Community led affordable housing in Brussels
This intervention has been translated into a brief governance scenario. Take a look at A new take on affordable housing through community owned and developed dwellings.
You read this description and want to hear more about this case? Get in touch! Visit their website for more information.
- 1 a) Basic characteristics and ambitions of the intervention
- 1.1 1. What is the name and the urban context (e.g. city/district) of the intervention? Please also indicate the geographical scale of the intervention (e.g. neighborhood, district, small/medium/ capital city, metropolitan area ...). [Example: “Brixton Energy in Brixton, London (neighborhood in capital city)”]
- 1.2 2. What sector(s) (alias domain/ policy field) is the intervention primarily implemented in ? [e.g. housing, mobility, energy, water, health, local economy, biodiversity, CC adaptation, etc.]
- 1.3 3. What is the intervention (i.e. situated experiment) aiming to achieve in terms of sustainability and justice? [If possible, please copy from a project website and give a reference]
- 1.4 4. What is the interventions’ timeframe?
- 1.5 5. By what governance mode is the intervention characterized primarily? (see Appendix 1: Three modes of governance)
- 1.6 6. Why do you consider it worthwhile to study and share experiences made in the context of this governance intervention for sustainable and just cities?
- 1.7 7. In which project deliverable(s) or other documents can information be found on this situated (i.e. place specific) governance intervention?
- 2 b) Additional basic characteristics, links to earlier UrbanA work
- 3 c) Actor constellations
- 3.1 10. Who initiated the intervention?
- 3.2 11. Who are the envisioned benefiters of the intervention? (both at a local level and higher, if applicable)
- 3.3 12. Who else is (going to be) involved in the intervention, and what was/is their main role?
- 3.4 13. Which particular interactions among various stakeholders (stakeholder configurations) were crucial in enabling the intervention to emerge successfully? This could include direct or indirect impacts on interventions.
- 3.5 14. To what extent, in what form and at what stages have citizens participated in the shaping of the intervention?
- 3.6 15. How are responsibilities and/or decision-making power distributed among actors?
- 3.7 16. Exclusion:
- 4 d) Enabling conditions for the implementation of the intervention
- 4.1 17. What circumstances or events are reported to have triggered the intervention? (In what ways?)
- 4.2 18. Are particular substantive (multi-level) governmental policies considered to be highly influential in the genesis and shaping of the intervention? (If easily possible, please specify the policy, the policy field and the governance level mainly addressed, and characterize it along Appendix 2: Policy typology)
- 4.3 19. What constitutional responsibilities and rules does the intervention build upon? In other words, what rights, powers, and/or responsibilities, does the country's constitution (in a broad sense) award municipalities, states, utilities, NGOs, citizens etc. and how does this impact the intervention?
- 4.4 20. According to project material/and or interviews, in what ways have particularities of (local) political culture influenced the character and success of the intervention? (i.e. trust in political institutions, citizens’ will to interact with policy makers and vice versa, traditions of cooperation etc.)
- 4.5 21. What are financial arrangements that support the intervention?
- 4.6 22. Have any of the above conditions changed within the intervention’s timeframe, which have (significantly) influenced it in a positive or negative way?
- 5 e) Obstacles to successful intervention implementation
- 6 f) (Institutional) Work done to overcome obstacles
- 6.1 24. What has been done by each central actor group to overcome which particular obstacles in the way of successfully implementing the intervention? (this may include institutional Work - maintaining, disrupting, and creating new rules, applying to both formal laws/regulations and informal norms and expectations.)
- 7 g) Reported outcomes
- 8 h) Learning involved in establishing the intervention
- 8.1 Learning context
- 8.2 26. According to the TRANSIT project’s four mechanisms for empowerment – i. funding; ii. legitimacy; iii. knowledge sharing, learning, and peer support; or iv. visibility and identity – please briefly describe the following, and indicate where the intervention has been developed or supported as part of which formal collaborations, networks or projects:
- 8.3 Learning content
- 8.4 27. Has any acquired knowledge (e.g. technical knowledge, awareness of local political procedures etc.) been reported as particularly helpful to this intervention?
- 8.5 Learning process
- 8.6 28. In what ways has the intervention been adapted to specific circumstances of the targeted urban context based on the learned content reported in question 27?
- 8.7 29. Based on your answers to question 24, how has overcoming obstacles (reportedly) contributed to the learning process?
- 8.8 30. Please list any tools that enabled the learning process (e.g. various Knowledge Brokerage Activities from pg. 24 of FOODLINK’s Deliverable 7.1 - linked in footnote) and the actors involved in using them.
- 9 i) Learning involved in establishing interventions elsewhere (transferability)
- 9.1 31. Suggestions regarding transferability.
- 9.2 32. In what forms has the learning process, including stories of overcoming obstacles, been recorded for, and/or made accessible to city makers also from elsewhere?
