Westminster Housing Co-operative – London
Westminster Housing Co-op (WHC) was started in the 1980’s by a group of people concerned about the lack of housing options for people on low incomes and in non traditional working roles people like artists, writers and musicians and now has over 26 year’s experience of working throughout the Greater London area.
WHC is a fully mutual organisation which means that tenants are elected each year to serve on the management committee to determine policy and oversee the management of the organisation.
WHC takes on properties in virtually any state of disrepair and manages them on the basis of a lease from upwards of six months. It works with local authorities, large housing associations, small co-ops and private landlords in 18 different London boroughs.
Altogether WHC manages 400 properties, 50 of which are on a permanent management agreement with a registered social landlord, while 2 freehold properties are owned outright. WHC currently employs five staff.
WHC leases over 40 flats on an estate near Bethnal Green in East London, while the owners are waiting for funding and are finalising their development plans, As a result we are able to house 76 tenants who greatly enjoy living in the community around Columbia Road, while the owners receive considerable income from properties that otherwise would be vulnerable to squatting and dereliction.
WCH aims to work with like minded community groups and contractors who understand the ethos or our organisation and the values which guide their work. They engage local contractors who re-cycle and re-use wherever possible and always look for economies of scale where this can be achieved.
All of the properties that WHC manage are fully inspected before occupation to ensure they meet health and safety standards and they work closely with their members who often undertake work on the properties themselves. Members have a real investment in their homes and therefore take an interest in how they are maintained and looked after.
The amount of money spent on properties will depend on how long they are going to be in management and what works are essential to ensure they are safe and secure. A typical spend on a property available for a short period can be anywhere between £500 and £2,000. However, it could be considerably more where the property is available for a longer period and WHC are able to capitalise the costs over a number of years.
WHC houses people who have been referred through a network of housing agencies throughout London and who are ineligible for other housing because they are not classed as “officially” homeless.
These include people on low incomes in housing need, from teachers, nurses, fire and other key workers to film makers, writers and artists who work in London and would otherwise be priced out of the market. They are people who will take responsibility and pride in their temporary home, and are skilled at turning a disused property into a comfortable living space.
WHC are self funded and to date receive no statutory funding. They rely on member’s rents and donations to help fund the important work with which they are involved.
Tel. 020 7289 0105