ABC Southwark Housing Co-op was formed in 1999 by the merger of three existing co-ops – Argoth, Bash St, and Housing Co-op in the Blue. Previously all three co-ops were mainly managing short-life properties owned by Southwark Council through arrangements with two Housing Associations: Hexagon and SLFHA. An opportunity arose to re-house members into permanent tenancies through a deal with Southwark Council on condition the three co-ops merged into one. The Council's view was that a larger co-op would be more viable, stable and able to employ a professional worker. The three co-ops saw that going permanent would be beneficial for our members so we duly merged over a period of about a year and became ABC.

Short-life to permanent

The move from short-life to permanent happened over a four year period from 1998 to 2002.  Southwark Council decided to end its programme of short-life housing doing one of three things with the houses involved:

A deal was made between Southwark, Hexagon Housing Association, and all the Southwark short-life co-ops, through our umbrella organisation SFSLU, commonly known as “the Fed”.  The main co-op players were the three co-ops that became ABC, plus two other co-ops called South Bank and Three Boroughs, with which ABC has a close relationship.  These were the only three co-ops that ended up with permanent properties through this scheme.  The co-ops agreed to co-operate with the Council and organise alternative housing for their members to allow the properties to be returned to the Council.  Southwark Council agreed to nominate the short-life residents (as of Sept 1998) to Hexagon for permanent properties.

These permanent properties are a mixture of street-level properties previously occupied as short-life, and newly built flats in three schemes – William Blake House (WBH) in Peckham (all three co-ops manage some flats at WBH), Mariner House in Rotherhithe managed by South Bank, and The Arrows in New Cross Gate managed by Three Boroughs.

Some ABC members came from several smaller co-ops which disappeared in this process.  Other people have moved from one big co-op to another depending on where they chose to live.  Many members had not lived in co-operative short-life, and were nominated by Southwark to flats that were not needed by people from short-life.