Islington Community Housing Co-op oppose the criminalisation of squatting

In the following post Richard Cooper, a member of the Islington Community Housing Co-op in North London outlines the history of their cooperative and its roots in squatting. The Co-operative is unanimous in it’s opposition to the government’s plan to criminalise squatting

I am a member of a long established Housing Co-operative, Islington Community Housing Co-op, in North London. We grew out of the 70s squatting movement. Many properties were squatted and then licences were gained from the local authority. From there we set up a fully mutual co-operative and started to manage houses that the local authority could not manage themselves or afford to repair. After that we obtained funding to purchase derelict houses and grant funding from the housing corporation to repair and improve them. In the early to mid 80s we started to build new housing stock.

So far, over our 35 years, we have developed 104 properties and at present have 172 members. We are a small co-op, but fully mutual.

Our ethos has always been that of cooperative living and to provide affordable social housing in an area where all housing is prohibitively expensive if you are on a ‘normal’ income.

At our recent Anuual General Meeting there was unanimous support from all members present that we should add our weight to the campaign to save squatting; we recognise our roots in squatting, and all know the necessity of this form of housing being available to those in need. The following proposal was drawn up:

 

We, the Undersigned:

[Members and Workers at Islington Community Housing Co-op...]

Most strongly oppose the government’s plan to criminalise squatting.

Their plans are both poorly thought out and completely unworkable, criminalising one of the most vulnerable groups in society – the homeless.

There is not enough provision of social and affordable housing, particularly in London, and for many squatting is the only choice. As the current cuts and austerity measures bite more and more people will lose their homes and for the majority squatting will be the only solution.