On Monday 10 December, CLT Brussels and CLT Ghent organised a gathering of CLTs from Belgium and the Netherlands to share how they work, their goals, needs of members and more. The gathering included participants from Flanders, Wallonia, Amsterdam, and Lille.
CLT as a response to common issues
A number of cities in Belgium and the Netherlands are facing an affordable housing crisis. Prices have increased significantly over the last 10 years. It is becoming more and more difficult for households with low and moderate incomes to find good accommodation for a decent price within their means. Brussels, Ghent, Lille, Liverpool, London, Amsterdam... In these cities, groups are reflecting together to try and find solutions with the support of local government, and in some cases with subsidies. They are buying land, building and refurbishing homes, and selling them to their members according to an antispeculative formula that keeps housing affordable forever. These groups would like to offer alternative ways of creating projects where being an owner isn’t only about buying accommodation. This peer-to-peer exchange was an opportunity to discuss the different issues these groups face and the proposals to tackle them.
An opportunity to discuss important topics
During this exchange, CLTB and CLTG presented themselves in detail: their work, their local context, their members, their needs, as well as their financial and legal setup. Participants discussed a number of topics, ranging from financial issues to neighbourhood involvement. One particularly relevant discussion was on the participation of members and residents in CLTs’ activities. How can we include them in housing projects? Should we suggest activities to them? Which kind of activities (community gardening, biking for example)? How do CLTs position themselves towards their members? How do we integrate different cultures and different individual situations within one specific project?
These questions are particularly crucial for every CLT in order to involve members and residents in its activities. Three members from CLTB shared their experience and answered questions from the audience. They shared their perspective on the projects they are part of, their values and their collaboration with CLTB. Participants also visited current and future CLTB projects, as well as landmark social housing projects in Brussels that are part of the social and cultural history of the city and an inspiration for CLTs.