New Proposal Aims to Improve Assistance Program Access for Cooperative Housing Tenants

New Proposal Aims to Improve Assistance Program Access for Cooperative Housing Tenants

AUGUSTA, GA– A bill aimed at making a minor yet significant adjustment to housing assistance programs had its public hearing today, addressing the classification of housing cooperatives in these programs. Representative Kristen Cloutier of Lewiston introduced LD 1505, which seeks to reclassify housing cooperatives as renters for the purpose of housing assistance eligibility. Craig Saddlemire, the cooperative development organizer for RAISE-OP Housing Cooperative in Lewiston, emphasized the need for awareness about housing cooperatives, explaining that they represent affordable housing where residents collectively own the organization without the involvement of landlords or third parties.

Housing cooperatives have struggled with their unique status, falling between traditional renters and homeowners, which has posed challenges for tenants seeking assistance programs in recent years. Representative Cloutier believes that reclassifying them as renters will open doors to rental assistance programs, allowing cooperative residents to access vital support.

Saddlemire pointed out that housing cooperatives face barriers when applying for rental and utility assistance programs because many administrators are unfamiliar with the concept of housing cooperatives. These administrators typically process applications for renters or homeowners, making it challenging for housing cooperatives to navigate the application process. LD 1505 aims to simplify this process for cooperatives without requiring extensive changes to the assistance programs themselves.

The bill is now scheduled for a work session in the housing committee before advancing to a full legislative vote. If passed, it could bring significant improvements to the eligibility and accessibility of housing assistance programs for cooperative housing residents.

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