In April of 2013, with the support of the City and County of Boulder, the Boulder Housing Coalition bought its third property: a run-down 8-unit apartment complex called North Haven at the corner of 9th and North Streets in North Boulder. Over the course of 2013 the building was transformed it into an energy efficient 26 member family oriented housing cooperative called Ostara, and in the process nearly doubled the membership of our co-op system!
The Ostara Cooperative is near Boulder Community Hospital, North Boulder Park, and Ideal Market, just a couple of blocks from the high frequency Skip bus route on Broadway, and a 10 minute stroll from the Pearl Street Mall. It’s in a relatively quiet neighborhood within the attendance areas for the newly renovated Mapleton Early Childhood Education Center and Whittier Elementary School.
Ostara has two, two-bedroom apartments dedicated to housing families, and a large shared living space, with 18 bedrooms an awesome kitchen, dining, and living rooms. The apartments allow families to have a little more privacy and space than would be available in the main house, but they still participate in most aspects of the community, including shared meals, labor, and governance. There are also parents and children living in the main house.
Like the BHC’s other communities (and the board of the BHC itself) Ostara is governed by the consensus of the members who live there. The members have a lot of autonomy over the management of the building, and how the community itself functions. We call this autonomy rights commensurate with ownership. While big-ticket capital improvements and major maintenance items like replacing the roof are handled by the BHC, minor maintenance and everyday management are up to the Ostara members — co-op living is different from your average rental experience. Like the other BHC houses, Ostara elects a representative to the BHC board, and takes part in the governance of the co-op system as a whole.
Every member of the Ostara gets an unlimited use transit pass through RTD and the City of Boulder’s Neighborhood EcoPass program. The co-op also helps coordinate the Dewey Alpine Neighborhood EcoPass District, making sure that there are enough participants (and enough money) to keep the program sustainable.
Co-op members also get discounts on membership in and use of local non-profit car-sharing service eGo CarShare, with a fuel efficient shared vehicle that lives on site. The co-op also provides plentiful secure bike parking. All of these amenities combined with the Ostara’s central Boulder location make it an easy place to live without owning your own car, which adds to overall affordability of the community.
- Ostara is located at 2550 9th St. within easy walking distance of North Boulder Park, Ideal Market, Boulder Community Hospital, the Skip bus route, and just a 10 minute walk from the Pearl St. Mall. This location is within the attendance areas of the Mapleton Early Childhood Education Center and Whittier Elementary School.
- Room rents in the main house average about $570. The two apartments each rent for $900.
- A utility fee of ~$60/month covers high speed internet, electricity, natural gas, water, trash collection, and many basic household items like laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, etc.
- A monthly food assessment of $155 is required, and provides all the food you need, if you want it to.
- After you’ve completed Ostara’s membership process and income qualified, a security deposit equal to one month’s rent and utilities is required to secure a spot in the co-op. If necessary, this deposit can be paid in several installments.
- Energy efficient commercial-quality laundry facilities are available on-site, including plenty of space for line-drying.
- There’s a small amount of green space at Ostara and much of what little there is gets shaded by trees, or is part of a drainage swale with a north-facing aspect, so the opportunities for gardening on-site are limited. However, the co-op is within easy walking/biking distance of the Hawthorn Community Garden, so members interested in gardening might want to look into getting on the waiting list for a plot.
- There are 6 off-street parking spaces associated with Ostara, and one of them is permanently dedicated to a shared vehicle owned by eGo Carshare, our local non-profit carsharing organization, which all Ostara members get discounted membership in. There’s additional on-street parking available nearby.
- Ostara follows all fair housing guidelines in choosing its members.
- Ten Ostara households have to income qualify at 40% of area median income ($26,580 for a single person) and ten households have to income qualify at 50% of area median income ($32,100 for a single person).
- There is no tobacco smoking within Ostara.
- There is space for a limited number of pets at Ostara — three rooms on the east side of the 2nd floor of the main house have been designated pet-friendly. Pets are not allowed in the common areas of the house, and have a separate entrance, easily accessible to the pet friendly rooms. Pets (like housemates) are admitted by consensus of the community. The two family apartments may also have pets, and they are also by permission of the community. A $250 pet deposit is required.
If the Ostara Co-op sounds like something you’d be interested in, then you’ll want to come get in touch with our membership coordinator. Prospective members must attend at least one house meal to see what the co-op feels like, and meet existing members. New community members are interviewed and approved by existing community members. Before scheduling a prospective housemate meal at Ostara, make sure you:
- Familiarize yourself with our application process.
- Make sure you understand the income qualification requirements.
- Submit an application online.