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Housing and good governance

Within the framework of the European Responsible Housing Initiative (ERHIN)

Brussels, 3 October 2014 | Urban

In the sixth and final part of our blog series on the notion of "responsible housing in Europe", we focus on the role of good governance.

The five representatives of the projects that made it as finalists in this category of the first edition of the European Responsible Housing Awards 2014 to share their views around the importance of good governance. Is there a secret recipe?

bauverein AG, Darmstadt, Germany

In 2011 and 2013 bauverein AG conducted systematic stakeholder surveys in cooperation with TU Darmstadt. The goal was to receive clarity about the most important demands towards the company. The survey results were looked at and analyzed very thoroughly. Afterwards, based on the research, new fields of action were defined and compared to existing goals and activities. 

Where a need for action was required, measures were taken as for instance informing the supervisory board more proactively in case of negative media as well as a stronger consideration of certain issues in the annual CSR reporting. Furthermore bauverein AG cooperated with the environmental protection agency BUND. Diverse actions resulted from this also. To summarize: Thanks to the stakeholder survey, resources can be used more efficiently and conflicts can be partially avoided.  

DAB (Dansk Almennyttigt Boligselskab), Denmark

DAB supports newly elected tenant democrats by inviting them to DAB for a kick-start course spanning two evenings. The course is facilitated by DAB’s top management and includes topics such as legal issues, the finances of a housing association, the day-to-day operations and the responsibilities of the board members. After six months the participants may return for a follow up at which they also get to network with board members from other housing associations.

In 2012 DAB introduced a new internet based portal for tenant democrats to assist them in their responsibilities and to encourage more to become members of the local housing boards. The portal serves as a platform to store and share e-mails and documents pertaining to the housing association and to DAB.

DAB further aid the tenant democracy by assisting in writing the invite and the agenda for the tenant meeting. We prepare specific proposals for the meetings to discuss and we participate or facilitate a majority of the meetings that are being held.

We are currently developing a course for tenant democrats who wish to learn how to conduct a meeting. As tenant meetings are subjects to various rules and regulations it is impossible to conduct such a meeting without prior knowledge and this might deter some from joining the tenant board. Consequently, we hope a brief training session will come in handy for the inexperienced tenants who wish to join.

When asked in a 2013-survey, whether DAB meets the tenant board’s expectations of decent and efficient housing management, we can proudly say that 94 percent of the board members answered yes.

Wiener Wohnen, Vienna, Austria

Good governance and relations to stakeholders does help Wiener Wohnen to avoide conflicts in the neighborhoods and to ensure the high living quality in the council estates. It is also a platform of networking relating to our Corporate Social Resonsibility (CSR).

Therefore we initiate and stimulate projects such as „Welcome Neighbour!“, where tenant`s representatives welcome new tenants by showing them the tenement and by providing them with crucial information or the project „German for a good neighbourhood“, where tenant`s representatives organise role-playing for other tenants who have deficits in speaking German.

In these plays they re-enact every day situations like ordering some food in a restaurant or talking with the doctor. Another very successfull project are the „Learning-supporters“, where tenant`s representatives attend a pedagogical course at the adult education centre in order to get the abilities to teach children at home with learning difficulties.

SBHA, London, UK

The UK housing crisis means a chronic shortage of homes. In London we risk housing being only for the rich. One reason our founders set up SBHA in 1968 was to fight this. We do that today. We build diverse, inclusive communities that everyone benefits from.  In 1968 we committed to keeping tenants‘ needs and empowering them at the heart of our activities. We do that today. 

Methods have changed and we always look for innovation. That keeps us strong and means we continue to build homes and deliver life-changing services.  We look forward to learning more from our ERHIN peers.

ANDRIA Cooperativa di Abitanti, Italy

ANDRIA was originally a building cooperative but in the Nineties we turned into a cooperative of inhabitants.

To support this transformation, we further developed some 'skills' such as the capacity to listen to our members, to share and to participate. Our members ideas and their needs drive our research and all the projects we implement, combined with urban sustainability as well as economic and technical feasibility.

Our project ‘Coriandoline’ was developed to suit the needs of children, and put their ideas into practice. 700 kids, 50 teachers, 2 pedagogists and 20 technical experts were involved in the process which lasted for 4 years.

The ideas developed by the local kids have become an exceptional tool to measure quality of life in the city.

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