Very basically a housing co-op (as far as it relates to Cornerstone) is when a group of mates decide they want to buy a house together. When this happens the group form a limited company, beg, borrow, steal or even work and save a few thousand pounds between them as a down payment on a house. Get a mortgage from a sympathetic building society (the Ecology Building Society or Triodos for example). Get a top up loan (‘cos you can’t beg borrow or steal enough for the down payment) from a sympathetic bank (like Triodos). There is also a ‘secondary co-op’ called Radical Routes who will loan you money at a low rate of interest if you become a member. Find a suitable house. Buy it. And Bob’s your uncle you have a housing co-op.
Then you pay rent to the housing co-op company and the company pays off the mortgage and the loans. If it all goes horribly wrong and the company folds then all you’ve lost is the down payment. If is all goes right then you’ve got a house that you can decorate as you wish, knock through as many walls as you wish (consensus and house withstanding) and generally adapt to your needs. For more information, visit the Radical Routes website.