What is a Housing Co-op?
Housing co-operatives are registered not-for-profit organisations. They allow people to control their own housing, without actually owning it personally. They are governed by their tenants/members. All tenants are members and all members need to be tenants or prospective tenants.
Housing co-ops thus allow grassroots control over housing, providing rented homes where the tenants are collectively their own landlord. The organisation is run according to co-operative principles, giving everyone an equal say – and an equal responsibility – in the management of the housing.
If the co-op should ever cease to exist, its assets have to stay within the co-operative movement; they cannot pass to the members or be used to invest outside the movement. Thus, by coming together and acting co-operatively, housing remains in common ownership.
By setting up a housing co-op, we aim to empower ourselves to take control over one of the most fundamental aspects of our lives and in the process transfer property from private ownership to common ownership. We aim to provide a safe and secure environment for people to live in the long term.
Kindling is a housing co-operative looking to purchase a house in Oxford or the surrounding area. The co-operative consists of a network of 20 individuals currently living, working and privately renting in Oxford who wish to take control of their housing situation and create a secure, affordable, low-impact, collectively owned and managed home together.
The group is currently made up of six full members, including social entrepreneurs, campaigners and designers involved in a range of environmental and social justice causes. We wish to live in a non-hierarchical and ecologically sustainable way.
Kindling Housing Co-operative aims to provide a safe, stable and supportive environment for generations of politically and socially active individuals. We believe this is even more important at a time when other forms of housing are further out of reach. Oxford is now the least affordable city in the UK with rents and house prices continuing to escalate at unsustainable rates. In addition, cuts to housing support and the continued financialisation of housing, have all compounded the fact that many people like ourselves are struggling to find suitable accommodation. This house will provide a productive living space for a diverse group of individuals and help to ensure the continuation of vital social and ecological projects for a more equal society.
We hope to create a space that is low impact, consensually run, engaged with its local community, and actively working towards social change. In an urban location that has connection to a modest growing and green space, we want to demonstrate a different way of living: taking control of our infrastructure, connecting to the community and ecosystem, whilst being practical, empathic, active and egalitarian.
We are currently looking for a six to eight-bedroom home within or near to the ring-road in Oxford. We are in discussion with the Ecology Building Society and Triodos for a mortgage, and are exploring the possibility of a loan with Radical Routes. We will raise the remaining funds by issuing loan stock.
We are currently exploring a number of houses on the market. The house we end up buying will include some or all of the following characteristics:
- Adequate bedroom sizes
- A good amount of communal spaces, allowing for plenty of storage
- Good natural light
- Garden suitable for growing food
- Potential for extension and/or further development
- Highly energy efficient, or with potential to retrofit to reduce our energy bills
- The potential to add renewable technologies, such as solar PV.
Members and skills
There are currently nine full members of Kindling. The individual members bring skills in accounting, experience of running Workers Co-operatives, project management, design, architecture, property maintenance, low impact living, working in groups and collective decision making. These skills are spread across the group and will help ensure a well-run home and a healthy, happy and sustainable living environment for everyone.