National body Student Co-op Homes (SCH) is today (10 October 2019) launching a community share offer that aims to grow a vibrant co-op housing market in the UK – and cultivate the next generation of co-operators who can build a stronger society.
Today’s students in higher education face increasing pressure, debt and mental health challenges. Student housing co-ops are a solution that can break the cycle of high-cost, poor-quality private rents that drive up debt and exacerbate poor health.
Housing co-ops are affordable, not-for-profit homes that students manage and maintain themselves. There are no landlords and everyone works together for mutual benefit. They provide the conditions to nurture new generations of resilient, healthy graduates who can enter the workforce and shape society from a stronger position.
There are currently three student housing co-ops successfully operating in the UK – in Birmingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield. Already, graduates from these co-ops have gone on to form co-operative enterprises and live and work in co-ops.
Other student housing co-ops have been set up in Glasgow, Nottingham and Brighton but are struggling to buy property in a fiercely competitive market. SCH is launching the community share offer to raise up to £2million from investors so it can buy properties to lease to these student housing co-ops at affordable rates. It is SCH’s ambition is to increase the number of beds offered in student housing co-ops from 120 to 10,000.
Vivian Woodell, Director of Student Co-op Homes, said: “We are urging people and organisations to invest in our share offer so we can raise vital funds to break the cycle of poor-quality, high-cost student rents and vastly improve the lives of young people in higher education.
"The more we raise, the more properties we can buy – and the more students will benefit from living in student housing co-ops that give them valuable life skills, better physical and mental health, less debt and a better start to their working lives.”
Co-operatives UK is supporting Student Co-op Homes, Ed Mayo, Secretary General said:
"Co-ops provide solutions to many of today’s social problems and student housing has long since been overlooked. Student Co-op Homes’ share offer is an exciting opportunity to lay the groundwork for a revolution in student housing. It's also a great example of how replicating a successful model can help to grow the UK co-operative economy."
Community share offers are a popular approach to raising finance, in which people and organisations invest large or small sums of money and become co-owners of vital enterprises – from affordable housing to community pubs to green energy.