The Nottingham Student Housing Co-operative are aiming to change how we see student housing, and how students experience it.
There is a much-mocked photo, somewhere, of a pair of local councillors gurning miserably at the thought that more students might move into their patch. The message was clear, students are not welcome here. They’re lazy, they’re feckless and they’re noisy. As a student I took this slightly personally, I am not lazy, I am not feckless and I am only occasionally noisy. Usually during karaoke at the White Lion.
However, the reality is that student housing is not very good. The houses are “investments” for people who don’t live in Beeston and don’t care to put any money into their investment. They become rundown, decrepit and the students lose any pride in them. It is a vicious, self-defeating cycle and it’s one that myself and some others decided to change.
The Nottingham Student Housing Co-operative has three simple goals: student housing that is accountable to the tenants and the community, that is cheaper, and that does not leave its residents with horror stories. This is our pitch to our members but also to the people of Beeston. We want to change how you see students and how you see student housing.
Our rent both pays our mortgage and, more importantly, generates a surplus that allows us to invest back into the house and community
I have lived, as a student, in Beeston for 5 years now. I write for The Beestonian and I feel like part of the community and this is part of my effort to return the favour. We are currently looking for a first property in the area and that means being transparent with you, the good citizens of Beestonia.
Our model is simple, we obtained investment from other co-operatives, including the retail shops, and used it to buy a house. Students rent it, renovate it and pay for it. Our rent both pays our mortgage and, more importantly, generates a surplus that allows us to invest back into the house and community.
Students also have democratic control. They get to vote on the direction the co-operative takes and how that money is spent. They get to take ownership of their house in a way that makes them proactive, responsible members of the community.
Our current plan, should the building be big enough, is to make ourselves not just a home for students but a community hub. Other co-operatives have engaged in local activism, offering food kitchens, community meals and vegan cooking classes and we want to be part of that tradition.
This model has worked across the USA and Australia and we want to replicate this success. There are currently 150 beds in housing co-operatives, within 5 years we want to make that 10,000.
We know that when a lot of people think students they think of Lenton and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen to Beeston. We are going to be a proactive part of this town and we will do it because we love Beeston.