The housing issue has become one of the greatest social challenges in Europe.

Good, safe housing in a social environment has a major influence on health, on the feeling and planning of life, the economy and social cohesion. Open spaces are essential for social, artistic, scientific, democratic-political and community-orientated commitment.

The availability and flexible, efficient and self-determined use of high-quality, affordable, suitable housing is necessary for a positive, free attitude to life, for community living, for moving to a job, for setting up a self-employed business and for mobile working. Open spaces are essential for social, artistic, scientific, democratic-political and community-orientated commitment.

Last but not least, new companies, NGOs, art, social engagement, free discussion groups and a free attitude to life often emerge first in the kitchen, living room, back room, spare basement room, backyard or garage due to self-determined activities and free associations. Without free spaces, there are no people who feel free and no free society.

Low-income groups, especially young people and families as well as vulnerable groups, are often no longer able to afford suitable housing. Speculation and profit are the drivers of rents and property prices, energy costs and poverty are increasing, housing and property markets are scarce. Rising living space per capita due to an increase in single flats, the retention of large living spaces despite changes in living situations, unauthorised use for short-term rentals and the influx of people to booming cities all contribute to the shortage.

Escape to the EU due to wars, conflicts, human rights violations, destruction of livelihoods, climate change, lack of prospects, unsocial working conditions … amounts to 0.26%pa of the total population, but is used by some as a cause and scapegoat to divide the population, justify housing shortages and distract from the real causes of the European housing crisis: speculation and profit from property as price drivers.

Instead of responding with solidarity, mutual support, the creation of new affordable housing, offers for flexible and efficient use of space, effective prevention of short-term rentals and the promotion of innovative, flexible, community led property ownership in the hands of residents and solving the crisis collectively and socially, some politicians are propagating the market as the solution. Over decades, however, the market has increasingly become a supplier market, so that for many Europeans, renting and buying a home has become a luxury and already exceeds 50% of their income.

In southern EU member states, the home ownership rate was traditionally high, but this has been falling for years due to evictions from residential property because loans can no longer be repaid. Now homelessness is on the rise because those who have already been evicted can no longer pay their rent. They are now being evicted into homelessness. In some places, houses are empty and bricked up. Buying a home and now renting is becoming increasingly distant for them due to their low income and increasingly precarious employment and living conditions. As people become increasingly lifeless and hopeless, Europe is robbing itself of a great potential for human contributions to a good society, because those affected become disqualified, lack motivation, are unable to provide any social, cultural, societal, sporting, political or economic impetus and neglect themselves and their health.

Children have to stay with their parents for longer and longer. This makes partnerships, family, free choice of career, creativity, self-determined activities and the development of independence more difficult.

EU citizens are increasingly dependent on renting, but in many European member states there is neither a well-functioning rental housing market nor sufficient tenant protection laws. If affordable work and living spaces are not available, this has a negative impact on the economy of a city or region.

Community led Houses is our Answer

For the majority of the population, good, reliable housing and work is an essential part and even an anchor of their lives, the basis of stable social relationships. Due to sharply rising, high rents or even forced eviction and thus marginalisation and being torn out of their established living environment with a simultaneous low availability of high-quality, affordable housing and thus inflexibility in the choice of housing, changing jobs and adapting to changing life situations is made difficult or even impossible. At the same time, there are vacant or underutilised buildings and areas.

EU institutions have recognised the European Housing Crisis

Community led houses is our Answer

Non-profit, community led houses is the answer, which has been developed dynamically and innovatively by a growing number of grassroots movements since 1983.

In a democratic, sustainable, social and committed way, these groups create permanent community ownership through the legally secured withdrawal of properties from the speculative market, and thus permanently affordable rents and social well-being in a solidary group with good housing and open spaces.

Residents of jointly managed houses buy their land and buildings together or construct or renovate them, creating new living space, activating underused or unused buildings and land, using these areas more efficiently and flexibly for changing, diverse life phases and life courses. When new residents move in, they become co-owners with one voting right per person, and when they move out, they lose these rights. They use vehicles, community and guest rooms and shared building facilities efficiently, economically and sustainably. Housing projects reduce individual space and resource consumption compared to households and forms of housing in which only one or two people live.

The legal model of shared houses is the same, but the flexible, diverse and tolerant community designs and the buildings adapted to them are determined by the residents themselves and together. By avoiding cars, providing space for cycling and using public transport, you contribute to a sustainable transport transition. They are actively involved in their community to redesign their living and working environment in a way that is liveable and suitable for children. They create green oases near their houses and consider open spaces and play areas for children. community led houses carefully integrate refugees, homeless people, migrants, students and vulnerable, disadvantaged people across generations, integratively and flexibly as a natural part of their housing project.

As community owners, residents have the greatest interest in ensuring that their own rents remain affordable, that they live in a social, solidarity-based environment and that they pursue and engage in the democratic, sustainable and self-organised goals of their solidarity network. They organise and do most of the work themselves in setting up the project, in building or renovating and in running the house through self-empowerment and further training.

Long-term social, sustainable living, working and engagement

Community-based housing projects permanently remove houses from the speculative market and ensure high-quality, affordable, sustainable, integrative, democratic, social, committed living, working and engagement without profit interests. They neutralise capital interests through the slowly increasing annual solidarity transfer and promote new community-led housing projects through the horizontal exchange of knowledge and experience via their network in solidarity with new groups and houses.

Horizontal Solidarity Networks

Community led houses and their residents advise emerging groups, new house projects and provide a financial solidarity transfer to finance new community led houses and their network.

They share their knowledge, experience, practical help, long-term advice and mutual support via horizontal networking in their national networks. The principles and this model have been continuously developed since 1983, see also There are now over 190 centres in Germany. In the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, France, Portugal, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Serbia, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia, centres and networks have already been established or are currently being formed.

