Who we are
RCHC is a member-directed non-profit dedicated to providing quality, affordable housing for students and community members at a cost below that of the Iowa City market average. RCHC was formed in 1977 by members of the University of Iowa Student Senate as a response to the lack of affordable housing options in Iowa City; however, we are not U of I-affiliated. We are a cooperative alternative to the traditional landlord-tenant relationship and currently own three historic homes, with a combined 36 rooms, near downtown Iowa City.
Our mission 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.
How we work
Cooperatives work because we work together. Members pool knowledge, talent, energy, and time to our mutual benefit. RCHC keeps our costs affordable by requiring each member of the Collective to do a minimum of sixteen hours of work credit per month, eight hours for the organization and eight for the member's House.
House hours are completed through cooking and cleaning for your House. Collective hours are earned through meeting attendance, maintenance and administrative tasks, and participation on a committee of your choice.
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, and community at home encourages friendships, greater understanding of others, and an exchange of knowledge.
The strengths of cooperative living come from the cooperative philosophy itself: individuals coming together to have more control over their economic and social environments.
Each house buys food as a unit, saving money with quality and quantity purchases. Communal meals are served on a regular basis with each member cooking twice a month for their House. The houses strive to accommodate the dietary needs and preferences of all their members when buying food and cooking meals.
Consensus-Based Decision Making
Meetings are how we collectively make decisions for the Coop and our Houses. RCHC uses consensus-based decision making, and our meetings are conducted in accordance with nonviolent communication and 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.
A safe space is a place where rules including the feminist process and nonviolent communication protect people’s self respect and where voices marginalized by mainstream society get a chance to speak out and fully be themselves without fear of prejudice and hostility, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, religious affiliation, age, or physical or mental ability and beyond. It should be a place where people can have deep, meaningful dialogue and support and listen to one another with mutual understandings. -from the RCHC Safe Space Policy