Cooperative housing: a key model for sustainable housing in Europe

Committee of the Regions
2, Rue Van Maerlant
Brussels 1040

The conference will discuss and present what are housing coops and how they can answer future challenges. Cooperative housing represents an important part of the housing market in many countries in Europe. For instance, housing cooperatives 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 cooperative is a housing business in the form of a consumer cooperative mutually owned by its members, which operates in accordance with the Cooperative Principles and Values. The cooperative housing movement has a long history. The first housing cooperatives 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 cooperative housing models in the different countries, but what characterises housing cooperatives 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 cooperatives 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 cooperatives 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 cooperative 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 is the aim of the conference to better illustrate how values make a strong business case adapted to future challenges. Draft Programme Interpretation in EN/FR/DE available 09.00 - 09.30 Registration 09.30 - 09.45 Welcome to participants • Mr Alain Hutchinson, Member of the Committee of the regions • Mr Vít Vanícek, President CECODHAS Housing Europe 09:45 - 11:15 Cooperative housing in EU countries: between historical tradition and new challenges: • Mr Vít Vanícek, SCMBD, Czech Republic - Housing cooperatives in CEE countries: the cooperative model through the history of the region • Mr Marten Lilja, Riksbyggen, Sweden - Swedish housing cooperatives projects on local communities and neighborhood renewal • Mr Franz-Bernd Grosse-Wilde, GdW, Germany - The example of housing coops in Dortmund: projects on sustainable finance and services to elderly people • Housing cooperatives in Ireland (speaker TBC from NABCO) Discussion: What future for housing cooperatives? How will the sector evolve to adapt to new challenges? 11:15 - 11:30 Coffee Break 11:15 - 12:45 An enabling policy context? National policies and European initiatives: taking inspirations from international experiences • Mr Luciano Caffini, Chairman of the CECODHAS Housing Europe Cooperative Section • Mr David Rodgers, President of ICA Housing - International perspective on housing cooperatives and IYC 2012 initiatives • Canadian experience • Head of Unit, cooperatives and CSR, DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission (tbc) • Ms Patrizia Toia, MEP, Italy Discussion: Are co-operatives a solution to a renewed European democracy and economy? How can Europe support the offer of cooperative housing? 12:45 - 13:00 Conclusions: • Mr Sven Giegold, MEP, Germany - Rapporteur on European cooperative society and workers participation (tbc) 13:00 - 14:00 Buffet lunch on the premises (Atrium 5) To register, please send an email to
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