The Inter-Cooperative Council (ICC) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, one of the largest and longest standing student housing co-ops in North America, was founded during the era of the Great Depression with the idea that there is strength in numbers and cooperation. It all started with one house in 1932 where the members voluntarily pooled their resources to afford the housing costs and buy food together. Today, the ICC Co-ops own 16 different houses that are home to over 500 members including students and young professionals, who could not afford food or housing in Ann Arbor otherwise. We all work together with the common goals of affordability, sustainability, social equality, community, and cooperation.
But with the recent struggles of the pandemic, many members are struggling to pay charges and contribute to their cooperative communities.
As a student-run and owned non-profit organization, the ICC strives to maintain affordability by charging members at low rates roughly 20% below the Ann Arbor housing market. When COVID-19 hit the United States, many of the students found themselves losing their jobs and source of income to pay their charges due to being ineligible for financial assistance from the government. The ICC Co-ops have decided to not charge late fees during this time period. Despite this, many members are still struggling with anxiety surrounding a high balance accumulating and we, as a community, want to do everything we can to help our members. Because of this, we are trying everything we can to keep our members safe within the homes and ease the burden of charges during this time.
The ICC co-ops have survived through many hardships before, but never alone. Together, we find strength and the ability to persevere through these struggles, and now we are asking for assistance from our community, alumni, and others to help us keep members within our houses.
Our GoFundMe goal is to raise $100,000 for our COVID-19 Relief Fund for our members who do not have a way of paying their charges during the pandemic lockdown. As a “student-owned, student-run” organization, we have been putting our members’ well-being first. Moving forward, it is crucial for the current and future students to have affordable housing so they can pursue higher education without worrying about living costs.