The Housing Co-Operative Models in Establishing Affordable Housing

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Aim of profiling housing co-operative is to disclose bottlenecks in housing co-operative, identify gaps in housing co-operative, support the formulation of appropriate policy responses, and opportunities in the housing co-operative sector that hinder the housing market from functioning properly. A qualitative approach driven by semi-structured interviews was adopted in obtaining information relating to how the housing co-operative works, their membership, governance practices, financing models, housing tenure and service delivery. Findings revealed that market equity cooperative is the most adopted among the members of a housing cooperative in Nairobi county and member savings is the core source of financing to all housing co-operatives in Nairobi county Kenya.


The latest debate is on housing crisis affecting millions of people around the world. Even with numerous housing programs implemented by different countries, there is still a huge shortage of affordable homes particularly for the poor living in urban areas. Therefore, there is a need for deeper and systematic understanding of the main issues and trends taking place in this sector. Housing profile can be the first step in informing and engaging policy makers, practitioners and decision makers in providing them with evidenced based research in designing and supporting their critical decision towards solving housing shortage (UN-Habitant, 2017). Housing profile is a comprehensive in-depth analysis of ascertain trend or pattern in ascertain field of interest. According to UN-Habitant (2011), housing profile is a diagnostic tool that furnish the governments and other stakeholders with a chronological analysis of housing situation at national or county level with aim of helping to disclose bottlenecks, identify gaps, support the formulation of appropriate policy responses, and opportunities in the housing sector that hinder the housing market from functioning properly.

According to Ganapati (2014), public sector has reduced the role of providing affordable housing instead has enhanced the role private sector, inability of private sector to cater the needs of low income groups has resulted into a third sector organisation like housing co-operative gained significance in most developing countries. According to Lipeja & Turelb (2018), housing cooperative is a legal entity formed to satisfy a housing needs on a continuing basis and once that need is satisfied its nature and functions changes for instance after completing construction then they are a concern with the management of the houses. Continuity in housing co-operative is critical for sustainability and provision of affordable housing for present and future generation without compromising their quality, these is achievable through social capital theory. The social capital theory supports housing profile in many ways. For instance, there are various writing on housing profile that equates to a high degree of social capital with strong workforce, wide network and innovation, high rate of labour productivity and longevity initiatives. Therefore, these traits have been found inherent in many co-operative enterprise and housing co-operative is not exceptional.

Empirically, as claimed by (Ochieng et al, 2017), housing has never been a priority for most developing nation, Kenya included which means that even compiling data for this sector is not a priority for decision makers at national and county level. These can be evidenced by (Ochieng et al, 2017), there are accumulatively 2 million housing deficit in Kenya. Although there is rich information related to housing sector, there is lack of co-ordination between different sources meaning that policies developed do not take into account the reality in the ground. This research is paramount bearing in mind that housing profile is the first step in addressing unique challenges facing housing sector in Kenya. As noted by Megan Fu (2007), there is a need for housing co-operative to explore various models and practices that exist, their role and opportunities towards achievement of affordable housing. Indeed, several authors have call for exploration of dilemma involved housing co-operative sector in provision of affordable housing and particularly the tension surrounding housing co-operative models and practices (Ganapati, 2014; Czischk and Pittini 2007; Malatest & Associates 2018). Therefore, the aim of this paper is to ensure that relevant data is taken into consideration before implementation of any policies that will have an impact on housing sectors in Kenya.

Literature Review

According to Ganapati (2014), public and private sector had failed to provide affordable housing particularly to the poor in the urban areas, many people had alternatively seeking assistance through the organized informal sector especially the housing co-operative society. This study explored profiling of housing co-operative practices and models adopted in provision of affordable housing in Kenya. Various authors have analysed how housing profile in housing co-operative had improved provision of affordable housing around the world (Co-operative Housing International, 2011; Juhart, et al., 2017; and UN-Habitat, 2017).

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According to ICA, (2013) housing profile is enable members of housing co-operative to attain high desired dream of their homes and improved living standards. ICA profiled housing co-operative into the following thematic areas: operation of housing co-operative, history and development, scale of stock contribution, legal framework, finance and administrative system and their challenges. As noted by Malatest & associate (2018), CECODHAS Housing Europe and ICA Housing (2012) housing profile enable one to understand better on how co-operative housing models and practices operate in a given country and their contribution towards affordable housing. Malatest profiled housing co-operative into the following thematic areas including the size and contribution of total housing stock, current status, legislation, policies and regulation, financial aspect and challenges and the study was conducted in Canada, Sweden, and Australia, Germany and Denmark.

According to UN-Habitat (2011), Ghana Housing Profile is critical because of the challenge of housing shortage rampant in many urban areas in Ghana. Urban housing sector profile allows to bring together as much of the available data as possible in and around housing, especially in the thematic areas which reflect the six supply components; the regulatory framework, land, finance, infrastructure, the construction industry and building materials. Therefore, they seek to innovative the best practices that can be implemented in their housing co-operative to enhance provision of affordable housing.

According to Bunce (2013), housing co-operative is divided into main three types or profile tenure, building and financing co-operatives. However, various authors have pointed out that housing co-operative have three models including market equity model, limited equity model and non-equity model (Co-operative Housing International, 2011.; La Palme, 2018 and Juhart, et al., 2017). Equity market model, housing co-operative units are purchased or sold at open market (Sweden and Norway). Government play passive role hence create affordability challenge particularly to low income groups. Non-equity model members join housing co-operative for non-financial gain. Resident pay modest fee to join the co-operative and rent is set to ensure co-operative meets the basic upgrading expenses and maintenance (Germany, Australia and Canada). In order to realize the challenges facing housing co-operative in provision of affordable housing government support is critical.

Although the above literature may serve as a guide for this study, research on these aspects in Kenya housing co-operative has been extremely limited. The sustainability of housing co-operatives in shelter provision in the informal settlements has not discussed about housing profiling (Kemboi,2013) and according to the Organisation, Management and Finance of Housing Cooperatives in Kenya noted by (UN-Habitat, 2010) has discussed about success factors and challenges facing housing co-operative and how to overcome them. This means that this literature would enrich the understanding and practices of housing co-operative in Kenya but international study would give better understanding about the practices and models adopted by different countries around the world. However, these study are silent as to why some practices and models are appropriate to ascertain country and not the other, replicating the “best” housing co-operative practices and models from one country into another may not work because of various factors which have not been identified in this studies. Some scholars have examined successful models in their respective countries for instance Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, (2010), Canada identified market equity model as dominant and successful in terms of provision of affordable housing. As noted by La Palme (2018), in Switzerland and Czech Republic most successful model is non-equity model which has provided homes for millions of people. In fact, these study overlook a comprehensive framework of housing co-operative practices and models using various case studies adopted in Kenya.

Therefore, these study seeks to examine a deeper and more critical analysis of housing co-operative practices and models in the following thematic areas; the foundation of housing co-operative, ownership of housing cooperative, financing of housing co-operatives, governance of housing cooperative, implementation of co-operative principles and service delivery. The ultimate objective for profiling housing co-operative is twofold: provision of adequate information to policymakers in order to make a policy evidenced based by millions of need Kenyan particularly in urban areas, second offering academic and training institutions a comprehensive resource to assist them in training and education of new generations of housing practitioners and future housing policy-makers (UN-Habitat, 2017)

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