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William Plowden Fellowship lecture 2013

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Richard Lang (University of Birmingham and University of Linz) discussed Bringing real localism into practice through co operative housing governance.

This was a presentation at the William Plowden Fellowship Lecture 2013, London, September 12, 2013.

Find out about NCVO upcoming and past events: http://www.ncvo.org.uk/training-and-events

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William Plowden Fellowship lecture 2013

  1. 1. Bringing real localism into practice through co-operative housing governance The role and prospects of community-led housing in England Richard Lang, University of Birmingham and University of Linz (Austria) William Plowden Fellowship Lecture 2013 Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre, London September 12, 2013
  2. 2. Summary • Aims and Methodology of the Study • Localism Debate and Community-led Housing • Structure of the Community-led Sector • Infrastructure Needs of Community-led Groups • Support Mechanisms: Self-help vs. External Help • Lessons from International Experiences • Discussion and Conclusions • Developing Research Agenda
  3. 3. Introduction • Thanks to NCVO and the Fellowship Advisory Group for having made this exciting research in the English West Midlands possible. • Thanks to my supervisor David Mullins and the team at Housing and Communities Research Group, TSRC in Birmingham for their excellent support during the study. • Lecture can only cover a small part of the research, based on preliminary analysis of the data. • Full research report completed by the end of the year. • Lecture provides an important contribution to this task. I would welcome your comments and feedback during and after the lecture.
  4. 4. Aims of the Project • Assessing the relevance of the localism agenda for the community- led housing sector. • Understanding structure of the community-led housing sector and support mechanisms. • Exploring the potential of international models of support for effective localism (Austrian co- operative governance model) • Establishing research links with the mutual housing sector in England • Scoping study for a longer term Fellowship Application (August 2013) to ensure relevance to sector actors.
  5. 5. Research Methodology • Project duration in Birmingham: April 9 – June 30 • Systematic review of recent policies from the Localism Act and forms of organizational response emerging in the community-led and mutual housing sectors • 22 semi-structured interviews with experts, stakeholders and representatives of community-led and co-operative housing in England (about 350 pages of transcripts) • 5 case studies of innovative community-led projects (incl. field visits) in the English West Midlands region • Developing a typology of co-operative governance models derived from the literature, empirical study and international experiences.
  6. 6. The Localism Debate and Community-led Housing • Although housing is a very specific field, the project has shown that it exemplifies many issues relevant to future development of the voluntary and community sector as a whole. • Issues raised by the Localism Bill and Big Society Agenda are surprisingly similar to debates following New Localism initiatives by former Labour government (see NCVO’s Voluntary Action report in 2005). – For example: Tensions arising from partnership arrangements between community-based organisations and government bodies or larger third sector providers (e.g. Housing Associations). • Localism as good example for worrying gap between “big political ideas” and practice on the ground with real communities  highlights relevance of William Plowden’s principles for public policy – Still little clarity about political agenda among sector representatives: “Localism, that’s politics, isn’t it? […] The shaping of the political end, I’m not really interested in that. In terms of the practicalities on the ground […] our approach is to try to see if we can develop more housing in various different ways. And there are small amounts of success.”
  7. 7. Real Localism through Community-led Housing? • With the Localism Act 2011 community-led housing gained increasing attention and some resources in England. • Community-driven social innovation but challenged by the dominance of scale economies in ‘mainstream’ social housing. (Mullins 2012) • Localism as active community engagement (Deakin 2005) builds on “linking social capital” or the capacity of residents to leverage ideas and resources beyond the neighbourhood level. (Lang/Novy 2013) • Third sector organisations have a crucial role in building social capital in general and especially residents’ capacity for active citizenship. (Stoker 2005) • Co-operatives, for example, engage residents in social entrepreneurship, civic engagement and democratic practices which can create positive external effects for sustainable urban development. (Beetz 2008) • Furthermore, housing organisations can act as intermediaries, linking residents to the wider institutional environment. (Lang/Novy 2013) Mullins D (2012) The Reform of Social Housing. Chapter 11 in Raine J and Staite C (eds) The World will be your oyster? Perspectives on the Localism Act. University of Birmingham. Lang R, Novy A (2013) Cooperative Housing and Social Cohesion: The Role of Linking Social Capital. European Planning Studies, DOI:10.1080/09654313.2013.800025. Deakin N and Stoker G in Robb C (2005)Voluntary Action: Meeting the challenges of the 21st century. NCVO.
