A rich past of social revolution and community engagement
POOCH, formerly UKSHA, was formed in 1941 by students, professors, and business people to supervise University of Kansas co-ops and promote their growth. UKSHA peaked in the early 1940s with 12 houses! However, by 1965 all houses had been closed and sold.
In 1969, Keith Miller, a KU professor of Human Development and Family Life approached members of the dormant UKSHA board and arranged for the purchase of the property at 1406/1408 Tennessee.
The Campus Improvement Association (CIA) house opened in the fall of 1969, closed again in the summer of 1971 for cleaning and reorganization, and reopened as Sunflower House in spring of 1972. It has been in continuous operation since.
UKSHA purchased the property at 1614 Kentucky, now Olive House, in 1998. This same property was a student co-op in 1939, when it was the Jayhawk Co-op and one of the original UKSHA co-ops.
In 2003, what is now Ad Astra was purchased from the KU Endowment Association for $1. Previously the historic Wilcox Hunter house, the entire building was relocated to its current home at 1033 Kentucky and renovated.
In 2007 Sunflower House had reached a serious low point in membership and was experiencing shortcomings in the cooperative management of the house. The house was in severe disrepair and the community was unable to attract good members. In response, the UKSHA Board began exploring avenues to secure money for major renovations of the property.
In 2010 UKSHA joined NASCO Properties (NP), and in doing so secured around $500,000 for renovations throughout all of the co-op houses. Most of this work was completed at Sunflower House, where UKSHA was able to completely renovate all mechanical systems (electrical, plumbing, HVAC), gut and renovate 5 bathrooms, upgrade the fire alarm system, add a new kitchen and dining room, rebuild fire escapes, and add three additional bedrooms.
At the suggestion of the NP board, to address vacancy issues and cultural problems at Sunflower House, the UKSHA board brought in members of Olive and Ad Astra and an intern from another NP co-op to improve conditions at SFH. This process resulted in many members not being allowed to renew their leases and Sunflower House being “reset” with a mostly new member population in the fall of 2011.
Starting in August 2013, UKSHA leased two neighboring houses at 1011 and 1017 Indiana St. as an apartment-style cooperative catering more to working adults and families than its other houses. Due to issues with the property owner and internal conflicts, UKSHA decided not to renew its lease after July 2015.
In April 2018 with a determination to recommit the organization to anti-oppression activism in Lawrence and with the intention to attract a more diverse set of co-opers as opposed to just students UKSHA membership voted to rename the organization People's Owned and Operated Collective Housing (POOCH).