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Summer 2022

International Cooperative Housing Symposium - Zurich

International Cooperative Housing Symposium – Zurich

Cooperative housing in Zurich has long been a model for other countries with researchers and housing practitioners often looking to Zurich for best practices in participatory design, cutting-edge architecture, innovative financing instruments and more. ABZ, Zurich’s largest housing cooperative along with WBG, the Swiss umbrella organization for housing cooperatives and CHI have partnered up to host the 2nd International Cooperative Housing Symposium. This year’s theme of Growing the Movement serves to focus on sharing our successes so that more coops worldwide can offer inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable housing.

Main Topics of this Year’s Symposium include:

  • #Housing2030: Is cooperative housing the key to decent, adequate, affordable and healthy housing for all?
  • Developing the Cooperative Toolbox: What do we need to grow our movement?
  • Community Engagement for Sustainability: Inspiring projects from Spain, Colombia, Switzerland and Thailand.
  • Unlocking Cooperation for a More Sustainable and Equitable Future: Panel discussion with experts from around the world.

What else is in store?

  • Catching up, meeting new people, networking during lunch and apéro on September 22.
  • Guided visits of housing cooperatives in and around Zurich on September 23.

Symposium Side Event: European Student Coop Convening: Developing a United Front.

The housing cooperative model has proven to be an interesting alternative for students, offering affordable rents, good living and studying conditions, and an enriching experience in relation to community life, solidarity, and self-help. Join us this September for discussions, site visits and socializing!

The student event is taking place in Zurich September 22-23 and then moves on to Geneva Sept 24 & 25 where the discussion will focus on developing a European student coop housing association to unite and strengthen the student cooperative housing movement in Europe.

This event is co-organized by CHIurbaMondeStudentendorf Berlin, North American Student for Cooperation (NASCO)Student Coop Homes (UK) and La Ciguë (Geneva).

New CHI Board of Directors

CHI held a board meeting and plenary in Seville, Spain following the ICA General Assembly. We are excited to announce new and returning directors to the board of CHI.

One of the new board members is Nathanea Elte, President of ABZ, Switzerland’s largest housing cooperative. She joined the CHI board to continue ABZ’s engagement in good cooperation at the international level and tighten the link between CHI, ABZ and Switzerland. As to why Nathanea wanted to join the CHI board, “I am convinced that housing coops have to play an even more important role in providing households all over the world with affordable housing. It’s important that we strengthen our movement, exchange our experiences, and learn from and support each other. Networking and solidarity are very important to ABZ. Examples include ABZ’s Solidarity Fund that has an international impact as well as the International Cooperative Housing Symposium this September in Zurich in partnership with CHI and WBG Zurich.”

You can see the full list of directors and their bios here on our website. Congratulations to all and we look forward to working together! We would also like to offer sincere thanks to Anders Lago, former chairman of HSB in Sweden for serving as President of CHI since 2018.

Research from Austria

Economic Impacts of Limited-Profit Housing Associations in Austria
CHI board meetings are not only for taking care of business but also to share information and new developments in respective member countries. For example, Bernd Riesland from the Austrian Federation of Limited-Profit Housing Associations (GBV) shared a study on the economic impacts of Limited-Profit Housing Associations in Austria.

There is a growing recognition amongst policymakers of the social and economic benefits of affordable and stable housing markets. Those benefits have been amplified by the ongoing pandemic and the financial difficulties many households are faced with. The value of an affordable, adequately sized, good-quality home has become as clear as ever before. Importantly, long-term stable and affordable housing markets not only benefit individual households but also impact the wider economy.

With limited-profit housing associations playing a key role in the housing market, their Federation decided to commission the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) with the task to examine these effects. The research conducted by WIFO aimed to quantify the economic impacts of limited-profit housing associations on Austria’s economy, both in terms of the impact on housing costs and on purchasing power and GDP. The studies are in the links below.

