Sussex SU plans to launch student-run co-op
Student run, student led housing – no more landlords!
The Students' Union has launched plans of starting a campaign for an off-campus housing co-op – run for and led by students in Brighton. The first meeting took place on the 13th of February and saw those interested in the beginnings of campaigning for a co-op meet to discuss ideas and options available in Brighton.
What exactly is a housing co-op?
A housing co-op is an autonomous, sustainable, student owned and democratically run alternative to renting and purchasing housing.
What are the benefits of a housing co-op?
At the introductory meeting, Aisling Murray, SU Officer for Society and Citezenship said: "I've lived in Brighton all my life and seen the housing situation get worse and worse." The reason for setting up the co-op would to be the introduction of more economically sustainable housing for students in Brighton, and to end the current exploitation that many students face.
Unlike with landlords, with housing co-ops you are guaranteed secure housing as opposed to being at their whim. There is a great focus placed on communal living, within and without society; rather than on the behalf of the community, housing co-ops are run with the community.
Currently, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh (boasting the largest housing co-op in the UK, 106 beds, established in 2015), Nottingham, Exeter, Bradford all have relatively successful co-ops.
Another benefit of housing co-ops is that they are democratically managed; everybody has a fair share and decisions are made by committees and meetings as opposed to being at the whim of your landlord.
Given the current social crisis with housing in brighton, introducing housing co-ops would be a great way to help reduce the pricey cost of rent in Brighton – one of the most expensive places in the UK to live.
Other proposed benefits of the housing co-op would be to help the future tenants learn new skills in terms of setting it up and fundraising, as well as place an emphasis on communal living. Tasks would be shared by co op members, like shopping and cooking, as opposed to acting solely self-interested.
There are hopes that if a housing co-op could be successfully implemented in Brighton, the co-operative could outlive the individual students tenancy.
How would you begin setting up a housing co-op?
Firstly, establishing aims of co-op within a widespread community is a great place to get start. Followed by a series of networking, campaigning, raising awareness, and creating student awareness. There are more upcoming events if you are interested.
During the meeting, the campaigners from Brighton and Hove Land Trust said "We already have a landlord interested in selling his house for a student co-op in fifteen months, although the idea is still very much in its' infancy."
How do you choose the students who you want to move in the co-op?
Unlike co-ops that already exist in Brighton, the emphasis on this one is that it would be open to all with a tolerant heart and enthusiasm for changing the dynamics of student living into a more democratic system for all.