Creative Finance Launched Worker-Owned Co-ops in Post-Sandy New York

Debbie Trocha, Executive Director, Indiana Cooperative Development Center

In November of 2012, a month after Hurricane Sandy hit Far Rockaway, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, 10,000 residents were still living without power. Henry Lezama, a construction worker and Far Rockaway resident of 14 years took his family to a local church where others had gathered for aid and shelter. That's where he met organizers from Occupy Sandy and The Working World, an organization that provides low-interest loans and technical support to cooperatives. The Working World gave him and four others the start-up money. They used it to start a construction cooperative called Roca Mia. When Roca Mia repays its loans, the interest will go into a fund that will be reinvested in three more co-ops already in development in the Rockaways. The co-op will put its debt to work for the local community.

Read more about this innovative financing model of cooperatives at