YorSpace is becoming widely known for our creative approach to the housing crisis. We like to call it “positive pioneering”. Here we explain what it is and how our new homes will help shake up the housing market in York.

Much has been made of the UK’s dysfunctional housing market in recent years. In our last blog post we explained the need for a new approach to housing in York and across the country. As house prices and rents rise ever higher, more and more people are being priced out of the market for buying a home. This means more and more people facing a lifetime of expensive, and insecure, rental homes.

Ownership, Jim, but not as we know it

The solution lies in our ability to stop the widening gap between average salaries and average house prices. But how do we do that? Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are a type of organisation that communities can use to keep control over their local assets like pubs, parks and post offices. CLTs are run by local people and their purpose is to purchase land and buildings. This keeps them out of the open market and for community use indefinitely.

Up and down the country local communities are starting CLTs to address their local shortage of affordable housing. YorSpace CLT is very proud to be part of this burgeoning movement. We love seeing communities come together to tackle their housing problems together.

YorSpace’s approach is pioneering, even for a CLT. CLTs often create homes for rent, but YorSpace want to find a way for residents to be able to own affordably. We were then faced with a puzzle: how do people own something that is affordable now, but also stays affordable forever? This is where our positive pioneering approach came in. We decided to combine a Community Land Trust with Mutual Home Ownership.

What the heck is mutual home ownership?

Mutual Home Ownership was created by the New Economics Foundation in 2003. In Mutual Home Ownership houses are not directly owned by their residents. The houses are owned collectively by a co-operative society and the residents own the co-operative society.

By owning houses as a community the homes will never be bought and sold on the open market. It protects their affordability now and for the future. The residents still own something though. They own their Mutual Home Ownership Cooperative Society, rather than their house. They build equity in the Society, rather than their house.

Creating the virtuous loop: best of both worlds

One virtuous circle isn’t enough for YorSpace! Oh no, we want to create two and have them work together in unison. That way we get the best of both.

The first circle is our CLT and brings together everyone from our local and wider community who want to see a change in how housing is delivered. This can be anyone from members of the public, the Council, professionals, land owners and most importantly investors. This coalition of people join together to make YorSpace CLT what it is and help us buy the land we need.

The second circle is formed by the residents and their Mutual Home Ownership Cooperative Society. This circle creates a vibrant community of residents who will become neighbours and prevent the homes ever finding their way onto the open market.

YorSpace acts as the point of contact between these two circles. It works with the wider community to purchase land and works with potential residents to create a Mutual Home Ownership Society and supports them to build the homes.

YorSpace is able to repay its investors by charging the Mutual Home Ownership Cooperative Society for leasing the land it owns. This way we close the virtuous loop and pioneer a quiet revolution is how housing is financed and delivered.

Here’s what the structure looks like :

York has a history of developing pioneering communities with the creation of New Earswick by Joseph Rowntree a hundred years ago, and remains an attractive place to live to this day. Yorspace is carrying that local tradition, and expect our communities to still be setting the pace as great places to live in another hundred years.