Homes for Change has only 75 properties, so, if your housing situation is an emergency, you are advised to approach larger housing providers. You must be a member of the Homes for Change Co-operative before an application for housing can be considered.
Please note that it is unlikely that you will be considered for membership of the Co-op if you have a history of arrears, damage or anti-social behaviour with regard to the Homes for Change Co-operative and its members/tenants.
To become a member of Homes for Change you must meet three conditions:
1) Attend General Meetings. These are held every month and are attended by members of the Co-op. Whilst many decisions about the running of the Co-operative are made by an elected Committee, their decisions have to be approved by the General Meeting. Attending General Meetings is a good way to learn about how the Co-Op operates.
Once you start attending General Meetings, you will be considered a 'prospective member' of the Co-operative i.e. someone who is working towards membership of the co-op. You must ensure that your attendance at the meeting is recorded by signing an attendance sheet. Once you have 'prospective member' status you will have the option to subscribe to the Homes for Change internal mailing list 'Yell' and subscribe to the monthly Homes for Change newsletter 'Big Yeller'. Dates of the General Meetings can be found in the Big Yeller and are advertised on Yell. You need to attend a minimum of two General Meetings before you can be voted into membership.
2) Attend a 'Homes for Change Induction'. These are scheduled every three months or so and are held at Homes for Change on Sunday afternoons. Each session lasts an hour and is an opportunity for you to find out about the Co-op and ask any questions you may have.
Topics covered include: the history of Homes for Change, the building's design, Work for Change (HfC's 'sister' co-op), the ethos of the Co-op, the membership process, the various working groups and how to become involved, how the Co-op works, the waiting list for accommodation and how this is managed.
Induction dates can be found on the calendar
Please e-mail Membership stating which date you wish to attend, your name and a contact phone number.
3) Join a Working Group and become an 'active' volunteer for the Co-op. Homes for Change is managed by volunteers who carry out the functions of 'landlord' through Working Groups.
Each Working Group is has a named Co-ordinator who is elected by the General Meeting every year. Working Groups meet every month, usually on a weekday evening.
Prospective members are free to join whichever Working Group they want to. When choosing a Working Group to join, you may want to think about the following:
* Do you want to join a Working Group where you can use skills you already have, or develop new ones?
Check our website for a description of what each Working Group does and what skills they require.
* Does the Working Group need new members? Will it have enough work that can be allocated to you that will allow you to be considered an 'active' member?
Many Working Groups advertise tasks that they need doing on the Homes for Change website 'jobs board'. Most Working Groups require new members on an ongoing basis.
* Are you able to attend their meetings?
Contact the Working Group Co-Ordinator to find out when their meetings or check in Yell.
There is a set minimum time that you must volunteer in order to be considered an 'active' volunteer; this is one hour per month in at least two months out of every three. At Working Group meetings, members of the group will agree what needs to be done and the co-ordinator assign responsibility for tasks. It's vital that when you attend the meetings of your chosen Working Group you are proactive in volunteering to be assigned tasks - just attending a meeting doesn't count as 'volunteering' (unless you are doing a job in the meeting, like taking the minutes). It's also important that the time you volunteer can be verified by a Working Group Co-ordinator.
Being Voted in as a Member
Once you think you have met the three conditions of membership, ask your Working Group Co-ordinator to put your name forward to the Membership Group (alternatively, you can ask Membership yourself). This must happen no later than six months after your first attendance at a General Meeting.
Membership Group will carry out checks to ensure that you have met the requirements of membership; this includes checking attendance records of General Meetings and Inductions and verifying your volunteering activity with your Working Group Co-ordinator.
Once Membership Group are satisfied that the conditions have been met, they will put forward a request to the General Meeting that you be considered for membership of the Co-op. It is a rule of the Co-op that in order for the General Meeting to make this decision, your name must be included within the published agenda which is distributed at least two weeks before the meeting takes place. You must attend the meeting where your membership will be considered or the vote will be
postponed to a later meeting. The decision to admit prospective members into the Co-op is made in a 'closed' session of the General Meeting, which can only be attended by members.
On being successfully voted as a member of HfC you will be given a members pack containing among other things, a share certificate (costing £1) and an application form for housing. You should complete the application form and return it to Membership Group, either by post or by hand.
Becoming a tenant of HfC
When your application has been received it undergoes the following process:
* Two members of Membership Group will be allocated to carry out a home visit to verify your circumstances. This will be at a time that is convenient for you.
* At the next meeting of the Membership Group, your completed application form and the report from the home visit will be considered and points awarded according to your housing need.
* You will be placed on one or more of the waiting lists; there is a waiting list for each property size (one-bed, two-bed etc). When waiting lists are full and ‘closed’ you will be placed on a ‘pending’ list until the waiting list is reopened
* We will inform you in writing of your points total and position on the relevant waiting list. If references, relevant medical or other evidence is required we will write to you and let you know.
Although the above process may take several months, we will back-date the date on which you 'join' the waiting list to the date on which you were voted in as a member of the Co-op.
Once you are on the waiting list, you must continue to actively volunteer for a working group and you must continue to attend at least two monthly general meetings in each six-month period. In addition you must keep Membership Group informed of any changes in your circumstances that may affect your allocation of points for 'housing need' and complete a new application form if you change address.
After every six months on the waiting list your application is reviewed and, subject to continued participation in the work of the coop, fifty additional points will be awarded – these additional points are available for every subsequent six months. When you reach the top of the waiting list – and a suitable property is available – you are invited to view the property. Please note that we are only able to offer tenancies to active members of the Co-op, or members who have been given a 'leave of absence' from volunteering duties.
If it is suitable for you, the allocation of the property is presented to a General Meeting or a Committee Meeting for ratification. We then offer you a tenancy and arrange a date for you to sign your tenancy agreement.