A short video announcement by one our favourite You Tubers: the descriptively named Libertarian Socialist Rants. This campaign to secure funds for the National Body of Student Housing Co-operatives to provide affordable, democratic housing for students. The campaign ends this Friday, so please, watch the video, read the text below and, if you want to support the project, vote for them through this link.
National Body of Student Housing Co-operatives
There is a strong need for affordable democratic housing for students. With rising rental costs for students across the UK and deficient management by university accommodation services, students are taking housing into their own hands. That is exactly what has happened in Edinburgh, Birmingham and Sheffield where collectively over 120 students are self managing their co-operative housing with fantastic results [http://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2014/09/04/edinburgh-co-op-students/]. The creation of these housing co-operatives has shown this type of student self management creates resilient student communities, and is more cost effective than private rental or university halls.
However it is not without its problems, whilst three students co-ops is a large achievement there is a real need to expand the network and begin acquiring properties. Owning properties will allow the network to build up the capital needed to buy larger properties and expand to different cities where there are groups of students keen to set up housing co-ops to change their local housing conditions. Currently Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh have commercial leases on their properties with supportive organisations, the Phone Co-op and Castle Rock Edinvar housing association. Although this arrangement has worked it is not always replicable. Students for Cooperation is keen to support a model which will allow student housing co-ops to be started wherever students are dedicated to feasible project through the purchasing of properties rather than leasing. Supportive partner organisations should not be a necessity for what is a very feasible business model.
Students for Cooperation commissioned a report by Acorn Co-operative Support on the feasibility of a National Body of Student Housing Co-operatives which would tackle these key problems facing the creation of new student housing co-operatives
• Limited access to finance
• Lack of experience of co-ops, business management and property purchasing
• High turnover of membership, with associated problems of continuity
• Lack of support
• No specific student co-operative company rules
• No co-operative specific student tenancy agreements
• The affordability of property for new housing co-ops
The resulting report was created in consultation with existing student co-ops, prospective co-op groups, housing co-operative support organisations, supportive organisers and potential lending institutions gave a positive prospectus for the feasibility of this plan. The proposed body – the National Body of Student Housing Co-operatives – would be formed as a secondary co-operative made up of student housing co-ops themselves. It would access finance to purchase property freeholds, have equity from existing co-operatives and support from experienced co-operators sitting on its board of directors.
This funding application is being sought under recommendation of this report which students for cooperation has opted to pursue in line with our stated aim of increasing student control and self management over affordable housing. A link to download the full report can be found on our website HERE:
We are also able to provide Appendicies to the report including cashflow forecasts and financial models.
The 48 page plan is feasible with £20k of initial seed funding to cover costs necessary to get the businesses up and running. Through prior grant applications and a generous donation we have managed to accumulate £4675 already. So our request to you would be for the remaining £15,325.
This funding would cover the legal work associated with drafting new lease and tenancy agreements, model rules, incropration and a network co-ordinator who would support the existing and prospective co-ops involved who will be looking at houses to purchase and co-ordinating the membership meetings to ensure democratic participation.