Shared Equity Cooperatives and Community Investment Trusts

The vision of intergenerational co-living is not just an important path to consider for the sake of friendship, mutual care, and passing on wisdom. It also opens up the possibility of exploring alternative financial models that could enable transitions of spaces to low-income younger organizers and other marginalized communities, with the support of aligned investors, into resident-owned communities.

Impact Investing Funds created by sisters have already used this approach for decades as a strategy for creating more affordable housing and pathways to ownership in difficult housing markets. Similar financial approaches could be used to gradually transfer ownership of sister spaces over time to young organizers and organizations who lack resources to acquire property now through initial impact investor funding that is “bought out” over time by the community, or to gradually grow a shared financial commons (a shared trust) for sustaining and investing in sacred spaces in the decades ahead. Two models that have stretched our thinking in this include:

Two Case Studies


Case Study: Mercy Community Investment Trust

In Portland, Oregon, Mercy Corps Northwest invites neighbors to become small investors (with as little as $10 a month) in neighborhood businesses.

Over time, the community of neighbor investors in the Trust gradually buy out initial funders of the Trust, eventually owning the businesses outright.


Case Study: Shiftung Trias

“When we buy properties, our goal is to secure spaces of freedom” says Director Rolf Novy-Huy in Cooperative City.

“Stiftung trias was established in 2002 [in Germany], to help community groups and co-housing projects access financing. Trias takes land off the market by separating the ownership of land and buildings: supported initiatives lease the land from the foundation in the form of a long-term Heritable Building Right (Erbbaurecht) and their lease fee is collected in a mutual fund run by trias, where capital is accumulated for further property purchases in support of like-minded initiatives.”

Further Inspiration and Reading