  8. 8. Community-led Housing Fields Selection of Case Studies for this Project Co-Housing Community Land Trusts X Co-operative Housing X Self-build Housing Self-help Housing X Tenant Management Organisations Asset Transfer Models and Community Mutuals X
  9. 9. Structure of the Community-led Housing Sector • The concept of cooperative housing is widespread and has a long tradition in the UK. • Advocates of the community-led housing point to 40 years of co-producing well designed and managed places, with high levels of resident and neighbour satisfaction. (housingforum.org.uk) • Nevertheless, co-operative housing practice is still little-known and just being rediscovered as an innovative alternative form of housing provision and neighbourhood management (e.g. Rowlands 2009, CCH 2009, Bliss et al. 2013). • In contrast to other European countries, co-operative housing accounts only for less than 1% of all homes in the UK. (Poland: 20%; Sweden and Norway about 15%; Austria: 8% co-operatives and 10% limited-profit housing companies; Moreau/Pittini 2012) • As a response to the need for affordable housing, new community-led housing initiatives emerged. • Self-help housing, the co-housing movement (with Danish and North American roots), the community land trust sector (with North American and Scottish strands) sprung out of different social movements, not always linked to the cooperative housing tradition, but clearly exhibiting co-operative principles in their governance (e.g. Moore and Mullins 2013; Moore and McKee 2012)
  10. 10. English Case Studies
  11. 11. Infrastructure Needs of Community-led Groups • The coop movement and the other community-led sectors are in different stages of development as organisational fields. • Newer community-led movements lacking the support structures the coop movement has established over several decades. • Two key lessons for newer community-led sectors from the early coop movement in England: – Considering early on how to Secure essential resources such as funding, technical expertise and legitimacy to support activity. – Building management and governance competence among residents who will be running the schemes. • How can these infrastructure needs be met?
  12. 12. Sector Umbrellas an Intermediaries • The community-led sector is made up of different types of organisations, governance models, and labels. • Mutual Housing Group (MHG) as a reaction to this identity problem of the sector. Its goal is to share learning across the fields, lobbying government and build a supportive environment • Nevertheless, MHG remains a rather lose group of actors and is still emerging. • Competing meta-identities: Each sub field of CLH, has its own umbrella organisation with links to other housing sectors and government bodies. • Some members see the cooperative idea as overarching. Others do not really feel connected to the cooperative movement. • Different support and facilitation strategies for the sector: “scaling up” or “going viral” (Moore/Mullins 2012)
  13. 13. Paradoxical Relations with Housing Associations (I) • Two possible ways the sector could grow: – either, the grass roots communities mobilise the resources needed (bottom-up approach), or – the sector goes into partnerships with local authorities and/or housing associations/secondary coops for funding and other resources (bottom-linked approach). • Parts of the sector, such as the co-operatives, have decided to pursue a bottom-linked approach to develop new homes. • Having an external service and management provider is a traditional approach of cooperative housing in England, particularly in urban settings. • The external service partner was traditionally a secondary coop but in some cases changed to housing associations as it was not sustainable. • Housing associations can play a key role in supporting community-led initiatives through management and governance competence, consultancy, funds, or even by establishing their own community-led projects.
