A little known but fascinating story from the 1970’s saw squatting groups formalise the rehabilitation and self-management of empty homes as housing co-operatives. These ‘short-life’ co-operatives varied in forms and location, as well as outcome. For some, ‘short-life’ became a stepping stone towards permanent cooperative or social rented housing; for others, it remained a precarious and insecure form of housing which rapidly disappeared as the city became more gentrified.
Short-life co-ops sit between the de-commodified and self-managed model of permanent fully-mutual housing cooperatives, and precarious forms of temporary housing and anti-squatting schemes. Can they be seen as successful examples of community-led alternatives for commoning housing? What can we learn from their histories?
The research is part of the project Commoning Housing which is looking at the practices and politics of historic and contemporary housing commoning in London and Barcelona. Currently in Barcelona an embryonic movement for low-income co-operative housing on short-term leases of land and property is emerging in response to the housing crisis.
The presentation and discussion aims to offer preliminary insights from ongoing research into histories of short-life co-operative and their relationship to housing movements. It hopes to open up a discussion around what it means to build and reclaim spaces for non-speculative, collectively managed housing in cities:
– What conditions and forms of organising enable them to emerge, develop and sustain them over time?
– Which imaginaries are mobilised and how can they transform dominant ideas and practices of housing?
Organised as part of the ongoing ‘The Politics of Organised Squatting’ research at Mayday Rooms.