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Articles from the Peace News log: Housing

Articles from the Peace News log.
For articles in this category from the whole site, look here

Peace News co-editor Emily Johns tells the story of Walden Pond Housing Co-op,

ImageLast night, 21 people crowded into the Friends Meeting House in South Villas, Hastings, to hear Peace News co-editor Emily Johns tell the story of Walden Pond Housing Co-op, which was set up in 1998 and now owns a house and a flat in the town.

The main point of the evening was to explain 'How to Set Up a Housing Co-op', with a lot of help from the Radical Routes handbook of the same name (44 pages, £3 or download for free here). Radical Routes is a Britain-wide network that started in Birmingham in the late 1980s, now consisting of of 24 housing co-ops, 6 worker co-ops, and 2 social centres.

Walden Pond Housing Co-op started life in London in 1997 supported by what was then called Jigsaw Housing Co-op in Oxford (also a Radical Routes member). Despite having members who were almost all claiming housing benefit (because they were unemployed or low-waged), the co-op was able to rent houses in North London which landlords didn't want to rent to HB claimants. The co-op took out 'company lets' which were more acceptable to landlords.

Later on, after being moved on repeatedly by landlords selling their houses, the co-op decided to buy a house in Hastings, the poorest part of South-East England and with the lowest-priced property. The purchase price was met with loanstock borrowed from friends, family and fellow activists; a mortgage from Triodos Bank, one of the few to understand lending to housing co-ops (Ecology Building Society and the Co-op Bank were also mentioned); and a top-up loan from Radical Routes.

In later years, a Radical Routes loan helped Walden Pond to buy a nearby garden flat.

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