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Introduction

Around the world, many people are caught between unaffordable or inadequate housing in the private market, and a lack of good-quality public housing. In parallel, speculation and drastic planning decisions displace many communities from the land they cherish and call home.

In response, some communities have decided to take control and plan and provide solutions for themselves. Through a variety of models, they have developed these housing solutions to fit their needs, aspirations and values.

There are some incredibly inspiring examples of community-led housing initiatives from across the world.  But there are also many groups faced with obstacles to doing this, which makes their journey to developing their own homes challenging. Or at times, even impossible.

Community-led housing is a powerful solution to housing issues. It is relevant to completely different areas, as models must be flexible and adapt to different situations. This is why we want to see community-led housing become a major global trend in the way housing is delivered.

Our global community-led housing programme is supporting key networks and organisations – including the Co-Habitat Network and MOBA Housing Network – that are pioneers, but face difficulties. We are working with them to develop strategies and tools to overcome these challenges.

What is community-led housing?

The National CLT Network define community-led housing as ‘local people playing a leading and lasting role in solving housing problems’.

There are three main ways community-led housing is delivered:

  • Group-led: Grassroots groups responding to housing need or demand, or people seeking to deliver their own homes.
  • Extension of community-based activity: Existing community-based organisations with local roots decide to provide housing in addition to their current activities.
  • Developer-Community partnership: A local authority/landowner/housing association or small builder wants to provide housing that benefits the local area permanently. They access community-led housing expertise to recruit ‘founder members’ from within the community and support them to take over ownership/stewardship and/or management of the homes.

The resulting housing can take different shapes and forms – from new-build, to regeneration and the use of existing buildings. It can follow different models, e.g. cooperatives, Community Land Trusts, Mutual Home Ownership Societies, and more. This may depend on the needs of the community, availability of resources, location and existing legal frameworks.

Groups are either formed based on a geographical connection – for example, being part of an existing neighbourhood – or decide to come together through something else they have in common, such as shared values or having similar needs.

The people-driven journey to achieving housing can also include:

  • community data collection and mapping;
  • decision-making over choice of legal model and/or design;
  • negotiations with local authorities;
  • registration and formal recognition; and
  • construction.

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