Ursus Latest News
Our official launch in April last year generated a lot of enthusiasm and interest for the co-op. We started collecting pledges for investment in Ursus and we had an excellent response. We are still collecting loan-stock investment pledges and are over halfway to our goal. Consequently we have begun to look at properties in London and have seen several viable options, this has been very exciting.
We are keen to keep the momentum going through 2016 and are planning a series of events; discussions, screenings and gigs which will help to raise awareness of alternative housing models and of Ursus' fundraising options.
Unfortunately we suffered a setback last summer when the majority of Ursus members were faced with the most immediate of housing problems. A fire which started in an adjacent building spread and destroyed our rented accommodation. While everybody got out safely, the material and organisational challenges of the following months left less time for work on the co-op itself. The loss of documents meant we were consumed with extra challenges on top of our Ursus work.
We were able to tackle these challenges through co-operating, and supporting each other, and some amazing compassion and decency from friends and the wider community. This has heightened our awareness of how fortunate we are to have each other's support and has affirmed our commitment to achieve a secure, comfortable, affordable home where we can all live together.
We are now back on track, holding regular meetings and working groups, house hunting, and planning - we are all extremely excited about the year ahead.
We hope you are well and that we will see you at one of our Ursus events in the near future. Events will be posted on the Ursus website and social media pages as well as in email updates.
Best wishes, from all at Ursus
We are a group of 10 artists, writers, community workers and activists who have formed a housing co-operative called Ursus.
Some of us run a project called Vulpes Vulpes
, a not-for-profit arts organisation based in South London. Other members of the co‑op work for organisations that strive for social justice.
For several years we have been living together in London, planning our future and considering how to improve our living environment. We already live in a co‑operative way so we decided to form Ursus Housing Co‑operative. Ursus is looking for a house in London that we will collectively own and maintain, thereby offering our members decent and secure, affordable housing.
A housing co-operative is a residence that is democratically managed by the people who live in it.
Members pool resources and take control of their housing situation by creating a separate legal structure, that is registered as an Industrial and Provident Society with the Financial Services Authority which can enter into contracts and purchase property. The co-op buys the house and we the members pay rent to the co-op. Through this process housing co-operatives transfer property from private ownership to common ownership.
The co-operative movement started in the 1800s as a way for ordinary people to take control of their conditions.
The first housing co-operatives began in Germany in the 1890s, then spread to North America and Scandinavia during the early 20th Century. In Norway, currently over 15% of all housing is co-operatively owned and managed.
In Britain, increased housing prices due to property speculation and privatisation of social housing stocks have created the current housing crisis. The housing co-op model provides a viable alternative for people looking to live securely and sustainably. The co-operative movement now has over 800 million members worldwide in over 100 countries; workers' co-ops and housing co-ops are a major contribution to improving the living standards of their members.
More Information on Co-operatives
How to Set Up a Housing Co-operative (PDF) - Radical Routes
Meeting Housing Needs
The Co-operative Way (PDF) - Co-operatives UK
Housing co-ops: one way to find an affordable home - The Guardian
Housing co-operatives: are we better together? - The Guardian