Thinking of housing? Think co-operative.

Many of us are all too familiar with the housing market in Ireland. Looking to rent or buy is a process that inflicts dread upon thousands every year across Ireland. With headlines swirling such as; Buying your first home: Tips to keep you sane through the process, House Hunting? Here Are Some Ways To Minimise The Stress Of Getting A Gaff & Angry, powerless and stressed: Welcome to house-hunting in Cork’s rental market in 2017, is it any wonder?

This, however, does not necessarily have to be the case. Within Ireland, a number of key obstacles exist: price, location & availability. Price is certainly a big factor, and with hefty deposits required, many are finding themselves having to move back home in order to save for a deposit. This process can take years, by which point rising prices can push housing beyond people’s reach. The second obstacle is location – finding a house somewhere that allows for a work-life balance without being stuck in the car for hours each day. With urban sprawl taking its toll, for many, a house is simply place to crash after a long commute, on top of a long day in the office.

Increasingly, what we are also beginning to see is the effect of availability on the housing market in Ireland. Ireland has had chronic problems over the years with regards to availability – a problem that persists and has a knock-on effect with regards to price. Even where price is not a factor, long queues, anxious waits and competitive bids mean that availability of housing is seriously prohibitive in terms of getting on the property ladder and starting families.

However, in recent years we have seen many people flock to the idea of developing their own homes through the co-operative model. The concept of co-operatives is an approach to housing focused on ensuring that the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity are integrated into how we view housing.

Already, we have seen housing co-operatives within Dublin city that are able to develop homes for €140,000 Based in Ballymun, these homes offer families the ability to grow and flourish, secure in the knowledge that they have a family home which allows them to easily access jobs, schools and health facilities. In other areas across the city we have seen co-operative childcare centres develop, allowing for parents to work, knowing that childcare costs will not gobble up their wages.

If you too share the belief that housing should be about much more than just simply moving into a house, but should be about being part of community of people, safe and secure in their homes, then maybe it’s time to stop thinking about housing, and start thinking about co-operatives!