Together we are strong: a message from CHI President, Anders Lago
Housing Cooperatives and the Pandemic
The pandemic is affecting us all, no matter where we live. We will feel the impacts of the virus, personally and economically for a long time. But the most important thing right now is to show extra care and concern, especially towards elderly and vulnerable people. And our cooperative model is proving very useful and well-functioning in times like these.
It is easy to formulate values, but it can be harder to abide by them. In a crisis like the one we are now facing, our values are tested every day. The cooperative model is based on long-term responsibility and cooperation, making it even more important in times like these.
Here in my country of Sweden, I watch with pride how cooperative members are helping and supporting each other. We see younger people getting groceries for elderly neighbours and people living alone. These acts of solidarity help to prevent the virus from spreading and cheer people up.
In my organization (HSB), we have around 4000 local housing cooperatives (with 650 000 individual members) that are due to hold their annual meetings this spring. To protect our members as well as flatten the curve, we are changing how meetings are held. Some housing cooperatives will have online meetings, others will vote by mail, and some will meet outdoors. We worked with the Swedish government to update legislation to make it possible for housing cooperatives to adapt to this new situation.
We are also changing the way we work within HSB. Many of our employees are working from home and we’ve replaced in-person meetings with tele-conferences and digital tools. It is still possible to contact us, even if our offices are closed to visitors. Moreover, we continue to do repairs in our members’ homes by following all necessary safety precautions. Even if the pandemic is affecting us all in different ways, many of our members are still looking for new apartments. We are therefore continuing to plan, produce and sell new cooperative apartments.
Since all of CHI’s members are affected by the coronavirus pandemic, we are planning an online member forum to discuss how we are all coping. We look forward to sharing best practices and learning from one another. More details are coming soon.
Together we are Strong
In the long history of the cooperative movement, we have seen many crises pass. We made it through these hard times before, and I am convinced that we will make it through this one as well. Together we are strong.
With my best cooperative regards,
Anders Lago, president of CHI and HSB, Sweden