The dominant housing model in Luxembourg is that of individual living. Social and ecological aspects of neighborhood development have only a very limited status in the public debate. Forms of housing that focus on social interaction and sustainability are being recognized by more and more people, including political representatives, as a real alternative in Luxembourg, but they play no role on the housing market. All political parties and the next government should finally recognize and promote the enormous potential of non-profit housing cooperatives in the creation of affordable housing. Luxembourg is lagging behind a large number of other European countries, such as our neighboring countries or even Austria or Switzerland, on this topic.
In the last legislative period, this insight was even included in the coalition agreement. The latter envisaged creating a legal framework for communal or cooperative forms of housing. However, this plan was not implemented, and neither was the plan to make more building land available on long-term lease.
Community and cooperative forms of living have great social added value and a significant social benefit that goe beyond the purely financial aspect. It should be positively emphasised that cooperative housing projects:
- promote needs-based building and social interaction;
- take on political objectives relating to ecology or voluntary assistance (such as care or childcare);
- represent an attractive life option for many people and create high-quality living space, even for people with less financial means. Even today, non-profit actors such as non-governmental organizations, foundations or cooperatives with the statute of “société d’impact sociétal” have access to state funding;
- depending on the orientation, also promote social mixing, intergenerational living, ecological construction, car-free living, participatory planning, construction and use;
- additionally strengthen the social stability and neighborhoods as well as the attractiveness of a place to live.
In addition to the state developers such as SNHBM or Fonds du Logement, a large number of “not-for-profit” private actors can make a significant contribution to the creation of affordable or even social housing. However, at the ministry level (also at the municipal level) there is currently little knowledge of such housing projects, their needs and the challenges they face. Housing cooperatives, after state start-up aid, are veritable production machines for affordable housing. Cooperatives supported today are the actors who can create the living space with the cheapest usage fees (rents) of tomorrow, since they cover their costs and do not make a profit.
It is up to the next government to create the necessary framework conditions so that community and cooperative actors who want to implement non-profit building projects can really establish themselves on the housing market.
A major hurdle for actors who want to create communal and cooperative forms of housing is access to land or inventory on the open market, which is associated with very high costs.
The next government should therefore take the following steps:
- The basic prerequisite for the emergence of housing cooperatives is the provision of land, as these have high social standards and are difficult to realize under market conditions. The state should promote access to state-owned land and assets via bail emphytéotiques for non-profit actors.
- New, innovative and forward-looking concepts need to be actively discussed and promoted, and knowledge and skills need to be built up at state level. For example, the housing consultants should receive training and further education on the subject of communal and cooperative forms of housing as part of the “Pacte Logement 2.0”.
- A public advice center for communal and cooperative forms of housing should be set up. This should provide information about the possibilities and availability of new forms of housing, provide support for the establishment of social housing projects and help bring the various actors together. In addition, sufficient financial resources should be available to, among other things, take over the project support that arises in participatory processes. Human and administrative resources should also be allocated to adapt PAGs and PAPs to the needs of housing projects.
- The Fonds spécial de soutien au développement de logements abordables should also be used to give non-profit cooperatives access to the market. Cooperatives should have access to cheap and stable loans with a state guarantee.
- The concept award procedure should be introduced. With this method, which is now widespread in Germany (Tübingen, Hamburg…), for example, non-profit and cooperative housing can be created in a targeted manner. Here it is not the highest bidder that is awarded the contract, but the best concept. The state (but also municipalities) can thus achieve social and ecological goals, such as stronger community building, better social mixing and denser building.
- Actors who create social and non-profit housing should be able to claim the greatly reduced tax rate of 3% on construction costs.