- 9.3 33. Have any signs of collaboration, support, or inspiration already been reported between actors involved in this intervention and others that follow its example? (e.g. in “follower cities”?)
- 10 j) Structural learning
- 11 k) Reflections on important governance concepts
- 11.1 35. What other aspects of governance, that were not covered above, are important to highlight, too?
- 11.2 36. From your perspective as a researcher, which word or phrase characterizes this governance intervention most concisely? (Please attach your name to the characterization) In other words, what is the biggest takeaway from this intervention about governance arrangements?
- 12 Appendix 1: Three modes of governance
- 13 Appendix 2: Policy typology
a) Basic characteristics and ambitions of the intervention
1. What is the name and the urban context (e.g. city/district) of the intervention? Please also indicate the geographical scale of the intervention (e.g. neighborhood, district, small/medium/ capital city, metropolitan area ...). [Example: “Brixton Energy in Brixton, London (neighborhood in capital city)”]
Community Land Trust Brussels operates within the Brussels Capital Region of Belgium (at the neighbourhood scale, especially the Anderlecht, Molenbeek, and Schaarbeek municipalities, with completed and planned housing projects all over the Brussels Capital area).
CLTB is social real estate developer that builds affordable housing projects on collectively-owned land in Brussels for people with limited means. It purchases land and engages with future residents and community partners to co-create affordable housing (CLTB website_ what do we do).
2. What sector(s) (alias domain/ policy field) is the intervention primarily implemented in ? [e.g. housing, mobility, energy, water, health, local economy, biodiversity, CC adaptation, etc.]
3. What is the intervention (i.e. situated experiment) aiming to achieve in terms of sustainability and justice? [If possible, please copy from a project website and give a reference]
Provide decent housing (quality, sustainable, secure, affordable) to Brussels residents; increase community cohesion; empower residents to gain more control over shaping their communities (CLTB website_vision and mission).
4. What is the interventions’ timeframe?
Associations for affordable and sustainable public housing in Brussels first learned about the Community Land Trust model at a convention in 2008. They visited an example in the US in 2009. In 2010, a group of 15 associations created and signed a charter for the establishment of a CLT in Brussels. After a feasibility study supported by the Brussels regional government between 2011-2012, it was formally supported by the Housing Minister and given a grant to begin operations for the upcoming fall. The CLT’s first and only building so far (Quai de Mariemont in Molenbeek) was completed in September 2015. Currently, three developments are in construction and five more are planned. (CLTB website_our history).
5. By what governance mode is the intervention characterized primarily? (see Appendix 1: Three modes of governance)
Hybrid governance mode - the idea and motivation came from non-government actors, but it was made a reality via municipal governmental support and institutionalization (inclusion of the CLT model in the housing bill of the Brussels Capital Region and making the CLT an operator of the Housing Alliance investment program for new affordable housing) (CLTB website_our history). The CLT and its associated foundation have both residents, civil society, and public officials on their boards (CLTB website_ our governance).
It fills all of the criteria for desirable WP5 interventions. It is an interesting example of hybrid governance, where non-governmental actors sought to serve a need for communities and local governments empowered and adopted their initiative. It is also one of the first CLT models implemented in Europe. One reservation about this intervention is that it is explicitly focused on justice, whereas environmental sustainability is less important (although still present).
7. In which project deliverable(s) or other documents can information be found on this situated (i.e. place specific) governance intervention?
CLTB website and project materials from the Interreg program’s Sustainable Housing for Inclusive and Cohesive Cities project. Most information is from the CLTB website (CLTB website) and several SHICC case study documents (Interreg_01; Interreg_02) and CLTB annual reports ( Interreg_04 and Interreg_05). Additional information was provided by CLTB co-founder and current coordinator, Geert De Pauw, during a personal interview.
8. EU Project-context of the intervention:
- a. Has the intervention been developed or studied in the context of an (EU-funded?) project? (please name the project, its duration and include a link to the project website here).
CLTB was studied in the EU’s Interreg project, Sustainable Housing for Inclusive and Cohesive Cities (Sept 2017-Sept 2020), which supports and studies four CLT’s in Europe (Brussels, Ghent, Lille, and London). SHICC aims to “‘prove the concept’, create a supportive local, regional and national policy, funding and regulatory environment for CLTs and build a movement across the region” (SHICC Project_home).
- b. According to WP3’s database of approaches, which approach(es) does the intervention best fit under? Where applicable, please indicate if the intervention is found in a project that has been explicitly mentioned in the database.
- c. Have some project deliverables been coded in the context of UrbanA’s WP4?
9. Problematization and priority:
- a. How exactly has inequality and exclusion been problematized (by whom) in the context of this intervention?
Intervention proponents have been vocal about the lack of affordable decent housing for low-income people in Brussels, particularly due to a small number of public social housing units and rapidly increasing housing prices between 2000 and 2010 (CLTB website_our history). This problematization comes from the low-income groups themselves, since they are engaged with the various associations and CLTB to express their needs (De Pauw).
