All the components are available: space + capital + people
There is no overall shortage of living space in the Brussels-Capital region, even in the event that the expected demographic growth continues. Much space - residential, office or other - is vacant or not optimally used. Many people are willing to work towards and invest in an inclusive society. Businesses, too, want to commit themselves to the common good beyond their own activities.
If we want to improve the supply of housing in Brussels, we need to bring together the available resources and the interested parties.
This is done in 3 steps:
- Form a super-diverse network
- Set up a cooperative business and develop real estate projects
- Manage the developed property
Step 1: form a super-diverse network
We (almost) all have a home, and are therefore so-called "experience experts". We know perfectly well why we like our home, or why we want to look for another one. Some of us own our homes, others have invested in property in other ways. Many rent a place to live, either temporarily or permanently.
The meeting between the general public and representatives of the building and property sector can open up new perspectives.
It is therefore important to build up a network, in which
- contractors can suggest new construction methods;
the public can learn about different ways of investing in real estate, with small or large amounts of money;
the end users of the property - the residents - can express their needs before the property is developed;
- a connection can be created between network members, who have a common goal.
Step 2: set up a cooperative business and develop real estate projects
Some members of the network will want to create a co-operative company, in which real estate projects can take shape. This form of enterprise offers the general public, including small savers, the opportunity to invest in local real estate projects.
The members of the cooperative, called cooperators, are the investors. They are the ones who are providing a large part of the real estate financing. They buy one or more cooperative shares and thus become co-owners of the real estate. Cooperators can but do not have to become tenants.
As co-owners of the property, the cooperators have voting rights in the General Assembly. They can control the day-to-day management and monitor whether the intended impact and benefits are being achieved.
Step 3: manage the developed property
Once the building is completed, it is ready to be rented and occupied. The cooperative continues to be responsible for the rental and the general management. It concludes rental agreements for the various spaces in the building: living space, work space, multipurpose space, etc.
It coordinates collaborations with social organisations and care professionals.
The cooperative is receptive to the integration of social economy projects within its own real estate project.
The cooperative pays great attention to communication with the different stakeholders of its real estate projects: residents, investors, external partners and public authorities. It makes targeted information available to the various parties involved.
In this way they can decide for themselves
- whether they want to remain investors;
- whether they want to remain tenants of the cooperative for a longer period;
- whether they want to contribute to the realisation of a future real estate project;
- how they can further improve the cooperation.
By involving all parties, problems can be identified in time and adjustments can be made. Experiences can be taken into account for future building projects, which will lead to faster support. The positive feedback will initiate more people into socially oriented investment. This will accelerate the funding of additional property projects.