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Self organised Housing Co-ops What can we learn?. David Rodgers. Executive Director CDS Co-operatives President International Co-operative Alliance Housing What can we learn from the experience of housing co-operatives in the UK and Internationally?.

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self organised housing co ops what can we learn
Self organised Housing Co-opsWhat can we learn?

David Rodgers

Executive DirectorCDS Co-operativeswww.cds.coopPresidentInternational Co-operative Alliance

what can we learn from the experience of housing co operatives in the uk and internationally
What can we learn from the experience of housing co-operatives in the UK and Internationally?
  • Where did we come from?
  • International Co-operative Alliance and the scope and scale of Co-operative enterprise
  • Housing co-operatives nationally and internationally
  • The lessons that can be learned

Rochdale Pioneers:

The Founders of Co-operative

business enterprise

  • 28 weavers in Rochdale, Lancashire, opened their first co-operative store on 21 December 1844
  • this was the birth-date of the international co-operative movement
international co operative alliance co operative principles
International Co-operative AllianceCo-operative Principles

1. Voluntary and Open membership

2. Democratic Member Control

3. Member Economic Participation

4. Autonomy and Independence

5. Education, Training and Information

6. Co-operation among Co-operatives

7. Concern for Community

Theme for 2010: "Co-operative Enterprise Empowers Women " 3 July 2010

international co operative alliance do you know have big the co operative movement is worldwide
International Co-operative AllianceDo you know have big the co-operative movement is worldwide?

Is it:

  • 10 million?
  • 20 million?
  • 50 million?
  • 100 million?
  • 250 million?
  • 500 million?
  • Over 800 million?

Recognised by the United Nations and the International Labour Organisation as a consultative body








International Co-operative AllianceCo-operative Enterprises worldwide

ICA Housing is a sectoral organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance.

It was established to promote the development of co-operative housing in all countries, and in particular developing countries, as an economic and social contribution to the problem of providing shelter.

confederation of co operative housing
Confederation of Co-operative Housing
  • The UK organisation for housing co-operatives, tenant-controlled housing organisations and regional federations of housing co-ops.
  • Aims:
    • to promote co-operative and tenant controlled housing as a viable alternative form of tenure
    • to represent the interests of housing co-ops and other tenant-controlled housing groups
    • to provide a forum for networking between housing co-ops nationally

Lesson 1:

  • There are more than one type of housing co-operative:
  • Market value co-operatives – e.g. Spain, Portugal, Turkey, USA
    • Limited equity co-operatives – e.g. Sweden, Norway, USA.
    • Par value rental co-operatives – e.g. UK, Germany, Austria, France
    • Short-life and management co-operatives – e.g. UK

Lesson 2:

It is hard for self-organised groups in communities wanting to set up co-operatives to navigate their way through the funding, legal and planning systems – to succeed they need access to appropriate professional advice and support and the resources to employ it


Lesson 3:

Co-operatives arebusinesses – and must apply sound business management, financial and risk management techniques


Lesson 4:

Like all democratic organisations, sound principled governance by residents is fundamental for success

(Best international example: the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada Vision 20:20 programme)

accreditation framework
Accreditation framework

There are various reasons why your co-op should become accredited:

  • to use the framework to improve your co-op’s democracy, governance, management and services
  • to gain the credibility that goes with being formally accredited
  • if your co-op is registered with the Tenant Services Authority (TSA), to use the framework to comply with their new regulatory Standards
accreditation framework1
Accreditation framework

Framework elements

1. Our mission and values

  • What are we here for?
  • What do we stand for?
  • Where are we going?
accreditation framework2
Accreditation framework

Framework elements

2. Membership and community

  • How do we involve our members?
  • How well does our democracy and community function?
accreditation framework3
Accreditation framework

Framework elements

3.“Governing” ourselves

  • Are we “governing” and managing the co-op as we should do?
accreditation framework4
Accreditation framework

Framework elements

4. Managing our money

  • Are we looking after our money and homes?
accreditation framework5
Accreditation framework

Framework elements

5. Getting good services

  • Are we giving our members and prospective members good services?
accreditation framework6
Accreditation framework

your co-op can register at

lesson 5 co operatives have a lot to offer
Lesson 5:Co-operatives have a lot to offer

Tiny sector but big impact: 0.6% of the UK’s housing supply BUT provides some potential answers to the current serious housing and community challenges:

  • Growing problem of financing affordable housing for the new generation of forming households – potential for pension funds and other long term investors
  • Individual home ownership becoming more difficult
  • Growing pressure from communities and local authorities for new solutions to housing needs
  • Government emphasis on localism and Big Society
what does co operative housing have to offer
What does Co-operative housing have to offer?
  • Provides a democratic, resident empowered model encouraging a greater stake and pride in residents’ homes and immediate community
  • Meets many of the factors behind home ownership aspirations e.g. providing a decent home, quality housing and support services and security of tenure and environment
  • Provides mutually supportive communities, helping members to skill up, get work and take control of their lives and neighbourhood
  • Encourages wider community involvement – adding value e.g. trustees and school governors
  • Retains homes for the intended stakeholders e.g. social rent, key workers, the elderly.
  • Widens tenure choice e.g. within the intermediate market tenure where households are unable to sustain individual home ownership
  • Developing role of co-operatives and tenant management organisations within the national housing debate

Lesson 6:

Co-operatives are not elitist and are the most efficient managers of affordable housing providing the highest levels of resident satisfaction with their homes and services


Lesson 7:

Education and training of co-op members, potential members, politicians, staff and the public is essential and neglected at peril

(See the 5th Co-operative Principle – continuous education and training)


Lesson 8 (from international experience):

There needs to be a buy-in to housing co-operatives, as a positive housing option, from politicians locally and nationally

there is an alternative
There is an alternative!

A national first

13 million people in the UK are members of a co-operative - a sector which has an annual turnover of £33bn in 4,992 Co-operative businesses. Co-operatives Fortnight is a new national campaign from the UK’s Co-operative sector to promote the co-operative model. It is the first nation-wide initiative designed to raise awareness of the co-operative model and the co-operative principles.

The fortnight is being organised by Co-operatives UK, the national trade body that campaigns for co-operation and Co-operatives Fortnight aims to:

  • Raise awareness of the value of the co-operative economy to business, society and the individual
  • Promote the benefits of the co-operative model as an alternative way to do business
  • Celebrate the principles and values of co-operation in work and society
  • Encourage businesses, individuals and society to be more co-operative.