About the Co-op

 

Brixton Housing Co-op was founded in 1976 as a Housing Co-operative (social housing under tenant control), to provide housing mainly for single people not usually catered for by Lambeth Council.  It was created by individuals who wanted to share in the management of where and how we lived. A community who wanted to be self-directed and autonomous.  

Check out our 40th Anniversary documentary film opposite. 

 

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History in brief: 

By the early 1970s a vast number of Lambeth Council’s properties were empty, in dis-repair and set for demolition. Meanwhile homelessness was on the rise. Action groups emerged and many people began to solve their own problems by squatting.

Diverse and dynamic community:  The soon to be famous 'front line' of Railton Road became a hub of political activity including an advice centre, a black book shop, gay centre and a food coop and a newspaper called Brixton Boss.  One of the weekly ‘squat meetings’ was attended by a worker from Solon Housing Association who suggested that the group set up a Housing Association. Derek Evans and Mary Evans Young who ran Brixton Boss called a meeting at their house on Mayall Road. 

The first meeting: Just three people attended that first meeting. The next was attended by eight people. It was at that second meeting the group agreed to form Brixton Housing Co-op and those eight people became the first committee. The group included Rob Smith, Theresa Smith, Terry Stewart and Jeffrey Saynor. Mary Evans Young was elected chair, Derek Evans was elected secretary and John Lloyd was elected treasurer.

Humble beginnings: The next day John opened the Co-op bank account. John had a meeting the bank manager telling him that he anticipated the Co-op would have a £2Millon turnover by the end of ten years. The bank manager was clearly excited. When he asked John how much he had to open the account with John offered him a £1 note.

Building blocks and first members:  Gradually word got around and the prospect of a secure home outweighed the radical groups fears of ‘selling out.’ People started attending meetings and joining the Co-op. The next several years were concerned with endless, but necessary meetings to draw up the constitution, membership criteria, decide the geographic area the Co-op would cover – and negotiating with the Housing Corporation for finance, Lambeth Council for properties and ratifying the relationship with Solon Housing Association.

Starting and blooming: By 1979 the Co-op was close to taking up its first properties. While Derek and Mary moved on the pioneers behind the Coop were set to move in. Brixton Housing Coop has gone on to flourish and comprises of nearly 80 homes. The Co-op recently celebrated its 40th Anniversary.

Edited and from and based on an article for the Co-op Newsletter by Derek Evans and Mary Evans Young.

 

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