- b. Has the achievement of justice explicitly been named as a major motivation behind the intervention?
Yes. Justice is central to their vision and mission: the intervention provides decent housing and empowerment to marginalized, low-income groups by co-creating their communities (see Q3).
- c. Which drivers of injustice does the intervention address? (see Database of drivers of injustice)
c) Actor constellations
10. Who initiated the intervention?
This intervention was initiated by activists from various housing and neighbourhood associations in the Brussels Capital area (Buurthuis Bonnevie, a community center, and CIRE solidarity savings group were listed in particular). After this initial interest was sparked, a smaller group of actors (unnamed representatives from this group of associations) was involved in CLT-specific learning and research. More than 15 associations signed onto the charter for the establishment of a Community Land Trust in Brussels in 2010. Afterwards the local government became more involved and the intervention took off (CLTB website_ our history).
11. Who are the envisioned benefiters of the intervention? (both at a local level and higher, if applicable)
Low-income residents of Brussels, communities in which projects are implemented, housing-insecure individuals in other cities (if CLTB is able to prove the concept and inspire more CLTs).
12. Who else is (going to be) involved in the intervention, and what was/is their main role?
|Actor types||Yes||Actor name and role|
|Civil society organizations||x||Wide variety of member associations work together with residents and CLTB to develop projects (CLTB website_partners)|
|Hybrid/ 3rd sector organizations|
|NGOs||x||The Community Land Trust Brussels manages and leads the intervention (CLTB website_our governance)
Wide variety of member associations work together with residents and CLTB to develop projects
|Social entreprises||x||Housing fund Brussels (cooperative society) provides mortgages to the prospective buyers (CLTB website_partners)|
|For profit entreprises||x||Various private firms (i.e. Architects, contractors, etc.) provide their services, expertise, or financial support, or act as a member of the CTLB general assembly (CLTB website)|
|Local/regional government||x||The Housing Minister of the Brussels Capital Regional Government provides 2m eu/year in funding (CLTB website_support)
Public service members sit on board of CLT (CLTB website_our governance)
|Supranational government||x||EU Interreg project provides funding
EU Urban Innovative Actions program provides funding (CLTB website_support)
|Other initiatives||x||Public Utility Foundation CLTB purchases and owns land which is managed by the CLTB not for profit (CLTB website_our governance)
Public Utility Foundation 4 Wings Foundation funding support (CLTB website_support) Residents of housing projects (current and future) sit on CLT board and participate in co-creation (CLTB website_CLT model)
13. Which particular interactions among various stakeholders (stakeholder configurations) were crucial in enabling the intervention to emerge successfully? This could include direct or indirect impacts on interventions.
Firstly, the ability of many (15) community associations to self-organize and present a united appeal for the establishment of the CLTB was very important. Second, the productive and early engagement of the housing associations with the local government of Brussels was crucial. It resulted in formal approval and funding by the Brussels government needed to launch the intervention. Third, early involvement (via workshops, meetings, etc) of the target group in need of housing was very important - it allowed CLTB to see that their proposal was an answer to the target group's needs, and it gave a sense of legitimacy by facilitating this expression of need (confirmed by De Pauw).
14. To what extent, in what form and at what stages have citizens participated in the shaping of the intervention?
Citizens, as members of the various housing associations, inspired and organized the intervention. They continue to be a central actor in the co-creation of the projects and residents make up one third of the CLT board members (CLTB website_ our governance). This is a highly participatory intervention. Future residents work together to guide the development of their dwellings, and current residents are responsible for their buildings’ management.
15. How are responsibilities and/or decision-making power distributed among actors?
Community-based decision making in occurs in different forms. The CLTB NPO is directed by a mix of building owners, prospective buyers, CLT members, associations, neighbours, and representatives from the government. For each housing project, future and current residents have high levels of responsibility; their voices are central to decision making. There is also an annual general assembly where CLT members meet (active members have certain voting rights).
- a. Which stakeholders or social groups were excluded (at which stages)?
Since the intervention is so community-centered and prioritizes inclusion, very few (marginalized) social groups are excluded. However, individuals must meet certain admission conditions, the same as those for normal municipal social housing admittance, to be given a CLTB residence spot (Interreg_02:2). Therefore, these other groups are excluded (i.e. medium income groups, young people with unstable employment, elderly) (Interreg_02:9). Also, there is currently a long waiting list, so no new candidates can be registered (CLTB website_get a CLTB home).
- b. Is there any indication why this may have happened? With what outcomes? Has anything been done to overcome such exclusions?
