City: Brussels, Belgium
The Brussels Community Land Trust is an integrated housing model allowing poor households in Brussels that are not longer able to access to decent housing or social housing to enter a long-term housing project and become owner of their own living. This not-for-profit model has been coined as one of the best housing models in the world by UNESCO in 2008.
Holding organization: Community Land Trust Platform – Brussels (CLTB) Status: double headed organization : Not-for-profit foundation (Fondation d’utilité Publique - FUP) and Not-for-profit association (Association sans but lucratif – asbl) Financing: public support (Housing Secretary of State of the Brussel’s Regional Government) and private inputs from the housing sells People involved in the project: 15 Civil society associations/ inhabitants/ Public authorities and organizations Creation Date: 2010 Contact Persons: Thomas Dawance Thomas.cltb à gmail.com Main project link: http://www.community-land-trust.be
Born in the USA 40 years ago, The Community Land Trust is an innovative tool to build and manage housing that was developed in the Brussels Region as an answer to the growing exclusion of poor households from the traditional estate system (private or social). It aims at preserving the land’s availability by creating housing facilities associated to production and sociability spaces that are accessible in a perpetual way to low-income families. Supported by the Region, The Brussels CLT stands first on the European Continent. A Community Land Trust takes land off the speculative market and places it in a regional, membership-based, non-profit corporation. The main idea behind a CLT is the separation between the land trust and the housing; a leasing contract is made with the owner of the housing for the land to remain the trust’s property and preserve the public and private input funds. The tripartite governance model ensures an equal representation of the users/inhabitants, the neighborhood civil society and the public authorities; the integration within the local neighborhood is key.
The local context
The fact that many people - in economical instability or not - experience high difficulty to get housing in Brussels explains the development of the CLT model :
- Doubling of the housing market price (buying and renting) between 2000 and 2010
- Recurrent deficit in social housing, that also accumulates more and more precarity
- « gentrification » of different popular central neighborhoods due to urban renovation plans.
Consequently, numerous families are facing a dilemma: either stay in a small expensive and unhealthy housing or leave Brussels. The local associative context helped the emergence of the CLTB. Meanwhile, the long political advocacy around housing access in Brussels enabled the validation of a feasibility study to test the pertinence of a CLT model in Brussels (Theoretical, legal, financial and practical).
The starting point
The CLT project is the emanation and evolution of two local initiatives focusing on low-income families to access housing.
1/The CIRE (Coordination and Initiatives for refugees and foreigners) is one of the main associations helping migrant people and refugees arriving in Brussels in their daily life: administrative, practical and legal support. In 2004, this association created groups of collective united savings (GECS/ Groupes d’épargne collective solidaire) to support poor families with their budget management and help them access housing.These groups gather low-income families that are engaging in a long term (3 years) innovative saving process. They share savings collectively to create the necessary deposit for house buying through the intermediary of the Regional Housing Funds (Fonds du Logement). An agreement has been made with this Funds: if a household within the group finds a house and did follow the different trainings around housing proposed by the group (property rights, housing rules, syndicate of co-owners functioning…), the Funds gives back the deposit to the group. Every 2 months, the group meetings also create empathy and collective support between the members in the complex path to access property. Since its creation, this system has allowed 80 low income households to access property and 8 groups are presently active or in development in the Brussels Region.Yet the rising housing prices have made it more and more complex to access the Funds. READ MORE: http://www.cire.be/services/logement/clt/514-community-land-trusts-clt
2/The Neighbourhood House Bonnevie in the popular district of Molenbeek has developed an eco-building project engaging with low-income local families between 2005 and 2010. The project called “Espoir” (Hope) and co-constructed by 14 families illustrates the added-value of long-term inhabitants’ involvement in housing projects. It was the first Social passive-house in the Region that was sold to CPAS families (Families benefiting from Public Social aid).
These collective adventures paved the way for finding a co-owning model for those with a low income. There was indeed an urgent need to control the housing speculation and avoid that the collective effort in making housing affordable for low-income families may disappear when the housing is being sold at the market price to richer families.
In 2008, these 2 initiatives heard of the Community Land Trust model at a Conference on Housing Cooperatives in Lyon. UNESCO has just distinguished the latest by giving the «Champlain Housing Trust» (Burlington, Vermont), the «World Habitat Award». The Organization was offering grants for associations to visit the model. In 2009, Key persons from the Brussels projects went to the USA and on their return home started to lobby the regional political leaders. In May 2010, 15 local associations wrote a charter detailing the needed conditions to implement the CLT in Brussels and formed as a Platform. 2010-2012: A 2 years feasibility study was then accepted and financed by the Region (Housing Secretary of State) to adapt the criteria to the Brussels context. 2012: recognition of the Community Land Trust, inauguration of the First CLTB in Anderlecht and validation of a multiyear public grant.
