What is a Co-Operative?
Co-operatives, be it for housing or business, are not-for-profit and democratic organisations run for and by their members. A housing co-op is similar to a housing association, but it is managed (either entirely, or mainly) by its tenants. A housing Co-op is composed of a group of people who have control over their own housing, without owning it. Housing Co-op's have a rich history and have developed out of a desire to do things differently and in a way that genuinely serves communities.
North Camden is a fully mutual housing co-operative. Most housing co-operatives are fully mutual, meaning only tenants or prospective tenants may be members, and only members may hold a tenancy. Fully mutual means that decisions made relating to the operation and management of the housing co-operative, are made by the people who are affected by them.
North Camden Housing Co-operative (NCHC) was established in January 2000, but its beginnings arose from two very different co-operatives established in the late 1970's and early 1980s: The Tenants Association of North Camden (TANC) Housing Co-operative and Camden Peoples Housing Co-operative (CPHC).
TANC was founded in 1979. The tenants of a private landlord in Kentish Town, many of whose properties were in a very bad state of repair, formed TANC to tackle their housing situation. TANC soon had 120 members and the backing of a secondary co-operative, Solon, whose role was to support the development of co-operative enterprises. When the private landlord decided to sell four houses in which TANC members were housed Solon Co-operative acted quickly on TANC's behalf by negotiating purchase of the properties. TANC Housing Co-operative was subsequently formed and registered as a housing co-operative with the Housing Corporation in 1980.
TANC Housing Co-operative (still known as TANC) was set up to provide housing for single people and childless couples through the acquisition and conversion of dilapidated properties. With a small workforce, and with the help of Solon and other consultants, TANC successfully obtained funding and developed properties until the mid-1980s when the rise in house prices effectively put a stop to development.
CPHC was registered in 1980. The impetus behind the Co-op came from several local short-life housing co-operatives seeking a permanent housing solution for their members. CPHC was set up to provide permanent housing for single people and childless couples and, with the support of Solon, managed to acquire six properties with funding from the short-life co-ops. CPHC benefited from a committed group of core members and was managed by General Meeting held by rotation in each property. However, CPHC was limited by its small size and reliance on dedicated members without the support of paid staff. Over time CPHC struggled to develop its properties and sought a merger with another local housing co-operative in order to achieve this.
Following initial discussions in 1997/98 the two co-operatives formally agreed to merge in January 2000. Shortly afterwards TANC changed its name to North Camden Housing Co-operative (NCHC).
Following the merger NCHC was able to develop again and now has a total of 106 flats in 28 properties. NCHC continues to provide a good level of personal service to members and tenants, while meeting their changing needs. It has the ability and capacity to remain a strong local housing provider, creating a modern Co-operative Service fit for the future.
NCHC is a fully mutual co-operative that is controlled by its members, only tenants can be members. The Management Committee is elected from the membership each year at the Annual General Meeting.
NCHC is governed by its membership at the General Meeting, which has responsibility for the election and composition of the Management Committee and changes to the Co-op's Rules and Membership. The General Meeting is also consulted on new policy and policy changes recommended by the Management Committee.
Management Committee members are elected at the Annual General Meeting, which is usually held in July. All members are encouraged to participate in the running of NCHC by either standing for the Management Committee or volunteering to be on a sub-committee or group.
NCHC is run by its Management Committee, which meets approximately every six weeks. The Management Committee is responsible for all aspects of managing the Co-op in the interests of all its members and in accordance with external regulations. The Management Committee acts on the basis of advice and recommendations received from sub-committees, working groups, consultants and staff.
There are two sub-committees - Property Maintenance and Allocations & Membership, and three sub-groups - Finance, Employment and Partnership, which meet on a regular basis, the last two in partnership with another local housing co-operative, ICHC. Additional working groups are set up by the Management Committee to develop specific projects as required.
In Partnership with ICHC
NCHC has been working with Islington Community Housing Co-op (ICHC) for a number of years. The Co-ops are close geographically and share similar objectives and profiles. The partnership started with the joint recruitment and employment of a Property Maintenance Manager in 2001 and continued with other joint working to the benefit of both organisations.
In July 2004 the two Co-ops agreed to share an office and subsequently moved to premises in Archway located on the border of Camden and Islington. The office is central to the areas of operation of both Co-ops.