By Sydney Emerson

LAKE PLACID — A planned affordable housing cooperative in Lake Placid is slowly becoming a reality.

The co-op, which is located on a 103-acre plot of land off Averyville Road in Lake Placid, was announced in early 2022 when an anonymous private donor handed the parcel of land over to the Adirondack North Country Association. ANCA, which had little experience in co-op housing projects, enlisted the help of the Cooperative Development Institute, a non-profit that helps co-ops across the northeastern United States get organized and grow. The project has been slowly progressing ever since and now has an interim board and a mission statement.

The board is hosting a public information session for people interested in joining the cooperative; the session is on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the Mirror Lake Beach House.

Cooperative housing

In a housing co-op, instead of individual people or households purchasing or renting property, a group of members collectively own the buildings and land in which they live via a corporation. The members buy a share in the cooperative and pay a monthly amount — called a carrying charge or maintenance fee — to cover operating expenses, which can include a mortgage on the land or homes. The mortgage is taken out by the corporation, not by individual members.

“In a cooperative, especially in an affordable housing cooperative, there’s no middle man making a profit,” said CDI Cooperative Development Specialist Shana Siegel. “The residents are members. They elect a board, they work together to decide what the budget is and what the rents are going to be and what their policies and procedures are going to be.”

Co-ops are run democratically. The board must stand for election and re-election, and each household gets one vote.

The Lake Placid co-op intends to be an affordable housing cooperative, sometimes called a limited equity cooperative. CDI often advises this kind of co-op projects. In a limited equity cooperative, there are restrictions on a unit’s sale price, ensuring that housing will be affordable in the long term.

Co-ops have two unique traits that allow them to be more affordable than other housing options, according to Siegel. One, no single member has to have hundreds of thousands of dollars up front to purchase land or a home. All they need to pay up front is the price of their share, which can be borrowed in the same way people borrow to purchase a home. Two, when a co-op is created with the mission of affordability and accessibility over profit, it is easy to keep it that way. Members do not expect to get rich off of a co-op; they expect to have secure housing.

Read the full article in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.