Admission conditions are necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable are given priority, as there is excess demand for CLTB housing. Outcomes are unclear and there are no reports about work being done that cater to groups who do not meet admission conditions. Although there are other ways to participate, such as becoming a member or volunteer with CLTB.
d) Enabling conditions for the implementation of the intervention
17. What circumstances or events are reported to have triggered the intervention? (In what ways?)
Brussels’ housing crisis in the early 2000s (increased rent prices, not enough social housing, policy focus on homeownership) spurred action from local associations, which then snowballed into the BLT intervention (CLTB_our history).
18. Are particular substantive (multi-level) governmental policies considered to be highly influential in the genesis and shaping of the intervention? (If easily possible, please specify the policy, the policy field and the governance level mainly addressed, and characterize it along Appendix 2: Policy typology)
Unfavourable housing and rental policies at the regional and national level were presumably influential in the motivation to establish the CLTB, since they were/are offering inadequate support for lower income demographics. Nationally, housing policies have largely benefited homeowners over private renters, in particular those in social housing (i.e. national housing budgets are mostly allocated to private owners, and significantly less is allocated to social housing and the rental market) (OECD paper). Social housing has been placed under the responsibility of Belgium’s regional government since 1980. While there are regional and national plans to increase the stock, there remains big social housing shortfalls (Social housing in Europe; Facets of housing).
Some specific policies include: the Brussels Housing Code, within which the CLT was entrenched in 2013 by the Brussels Capital Region (Regulatory policy type), and the Region’s ‘Alliance Habitat’ investment plan, which gives 2 million euros per year in subsidies to the CLTB (Economic policy type). Low-carbon building standards set in 2015 by the Brussels Capital Region are influential, since they require all new construction to meet a certain passive building standard. This includes CLTB projects (Interreg_01:5).
19. What constitutional responsibilities and rules does the intervention build upon? In other words, what rights, powers, and/or responsibilities, does the country's constitution (in a broad sense) award municipalities, states, utilities, NGOs, citizens etc. and how does this impact the intervention?
The Belgian Federal State has three regions, one of which is the Brussels Capital Region. The regions are responsible for providing affordable housing, which has enabled and motivated the Brussels Capital Region to be highly involved and supportive of the CLT intervention (Interreg_02:1).
20. According to project material/and or interviews, in what ways have particularities of (local) political culture influenced the character and success of the intervention? (i.e. trust in political institutions, citizens’ will to interact with policy makers and vice versa, traditions of cooperation etc.)
The hybrid intervention is possible due to positive interactions between housing associations and the Brussels Capital Region government. The associations were eager to engage with the government to quickly institutionalize the intervention, rather than attempting to grow it on their own. And the regional government (a social democracy) was responsive to their interests, conducting a feasibility study upon their request (before adopting it later on) (CLTB website_our history).
Compared to colleagues implementing CLTs in other places, CLTB proponents feel lucky that there is a close relationship between civil society groups and local authorities in Brussels. In Brussels there is a strong and well-organized civil society, especially in the housing sector, and there are a lot of innovative community housing association groups that receive government funding. One reason for this government-civil sector collaboration is that BCR is a small territory with the same capacity as the other two regions in Belgium. Housing is dependent on the city and thus supports close relationships between civil society groups and authorities (De Pauw).
21. What are financial arrangements that support the intervention?
Financial assistance in the start up phase included: a 150,000 euro feasibility study (from the Regional government), 10,000 from the RénovAssistance Foundation, support from the King Baudouin Foundation for the first years of operation expenses, and subsidized jobs funded by the Region.
Current financial arrangements include an annual 2 million euro subsidy from the Region, which allows the CLT foundation to purchase land and contribute towards 40% of building construction. The other 60% is derived from households’ mortgages (provided from Brussels Housing Fund). CLTB’s operational budget is mainly funded through various grants, membership fees (10euros per month), ground leases (10euros per household per month), crowd funding, and donations. The financial arrangements listed above are more complex than this and are further detailed in the SHICC 2019 report (Interreg_02).
22. Have any of the above conditions changed within the intervention’s timeframe, which have (significantly) influenced it in a positive or negative way?
Note: Certain contexts, which provide opportunities to learn from other relevant experiences, may also be a supportive framework condition. Please see section h, questions 26 + 30 on learning context.
e) Obstacles to successful intervention implementation
23. What obstacles to implementing the intervention (both generally, and in this particular context) have been identified, relating to:
- a. Regulatory framework
Because the intervention is supported through a regulatory framework, there are few major obstacles posed to implementation. One barrier, however, is the lack of funds provided for non-residential spaces (like gardens or community spaces) in the Regional subsidies. These components are important to the CLT’s concept for thriving communities (Interreg_02:5).
Another implementation barrier includes the administrative delays to win public tenders, obtain planning permissions, and build new housing, leading to subsequent delay in the construction phase (Interreg_04: 3; Interreg_05: 5). This has resulted in some prospective residents waiting for years to receive housing.
- b. Legitimacy
n/a It has legitimacy by being linked with government support and rooted in community needs.
