What is the Shared Houses network? Basically, it is a network of houses providing its residents affordable and community‑based accommodation in collective ownership.
An overwhelming majority of people want to live in a decent and pleasant environment, no matter whether it means a rented flat or a house “of their own”. Many people want to live together with others in community housing. Our collective also wants to find an answer to the question of decent housing conditions in the era of escalating rents. Because more hands make light work, as they say, we have decided to create a housing model (inspired by several functioning systems in Western Europe) that is based on community principles, practically, as well as legally and financially, and to make sure that the future property will permanently serve residential purposes. The core of our plan is to purchase the first building, the first swallow, to own it, manage it and make it thrive. Though primarily for residential use, we would like it to include public spaces for cultural and social purposes. Later, we want to extend the network to include projects of other collectives. The network itself will be legally defined and provide practical, legal and financial support to other projects and groups. At the same time, it will guarantee primarily residential use of all the properties purchased.
The first Swallow
We have decided to name our first project “Swallow”. Its functioning should prove that the proposed system is feasible and viable in our legal and social conditions. We believe that one swallow does make a summer and as soon as the first project succeeds, other collectives will join us. We want to realize the project Swallow in Prague, at the premises of an empty apartment building or a similar suitable space. The collective of 20 to 30 people will work on a non-hierarchical basis.
It is quite expensive to buy an apartment building in Prague, or somewhere else for that matter. What is crucial is the fact that it is financially more convenient to buy the whole apartment building than to buy individual apartments. We will fund the purchase from multiple resources. The main source will be a mortgage provided a bank and secured by the purchased building. The rest of funds will be provided by direct loans both from residents and individuals supporting the project. Both will be paid back from the collected rent.
Where does it work already?
Similar systems work in several countries. Mietshäusersyndikat (Apartment House Syndicate) in neighbouring Germany is by far the most advanced. It is an alliance of more than 120 apartment houses. A relatively recent network established in Austria, Habitat, with two housing projects in nearby Linz and in Salzburg, is also our great inspiration.
Sdílené domy are also part of MOBA – a mutual aid network of pioneering housing cooperatives from East-Central and Southeastern Europe, and the European action coalition for the right to housing and to the city (EAC).