Housing cooperative becomes first in Marquette


Akasha Khalsa

On March 17 the Marquette Climbers Cooperative was accepted as the city’s first official housing cooperative, making it the sole current project operating under new legislation adopted by the city as of Feb. 11 2019.

The organization is a jointly-owned housing project where all members take part in ownership, bills and chores. It functions primarily as student housing, although some young adults from the general Marquette community participate as well, President of the Cooperative and senior biology major Bryce DeMers said.

The Climbers Cooperative does not have a requirement for residents to be climbers. Activities around the cooperative often involve gardening and doing permaculture projects.

Residents share responsibility for tasks such as shoveling in the winter, but they also have the power to facilitate what happens in house. As a whole, members dictate their own rent and decide what projects and events they work together on.

The cooperative is seen as an “intentional community” in the law of Marquette. 

An intentional community is defined as: “A planned residential community designed to have a high degree of social cohesion. The members of an intentional community typically have common interests, which may be an organizing factor, such as a social, religious, or spiritual philosophy, and are likely to share responsibilities and resources,” according to the Marquette Land Development code of 2020.

“It makes for a more sustainable and cheaper housing alternative for students,” DeMers said.

The cooperative was created in 2012 by a group of climbers, but until 2019 there was no legislation in the city of Marquette to legally recognize and allow housing cooperatives. Since the time that this legislation was passed, DeMers said the residents of the house have been working with the town to finalize their recognition. They are the first to make use of this legislation.

This change will make some things significantly easier for the members of the coop, as it removes the limit of people who can reside there. Off campus housing in Marquette generally only allows four unrelated adults to live in the same home. However, as a cooperative, the house can now “find a capacity that works,” DeMers said.

The only limit on people is now the amount of space available for residents within the house.

“Occupancy of an Intentional Community Dwelling shall not exceed more than one person per 200 square feet of habitable space,” according to the Marquette Land Development code of 2020.

DeMers said he hopes this change will result in cheaper rent for residents and a larger community.

“It allows us to do a lot of things with our space. We could fit seven or eight people in our space but previously it was limited to four,” DeMers said. “It will give more students the opportunity to live this lifestyle and maintain a house, work on projects.”

The house screens applicants for residents in June or July for fall housing, October for winter and February for summer. 

“It’s a great opportunity for students to learn how to own property and how to take care of themselves while they’re still in school before they go and settle down and buy their own houses somewhere,” DeMers said. “I’d invite everyone to come over and say hello and garden when everything blows over, and get a sense of that community back.”

DeMers said he encourages anyone interested in starting a new cooperative to look through the town’s legislation and come to the Climbers Cooperative to chat about how it was started.