NEWSLETTER #1 - FEBRUARY 2017


Welcome to the first newsletter of Brighton and Hove Community Housing CIC.  Thank you for showing support for our mission.  Over 700 local residents have subscribed so far.
 
Governments have failed massively for the last 3 decades to fund genuinely affordable housing.  Many people are paying vast proportions of their income in rent. Homelessness and rough sleeping have shot up.
 
Even if the government turns the taps on now, the problem is so huge, it will take many years to fix so we need all possible efforts to tackle the housing crisis.  Also, the government has a worrying definition of ‘affordable’ at 80% of market rent, irrespective of income.
 
The government has diluted environmental measures for new homes, but, we need to be moving as fast as we can to prevent as many of the catastrophic effects of climate change as possible.  It also makes economic sense in terms of a lower cost of running homes, creating jobs and producing a more sustainable economy.
 
Using investment from within the community allows us to shape the kind of housing and communities we want to see.  There’s also many ways of reducing costs and improving facilities through sharing.
 
Through a collaborative process with the communities of this city, we will design, commission and provide genuinely affordable eco housing for local people.
 
I welcome all your feedback.
 
David Walker
Founding Director

ENVISAGED TIMELINE
 
2017-18                               

  • Investigate suppliers
  • Establish a project board
  • Mission promotion

 
Spring 2018

  • Launch membership
  • Open policy-making process
  • Identify sites

 
Autumn 2018

  • Launch community investment

 
Autumn 2019

  • Acquire first property
  • Design process

 
Autumn 2020

  • Planning permission
  • Development begins

 
Autumn 2021

  • Open 1st homes for let

MEMBERSHIP
 
The community interest company is owned by its members.  There are strict constitutional and legal restrictions to safeguard assets for the benefit of the community.
 
Members set the policies and directors implement them.  Directors will give advice but members decide.  All members will be able to participate in all votes online.

COMMUNITY BONDS

To finance the land acquisitions and construction of new homes, it is intended to release community bonds for sale via an ethical online broker.

Key points:

  • Long-term bonds, up to 25 years
  • Available for transfer via online broker
  • Funds set aside each year (after year 5) for voluntary early settlement
  • Interest at CPI (consumer price inflation) + 2% per year

PROPERTY OPTIONS

  • Self-contained accommodation in a co-op on each site
  • Billing inclusive of all utilities
  • Aesthetics - inspiring, uplifting, complimentary
  • Disability facilities
  • Cycle storage
  • Communal laundry
  • Community notices
  • Noise insultation
  • Ground floor street front doors, communal for above

ECO OPTIONS

  • Rain water capture
  • Grey water use for toilets and garden
  • Efficient toilets for water useage
  • Anaerobic digester
  • Solar heating and power
  • Heat recovery - ground, air and water
  • Insulation - high levels for windows, walls and roofs
  • Recycling beyond local council ability
  • Planting for flood prevention and wildlife support

TENANCY ALLOCATION

Compulsory

  • Membership
  • Not a property owner
  • Time contribution to housing co-op


Priority

  • Low earnings
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Working for social enterprises and co-ops
  • Length of membership
  • Supports tackling climate change
  • Supports reducing economic inequality


PROGRESSIVE RENT
Strategic Policy

There are 3 purposes of our rental structure:

  1. To meet the costs of providing accommodation and services.
  2. To ensure the rent is relative to a tenant’s income to support lower income households.
  3. To raise funds for the provision of additional properties.

1.  To meet the costs of providing accommodation and services

Costs will be allocated per rented property in each development to help determine the minimum rent per property.  The rent will be expressed as

    xx number of hours per week @ the minimum wage.

  1.   To ensure the rent is relative to a tenant’s income

By specifying the minimum rent in MWH (minimum wage hours) allows for focus on ensuring those on the lowest incomes can afford to rent our property.

We believe in equal value of labour to achieve a fairer society, and so we will assess an hourly rate for each tenant in order to work out their rent, expressed as

     xx number of hours per week @ £x per hour.

There will be due consideration for the self-employed, multi-jobbing, those living on savings and additional adults in the property.

Future rents:

Minimum rents will rise with the minimum wage or inflation.

Annual review will be undertaken or on request from a tenant.

  1.   To raise funds for the provision of additional properties

It is imperative that, overall, rent provides a contribution to bolster our ability to provide more low rent eco housing to as many as possible.

PROJECT TEAM

The main priority now is to form a project team to take the project to it's first development.  The community company is looking for a variety of skills that people can contribute a few hours per week or month.  We are offering offering remuneration in the form of bonds.

Roles and skills needed:

  • Internal communications - member services (especially online), newsletter
  • External communications - website, conventional media, online media, events
  • Policy - research, advice and member engagement
  • Project co-ordinator - overall management and co-ordination
  • Finance - bonds, grants, accounts, budgets
  • Administration - enquiries, support co-ordinator and directors
  • Construction - oversee designs, suppliers, construction contracts
  • Property - maintenance and services management
  • Tenant services - site co-ops, tenancy management
  • Environment - advise and research suppliers and options
  • Sites - research and assessment, acquisitions

The company is interested to hear from individuals and local businesses.  If you're interested in getting involved in the project team, please email us with your interests, skills, history and any thoughts and questions you may have.

We welcome and encourage feedback on all the above and more to help make this project a success.

office@bhchousing.org.uk