The limited-equity cooperatives that emerged in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s and '80s were a form of the commons: a resource that is governed collectively by its members, and is used not to extract profit for a few individuals, but to support the lives of a group. The commons are a dignified basis of survival for poor people who are largely cut out of capitalist markets, an alternative to both market- and state-oriented approaches to managing resources and sustaining life. In Washington, a housing commons arose when two historical factors came together in the 1970s: the return of Home Rule and a wave of gentrification and tenant organizing. With low-income residents threatened with expulsion from their communities and even the city, activists and their supporters generated the political will that led to the creation of a housing commons in the form of limited-equity cooperatives.
Huron, Amanda. 2014. “Creating a Commons in the Capital: The Emergence of Limited-Equity Housing Cooperatives in Washington, D.C.” Washington History, 26(1): 56-67.