Like many people at this time of year, we’re sharpening our pencils and getting ready to head back to school for the Autumn Term.
In partnership with Crisis Skylight Oxford, we’re running a weekly class on alternative methods of housing delivery for people with a past or current experience of homelessness. The class, called ’How to Build a House’ will teach practical skills in planning, designing, building and managing houses, rooted in the ideas of community-led housing.
Community-led housing holds huge potential for delivering housing that is both truly affordable and works to build strong communities. It is these such communities and their human connections that are so important in keeping us safe in times of crisis, and often the same connections that are absent in cases where a string of events leads to a person becoming homeless.
How to Build a House is part of our Homemaker Oxford project, a three-year piece of action research exploring how alternative housing models and empty and underused space might be used to tackle extreme housing need.
As the community-led housing sector in the UK grows, we are exploring how the people who could benefit most; the people without a secure home, can be central to its development. For us, this starts with actively including them from the very beginning.
During the How to Build a House class, we’ll be teaching and learning alongside the fantastic staff of Crisis Oxford and people with a lived experience of homelessness. Together we’ll explore how ideas like self-build, co-housing, housing cooperatives and community land trusts might work for those people for whom our broken housing system is currently failing the most.
Projects like Lilac in Leeds, StART in in London, the self-help housing projects of Canopy, Giroscope and Latch in the Northern cities, 1625 Independent People in Bristol and The House Project in Stoke-on-Trent are pioneering innovative ways in which the the energy and skills of people in precarious housing situations can combine with alternative models of housing delivery to create new housing options that can offer income-linked genuine affordability or social rent equivalent levels.
Such projects are carving out an exciting area of development for community-led housing and through Homemaker Oxford and How to Build a House, we’re exploring how such ideas might be implemented in Oxford.
As a practice that offers technical support and advice to community housing groups we’re always keen to share best practice and learn collectively. If you’re a community housing group, a regional hub or someone offering professional services to local groups and you’re currently working on, or thinking about how people with an extreme housing need could be better included in the development of community led housing, then we would love to hear from you. What’s working? What’s not? And what needs to change?