  14. 14. Paradoxical Relations with Housing Associations (II) • Key challenge of partnerships between community-led initiatives and housing associations: how to make the latter work in a community oriented way (e.g. speak language of the tenants, and foster local community leadership) • Some parts of the housing association sector seem to be committed to cooperative principles and support community-led housing providing the necessary support structures for the sector to grow. • However, the involvement of HAs is not always welcomed, as empirical data on CLTs shows. • “I think that having the housing association as the provider is unlikely but I do think they can be critical partners” (Community-led sector representative)
  15. 15. Paradoxical Relations with Housing Associations (III) • On large housing associations and their relationship with communities: “I wouldn't say that any housing association has gone crazy and completely lost track of where they have homes, but in terms of thinking about neighbourhood factors and community factors […] quite a number of the bigger ones, it's harder for them to be in touch and really understand what's going on on the ground.” (External consultant) • Distinguishing between housing associations devolving power to communities from supporting external community led partners: “We don't advocate that housing associations break up into Tenant Management Organisations and that would be quite localist, but we advocate that housing associations think about the impact they have upon the localities in which they work and as part of that we advocate that they do support, […] organisations, like self- help housing projects […] like community land trusts.” (External consultant) • The paradoxes of governance of large housing associations: “They're potentially very democratic. You could have all the tenancy members with a one pound share. But they don't in practice because the tenants might vote the board out. So there's no requirement to have more than a dozen shareholders, or ten shareholders.” (Sector Representative)
  16. 16. Results from the West Midlands Case Studies Support by Parent Organisations • In the Coop and CLT cases, we find parent organisations: HAs, Secondary Co-op • Parents link residents to resources for development (either in-house competence or links to external service providers) and act as mediators between communities and external authorities. • “You have to have a good corporate governance, understand risk […] you have to have all the professionalism that we have developed over the years […] Expecting six or eight volunteers to help. No, that’s not going to work.” (Executive Director of HA) • Whereas the Co-op case gets backing from the wider cooperative movement and regional authorities, the HA’s efforts have met some scepticism from external authorities and the CLT movement. • But only limited public promotion – HCA community led funding a small share of funding for affordable housing in England – no parallels to Vienna site development competitions
  17. 17. Governance Models of Self-help in Community- led Housing in England • Traditional (user) self-help model • Extended (community) self-help models Participants Participants Local residents Participants Participants Local residents Local residents Local residents Local residents Local residents
  18. 18. Governance Models with External Enablers – International Comparison English West Midlands Vienna Region (Austria) Mainstream Model of Public Promotion in Non-Profit Housing Co-operative & Non-profit Providers Housing Associations, Sector Umbrellas (e.g. Secondary Coops) Users Users Parti- cipants Local residents Participants Participants Local residents Local residents Community-led Projects City Administration
  19. 19. Austrian Case Studies
  20. 20. Lessons from the Austrian Model of Cooperative Housing • Community-led housing has strong connections with the cooperative housing tradition. (Rowlands 2009) • International experience in this field, such as the well-established Austrian cooperative housing sector, therefore has strong relevance for implementing localism. (Moreau/Pittini 2012) • This project contrasted experiences of state-led innovation in the Vienna city region in Austria and the bottom- up, localist innovation in the West Midlands region in England. Rowlands R (2009) Forging Mutual Futures - Co-operative, Mutual and Community Based Housing in Practice. Commission on Co-operative & Mutual Housing. Moreau S, Pittini A (2012) Profiles of a Movement: Co-operative Housing Around the World. ICA Housing.
  21. 21. “Linking Capital” in Vienna • Community cooperatives are comparatively small, with few vertical linkages to the multi-level sites where key decisions on housing policy and urban development are taken. • Professional cooperatives and limited- profit companies have been recognized by local government as the main channels for providing new social housing in Vienna  strengthens their capacity to act as intermediaries between residents and government compared to community cooperatives. • Professional cooperatives are able to compete in new development competitions for land and subsidy and have advantages in meeting social sustainability criteria.
  22. 22. Developer Competitions in Vienna - scaling up cooperative elements • Not the same mechanism as in English social housing • In Vienna, competition on specific development sites for cheap land opportunities (“Bauträgerwettbewerb“) • Developers scored according to architectural quality, economic aspects, ecological quality and also the social sustainability of the projects. • Social sustainability refers to identity and community building as well as social mix, increasing tenant participation in subsidized housing estates (Förster 2002; Wohnfonds Wien 2009). • Key aspect is advancement of architectural innovations also leading to better design of communal facilities, such as open spaces and communication areas, combined with ecological innovations. (Förster 2002) • For the English context, the introduction of social sustainability aspects in developer competitions could institutionalise community-led housing on the policy level and link it to public funds.