For decades, community led houses have increasingly joined together in national solidarity networks, such as:,,,,,, and For over twenty years, these national networks have been exchanging ideas, knowledge and experience via the AG-International of the Mietshäuser Syndikat, advising newly emerging groups and houses from new European countries and have also provided financial solidarity for the establishment of the first new houses and networks in new countries.

In December 2024, 23 members of jointly managed houses or their networks from 18 countries founded a European network for horizontal networking, the Commoning Spaces Network e.V., or CSN for short.

Financing of jointly owned houses

Houses are financed via low-cost direct loans and bank loans. Many of the low-cost direct loans are now being cancelled or their interest rates increased in times of high interest rates. Because property and construction prices and bank loan interest rates have risen, fewer new house projects are now being realised or even house projects that have already been started have to be cancelled. This is because loan interest and repayment instalments are borne by the basic rent, and if this is too high in the preliminary calculation, a new house project cannot be realised. In the meantime, even existing houses are coming under financial pressure as soon as existing bank loans expire and have to be refinanced. This leads to rising rents.

The European financial cooperative Community-led Houses Europe (SCE i.G. – in formation), CHE for short, founded in March 2024, aims to grant favourable, long-term loans to community-led houses throughout Europe and in particular to first house projects in new countries.

Favourable loans directly reduce the basic rents so that house projects can be realised and affordable flats can be rented out in the long term. The houses are designed to enable social, high-quality, sustainable, democratic living, working and social engagement.

CHE is to grant loans to its member organisations from cooperative shares held by members and supporting members, as well as from loans from public institutions; these are to replace bank loans. The tried-and-tested method of acquiring direct loans is to continue in parallel. To this end, a Europe-wide network of trust will be created via Commoning Spaces Network e.V., with a permanent horizontal exchange of knowledge and advisory groups that can assess country-specific laws, circumstances and the specific situation and property on site, as well as impart knowledge and expertise on self-help and self-empowerment to the local house groups and communicate the common goals.

Nationwide networks of community led houses advise and examine the legal basis, economic viability and promote compliance with common objectives in loan applications. They then make recommendations.

Objectives of community led Houses and their Networks

  • community owned, i.e. indirect ownership and one personal vote each for residents and tenants on all matters relating to the buildings in a democratic, peaceful, tolerant, integrative, inclusive, solidary and open manner, with equal rights and obligations for all.
  • the residents do most of the work in their house themselves and learn how to do it
  • Space to live, work and/or get involved
  • Many, legally independent houses in the form of an association as shareholders of a limited company or similar. The houses join together to form their joint network and thus ensure the long-term pursuit of the common goals via a veto right of the network as the second shareholder of the limited company and a contract for financial solidarity transfer.
  • Flexible moving in and out, flexible, efficient use of space and the stability of the building project are ensured thanks to the innovative shared ownership model. The usual lock-in-by-property effect is avoided and the space is utilised efficiently.
  • Many, legally independent houses in the form of an association as shareholders of a limited company or similar. The houses join together to form their joint network and thus ensure the long-term pursuit of the common goals via a veto right of the network as the second shareholder of the GmbH and a contract for financial solidarity transfer.
  • Neutralisation of capital, i.e. permanently non-profit-oriented, legally secured protection against sale, owned by the residents and only by them, rents at the lower end of the rent index, no benefits or subsidies,
  • Solidarity transfer, i.e. initially very low, slowly increasing financial transfer from established houses to the founding of new houses, solidarity through horizontal transfer of knowledge and experience as well as counselling for new groups and house projects, membership and cooperation in networks and solidarity projects, in some cases joint EU-wide.
  • sustainable, preferably barrier-free spaces for living, working and/or for community activities as well as community facilities, flexible and efficient use of space,
  • Sustainable, possibly non-profit ( commitment that contributes to the common good of society, support for the 17 SDGs (, compliance with the EU taxonomy for investment and operation of buildings ( and the recommendations for social and inclusive business in the EU

Networks of community led Houses

  • Houses and persons can become members of the network
  • the network has a right of veto against the sale of properties and against profit in member houses
  • a contract on financial solidarity transfer is concluded for participation
  • in the network the horizontal transfer of knowledge and financial solidarity is organized
  • the network offers a common voice
  • members` house residents and members support the network through their voluntary participation. They form working groups such as
    • AuB, Group of Activists and Consulters / House` Consulters
    • WG Committee, examines and decides on lending and recommends participation, partially based on the recommendations of consulters
    • WG How 2 Counsult,
    • WG Brochure
    • WG Invitation (for general assemblies)
    • WG Energy (energy consumption in buildings)
    • WG FLINTA* networking
    • WG Manual + Structural Atlas (content of the joint information system)
    • WG International
    • WG IT (administration of the joint information system)
    • WG Conflicts
    • WG Membership
    • WG House construction
    • WG self-conception
    • WG solidarity contribution working group (financial solidarity transfer)

European Network

  • community led houses, their networks and persons can become member of the European Network, they carry the network by their contributions
  • in the European network international horizontal solidarity-based knowledge and financial transfer is organized
  • organises international joint commitments and projects
  • joint voice in Europe
  • members` house residents and members support the network through their contribution. They form first new working groups such as
    • AG international consultants
    • AG joint information system / website
  • regional, national and international consulters will form consulters` groups to transfer knowledge to houses and emerging groups for self-empowerment on how to build and manage community led houses and how to plan and operate the entity and the financing
  • the consulters` groups will give their recommendation on applications for loans and check the requirements and documents and by this build a network of trust. CHE will check again.
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