Collaborative housing

Unpacking emerging challenges for housing professional and their organisations

Collaborative housing: unpacking emerging challenges for housing professionals and their organisations.

Dr. Darinka Czischke Vincent Gruis

Over the last couple of decades, many European countries have seen the re-emergence of “collaborative housing initiatives”. These include a wide variety of self-organised collective housing projects, such as co-housing, Community Land Trusts, residents’ cooperatives and other forms of resident-led housing. They are characterised by high levels of user involvement in the conception, planning, design, construction and management of housing for their own residential use. Core features also include the establishment of reciprocal relationships and mutual help and solidarity amongst residents; and new forms of non-speculative financing mechanisms. Sometimes these projects are targeted to specific socio-demographic groups (e.g. the elderly, women, etc.) and often they have high environmental standards. While in some European countries collaborative housing is part of long-standing traditions of cooperation and mutual help (e.g. Germany, Denmark), in others they were only marginal phenomena until recently (e.g. in England, the Netherlands, France, Belgium, etc.).

To realise their housing project, residents’ groups need to partner with a wide range of stakeholders, both individual and institutional, to access knowledge and resources. Housing providers in different parts of Europe are beginning to work with these residents’ groups for a variety of reasons, including improving the efficiency of their operations, empowering residents and local communities where they operate, and/or the wish to refresh their approaches through working and learning from grassroots actors. Responding to these new challenges requires a series of changes: on the one hand, housing professionals need to adapt the way they think and act to engage effectively and constructively with the different types of knowledge and competences of residents. On the other hand, their organisations need to transform accordingly. These developments call for empirical evidence on these developments in different European countries. Possible PhD research questions could focus on particular aspects of either of the following three core aspects: drivers (what motivates different stakeholders to collaborate in this type of initiatives); collaboration processes (how does collaboration take place); and organisational changes (what does collaboration mean for the housing associations involved).