During the pandemic numerous independent student-led rent strikes sprang up across the UK in protest against rip-off landlords and excessive housing costs for students. The idea of paying over-the-top prices for accommodation that they couldn’t use during extended lock-downs was the final straw. But what next? A few students are taking matters in to their own hands and setting up housing co-op’s. They set their own rents and make their own decisions about who they’ll live with and what they’ll do to the house.
Managing your own housing co-op with a group is empowering. A power that can be carried through life. In my blog ten days to save Tir Cyffredin Housing Co-op I talked about the powerful difference living in a housing co-op made to my life. I lived in them in my mid-twenties, early thirties and mid-forties. And each time they came at the right moment for me. Pushing me on for the next stage in life.
So what’s not to like? The extra work-load is not for everyone, and setting housing co-ops from scratch can take months of admin, fundraising, member finding and learning on a very steep curve. Not necessarily what you can do when you’re just starting University, learning how to live away from home and just living. That’s why some groups are working with larger community organisations with paid staff who can do some of the heavy lifting and community engagement to get projects off-the ground and provide financing.
The community organisation can own the house or houses and lease it/them to the housing co-op. This leverages community support whilst giving students the autonomy they need to make their own decisions. Housing co-ops rarely fail but if one did for any reason the community organisation would own the house and be able to offer it to another housing co-op or in the worse case scenario sell it and give the community investors their money back.
This is the model used by Student Co-op Homes in England and most recently delivered by SEASALT Housing Co-op in Brighton, a city with a notorious shortage of affordable rentals. There’s no doubt this is a long-term project but student housing co-op’s are very common in countries like Canada so we know that it can work, given the right attention. That’s why we have invited Simin Wadiwala from SEASALT and Student Co-op Homes and Andy Woodcock from Catalyst Collective to share their knowledge at our Co-op’s Night event on October 20.
This event has the potential to kick start something completely new so please share the info if you know or are a student. It’s organised as part of the Wales Co-operative’s Community Led Housing Festival (Oct 18-21). Let people know. If you want to advocate for student housing co-op’s then come along too. We need allies to move this forward. Diolch yn fawr!
Wow, October here you are. September was a stellar month for housing co-ops. I was so excited to watch Tir Cyffredin housing co-op in Machynlleth reach and exceed their £140,000 fundraising goal and to see the first members of SEASALT student housing co-op move into their new home in Brighton.
It’s great to celebrate these moments of joy, progress and achievement and at the same time recognise that we’re only just scratching the surface of the housing crisis. It’s October and many people have had a whole summer waiting for answers. How will we carry on living in our communities? Get a good start in life with less debt? Move into safe secure housing when we get older? The housing question is a life’s work. A challenge that never goes away and one that seems to get harder with every passing month.
I love being part of the work that we all need to do, but housing co-ops are still one of the UK’s best kept housing secrets. Ask people if they know about housing co-op’s and a few might reply. ‘Someone I once knew once knew someone whose brother’s best friend’s girlfriend lived in a housing co-op.’ This is not the case in Europe and North America where housing co-ops are very popular and completely normal. Most people in the UK don’t know what housing co-ops are, who they are for or how to start one.
This is why I’ve created Co-op’s Night to run on October 20 as part of the Wales Co-operative Centre’s Community Led Housing Festival 2021. To give people a head’s up and a head start. I will be joined by leading co-operators Simin Wadiwala and Andy Woodcock and together we’ll explore the landscape, with bright lights! You can come all night or just drop in when you can. Feel free to bring food and drink. The evening will be very informative but also chilled. The only thing you definitely need to do is check the times (below) and book a place via Eventbrite!
Co-op’s Night is about getting you started, expanding your knowledge, bringing people and projects together. If you want to set up a housing co-op, are already in one and want to build your knowledge or just want to know what’s going on, join us.
My mission is to empower people to create successful housing co-ops so that housing co-op’s can empower the people who live in them. My experience is that it takes a village to raise a co-op so if you are already housed and not looking to move into a housing co-op come along anyway. You are needed. As advocates, allies, funders and knowledge sharers. Neither Tir Cyffredin or SEASALT would have been possible without the already housed stepping up and joining in. Be the village, create the change. See you on the 20th!
I live in Wales and through the Wales Co-operative Centre support groups in Wales but Co-op’s Night is open to all, wherever you are in the world! Croeso pawb i noson gydweithredu. Diolch yn fawr.
CLH Fest 2021 is happening October 18 – 21. View the whole festival programme here
18:45-19:45 Simin Wadiwala introduces co-ops, housing co-ops and student housing co-ops. This session has a focus on student housing co-ops but will be relevant to anyone who wants to learn something new about housing co-ops.
