FondsGoetheanum: Economy growth


Prompted by the financial and economic crisis of 2008 and daily reports of hunger, misery and war all over the world, a group of people began to look for ways and means to renew economic conditions.
After conducting various seminars, colloquia, and conferences on the subject, the initiators decided to give themselves a legal form. They founded the Confoedera Foundation in 2015.
Confoedera’s initiators and friends look closely at today’s economic relationships, researching socially acceptable ways of working with finance and capital.
They develop these paths mainly in connection with income, housing and land. In these areas they see the possibility for every individual, voluntarily and according to his or her individual circumstances, to work with capital in a step-by-step and socially acceptable way.
The Confoedera Foundation would like to develop and promote forms of community economics carried by individuals according to the following considerations:

A) The furtherance of non-profit based property ownership in favour of education, training, research, art, culture and religion.
(B) The promotion of non-speculative home ownership for all on the basis of free community financing.
C) The decoupling of work and income on the basis of needs-oriented income distribution.Confoedera supports the development of the necessary legal and professional basis, as well as public dissemination of these concerns. The association is working to build up a network of interested individuals and organisations, who wish to promote these concerns.

Cheap rental is possible and ‘in’

What seems unrealistic is, in fact and truth, a successful model of affordable, shared living. Already over 100 working projects prove it.

Living is an important part of the quality of life. How and where you live and with which people you live together in a house is crucial. Living space is scarce. Rents are high. So that it is difficult for young families and less well-off people to live the way they want to.
One’s own living space is the ideal of many. The realization of this ideal often fails for want of capital, because most people who are interested in such projects do not have much money.

Affordable housing is ‘in’, it works and is attracting adherents.

Speculative house sale is forever excluded

In Germany there is a very interesting, replicable example, which has developed a solution: the tenement (shared building) syndicate. Today, it includes 112 projects and 20 initiatives. They differ in terms of the size of the residential and commercial areas, locations, levels of finance and numbers of inhabitants.
But all the projects have in common the fact that they are self-organized. In all cases, the syndicate is linked to a housing company. This excludes speculative house sale for all time. All projects also undertake to pay into to a joint solidarity fund.

The housing company is indispensable and autonomous

Many questions and tasks meet those who are interested in such a residential project. First, the financing, because for the acquisition of a property, the housing company has to borrow hundreds of thousands of euros – indirectly through loans from the bank and directly from people who support the project by ‘parking’ their savings there.
This is not an easy task, because loans cost money – interest and repayment often amounting to more than three quarters of the rent. But this is not the only challenge. The group dynamics of shared housing challenges all members.
The individual housing company – consisting of tenants – manages the project on its own responsibility. The tenants themselves shape their living together without influence from third parties. The housing company has the sole right to decide the form of financing, how to convert buildings, how much the rents will be, etc. The scale for all decisions including financial ones, is linked to feasibility, to what is possible.

The housing company’s tasks are few, but decisive

Each project has a housing company. This has only two one-vote shareholders, each with one vote, namely, the housing company and the tenement syndicate. The housing company has only two tasks: changes in the Articles of Incorporation and the eventual sale of the property.
In the limited partnership agreement between them, it is stipulated that, when the syndicate vacates a building, there is no entitlement to share in the appreciation of the value of the property due to the market. This ensures that, on the one hand, the autonomy of living together is recognised jointly by the respective tenants and, on the other, that speculative resale of the property is impossible.

The tenement syndicate controls and watches

The tenement syndicate has a kind of control and watchdog task. It guarantees the maintenance of the basic idea. In all projects, the syndicate is involved with a housing company, and all projects undertake to make contributions into a joint solidarity fund, which will be used to launch new projects in the longer term. If a group of people plan such a project, advice will be provided free of charge by experienced members of longer established housing companies.

How the projects are financed

The housing company has a low share capital; as a rule it is 25,000 euros. It is raised by both partners, the housing company and the tenement syndicate. As mentioned above, in addition to bank loans, direct loans from the householders are often needed in order to attract and bring together the necessary equity to realize the real estate project. If the property is purchased, the tenants’ own contributions may also be required during the conversion.
The great demand for the exemplary service offered by the syndicates shows that self-determined living space with shared responsibility is a topical and basic human need.

Niklaus Schär