We Are Mary Ann Johnson Housing co-op

…or MAJ for short. A group of individuals from North London, most of us are either on welfare benefits or low waged. To solve our joint housing problems and to take control of this part of our lives, we have set up a housing cooperative.

Welcome To Our New Website

There’s been a lot going on for Mary Ann Johnson Housing co-operative recently, including buying a new property for the co-op which we hope to complete on in the next few days, plus two new members and their children joining and giving us much needed energy. We’ve been pretty bad at keeping our old website updated during the last few years and letting our funders know what we are getting up to, but with the launch of this new website we hope to change all that.

We’ve moved all our details and content over here ready for a fresh start, and will be keeping this site updated so be sure to refresh your links and bookmarks and don’t miss out!

All Good Messy Fun… MAJ Buys New Fixer-Upper

We did it! MAJ purchased a new ground floor flat in Tottenham at the beginning of the year, securing a family home for two tenants. It is such a sense of acheivment when we get another property under our belts because every home we secure takes the power and profit away from unscrupulous landlords and places it with us, the tenants. As is always the case when Mary Ann Johnson Housing Co-op buy somewhere, the new place is a real fixer upper and we are having to work hard to get it liveable before our members move in. And there is always more work to be done when you get stuck into it, as we discovered when we began work on the bathroom.

Having thought it was a simple task of stripping the old tiles and replacing with new, we discovered that the plasterboard wall behind the shower was damp and unsound, so instead of just replacing tiles we will also have to remove and replace a portion of internal wall. At one point during our Sunday work day, three hammer and chisel wielding co-op members were busily ripping out tiles which was all good messy fun!

There were actually two layers of tiles! It’s a good thing we decided to replace them as we’d never have known how bad this internal wall was if we had decided to make do…

Other rooms were given a fresh lick of paint, and despite the horrific weather caused by Storm Ciara another work party busied it’s-self clearing stuff out of the rain lashed back garden.

There is still a lot more to do, from fixing the boiler to making space for a fridge (we can’t figure out where the previous tenants kept theirs – there is no space for one or sign that one ever existed in the kitchen!) and other structural issues, as well as decorating, laying floor coverings and getting it cosy. It’s a lot of work but satisfying to think that this is an affordable home to be managed by its tenants and not by greedy landlords for profit. Thank you so much as always to our funders who make all of this work possible – your generosity means one more Tottenham family have a secure and affordable home.

It’s a big ask, but…

Our last insecurely housed member needs a home!

Over the last eight years we have somehow managed to buy two houses in London to securely house most of our members. Buying one in London seemed hard enough, but managing to get the second seemed at times like an impossible dream. And we are really grateful everyone that helped us to make that dream come true. But, although nine of us are now securely housed we still have one member who is in insecure rented accommodation. Worse than that, we have just heard that the landlord where they live is now selling the house, so within two or three months our last insecurely housed member will likely be homeless.

Read more...

New Year, New Homes

Well the end of 2015 saw an exciting new development for MAJ – we bought a new property! A house with a one bedroom flat downstairs and a two bedroom flat upstairs near the Spurs ground in Tottenham… in fact as I write this I can hear the singing cheering Spurs fans which I am guessing means they won.

Essential roof work being done

We completed in late November 2015 and three of us moved in by mid December, and as it was a real fixer-upper the place was a bit of a building site. Downstairs had no bathroom and upstairs had no kitchen (or kitchen floor) so for about two and a half weeks the day would start early with drilling, plastering, walls going up, cabinets being hung, great big holes being made for great big pipes and one co-op member up on the roof making it sound so that the constant rain wouldn’t drip on our heads as we slept.

The downstairs kitchen and bathroom needed extensive work

What a palaver! But all the main work that was needed to make it habitable was done by Christmas and now those of us who live here are really loving the feeling of a secure roof over our heads for the first time. Oh, and having moved out of a completely unmodernised building, the joys of hot showers and central heating just can’t be appreciated enough.

The upstairs kitchen didn’t even have a floor!

This has been a major achievement for MAJ – we’ve been trying to get the rest of our members safely housed for years and it feels great to have three more of us under another MAJ owned roof. Thank you so much to all of those who have helped us with loanstock, gifts, advice and moral and practical support, without you this could not have happened and we are incredibly grateful. But we can’t rest on our laurels as we still have one member in a perilously vulnerable housing situation, plus more work needs to be done on the new house (some walls and doors still need putting in, and access to the garden for the top floor flat). More about that soon.

Some of our new neighbours