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News and Resources

Voi Youth Housing Co-op Goes Green


News and Resources

By Laura Gamez, Rooftops Canada past intern

 

Performing plays, teaching traditional Kenyan dances, and collecting recyclables, are just a few of the many ways in which members of Voi Youth Housing Co-operative are earning income to save towards their housing project. “Youth hood is just a stage. Many times young people just want to live in the moment, so it is hard for them to understand that a house is a great asset that can provide a lot of potential,” according to Michael Muakazi, Chairperson of the co-operative.  

 

Voi is located 330 km from Nairobi in the Taita-Taveta District, in Coast province of Kenya. Voi Youth Housing Co-operative started in 2006 as a community based organization for youth interested in theatre. In 2010, 20 members formed the housing cooperative and started saving to secure housing loans. At the same time, they expanded from performing plays to providing other services such as training in theatre and dance, and selling recyclables to the local city council and community. These new forms of income generation were also based on the cooperative’s vision of providing for the community.  

 

Most of the young members live in informal settlements in Voi. Their rented homes are small and overcrowded, without access to electricity or indoor plumbing.  “When we joined the National Cooperative Housing Union (NACHU) of Kenya, we realized that investing in a home would be something that no one could take away from us. We love where we live and we realize that if we, the youth, don’t do something to help Voi grow then no one will. That is why we work on projects that provide employment to the youth and are also environmentally friendly,” said Muakazi.  

 

Voi Youth Housing continues to save towards their loan. “If it wasn’t for NACHU, we could never even hope to save and aspire to have loans for housing or even business loans. We have big dreams we want to realize,” Muakazi remarked.