1. Who they are

A group of initiatives based in the Central and Eastern Europe region gathered during October 2017 in the Experiment days (Berlin) to realize that there is a lack of exchange between peers operating in that contexts on how to renew the basis for co-operative housing. They decided to join and build the pool of expertise, capacities and instruments to force a breakthrough in the field of cooperative housing. The group was formed by initiatives working in Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia, receiving the support of other organisations in Germany, Switzerland and UK. They stem from bottom-up activist communities, non-profit organisations and ethical banks, relying on voluntary work with no financial resources.

2. What they did

As a newly established organisation, they presented an application to the Rethink 2017 grant to be able to have a first meeting in which they could address some of the most important issues related to co-operative housing in the context of the Central and Eastern European countries. How to structure finances for housing cooperatives was one of the most important questions they included in the agenda; but they also had sessions on fundraising in their geographical context -which is a really sensitive issue because some of these countries are not part of the European Union and thus cannot receive European grants-; funding strategies to network and share knowledge between organisations; introducing the Life-cycle cost analysis, which enables to assess the long-term performance of a housing initiative; and others. The organisations taking part in the meeting were Cooperative Open Architecture (Zagreb, Croatia); Cooperative for Ethical Financing (Zagreb, Croatia); Habitat for Humanity (Poland); Ko Gradi Grad (Belgrade, Serbia); Nová Cvernovka (Bratislava, Slovakia); Rákóczi Kollectíva (Budapest, Hungary); Sdílené Domy (Czech Republic); UrbaMonde (Switzerland and France); World Habitat (England) and Zadrugator (Ljubljana, Slovenia).

3. Learnings for the FundAction community

One of the main learnings the FundAction community has experienced since we set up the platform in the second half of 2017 is that participatory decision tools need time to be implemented, tested and also to get used to them. But this process is extremely enriching for those taking part in it, because not only let them get to know other initiatives in-depth, but also gives a sense of active participation that goes further than traditional funding. Being a newly established organisation, would have been difficult to get funds for an initiative such as Going East. But activists that know well the context in which these projects are operating considered really important that, even with a lack of economically sustainable structure, researching and testing co-operative housing experiences was really important to be taken forward.

More information: psh.urbamonde.org