In the framework of the ‘Yes, We Rent!’ project, the city of Mataró accompanied and supported the creation of a tenants’ cooperative through citizens to manage the flats they mobilised during the project. These flats have become the foundation of an affordable housing stock under the management of the tenants’ cooperative that will continue to incorporate new flats for affordable housing after the end of the EU-project ‘Yes, We Rent!’.
After the process for attracting owners to the affordable housing scheme had begun, in February 2020, the Yes We Rent! partner Fundació Unió de Cooperadors made a call to citizens to participate in the constitution of a cooperative. Around 50 citizens went to a first meeting, which soon led to a core group of ten who withstood the difficulties that the pandemic imposed to develop the cooperative. Of this group, 2 people were eventually contracted to become the first technical team to accompany the process of constitution of the tenants’ cooperative Bloc Cooperatiu. For further information read the ‘zoom-in’: Mataró’s Tenants Housing Cooperative for affordable rental housing.
There was a contradiction between the usually lengthy process of setting up a housing cooperative and the context of an EU-funded project, with its expectation to have a cooperative running within a relatively short time. The restrictions imposed due to the pandemic also made it difficult for the founding members of the cooperative to meet, to build trust among each other and to develop the project further.
Another particularity is that ‘Yes, We Rent!’ - as a municipality led project, set up a cooperative “from above”, with the city council being present from the outset and providing support accompaniment. These atypical conditions created frictions, but they helped to put the focus from the outset on the project as a pilot for testing the potential of tenant's cooperatives as an instrument of public housing policies.
The engagement of the founding members together with the public support and the resources made available through the EU project helped Bloc Cooperatiu to take off very quickly. For legal reasons, the municipality could not become a member in the cooperative, as initially planned, which means that other legal forms of institutional or contractual cooperation had to be defined for the time after the end of the EU-funded project.