What was the issue?
Several problems have been identified that restrict the current state of the housing co-op movement. In particular, there is a problem of mature co-ops demutualising and ‘carpet-bagging’, where individuals personally profit from commonly held equity. A further problem is that only a very limited range of properties can be made to provide a business plan that will be supported by mortgage lenders, despite the fact that a wider range of housing is needed by those who would prefer to live in housing co-ops, and could be made financially viable with seed capital.
In the context of the current housing crisis, these issues become more pressing, as the housing co-op movement could help a huge range of people take control of their housing, providing affordable rent and social engagement.
What would the project try to achieve?
Radical Routes will conduct a range of research into the current and historic housing co-op movement, looking at a range of possible solutions to the problems identified above. We will host a round table event with specialists in housing, co-operatives, and law to scope the viability of the ‘co-op cluster’ model and other alternatives.
Once this is done, we will produce a preliminary report into the resilience of the housing co-op movement, and possible models to support and improve it.
This report will then be disseminated widely, and further funding sought to make the changes a reality.
Who might be interested in the project?
Current housing co-ops, and those looking to start new housing co-ops. People with an interest in increasing the range of equitable housing. People locked out of the property market by high prices. People dealing with high market rents. People looking to put their own property into common ownership. The Students for Co-operation movement. Established co-ops (eg large retail and worker co-ops) looking to find ways to safely invest in growing the co-op movement. People in existing housing co-ops wanting more concrete ways of ensuring the property they use can stay in the commons indefinitely.