Contradictions of housing commons
This chapter investigates how different classes theorize and materialize projects—i.e. “actually existing options”—to address the housing shortage, and the tensions involved in conceptualizing the projects as actually existing urban commons. Since 1990, the commons have re-emerged on the left as one way to conceptualize various counter-neoliberal projects. Building Group (BG) is a model of cohousing in which people pool their financial assets, collectively engage in a design processes, subdivide the projects into owner-occupied, market rate units, and create an owners’ association to manage collective spaces and maintenance. Aside from benevolent intentions, the shared and semi-open spaces in Building Groups remain components that expose of members’ middle- and upper-middle-class status. Building Groups and MietshAuser Syndikat (MS) both involve commoning in that they require collective creation and management of housing. While both models incorporate co-production and co-maintenance of semi-open or shared space, one fundamental difference exists between BGs and MS.