Housing for University of MN Students and Families

About Commonwealth Terrace Co-op

Commonwealth Terrace Cooperative (CTC) is the oldest and largest family housing cooperative in North America. We aim to provide a unique and rewarding living experience for all members and non-member residents. We manage a property owned by the University of Minnesota that consists of 58 buildings, including 464 apartments and a community center, which are situated on 22 acres of sprawling park-like grounds.

Purpose of our cooperative:

The purpose of CTC is to provide housing on a cooperative basis to students and other eligible affiliates — especially those with families — registered at the University of Minnesota, to obtain and maintain any property and facilities needed for providing such housing, and to provide related services and programs for the benefit of residents. We conduct our affairs democratically and on a non-profit basis with the goals of providing all residents with affordable housing, a sense of community, and opportunities for participation in enriching activities and programs.

The foundation on which CTC was built and is maintained is best expressed by this quotation: “Organized to provide the best possible management and maintenance at the lowest possible cost for its resident members; dedicated to the principle that ordinary people, working together on a cooperative basis and provided with adequate information can, and generally will, make decisions resulting in sound enterprise assuring the long-term benefit of present and future members.”


A member-elected volunteer Board of Directors hires a professional General Manager, who, in turn hires staff to manage the day-to-day operation of the cooperative. The Board of Directors, along with volunteer-based committees, and the Management Team work collaboratively to build upon the co-op’s foundation and maintain its mission, vision and values.


The vision of Commonwealth Terrace Cooperative is to foster a connected community where diversity is celebrated and everyone feels safe and valued.


The mission of Commonwealth Terrace Cooperative is to maintain a safe, affordable housing community for University of Minnesota students and their families, where volunteerism, learning, leadership, trust and cross-cultural experiences drive a sustainable co-op culture.


  • We take personal responsibility for making the co-op an affordable, well-maintained, welcoming, well-governed, transparent and safe living environment.
  • We value and support family life by promoting family-oriented activities.
  • We promote friendly connections among neighbors as essential for building our cooperative community.
  • We value the principles and practices of the cooperative way of life, and understand that volunteerism is essential to building a strong community.
  • We value sustainability; the choices that we make benefit not only current members but the wider community and those to come.
  • We value sensitivity to and tolerance of culture, lifestyle and individual differences.
  • We value everyone’s opinions, and make decisions together for the continuous improvement of the co-op.
  • In our interactions, we value professionalism, respect and good communication.

History of our cooperative:

May 3, 1969 marked the beginning of a new dawn for student housing at the University of Minnesota. Proactive and concerned students and their families protested a possible Commonwealth Terrace rent increase on the steps of the Minnesota state capitol building.

The idea that the Commonwealth Terrace housing could and should become a cooperative was born in 1968, but the idea did not become reality until 1970. A series of rent increases, followed by a proposal to further increase rent, and coupled with tenant dissatisfaction with management and maintenance of the property, inspired a challenge to its management by the university. Tenants claimed that the property could be more economically managed by its residents. After a march on the capitol, threatened rent strikes, and marathon negotiating sessions, university officials concluded that the resident group had sufficient determination to effectively execute the experiment of assuming managerial and maintenance responsibilities.

The University turned over management responsibilities to Commonwealth Terrace Cooperative, Inc., on July 1, 1970. A contract for services was signed June 5, 1970. Commonwealth Terrace Cooperative, Inc., a resident-based management cooperative, operates under a management agreement with the University of Minnesota, which still owns the Commonwealth Terrace land and physical structures.

Phone: 651-646-7526
Fax: 651-646-3319