify, a potential resident must be a) a student at an institution of higher learning, or b) meet this affordability requirement on becoming a member. Residents that exceed this limit after becoming members are currently given a one-year grace period to find alternative housing. As part of our educational mission, membership is limited to a period of six years, creating perpetual turn-over whereby new members may experience affordable, cooperative living.