- c. Public awareness
n/a Demand exceeds supply. This is a popular intervention.
- d. Finances
Sustainable and reliable funding to support growing operations and more developments presumably poses the biggest obstacle to CLTB. It is heavily reliant on public funding, which could dry up if political priorities change (Interreg_02:9). Additionally, the current staff capacity is being stretched thinly and funding for more positions will need to be acquired in order to handle upscaled program implementation. Finally, as operations grow, the capacities of CLTB’s partner associations will also be stretched, and will therefore also need increased funding (Interreg_02:9).
- e. Others (please name)
Community building - which is a major dimension of the project - among prospective residents (before moving in the neighborhood) is more difficult for large communities, including people still on the waiting list (candidate resident) and people who are not yet engaged in a concrete project (Interreg_04: 4).
f) (Institutional) Work done to overcome obstacles
24. What has been done by each central actor group to overcome which particular obstacles in the way of successfully implementing the intervention? (this may include institutional Work - maintaining, disrupting, and creating new rules, applying to both formal laws/regulations and informal norms and expectations.)
|Name of obstacle||What work was/is being done to overcome this obstacle and by what actor groups?|
|1. Inability to fund non-residential spaces||So far, the non-residential spaces that have been created were funded via higher lease costs to renters. But the Region may begin to support these spaces if the CLTB demonstrates that its pilot projects have sustainable business models (Interreg_02:5,9).|
|2. Heavy reliance on (a single source of) public funding||Suggestions to overcome this include looking for different investment (from private actors or citizens), or funding campaigns (Interreg_02:9).|
|3. Stretched capacity of CLT staff and partner associations||CLTB is financing more full-time staff positions via various charitable foundations (Interreg_02:9). No reports on how CLTB partners will increase their capacity.|
|4. Administrative delays to obtain planning permits and build new housing.||It was not possible to speed up the administrative procedures. However, while some prospective residents did not yet receive housing, they have actively engaged in building community in their future neighborhood (Interreg_04: 3). In that sense these delays did not discourage prospective residents nor undermine community-building processes.|
|5. Difficulties in building community in large groups of prospective (candidate) residents.||In 2017, for the second time, CLTB has organized events allowing candidate-residents to meet and get to know each other, as well as to begin engaging in projects. In collaboration with other local organizations, thematic workshops have been organized (i.e. energy, finances, house reparations). In 2016, within the framework of the project “Co-create”, CLT has experimented with a new tool called ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) for community building.|
g) Reported outcomes
25. What are reported outcomes of the intervention? This may include economic outcomes, political outcomes, ability to reach sustainability and justice targets, etc.
From Interreg_02: CLT has 2 completed projects (9 units inhabited since 2015 and 32 units inhabited since the end of 2019), 4 projects in construction, and 5 projects being studied, equalling 164 units in development with eventual resale prices at 25-50% of the market price. It has 600 members (400 candidate housing owners, 170 supporting members, and 30 nonprofit organizations).
Since it is more focused on social sustainability, the intervention has so far not demonstrated substantial outcomes regarding environmental sustainability. The first completed project was built according to the Brussels Capital Region’s low-carbon standards (Interreg_01:5). However, this was required by law and not motivated by the project itself. Several of the planned projects include “green” features like community gardens and other communal green spaces, and one in particular is planned to be built within the upcoming Tivoli Green City quarter of Brussels.
h) Learning involved in establishing the intervention
Please fill in any information on social learning that has occured in this intervention (conceptualized here as “Learning context, content, and process” in line with the FOODLINKS project). Where possible, please differentiate your response into learning done by specific actor groups.
(i.e. the configuration and social environment enabling the learning process)
26. According to the TRANSIT project’s four mechanisms for empowerment – i. funding; ii. legitimacy; iii. knowledge sharing, learning, and peer support; or iv. visibility and identity – please briefly describe the following, and indicate where the intervention has been developed or supported as part of which formal collaborations, networks or projects:
- a. any previous experiences in the same urban context (e.g. city…) that the intervention is (reportedly) building upon? This could include any relevant experiences in the same or another sector.
CLTB builds from experiences in experiments for alternative affordable housing in Brussels such as the L'Espoir project (one of the first passive solar, energy efficient housing buildings in Brussels, housing 14 low income migrant families since 2009), and a solidarity savings group in 2004 that allows low-income families to pool funds to purchase a house (CLTB website_our history).
In more detail from interview with De Pauw:
The L’Espoir project was successful, but CLTB proponents learned that this kind of thing is not possible without public support (subsidies, grants). L'Espoir started with nothing and spent a lot of effort trying to get support. There is a need for public money from the beginning. At several points through the project they almost stopped due to lack of funding. This is especially problematic for participants because it becomes quite risky. CLTB proponents also wanted to find a more sustainable way of using public grants, since L'Espoir residents who want to sell their home can do it at any price and retain any project, which is not sustainable. They discovered the CLT model as a way of introducing non-speculative elements.
