Collective action is a community resource crucial to ensure the resilience of communities. However, maintaining cooperation over time is also a significant challenge. Arguing that a major, though neglected, precondition for community resilience is sustained cooperation, this paper analyses the conditions triggering collective action in collective housing communities. Particular attention is paid to micro-level pathways through which characteristics of the common courtyard and the related rules for its use play for the maintenance or decay of collective action. The contours of an integrated theory of sustained cooperation is sketched. Drawing on Goal Framing (GF) theory and Common Pool Resource (CPR) theory, it is argued that CPR management institutions can only be effective in a community in which a normative goal frame is salient. Empirical material is presented from a multi-method comparative case study of four low-income urban collective housing communities in Mexico City in 2010. This evidence corroborates both approaches: the two communities characterized by sustained collective action exhibit a salient normative frame in combination with all elements of CPR managing institutions, whereas the two communities with failed collective action do not meet these conditions. The results suggest that both mechanisms are necessary for sustained cooperation to occur.