Sense making designing!
In Finland, people have traditionally mainly lived in their own apartment or rent. As an intermediate form, right-of-occupancy housing has been offered. We made a simple reflection and found that instead of traditional rental housing, people should be offered the opportunity to get a new home on a lower threshold than owner-occupied housing, without a personal mortgage and at cost price. This cannot happen if the home is owned by someone else. Fortunately, in ARA (The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland), the matter was already resolved with the cooperative model.
We continued our reflection and found that the trend of a market economy, where ever-larger companies meet people’s daily needs, deprives residents of influence over their own housing and the price it pays. It was, therefore, necessary to turn the market economy in favour of the resident. If a company is worth investing in producing something, it is worth considering whether it might be worthwhile to produce that thing yourself. When a resident-owned company produces basic needs, they are made available at cost and even the opportunity to profit by selling excess production to the market. For example, everyone can consider the price of electricity. The electricity bill includes the price of electricity, the basic fee for electricity, the transmission fee, the basic fee for transmission, the electricity tax, VAT (including tax), the security of supply fee and even the handling fee. The consumer can bid for electricity, but everything else is given. But when electricity is generated and distributed by yourself, you can forget all of them. Sure, the investment has to pay off, but the payback times are remarkably short. Similar centralization solutions can also reduce consumption without giving up anything, but higher quality goods can be made available to everyone at a lower cost. Service and maintenance are also done centralized. A similar mindset is used in many things.
Indeed, as proved by studies, communality is something that improves the quality of housing. However, we did not want to make it a compulsion because many of us Finns feel comfortable with ourselves. That is why we approach communality through volunteering. Our solutions offer the opportunity for rich social interaction with neighbours, but housing can be enjoyed just as much as in any form of housing. Even then, you get financial benefits and freedom for yourself.
Finns are rooted in the idea that owner-occupied housing is a way to increase wealth. Well, that's how it is. Concerning rental housing, on the other hand, it is clear that the apartment owner accumulates his or her own property, and the rents are not refunded upon departure, except for the rental security. In our cooperative model, housing is paid a non-refundable rent. The paid cooperative contribution fee is refunded on departure, increased by an index increase, if the resident wants the cooperative to redeem the cooperative's share. However, the resident also has the opportunity to sell the share on the free market. The real value of the share increases as the cooperative's loans decrease and the balance sheet strengthens so that you can get a fair price for it. In other words, the assets can also be accumulated while living on rent.
The cooperative model or group building is not the only way to build new residential areas. We also offer our services to investors who want to produce quality and sustainable housing!