What is a co-op?

What is a co-op?

A co-operative is a group of people coming together to work collaboratively towards the common needs and aspirations of its members, sharing control of their environment and making decisions democratically. Across the world there are many types of co-operatives such as housing, building, retailer, utility, worker, credit unions, social, consumer, agricultural and political. The emphasis on shared values and principles and support for its own members gives co-operatives a unique character.

What is a housing co-op?

Housing co-ops are groups of people who live in and collectively manage their accommodation. This involves taking responsibility for such things as arranging repairs, making decisions about rent and who joins or leaves the co-op. There are different types of co-operatives:

  • Tenant management co-operatives

  • Tenant ownership co-operatives

  • Short-life housing co-operatives

  • Self build co-operatives

Balfour Street Housing Project (BSHP) is a tenant management co-operative, which means that we are a democratic organisation formed by a group of tenants who take on the management of their homes. We have a management agreement with a housing association who owns the properties and for whom we act as a managing agent. We receive a management allowance from the housing association that enables us to run the co-op, in our case, on a voluntary basis.

BSHP is also a “fully mutual” housing co-op, which means that all of the tenants are required to be members of the co-op, and our governance structure consist entirely of tenant members.

Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Balfour Street Housing Project also adheres to the 7 Co-operative Principles, guidelines by which we put our values into practice.