Oxford housing co-op appeals for help to buy first home

Cooperative member Andrew Edwards
Image caption Cooperative member Andrew Edwards says the housing model will ensure rents are kept affordable

A group of tenants is appealing for public help to buy their first home.

They have formed a housing cooperative in Oxford because they are "fed up" with rising rents and unaffordable housing.

The Kindling Housing Cooperative hopes to raise £10,000 from investors and top up the fund with donations from an online crowdfunding campaign.

It insists private investors who pledge £5,000 to help buy a property will see a return of up to 3%.

Figures last year showed house prices in Oxford were about 16 times the average earnings of people living in the city.

Oxford City Council warned the city was facing a "catastrophe" due to a lack of affordable housing.

Image caption Project manager Hannah Smith says her rent was increased by £150 per month this year

The group, which has six members, wants to buy a house in the east of the city.

It hopes to create a secure and affordable housing model and build a network of housing co-ops in the city.

"Our model means we are in control of rents and we will ensure they are kept affordable," said member, Andrew Edwards, 31.

Fellow member Hannah Smith, 33, said the pressure brought by rent hikes forced her to look at alternatives.

"The agent I rent through is increasing our rent by £150 per month this year," she said.

"While rents are rising and house prices in the area shoot up, the co-op model seems like a way forward."

Professor Peter Kemp from the Blavatnik School of Government said the model was an "interesting idea", but did not deal with the underlying issues of unaffordable housing.

"It might work well provided the co-op's rules are well structured and the members can successfully find the investors to fund it," he said.

"By itself it won't tackle the underlying problem of insufficient new housing supply."

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