Regarding the saving groups, proponents such as De Pauw had already been working with CIRE, who was running the savings group. These groups worked well, except when house prices increased. Therefore, proponents were interested in a more sustainable model that could be affordable for low-income groups.
In summary, CLTB drew lessons from what worked and from what couldn't be solved e.g. the way participation is organized in preparation for projects is very much inspired by what was done in L'Espoir and the saving groups.
Especially within the CLTB, projects learn from each other: “We are constantly reflecting on things, perhaps too much! … For every part of the operation we regularly rethink how to do it. This happens at the level of the team, and also on the level of our working groups, partner associations, experts and other stakeholders, and the level of our board." (De Pauw)
- b. any inter-city partnerships, or transfers from experiences elsewhere that have (reportedly) been important in the emergence of this intervention?
Housing association members first learned about the CLT model from a convention on Housing Cooperatives in Lyon, France. They then visited a successful CLT example - the Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont (CLTB website_our history). The CLTB is also part of the SHICC EU-funded project, which aims to have a broad movement of CLTs across Europe and connects CLTB with the network of other CLTs. The project financially supports the selected CLTs and provides some knowledge resources (This support hits all four types of TRANSIT’s empowerment mechanisms).
In more detail from De Pauw interview:
Champlain was essential for CLTB success. "They helped us with everything we wanted … When writing lease contracts we could use a lot of their documents, experience (despite being in a different context) and we had a lot of exchange with them and they were really supportive so that was really important, and still is. At least once a year we call them with a question. It was also a way of showing that what we wanted was possible and not just an idea." Champlain proponents also came to Brussels several times and their CEO did a video message at a CLTB press conference, which was very important.
27. Has any acquired knowledge (e.g. technical knowledge, awareness of local political procedures etc.) been reported as particularly helpful to this intervention?
- a. from previous experiences in the same urban context
As previously mentioned, one crucial piece of knowledge from the L’Espoir project was that significant public investment is needed to make affordable housing possible at a larger scale. Although they were able to raise funds to cover the reduced contribution of low-income residents, this was seen as an unsustainable model in the long term.
From the solidarity savings groups, the intervention learned that alternative savings systems cannot overcome high housing prices, which dissuaded them from adopting a similar approach (CLTB website_our history).
CLTB learned from internal reflections while replicating projects about their participatory procedures. In the beginning, they reproduced what had been done in L'Espoir, and actively involved participants from the start, when they bought the land or even before. They stopped after the pilot projects because of numerous risks and difficulties associated with building in Brussels, e.g. having to deal with a builder bankruptcy, having to wait two years for building permission, etc.. Despite being interesting to engage from the start, proponents decided it was too risky and instead compose the groups once they have the building permit (De Pauw).
- b. from inter-city partnerships, or transfers from experiences elsewhere
The specific nature and content of what the CLTB drew from during their visit to the Champlain Housing Trust is not clear in the project documentation. This is the only mention of the “partnership”/”transfer”: “In September 2009, four members of this group were invited … to participate at an international study visit to the Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont, a CLT that had just won a United Nations World Habitat Award. After a week, they returned to Brussels, more than ever convinced that the CLT model might be what they were looking for” (CLTB website_our history). The CLTB did adopt Champlain’s governance model, whereby the board of trustees is composed of one third current/future residents, one third civil society, and one third public officials (Interreg_02:1). The CLTB also adopted Champlain’s resale mechanism (Interreg_01:7).
However, the interview with De Pauw revealed the large amount of learning and exchange between Champlain and CLTB. See Q26b.
Regarding SHICC, their project website resources include: financial guides, local advocacy toolkit, and case studies of all the participating CLTs.
- c. from other knowledge gathering/research
None specifically reported, but since CLTs are a relatively novel and complex intervention, there was likely a big learning curve. Areas of acquired knowledge could include legal aspects and procedural elements: “The last two years, we invested a lot in strengthening our organization, developing legal models, procedures, etc.” (CLTB website_our history).
28. In what ways has the intervention been adapted to specific circumstances of the targeted urban context based on the learned content reported in question 27?
The context of Brussels is characterized by high housing prices and low volume of social housing stock. The previous learned content may have caused the intervention to seek significant public investment in order to help it prosper at a wider scale (L’Espoir project) AND help the Regional government fulfill its duty towards social housing. The observed necessity to reduce cost of housing, and not just pool funds to buy expensive housing (solidarity savings groups), may have caused CLTB to source its land from a Regeneration scheme that allows municipalities to sell it below market price - aka the CLTB looked into strategies to lower its costs wherever possible in order to make the housing products more affordable.
