Cooperatives as vehicles for community and economic development : a case for alternative ownership and expansion of the solidarity economy in Austin, Texas

Vallier, Shaw
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Rapidly rising home prices in and around Austin, Texas has led to the displacement of residents, which in turn results in loss of community as well as increased traffic as most workers still need to access jobs near the city center. Increasing support for worker-owned firms and housing cooperatives could be community and economic development strategies for stabilizing residents. Cooperatives were able to better weather economic downturns brought on by COVID, keeping more workers employed and paid. This report uses review of existing literature, case studies, and analysis of secondary data sources to identify advantages as well as specific areas for intervention in both the productive enterprise and housing sectors. Austin has a small but established cooperative ecosystem that can continue to contribute to the growth of the solidarity economy in the area. This report specifically explores alternative models of ownership for firms and housing as a strategy for community development, and further, as strategies that will maximize the benefits of the systems already in place. The overarching point, however, is that alterative models of ownership would lend themselves well to the objectives of 1) ensuring that the incredible growth the region continues to see is sustainably and equitably distributed, 2) supporting the leveraging of community resources to return community benefits, wherever possible, and 3) to support parallel strengthening of worker and resident movements in the face of increasing returns to global investors