19:45-20:00 Break, chat, chill
20:00-21:00 Financing your housing co-op with Andy Woodcock. Housing co-ops need a financial plan and most of us know very little about finance! Andy is here to let you know what you need to think about and how to plan for long-term success.
21:00-21:30 Stick around for a chat and questions. Hosted by Allan Shepherd.
This event will take place on Zoom. You will receive the joining instructions by email shortly before the event. Please remember to check your spam and junk mail for these instructions if you do not receive them.
18:45 – 19:45 Bydd Simin Wadiwala yn cyflwyno cydweithfeydd, cydweithfeydd tai, a chydweithfeydd tai ar gyfer myfyrwyr. Bydd y sesiwn yma yn ffocusi ar gydweithfeydd tai myfyrwyr ond bydd yn ddefnyddiol ar gyfer unrhywun sydd eisiau dysgu rhywbeth newydd am gydweithfeydd tai.
19:45 – 20:00 Egwyl, sgwrsio, ymlacio
20:00 – 21:00 Cyllido eich cydweithfa tai gyda Andy Woodcock. Mae cydweithfeydd tai angen cynllun cyllid ac mae mwyafrif ohonon ni ond yn gwybod ychydig am gyllid! Mae Andy yma i adael i chi wybod beth mae angen meddwl amdan a sut i gynllunio ar gyfer llwyddiant tymor hir.
21:00 – 21:30 Sgwrsio a chwestiynau gydag Allan Shepherd.
Simin Wadiwala is part of the new generation of co-operators working to create new models of housing to combat the housing crisis and tackle underlying inequalities in housing. She is part of Student Co-op Homes and Seasalt Student Housing Co-operative in Brighton. Her talk will focus on student co-op homes but will be relevant for anyone who wants to know what a housing co-op is and how to go about starting one.
Andy Woodcock is part of Catalyst Collective and Radical Routes. They act as an advisor to Co-ops UK and the Wales Co-operative Centre amongst others and have supported many housing co-ops to create a sound financial plan. Andy delivers training sessions on financing for projects ranging from small housing co-ops to multiple dwelling new-builds. Tonight’s session will focus on co-op financing. How to make it work. What you need to think about.
Allan Shepherd will be hosting Co-op’s Night. Allan is a Community Led Housing Officer for the Wales Co-operative Centre. He lived in housing co-ops for about a decade and has recently supported Wales’ newest housing co-op Tir Cyffredin to raise the money they need to buy their house.
The Wales Co-operative Centre is supported by Welsh Government and the Nationwide Foundation to deliver more affordable housing in Wales. We support groups based in Wales through our client programmes but this session is relevant to the whole of the UK.
Mae Simin Wadiwala yn rhan o’r genhedlaeth newydd o gydweithredwyr sy’n gweithio i greu modelau tai newydd i frwydro yn erbyn yr argyfwng tai a mynd i’r afael ag anghydraddoldebau sylfaenol mewn tai. Mae hi’n rhan o Student Co-op Homes a Seasalt Student Housing Co-operative yn Brighton. Bydd ei sgwrs yn canolbwyntio ar gartrefi cydweithredol myfyrwyr ond bydd yn berthnasol i unrhyw un sydd eisiau gwybod beth yw cydweithfa dai a sut i fynd ati i ddechrau un.
Mae Andy Woodcock yn rhan o Catalyst Collective a Radical Routes. They act as an advisor to Co-ops UK and the Wales Co-operative Centre amongst others and have supported many housing co-ops to create a sound financial plan. Mae Andy yn cyflwyno sesiynau hyfforddi ar ariannu ar gyfer prosiectau sy’n amrywio o gydweithfeydd tai bach i adeiladau newydd i nifer o anheddau. Bydd sesiwn heno yn canolbwyntio ar ariannu cydweithredol. Sut i wneud iddo weithio. Beth sydd angen i chi feddwl amdano.
Bydd Allan Shepherd yn cynnal Noson Cydweithredol. Mae Allan yn Swyddog Tai Dan Arweiniad y Gymuned ar gyfer Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru. Bu’n byw mewn cydweithfeydd tai am oddeutu degawd ac yn ddiweddar mae wedi cefnogi cydweithfa dai fwyaf newydd Cymru, Tir Cyffredin i godi’r arian sydd ei angen arnynt i brynu eu tŷ.
Cefnogir Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru gan Lywodraeth Cymru a Sefydliad Nationwide i ddarparu mwy o dai fforddiadwy yng Nghymru. Rydym yn cefnogi grwpiau yng Nghymru trwy ein rhaglenni cleientiaid ond mae’r sesiwn hon yn berthnasol i’r DU gyfan.