Finally, the Champlain Trust model was adapted slightly to fit the Brussels context, for example taking the necessary steps of making it compliant with the relevant laws/policies (e.g. the 2015 low carbon standards). While everything from Champlain needed to be tweaked to fit the Brussels context, it needed less adaptation than one could imagine, despite having a completely different legal system (CLTB is under civil law, Champlain under common law). The major difference, however, was in the initiatives' aims: CLTB needed to accommodate their model for their goal to target lowest income groups. This has required CLTB to adopt a system that is more public than Champlain's to make it accessible. They therefore needed to do a lot of public tendering for architects, builders, etc.. CLTB's pricing system and allocation procedure has also been adapted to reach low-income groups. Additionally, CLTB had more participatory processes than Champlain, since BCR has a rich history of housing association activities (De Pauw).
29. Based on your answers to question 24, how has overcoming obstacles (reportedly) contributed to the learning process?
The process of learning and overcoming obstacles is not particularly well-documented in INTERREG project files, but CLTB annual reports contained useful information.
The site visit to Champlain Trust was a particularly important KBA which inspired the CLTB development. The community building methods called ABCD (Asset Based Community Development), developed by CLTB in the framework of the project “Co-create” and in collaboration with partner organizations and researchers from the Universities of Bruxelles (Interreg_04: 4), further enabled the learning process.
i) Learning involved in establishing interventions elsewhere (transferability)
31. Suggestions regarding transferability.
- a. Have any suggestions been made about a replicability, scaleability or transferability of the intervention? [e.g. in the documentation of the intervention in a project or the press? Links would be perfect]
Yes. The CLTB’s goal is to have many social housing projects created within the Capital Region, and the goal of SHICC project is to create/enable a CLT movement with many replications. The success of the intervention (aka being able to provide decent, affordable housing to those in need) is dependent on it being scalable.
In the section “communicate with our members and with external actors” (Interreg_05: 21), CLTB aims to draw public attention to the project, thereby clarifying its identity for the public, and become a (European) reference for CLT models.
- b. Transferability to what kind of contexts has been suggested?
Urban contexts within the Brussels Capital Region and North-Western Europe in general, which SHICC has claimed to be in the midst of a housing affordability crisis (Interreg_03).
- c. Who has made the claims?
CLTB proponents and SHICC project.
- d. What limits to transferability to broader contexts have been discussed?
None recorded - the project documentation and intervention documentation have an optimistic perspective on CLT transferability.
A possible limit to transferability of the CLT model is that more public funding is needed to meet the needs of low-income groups than those with greater means. Therefore, if this funding weren’t available in other contexts, the CLTB’s aim of helping the most vulnerable residents would be less achievable. While a CLT is possible without their level of public support, it would indeed be more complicated and projects would probably have to change their target group. For example, there are a few middle-class co-housing groups in Belgium that self-label as CLTs, without use of public money (De Pauw).
32. In what forms has the learning process, including stories of overcoming obstacles, been recorded for, and/or made accessible to city makers also from elsewhere?
The learning process has not been very well-recorded in Interreg project documentation. This documentation has a promotional feel to it, and it mostly describes how the CLTB currently functions. However, the learning process has been well recorded in the CLTB annual reports, which describe current and upcoming projects, their outcomes, and any difficulties and possible solutions to address them.
Regarding how CLTB has made its more general experience accessible to citymakers, it reports various outreach and learning opportunities, see Q33.
33. Have any signs of collaboration, support, or inspiration already been reported between actors involved in this intervention and others that follow its example? (e.g. in “follower cities”?)
From the CLTB website: “Since its creation at the end of 2012, the CLTB, the first CLT of Europe, has received widespread interest from local authorities, associations, foundations, international institutions, academics from various European countries (France, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Sweden,…). We have already welcomed several delegations and taken part in numerous events abroad. In this way, we are contributing to the model’s distribution on a European and global scale.”
CLTB has improved its communication tools (i.e. social network, website, brochures etc.) and has participated in many international gatherings, especially in Belgium and France. This includes, among others, presentations given at the housing cooperative society in Rennes (Fr), at the members of the European project “Urbamonde,” and at the “Collectif Goed” cooperative project in Anvers (Bel) (Interreg_05:21).
Actual demonstrations of direct transferability can be seen between individual CLTB housing projects in Brussels, which directly learn from each other (see Q26a). In a less direct sense, proponents have seen the increase in new CLT’s since 2010 when the CLTB was getting started and few had yet heard of the model. These CLTs have been successfully implemented in many different contexts because of the model's flexibility and answers many current issues of land, gentrification, and housing crises that are on top of the agenda. A lot of the model's success comes from people looking for alternatives for these issues. Regarding flexibility, it has several elements that can be combined in different ways: it has been used in urban and rural contexts, small and big scales, with or without public funding, and has been initiated by grassroots organizations or governments. However, CLTB proponents question whether these replications are true community land trusts, since many have a low level of participation (De Pauw). An interesting takeaway here is that the model’s flexibility enables transferability, but can dilute the initial aims of the intervention regarding actively engaging and serving the most needy citizens.
