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Celebrating 10 Years of Housing Coops!

2024 marks 10 years since the Edinburgh and Birmingham student housing co-operatives opened their doors to the first cohort of residents. They were joined by Sheffield in 2015 and Brighton in 2021. Since then, all four co-ops have been home to hundreds of students who have worked together in democratic and mutually supportive ways to build and maintain affordable, safe and sustainable student homes and communities. To celebrate this amazing achievement, I collaborated with Student Coop Homes and dozens of student cooperators and their supporters in the creation of a creative publication that showcases their work and creativity.

Coverpage of the publication, showing a mural from the Edinburgh Student Housing Coop

The publications is being launched this weekend at the 2024 annual Young Cooperators Network gathering in Liverpool,with more launch events to come throughout the year. The publication, which was made possible with a grant from the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, is available online as a Flip book and a PDF for easier sharing and printing. It was designed by Brandon Fitzgerald, a student at the MA Media Practice for Development and Social Change.

The publication makes the clear case for increased support for the work of student co-operators to provide decent and democratic homes in the face of an increasingly urgent student housing crisis. The existing co-ops show that there is a model that can be scaled, and there are already other groups of students who have worked hard for many years to obtain their own homes. Financial and institutional support is needed to secure properties for these co-ops and to grow the movement in which they are embedded.

Speaking about publications, I also recently published the first academic article (available open access) from my research, in the journal Housing Studies. It's called 'Students Take Over: prefiguring urban commons in student housing co-operatives' and analyzes the establishment of student housing co-operatives in the UK as an example of prefigurative student activism, whereby students are actively creating alternative housing provisions that put them in control of the governance and management of their homes. Based on interviews with 27 key participants in the setting up of four student housing co-operatives in the UK, I explore how student co-operators are building actually existing urban housing commons under adverse conditions. To my knowledge it's (one of) the first academic articles on student housing coops to be published anywhere.

A woman shouting
Image created by Birmingham Student Housing Coop

And here is a video of my recent presentation at a symposium called 'Making Home with the Students' at the Architecture Association in London. It was organized by Francesco Zuddas who has a particular interest in the politics of student homemaking, and brought together members of several of the existing coops in the UK, as well as Canada.


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