Thursday 26 April
Co-operative housing represents an important part of the housing market in many countries in Europe. For instance, housing co-operatives manage over 3.5 million dwellings in Poland (about 27% of the total housing stock in the country in 2009), about 17% of the total housing stock in the Czech Republic and Sweden, 15% in Norway.
A housing co-operative is a housing business in the form of a consumer co-operative mutually owned by its members, which operates in accordance with the Co-operative Principles and Values.
The co-operative housing movement has a long history. The first housing co-operatives were formed in the mid-19th century, when Viktor Aimé Huber initiated the construction of several dwellings in Berlin. Today, housing cooperatives are increasingly widespread in Europe and beyond.
There are different co-operative housing models in the different countries, but what characterises housing co-operatives compared to other housing providers is that they are jointly owned and democratically controlled by their members, according to the principle of “one person, one vote”. This has clear implications for the way they operate compared to other actors on the housing market and benefits not only their members but also the public interest.
Today, housing co-operatives as well as other affordable housing providers are faced with a number of challenges, such as adapting to the changing demand improving the sustainability of the housing stock as well as the environmental quality of the neighbourhoods, and coping with unfavourable conditions on the financial and housing markets.
Nevertheless, so far the crisis had a negative impact on housing co-operatives but new solutions are being explored both in terms of tenures (increase in provision of dwellings for rent as well as intermediate tenures, for instance in Spain) and financing (cooperation with saving institutions in Germany, creation of ethical revolving funds in Italy…).
The co-operative business model in the housing sector has some characteristics which could prove key to the success of housing cooperatives in the future, but there are also challenges to overcome. This was the aim of the conference to better illustrate how values make a strong business case adapted to future challenges.
For further information
Alessandro Cesale, Project & Event Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org