For example, in France the CLT model is not bottom-up: federal law was changed to make it possible and projects are initiated by municipalities where the community aspect is often forgotten. However it still includes the main elements of a CLT (separation of land and the building, anti-speculation formulas)(De Pauw).
j) Structural learning
34. Has the intervention influenced higher-level governance arrangements such that sustainability and justice are considered (together) in a more durable, structural way? In other words, are there any observations about more structural, long-term changes as a result of the intervention?
- For example: new programs run by local councils, new modes of citizen participation, new mediating bodies
- Is there other evidence that the project has contributed to enhancing sustainable and just governance in cities in a general sense?
CLTB helped raise a discussion on public land policy and the idea that it should be used in a sustainable way rather than being sold on the markets. This is a real debate at a government level, as well. Additionally, approaches to co-creating housing may be increasing as a result of CLTB, since other more established housing organizations are also giving importance to resident participation. “These are things I think we contributed to change the mindset of”(De Pauw).
k) Reflections on important governance concepts
35. What other aspects of governance, that were not covered above, are important to highlight, too?
36. From your perspective as a researcher, which word or phrase characterizes this governance intervention most concisely? (Please attach your name to the characterization) In other words, what is the biggest takeaway from this intervention about governance arrangements?
Hybrid governance can be a very successful way of establishing an intervention because it gets the ideas, legitimacy, and motivation from the people and the funding and institutional support from the government. However, interventions sharing the CLTB’s aims seem more context-bound than non-government led interventions because government priorities and resources vary widely.
Have questions or comments? Contact information regarding this case can be found at the top of this page!
Appendix 1: Three modes of governance
(from NATURVATION project)
NATURVATION's NBS-Atlas distinguishes three categories of governance arrangements (dubbed "management set-ups":
- Government-led (Gov)
- Co-governance or hybrid governance (mix of responsibilities between government and non-government actors) (c/h)
- Led by non-government actors (NGO)
Alternatively or additionally, the following four modes of governing (as distinguished also by Bulkeley/Kern 2006 and Zvolska et al. 2019) could be used as a typology: Castan Broto/ Bulkeley 2013:95
- Self-governing, intervening in the management of local authority operations to ‘‘lead by example’’;
- Provision, greening infrastructure and consumer services provided by different authorities;
- Regulations, enforcing new laws, planning regulations, building codes, etc.; and
- Enabling, supporting initiatives led by other actors through information and resource provision and partnerships”
Appendix 2: Policy typology
(from NATURVATION project)
|Regulatory (administrative, command-and-control)||Mandatory fulfillment of certain requirements by targeted actors||Legislations, regulations, laws, directives, etc.|
|Economic (financial, market-based)||Financial (dis)incentives to trigger change by providing (new) favourable (or unfavourable) economic conditions for targeted actors||Positive incentive include subsidies, soft loans, tax allowance and procurments. Negative incentives are taxes, fees and charges.|
|Informative (educational)||They aim at providing information or knowledge to target actors in order to increase awareness and support informed decision-making accomplish or prevent social change||Information and awareness raising campaigns, informative leaflets, advertisements in different media.|
|Voluntary||Commitment and/or actions beyond legal requirements, undertaken by private actors and/or non-governmental organisations.||Voluntary actions and agreements.|
- Background to this question: Our four main criteria for selecting particular governance interventions and develop rich descriptions of them were: A) The intervention has been studied in a specific urban context (e.g. city), B) this context is located in Europe (and, preferably, the study was EU-funded), C) the intervention considers to a large extent sustainability AND justice (at least implicitly), and D) it is well-documented, ideally including assumptions or even critical reflections on enablers and barriers to implementation and on transferability (i.e. ‘de-contextualizability’). Additionally, we aimed at a diverse portfolio of domains (see Q2.) and governance modes (see Q5): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nCPcUd-COIQ1MsBjir20_F1CBbnSu6HqKH9nNLshiVQ/edit?usp=sharing.
- Actor types according to TRANSIT’s Critical Turning Point Database, http://www.transitsocialinnovation.eu/about-ctps-in-tsi-processes.
- If easily possible mention sources for your association of roles.
- Deliverable 7.1 Synthesis Report on results from Monitoring and Evaluation (p.14) : http://www.foodlinkscommunity.net/fileadmin/documents_organicresearch/foodlinks/publications/karner-etal-d-7-1.pdf .
- http://www.foodlinkscommunity.net/fileadmin/documents_organicresearch/foodlinks/publications/karner-etal-d-7-1.pdf .
- Feel free to include learning that has been made available through EU project documentation, intervention initiatives, or other channels. In addition to the forms in which the learning process has been shared with others, please indicate whether the learning process that’s being shared has been recorded in a self-critical/reflexive way.