Through vibrant green summers and freezing snowy winters, the members of the Kildahl Park Pointe Cooperative (KPP) in Northfield, Minnesota trust the solid brick building at 888 Cannon Valley Drive to keep them safe and secure. The building is their home. All the members have topped fifty-five and rely on each other, not just to borrow cups of sugar, but to combat the solitude many elderly experience. Common spaces buzz with pot luck dinners, lectures and spontaneous sing-a-longs. The people of Northfield see coop members out for bike rides and hikes.
Members live in the buildings fifty-one spacious units, all complete with kitchen, bathroom, storage closets and laundry facilities. Each living unit constitutes a share. Five years ago, when Kildahl Park Pointe started selling shares, they followed a model for senior housing cooperatives that is gaining popularity throughout the US. Members pay a portion of utilities and maintenance fees and participate in democratic decision making to manage the building. They also buy into a communal, fixed rate mortgage. In recent years, as the US housing market tumbled, KPP members watched, unaffected.
Like many senior housing cooperatives, KPP looks to Senior Cooperative Foundation (SCF) for support. Coops can rely on the foundation to offer advice on organizational development. Such assistance comes in the form of ongoing communicationif coops have a question and they can call up or send an e-mail. More than that, SFC conducts on-site training modules and organizes an annual meeting of cooperatives. Senior housing coops do not need to start from scratch but, rather, can follow tested, refined models and methods. Perhaps just as important, the foundation connects a network of senior housing cooperatives. Currently, 102 such organizations from around the country seek assistance from the foundation. Just as each individual coop ensures that its members have connections and community, SFC ensures that coops do not function in isolation.
While Minnesotans generally pride themselves on neighborliness, those who live in the Kildahl Park Pointe Cooperative have decided to actually enter into financial partnership with their neighbors. The result is a community full of active, supported, vital senior citizens. They lean on the knowledge and expertise of Senior Cooperative Foundation as it spreads the possibility of such a lifestyle around the country.