The difference between housing co-op and cohousing

A housing co-op, short for housing cooperative, is a type of housing in which residents collectively own and govern the property. In a housing co-op, residents purchase shares in the cooperative corporation, which gives them the right to occupy a specific unit within the co-op's property. Each member of the co-op has an equal vote in the decision-making process, regardless of the number of shares they own.
The difference between housing co-op and cohousing

Housing co-ops have a long history, with the first known co-op being established in 1859 in London, England. The concept of co-op housing spread to the United States in the late 1800s, where it was embraced as a way for working-class people to pool their resources and gain access to affordable housing. During the Great Depression, the United States government encouraged the development of co-ops as a way to provide low-cost housing to those in need.

In Europe and North America, co-ops have traditionally been a form of affordable housing for low-income and working-class individuals and families. However, in recent years, co-ops have also been established for middle- and upper-income residents, and are increasingly being used as a way for people to gain access to affordable housing in high-cost urban areas.

Cohousing, on the other hand, is a type of intentional community in which residents live in separate, privately owned homes but share common spaces and resources. Cohousing communities are typically organized around a common interest or goal, such as environmental sustainability or intergenerational living. In cohousing, residents make decisions collectively and share responsibilities such as cooking and cleaning.

There are some similarities between housing co-ops and cohousing. Both types of communities are based on the idea of collective ownership and decision-making, and both are designed to provide residents with a sense of community and shared responsibility. However, there are also important differences between the two. Housing co-ops are typically focused on providing affordable housing, while cohousing communities are focused on building intentional communities. Additionally, residents in a housing co-op typically have individual ownership of their unit, while in a cohousing community, residents often share ownership of the common spaces.

Housing co-op and cohousing are two different models of collective living, with different origins and different goals. Housing co-op is more affordable housing focused, while cohousing is more community focused. Both models have evolved over time and can be found in different countries and cultures, providing different options for people to live in a collective and shared way.


“Housing Cooperatives: A Model for Affordable Housing.” National Cooperative Business Association,

“Cooperative Housing.”, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 7 Jan. 2021,

“Cohousing: What It Is and How It Works.” AARP,

“Housing Co-ops.” Co-operative Housing International,

“Cohousing.” The Cohousing Association,

Pedro Aibéo, 17.01.2023