How does it work today?
The Brussels CLT Platfrom that coordinates the different projects chose a bicephalous form. On one side, a Not-for-profit Foundation that owns the lands and a not-for-profit association (asbl) that manages the land owned by the foundation. The actual. Its members are different associations that have an interest or competence in the model. One project in Anderlecht has started (Buying of the Land/ Renovation of the existing building) with 9 families and 5 other pilot projects are being under examination in Molenbeek, Schaerbeek and Anderlecht. The 7 main functioning principles of the CLTB:
- Distinction between land trust and existing housing; a leasing contract is made with the owner of the housing, the land remains the trust’s property.
- Right to use the land
- Accessibility to low-income persons
- Perpetual preservation of public subsidies and private fund from housing speculation
- Equal governance between the users/inhabitants, the neighbourhood civil society and public authorities
- Stewardship of the inhabitants: trainings
- Mixity of functions and openness to the neighborhood
The CLTB is still in its primary phase with different families involved but it ensures the respect of its main principles through practical rules and financial mechanisms for the model’s long-term stability. For instance, the input subsidies are preserved in case of the housing sale: Most of the added value of the housing overtime remains the Trust Property. Financial mechanism example for the added-value in case of sale: Mechanism Illustration
- 69% is captured by the Trust as a mechanical patrimony valorization for the CLT
- 31% only is being paid by the new family entering the house :
- 6% will go to the maintenance costs of the Trust
- 25% will go to the selling family
Every household will also pay a minimum rent for the trust to ensure the good functioning of the space and the Housing quality overtime (permanent presence/ activities and trainings). CLT’s motto: «We are the developers that never go away».
Users. The target group is low-income families; from persons receiving the Integration Income (9.616 €/year) up to persons reaching the upper limit of social mortgages access (40.000 €). There won’t be any social revision for inhabitants that get richer as in social housing: CLT is a global long-term project that is supposed to help people engage in their life and neighborhood. There is a great emphasis on the effort to integrate the CLT. Engagement of individuals and families is key.
- The Regional Housing Funds (Fonds du Logement de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale): are helping in the Deposit Fund mechanism access.
- The CLTB: more than 15 local NGOs working on the dissemination of the model and are the direct stakeholders at the local level : http://communitylandtrust.wordpress.com/platform-plate-forme/qui-sommes-nous/
- The Regional Authorities: Official Recognition of the model + operating subsidies and investment subsidies to develop projects.
- Other Housing cooperatives in Europe with the exchange of best practices: CLT Network (United Kingdom/ London), TRIAS Stiftung (Germany/Hattingen)Mithaüser Syndikat (Germany) Fondation Abbée Pierre (France)
Tripartite Equal Governance: the users/inhabitants, the neighbourhood civil society and public authorities Every year, the General Assemblies are made to vote on the main decisions regarding the Trust. The asbl ensures the well-functioning of the Trust.
Added-value of the project
The CLTB stand for a win-win situation.
- Recognition and development of cooperative capacities for organized citizen groups
- Priority of the public interest, protection of resources, promotion of active involvement in saving common resources
- Inter/trans-generational justice to access a secure living environment
For the families:
- Access to quality housing and long-term living projects
- Capitalization and stability process
- Active participation in the local life (socio-cultural activities)
- Empowerment and citizenship recognition
For the public authorities:
- Shared long-term regeneration of the city
- creation of collective sociability spaces
- quality housing creation through perpetual lock of public subsidies
- land trust as a collective common good
Key success factors:
- Respect of the existing local NGOs involved in the model development process
- Involvment of the future inhabitants: Empowerment through active participation
- Respect for the original principles of a CLT
- Need to respect the CLT’s original principles in their complexity.
- Need to develop different mechanisms to adapt to each local situation
Ongoing contacts with different housing cooperatives in Europe to create a European Regulation Fund for shared responsible housing.
The Sources and Links http://www.community-land-trust.be NGOs composing the platform: http://communitylandtrust.wordpress.com/platform-plate-forme/qui-sommes-nous/ TRIAS: http://www.goethe.de/ins/ca/lp/kul/mag/the/en7014944.htm, http://www.stiftung-trias.de/ Fondation Abbé Pierre: www.fondation-abbe-pierre.fr CLTB Champlain: http://www.champlainhousingtrust.org/