  23. 23. Resident Participation in Vienna • To make cooperative idea popular within larger parts of the society, movement accepted that not every resident wants to engage actively. • Voice and loyalty mechanisms become less attractive over time for residents (stronger at the start of projects). • Furthermore, strategic partnership with local government has weakened the character as member-based organisations. • Privatization and deregulation tendencies lead to increasing customer service orientation. • This cannot and should not replace traditional cooperative participation mechanisms but suggests that cooperatives have to reach out to different resident groups with different, for instance low-threshold participative methods. • Nevertheless, public promotion requires them to actively contribute to sustainable urban development goals, and thus, also to foster resident participation.
  24. 24. Results from the West Midlands Case Studies Opportunities for resident participation • The management representatives in both cases accept that not every resident seeks active participation. • However, both cases suggest that community-led housing is very much about involving residents in a participation process than about delivering a ready-made product, i.e. affordable homes. • The Cooperative involves tenants already in the planning stage of a site. They are able to pick their plot and decide on certain features of their homes (e.g. kitchen design). • Both cases quickly put residents into governance roles and give them responsibility. • For later stages of the CLT project, the parent HA seeks strong participation of community members in on-going management and maintenance activities of the model “so that they feel they really own it” (Executive Director of HA).
  25. 25. Results from the West Midlands Case Studies Relevance of participation and decision making to residents in co-op case • Participation is relevant to residents in the Cooperative case, disillusioned by the paternalist experiences of council housing and (some) housing associations. • “How is it different from other forms of housing? Because we run it. We have our say.” (Interview Coop Resident)
  26. 26. Results from the West Midlands Case Studies Relevance of participation and decision making to residents in CLT case • For residents involved in the Community-land trust case, having a say is relevant in local development more generally. This may be a way to overcome NIMBYISM • A wider motivation for participation in the CLT case is concern for future development of the villages, such as the availability of a social centre or a village pub: the affordable housing project may be instrumental to broader aims.
  27. 27. Umbrella Bodies and Isomorphism Risk • Keep and support diversity not only of community-led provider models but also of umbrella bodies within the cooperative movement (Novy 1992). • Powerful central umbrellas body and state promotion supported leads to isomorphism tendencies. • This runs counter to and actually completely undermine the co-operative principles of self- help and self-organisation. • local communities invent and experiment with new organisational structures and with umbrella bodies (Novy 1992). • Umbrellas can dissemination good practice. • encourage variety of governance models as basis for social innovation
  28. 28. Discussion & Conclusions of Cross-Country Study (1) • New co-operative and community-led housing fields are facing similar challenges to earlier co-operative housing movement. • Not able to grow and expand significantly through self-help mechanisms alone, given their inherent scarcity of economic capital, compared with other co- operative sectors (Novy 1983). • Require some form of external support, such as that of public housing programs, which however threatens the co- operative and community-based nature of these housing providers.
  29. 29. Discussion & Conclusions of Cross- Country Study (2) • Empirical analysis has shown that (community) cooperatives in Vienna do not have a strategic partner from the non-profit sector and only find external support from the municipality which does not entirely support community- led and cooperative development. • In England, this enabler role can be carried out by HAs or secondary co-ops which are committed to community-led housing. • Balance of self help and external support is crucial. • Achieving balance between local determination and broader societal influence through structural partnerships with Government
  30. 30. Developing Research Agenda • MAPPING evolution of community-led fields in England through strategic action fields method – and thereby construct more meaningful typologies. • FOLLOWING case study projects and exploring types of linking social capital and institutional design principles adopted. • SAMPLING contrasting case organisations in the various community- led fields and exploring institutional design principles. • QUANTITATIVE MEASUREMENT of linking social capital in English West Midlands based on the experiences of the Austrian pilot study. • COMPARISON of emergent context and institutional responses in Vienna and English Midlands contributes to international review of potential of community led models.
  31. 31. Further Information • Richard Lang richard.lang@jku.at • David Mullins d.w.mullins@bham.ac.uk Housing and Communities Research Group