CERIAC Working Paper: The system of limited-profit housing in Austria: cost-rents, revolving funds, and economic impacts

Summary WIFO study_The economic impacts of limited profit housing associations

The full report (in German):


International Social Housing Festival Recap

June was a busy month for CHI. The International Social Housing Festival June 14 to 17 in Helsinki saw a number of CHI members taking part in sessions and roundtable discussions, particularly during the Collaborative Housing Day. We recap some of the sessions below and if you want a more detailed summary you can read Housing Europe’s full festival report here.

Sara Zoni of Legacoop Abitanti in Italy, talked about building resilience against pandemic and financial crises in the Collaborative Housing: Building Resilience Against Crises session. With Italy being hit hard on both fronts they have promoted several innovative projects, promoting enabling platforms for housing and services concerning social inclusion by collaborating with local cultural associations and services. Deep energy retrofits of over 5300 dwellings to improve insulation and energy consumption is another component adding to the resilience of housing coops in Italy. These partnerships with local authorities and associations not only benefit the residents of the coops but are also good for the wider community.

In this same session, Ona Cornella of Sostre Civic in Barcelona, Spain highlighted the adaptability of shared spaces to new needs like remote work, elderly care, and outdoor spaces acting as meeting spaces. These features that offer opportunities for mutual care and social connection can be found in both La Borda and La Balma Housing Cooperatives in Barcelona. On the bricks and mortar side, features like geothermic energy, solar panels, wooden construction and good insulation reduce the coop’s environmental footprint and energy bills.

The Housing Cooperatives: A Sustainable Model for European and Mediterranean Countries panel discussion featured housing cooperative organisations from Germany, Ireland and Italy. Moderated by Marten Lilja, Deputy Managing Director, Riksbyggen (Sweden) and featuring Guido Schwarzendahl, Managing Director Bauverein Halle & Leuna eG (Germany), Rossana Zaccaria, President of Legacoop Abitanti (Italy) and Eoin Carrol, Policy and Communications Manager of Co-operative Housing Ireland (Ireland). From Ireland’s Build with Us program and Roadmap approach to Italy’s partnership with local public administration to access financial contributions, tax incentives and low-cost land. The common thread throughout was how housing cooperatives offer affordable and people-centred housing solutions in many different contexts.

One of the highlights of the Collaborative Housing Day was a site visit at Kotisatama Housing Community for elderly people. Consisting of 63 flats, two communal saunas, roof terraces with gardens, an exercise room, library, community kitchen and dining room, a hobby room, two bike rooms, laundry, guest rooms, car park for 19 cars, Kotisatama is home to 81 people ranging in age from 50 to 83 years old.

Another highlight was a communal dinner at Malta House, a co-housing community for all ages. Although both communities are private housing corporations with shareholder residents, they are governed similarly to housing cooperatives with shareholders being the decision-making body at annual general meetings, ensuring the community is well-run and that financial matters are in order. Social life is at the core of the community with activities taking place daily. Cooking together and sharing meals are the most important and appreciated events.

We look forward to the next ISHF edition in Barcelona in March 2023. Stay tuned for more details!

The 4th International Conference for Cooperative Housing

The General Authority for Construction and Housing Cooperatives (CHC – Egypt) is hosting the 4th International Conference for Cooperative Housing in parallel with the 13th Africa Ministerial Co-operative Conference (AMCCO).

The conference activities include opening sessions, scientific sessions, workshops, seminars and lectures.

Main Topics

  • Methods of comprehensive and sustainable cooperatives

  • Cooperatives & sustainable economic growth

  • Cooperatives: institutional development, management and financing

  • Cooperatives & community-driven development

  • Integrated cooperatives: challenges and potentials

  • Legislative frameworks and bylaws to sustain cooperative practices

St. Regis AlMasa Capital, Cairo
17 to 20 October 2022
Housing Cooperatives: Challenges, Potentials and Sustainability
17 to 20 October 2022
More details available here.


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