The collective response to the property crisis

By Audrey SomnardMisch Pautsch Switch to French for original article

What if there were more than one person buying a property? The idea of a property cooperative is a model well known to the Swedes. In Luxembourg, projects of this kind are struggling to get off the ground. Here is why.

There's no need to go back over the housing crisis that has hit Luxembourg, with prices too high despite the recent fall that has sent shivers through the entire property and construction sector. Luxembourg is building very little and prices remain high due to a lack of supply. It's a discussion that has been agitating politicians for several decades now, with the focus until now having been on demand. Encouraging access to property, whatever the price. But the current housing crisis is nothing new. This is what we learned from Jan Rydén Bonmot, an author, artist and historian trained in economics, who came from Sweden to give a presentation in Luxembourg a few weeks ago on his book, ‍En humanistisk klassicism (A humanist classicism), which deals with the golden age of housing cooperatives in Sweden between 1915 and 1930. The lecture was entitled "Swedish Grace: How housing cooperatives kickstarted in 1920s Stockholm". He was invited by the "April initiative" collective, which aims to open up an interdisciplinary dialogue by proposing solutions to the housing crisis.

The Swedish capital was in the grip of a serious housing crisis at the beginning of the 20th century, and the 1920s were marked by a movement that would change the Swedish real estate landscape forever: housing cooperatives. In just a few years, more than 2,500 homes for working-class people were built, with individual bathrooms – a rarity at the time. Affordable housing that was also of good quality and aesthetically pleasing. How did the Swedes achieve this feat?

A quick look back in time. In 1915, Sweden was a very different place to what it is today. At the time, it was one of the poorest and most unequal countries in Europe. "Spanish flu had decimated the population, inflation was at an all-time high and property speculation was in full swing. A situation not unlike our post-Covid era, " says the artist. Tenants were at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who took advantage of the low supply.

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