about




MISSION STATEMENT
The purpose of the Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-op (SBSHC) is to provide low rent co-op housing for student, staff, and faculty of the University of California at Santa Barbara, regardless of gender, race, social, political, or religious affiliation, and thereby influencing the community to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the community. We strive to engage in continuous educational programs that further the principles of cooperation through mutual, self-help living at a minimal cost.


HISTORY
Our co-op was started in 1976 by a group of students at UCSB concerned about housing rates and slum conditions in Isla Vista. The students decided to form a cooperative to master lease buildings, thereby lowering rates and giving members greater control over the quality of the housing they occupied. The co-op was incorporated as the University Students' Rochdale Housing Project (USRHP), named after the Rochdale Co-op in England, which is recognized as the first successful modern consumer cooperative.

The USHRP co-op opened its first leased building in the fall of 1977 at 6520 Cervantes. The building had 31 one-bedroom apartments and held 61 members. The second building that the co-op master leased was at 6503 Madrid, and is still in the co-op’s possession to this day. By the fall of 1980, the co-op had master leased seven buildings and housed almost 200 members.

In 1981, USHRP passed a major milestone – the purchase of its first building. The co-op bought 6503 Madrid, which it had previously master leased, and named it after Patti Newman, one of the co-op's founding members and one of the first Executive Directors. Newman House comprises of 9 one and two-bedroom apartments. During the early 1980's the co-op continued its strategy of expansion through master leasing, eventually housing 480 university students and staff. The co-op's own staff grew quite large in order to accommodate a range of activities from building maintenance to member education.

In 1984, the USHRP purchased its second building, the Manley House. Manley was the co-op’s first group house, meaning members slept in bedrooms and worked together to organize the rest of the common household. The building is named after Steven Manley, an active co-op member who was killed over summer vacation while fighting forest fires in Los Padres National Forest.

At this point, the co-op's history takes an ominous turn. USHRP became engaged in a lawsuit with one of the property owners from which it leases several buildings. After a legal battle of several years, the co-op ended up losing the lawsuit, quite a bit of money, and many of its master-leased buildings. Eventually, USHRP ceased master-leasing altogether, and operated only the two buildings it owned: Newman and Manley. Although the lawsuit caused a lot of changes at the co-op, and a great deal of financial trouble at the time, the co-op is now in a financially stable position and is looking ahead to the future.

In 1991, the members of the co-op voted to change its name to "Santa Barbara Student Housing Co-ops," (SBSHC) in order to be more descriptive of its activities and to emphasize its relationship with the UCSB campus. The co-op also began a management arrangement with the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), an umbrella student co-op organization. NASCO provided SBSHC with an executive director that also served as the West Coast Developer and combined consulting efforts to get the co-op back on it’s feet.

In 1994 the tireless work and dedication of co-opers led to the acquisition of Dashain House. As a themed vegetarian house, Dashain was the first building within the co-op to have it's own meal plan. Initially it was going to be called the House of Seitan, but Dashain sounded friendlier as it also paid homage to a house pet. In 1997, the co-op bought Biko House, named for Steven Biko, the Black Nationalist student leader and revolutionary who fought and died in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. Biko is a house for people of color and their allies committed to fighting racism.

GOVERNANCE
The governing system is a federated one in which the internal affairs of each individual house are controlled by an elected house level government. Matters of concern to more than one house or to the organization as a whole are determined by the SBSHC Board of Directors. House officers are elected popularly on a one-member, one-vote basis, as are the representatives of the Board of Directors. Control of the organization is vested ultimately in the members through the Board, which is composed of eight members and two non-members. Members are elected proportionately by the houses, and non- members are two community representatives appointed by the Board. No Board member has the power of veto. Member Directors serve annual terms, while Community Directors serve indefinite terms. This arrangement provides continuity and experience while retaining control in the hands of the membership.

MANAGEMENT
SBSHC is almost entirely managed by its member managers. All management of individual houses is performed by members appointed by their housemates and compensated in the form of rent credit. These managers supervise all functions conducted by members in their houses or apartments, including meal service, housekeeping, maintenance, gardening, and finances.

Each resident member is obligated to complete chore tasks as assigned by the member house manager. All the houses prepare their own meals using chores and under the supervision of elected member kitchen managers. Likewise, most routine and minor maintenance is done by house members under the supervision of the elected member house maintenance manager.

In addition to the student management, there is a professional full-time staff of 2 people who oversee centralized operations. The professional staff consists of the Executive Director and Member Services Coordinator. Central functions include collection of fees, applications and assignments, fiscal management and major maintenance. While the full-time staff provides continuity and expertise for the organization, major policy and organizational decisions are still reserved for the Board of Directors.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Board is the sole governing body of the SBSHC, and all members are welcome to attend, speak, and make motions at each of its meetings. Each house has at least one Board Representative, and four at-large Representatives that can be elected from any of the houses. There are also two Community Representatives that are appointed by the Board. The Board meets every other week for two hours, and on the off-week, the individual Board Members work with their committees.

The Board works as a representational democracy in which the houses elect Board Representatives; the Board Representatives elect the Officers; the Officers chair committees of the Board; the Board votes on proposals from the committees and staff affecting SBSHC continuing policy, and sets the annual budget for the Co-op. Officer positions that serve on the Board of Directors are the President, the Vice President, the Secretary and the Treasurer.

CENTRAL STAFF

Jeff Bessmer
Executive Director
jeff@sbcoop.org


Jeff is responsible for coordinating the cooperative's operations and finance as well as coordinating staff and administration. He implements decisions by the Board and works to motivate cooperative members through the cooperative spirit. In the coming quarters he will be working with the Board to develop and implement strategic plans for the cooperative's future.

Although Jeff grew up in the Washington D.C. area he has spent the last six years living in housing cooperatives and working with consumer-owned and worker-owned cooperatives in Madison, Chicago, Iowa City, and Austin. Jeff is presently working on his Masters of Co-op Management with cooperators around the world. In his previous roles with other cooperatives Jeff has been a manager of logistics and internal controls, sat on a variety of boards, led strategic planning and auditing, started a successful secondary cooperative, developed auditing standards, represented internationally, and organized inter-cooperative cooperation. In these roles Jeff has worked to enhance systems of accountability, developing performance metrics and implement results-oriented operations, increase efficiency, and most importantly more strongly embrace cooperative values and the cooperative spirit through strong, responsive connections with members.

Jeff presently sits on the board of NASCO Development Services and works to lead the cooperative community to better serve its members. Jeff believes strongly in the power of cooperatives to democratize, reduce poverty, and enhance equality through his work with cooperators around the world.

Outside of SBSHC Jeff is a bicyclist, has a passion for local food, goes backpacking, sings in low tones, and enjoys his time exploring what it is we all have in common.


Josh Redman
Member Services Coordinator
josh@sbcoop.org


Josh deals with housing applications, information on housing, and contracts. He is responsible for recruitment, advertising and renewals, and can answer any and all housing questions and problems. Josh manages the Service Program, helps coordinate events and other generally fun things!

Otherwise, Josh puts on DIY shows, plays in a band with his sister (Watercolor Paintings), does Food Not Bombs every Sunday, fingerboards, has an unhealthy obsession with VHS and collecting large amounts of useless things, and likes to participate as much as he can.

Josh has a beard.