The terms ‘social-housing cooperatives’ or ‘co-housing’ have arisen and they represent an attempt to protect the interests of those who cannot afford to participate in property purchases and to counter displacement of less wealthy and middle-class residents.
The movement became so powerful that the municipal Berlin city government was almost powerless to evict people from squats. So enlightened city officials worked with the squatters to purchase the properties themselves from absentee owners and offered funding to those willing to refurbish the buildings. Many of these former squats have now become respectable cooperatives.
“The residents here include teachers, health care workers, artists, and small-business and nonprofit managers, many of whom would struggle to find affordable housing if they didn’t live at Spreefeld.”
The Dutch on-line platform ‘Citiesintransition’– an online magazine which covers bottom-up community housing initiatives reported about Berlin wrote: ” The baugruppe is a typical model of community-led housing which consists of a group of people who form a cooperative in order to design, finance and build one or several multi-storey buildings. This model is very popular across the country and especially in Berlin, where about 1,000 buildings and co-housing groups have been developed over the last 40 years.”
While financing co-housing projects in Barcelona and Amsterdam, the article mentions that financing was one of the most difficult aspects, but apparently less of a problem in Germany. There are a number of banks and foundations that are strong now, and have enough resources to support alternative projects that might otherwise be considered risky.
For many, co-housing is not just a necessity in a difficult housing market but is also a social movement – a way of life and a return to simpler times. It is in fact a very modern idea for some people to leave their families and live on their own, instead of living in community.