LETTER:Stakeholders in housing

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leader (6 March) suggests we have a choice between investment in home ownership and the flexibility of rental. One can have the best of both worlds. I have lived in co-operative housing associations for four years.

For a pounds 1 investment I have become an equal shareholder in the co-op which owns the flat I live in. Collectively the members of the co-op manage the properties, so we have control over maintenance, lettings, development of new schemes, and other projects. This kind of property ownership is open to all, regardless of income.

We retain the flexibility of rental. One can move without incurring the costs of surveyors, estate agents and solicitors.

In managing the properties, members develop business skills that people in other forms of social housing may never have an opportunity to acquire. We are "stakeholders".

Regular management meetings lead to a genuine community spirit which is otherwise approaching extinction in British towns and cities. An African proverb suggests "it takes a village to raise a child". I have seen children with the confidence and social skills that come from being raised in such a community.

And finally, no one in co-operative housing subscribes to the nonsense that inflation in housing costs is a good thing.

Ian Eiloart

Brighton

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