River City Housing Collective (RCHC) is an independent non-profit corporation. RCHC was formed in 1977 by some people from the University of Iowa's Student Senate as a response to the high prices and low availability of housing in Iowa City at the time.
Currently we own three houses, Anomy, Summit, and Bloom County, all of which are approximately 6 blocks from downtown. Between these three houses, we maintain about 36 members.
Our goal is to provide quality housing for students and community members at a cost below that of the Iowa City market average. Quality housing includes good maintenance, caring landlords (ourselves), and a healthy social environment.
Cooperatives work because we work together. RCHC keeps our costs low by requiring each member of the collective to do a minimum of sixteen hours of work credit per month; eight hours are for the organization and the remaining eight are for the member's specific house. House hours are completed through cooking and cleaning for the house. Collective hours are earned through meeting attendance, maintenance and administrative tasks, and participation in committee projects.
More important than the economical aspects of co-op living are its advantages as a social and learning experience. Members learn management, cooking, maintenance, and communication skills as well as a sense of living in community/cooperation with a variety of other people.
The strengths of cooperative living come from the cooperative philosophy itself: individuals coming together to have more control over their economic and social environments. Members provide the ideas, guidance, support, and energy to make it work.
In the co-op, one finds many diverse backgrounds, ages, interests, nationalities, and lifestyles drawn together into a community that promotes friendships, greater understanding of others, and an exchange of knowledge. People often join the co-op for the economy, but stay in the co-op for the community.
One of the 7 cooperative principles is 'cooperation among cooperatives.' The North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) is a membership organization of cooperatives and, through our membership, RCHC is connected to other cooperatives throughout the U.S. and Canada. NASCO also provides us with valuable resources and counsel.
Each house buys food as a unit, saving money with quality and quantity purchases. Communal meals are served on a regular basis as each member cooks twice per month. The houses strive to accommodate the dietary needs and preferences of all their members when buying food and cooking meals.
RCHC's rents vary, depending upon room dimensions and features. Nevertheless, our rents run at 80% of local market averages. Upon signing a room and membership contract, we require a security deposit of $300. This deposit will be refunded, minus any outstanding debt and compensation for room damage, upon your exit from RCHC.
In our meetings we utilize the feminist process. One of the most fundamental ideas of feminism is that we don’t all have equal access to power in this society, and feminist process is one way of beginning to address and redress that disparity. Feminist process is a way of structuring debate and action to include more people and to encourage people who usually follow to learn to lead, and vice-versa.
The most important part of feminist process is not a set of guidelines but of a constant awareness of the whole. That means waiting to let other people speak if you’ve been talking a lot; responding to the discussion rather than looking for an opportunity to make your point; being aware of how much other people are taking on and recognizing that everyone needs to do her or his part.
Though not all of our parts are necessarily equal all the time; taking risks by volunteering to lead if you’ve always followed or to follow if you’ve always led, and being supportive of other people who are taking those risks.
River City Housing Collective is open to all people regardless of race, creed, color, age, gender, disability, or affectual orientation. RCHC is committed to the elimination of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and any other system of discrimination which denies any person the right to equal consideration based upon their individual character.