Renting Partnerships

Renting Partnerships is part of our co-op family. They prevent homelessness, generate wealth and give people more control over their own lives.  Families are able to become stable, financially independent and invested in their communities. Renting Partnerships provides a participatory management system that creates financial assets for households left out of ownership. Stable, committed residents preserve the quality and affordability of housing that is owned or leased collectively. This system creates a sense of ownership and the security low-income households need to grow personally and financially.

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The Program


Why is this needed?

We need a way for low income people to raise their social and economic status which does not require them to buy and sell a home.  Americans typically accumulate and store wealth through homeownership but not everyone is able to participate or benefit. The economic divide between owners and renters is growing.  

Historically, African-Americans were left out of programs and financing for homeownership.  One consequence of that is that black wealth barely exists.  Today, economic inequality and financial insecurity is becoming more widespread. Renting Partnerships can enable anyone who is left out of ownership to participate in the operation of their housing and build the nest egg they need to weather emergencies and build a better life. 


How does it work?

Each household earns financial credits by fulfilling commitments in their lease which include participation in upkeep of common areas and monthly meetings.  Participation is measured monthly and credits assigned according to an amortized schedule.  Money that is budgeted for vacancy and turnover is saved as the result of resident commitment and these reserves are used to provide financial payments to residents for the credits they have earned.  Households are eligible to redeem credits for rent or financial payment after five years and do not have to move. They can accrue up to $10,000 in credits in 10 years.  

Watch this in-depth explanation of the origins of the renter equity model and how it works on Peter Block’s The Abundant Community webinar with Margery Spinney from this spring!

The Results

In 1999, Margery Spinney created the first participatory management system with equity credits for renters for a low-income housing project being developed by the Women's Research and Development Center and the Franciscan Friars in Cincinnati, Ohio.  At the time, Margery was Director of the Cornerstone-Homesource Community Loan Fund, which expanded its mission to implement the concept - becoming the Cornerstone Corporation for Shared Equity.  She recruited and guided resident participation with Carol Smith, the Property Manager, and developed the financial system.  

Between 2002 and 2012, fifty nine households in this and two subsequent development projects accumulated over $140,000 in equity credits even though their income averaged about $20,000 per year.  In 2013, Margery and Carol formed Renting Partnerships in order to establish a framework to expand best practices in participatory management and assure long term accountability to the resident community. 

Watch the video above to see more about this model.