We held our first outreach meeting earlier this month at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton, attended by a lively crowd of 20 interested and varied Sussex-based households. From our perspective, the biggest achievement ahead of the meeting was completing our business plan, based on the Mutual Home Ownership Society model that has been pioneered most notably by the Lilac group in Leeds.
Briefly. Under this model, the MHOS owns the land and buildings and residents pay "rent" each month to the Society based on a percentage (35%) of their income. That goes towards their share (based on what kind of house they have) of financing and running costs, while any surplus goes towards purchasing "equity shares". House prices are indexed according to local income levels, not the property market, hence remaining affordable in perpetuity.
This is perhaps the most hard-to-get aspect of our community vision as it challenges the way we have been conditioned (at least in this country) to think of property ownership. As we see it, the concept is in support of our wish to introduce a viable alternative housing solution and of the idea that we are custodians of the land rather than "owners".
It was a great, lively discussion. We all agreed that it was good to be able to look at images of outdoor saunas and rewilded land afterwards to remind ourselves why we're doing this! It felt good to finally put our vision out into the world and to meet with a wider community of people willing to contribute time, skills and enthusiasm to help make it happen. Onwards!