We create housing space for about 40 people in the former Dinterhaus at the intersection of Niddastraße and Karlstraße in the main-station district of Frankfurt/Main. We are convinced that permanently affordable housing space can only be created collectively and beyond the commercial real estate market.
During the last couple of years, the urban housing market has changed dramatically. Rents are rising constantly and make for a growing part of people’s living expenses. There is almost no affordable housing space left in inner city areas. Even though city officials meanwhile have at least acknowledged the problem, no solutions are to be expected. The rules of the real estate market, allegedly impossible to regulate, rather serve as an excuse not to act.
We maintain housing space for about 42 inhabitants in the former office building at Niddastraße 57. The conversion of office buildings into residential space in Frankfurt am Main (with 1.7 million sqm of vacant office spaces) is an obvious way to counteract the prevailing trend towards high-priced condominiums that are out of reach for the majority of people.
Creating collective property
We are convinced that permanently affordable housing space can only be created collectively and beyond the commercial real estate market. Only then can we actively prevent housing space from becoming an object for investment and speculation. The model of the Mietshäuser Syndikat (Syndicate of Tenements) offers the opportunity and the necessary experience to create housing space beyond the market.
Unlike conventional forms of property, buildings acquired through the Syndicate’s model can not be sold out and therefore can never become the object for real estate speculation. We see this as a political project that brings many different people together in creating their own structures of deliberation and decision-making in order to counteract individual dependencies on landlords, rental price developments and return assumptions.
Who We Are And How We Want to Live
We are 42 inhabitants with different backgrounds. We are workers, academics, artists, unemployed people, and students; among us are children, parents, old and young people, most of us are from the Rhein-Main-area. We decided a while ago to organize for better living and working conditions in the area, where the housing situation has become intolerable. We aim to establish permanently affordable housing for new forms of collective living.
Collective living means more than just a mere coexisting within a large apartment building. The experience of solidarity already begins with planning and realizing the project. But collective living also means the possibility to jointly organize everyday activities such as shopping, cleaning and cooking and to attempt to satisfy our needs in a more ecologically sustainable fashion. Collective living also enables us to organize care work across gender and generational boundaries.
The organization of the Syndicate of Tenements exists for more than 20 years now. Its main purpose is to withdraw housing space from the commercial real estate market. It offers advice, financial support and helps with the overall organization of the project. So far, it has helped create housing space for over 1,800 people in 112 houses all over Germany. Essential to the Syndicate’s model is that the residents decide on all matters concerning the house, but they don’t privately own any of its space.
The official owner of the house is a limited liability company (LLC, in German: GmbH for Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung), whose shareholders are on the one hand the collective association of rent-paying tenants, and on the other hand the Syndicate as the association of all the other house projects. Thus the Syndicate has merely the right to veto against possible attempts to re-privatize the building. In this way it is guaranteed that the house remains a project of collective living, even if individual residents move in or out. By having the syndicate as a shareholder of the LLC, real estate speculation as well as hostile takeovers are prevented.
The Syndicate of Tenements is a true success story: In Tübingen, Hamburg and Berlin the city already officially funds resident’s self-organization within the Syndicate; and in Freiburg entire neighborhoods are being created using the Syndicate’s model. More information about the Syndicate can be found here (English version available): http://www.syndikat.org/en
How are we financing the project?
The purchase of the house and its revitalization are organized by a grassroots initiative and are thereby independent from the income and wealth of the future residents. We hope to generate widespread interest and support in our personal social environment and hopefully also by the residents of Frankfurt am Main and elsewhere in order to raise the required equity capital. While we depend on donations, we rely even more on direct loans of various sizes to fulfill our plan.
What is a direct loan?
We are raising the required equity capital with low-interest direct loans. Direct loans are loans that are given to the project by private individuals or groups without taking a detour via a bank. The interest rates can be determined by the lenders between zero and 1.5 percent. These loans count as equity capital and thereby enable us to apply for larger bank loans and state subsidies. Banks and institutions have already agreed to support the project if we are able to collect the required amount for equity capital. The financing model based on direct loans and third party support has in the last twenty years helped realize over 112 housing collectives under the umbrella of the Syndicate of Tenements.
How can I support the project?
Please consider supporting this project by giving a direct loan. With your loan, you will support a politically and socially committed housing cooperative that seeks new ways to address the housing crisis. We are happy to give you more information about possible support and/or the direct loan contract forms in a personal conversation. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we are happy to answer your questions.
Hausprojekt NiKa e.V. & GmbH
Niddastraße 57 // 60329 Frankfurt am Main