Housing is the ‘rock’ on which the commons economy can be built. Everybody needs it, it’s non-technical and it’s in a mess.
Last year, my wife and I were selling a house in London and moving to Stroud. We were hearing stories from people in their 30s that we knew in London about the impossibility of buying a house, and more and more, even renting somewhere to live.
We talked about keeping the house and renting it out at an affordable rate, to contribute to helping young people live in the capital. The rent income would help us pay the mortgage on a house in Stroud.
But after discussing it, we decided that this wasn’t the way to go. We didn’t want to be landlords – for ideological reasons, but also because it would mean extra work collecting the rent and maintaining the property. Also, it was encouraging landlordism and contributing to the existing problematic situation: young people can’t find work in their towns, so they move to London to work in corporate jobs they hate, to be able to earn the money needed to pay London rents, enriching corporations and landlords, draining provincial towns and contributing to a pointless, boring, damaging economy.
We didn’t know of any alternatives at the time, but after researching and talking with specialists (whose ideas, to be honest, we didn’t understand at first), we decided to go the commons route, and to do it in public, to encourage and help other people to do it too. We wanted to promote a way to allow people to live and work in the town they grew up in, close to friends and family, rather than have them sucked into the corporate vortex that is today’s London.
We’re talking with switched-on people in Stroud about commons housing, and in fact commons everything. We want to get to know each other better, learn together, invite specialists to come and speak, recruit local people and look for opportunities. To be fair, Stroud is a bit of a rebel town, and fertile ground for something like this. But if it can work here, it can work in other towns too. It’s not about altruism or worthiness. Commons ideas can provide things that people need at better prices – exactly what’s needed for ideas to spread virally.
We’ll blog about progress, every step of the way. This is something that can be ‘replicated and federated’ to form the foundation of something completely new. It’s not a ‘solution’ – just a programme for mitigation and preparation for what’s heading our way.
Here’s an introduction to housing commons. More news soon.