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The MOBA Housing network opens a new possibility for a wide range of people who currently cannot afford to buy an apartment, but would join in a more affordable approach to it. For example: young people who want to become independent, people without a permanent job, people with average or lower income, as well as those who are looking for a community in which they could live differently. MOBA now breaks ground with a novel cooperative approach in Central-Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

The housing issue

Housing across South-Eastern and Central-Eastern Europe is in crisis:

  • Housing is almost entirely left to market forces, but many households do not have the necessary capital to acquire an apartment nor qualify for a mortgage.
  • Households struggle to cover basic housing expenses, with the result that they are under threat of disconnection from utilities (heating, electricity, etc.), and may even be threatened with eviction.
  • Many people are unable to afford their own apartment. Particularly for young people, this leads to an unhealthy dependence on older generations, increasing the existing pressures that cause many to leave the country.

Across the region, new co-operative housing developments are being explored by pioneering groups. They respond to this housing emergency – unaffordability, speculation, negligible amount of social housing – and now take the lead in reinventing affordability of housing from the bottom up.

MOBA housing model

The MOBA model puts affordability of housing first, while taking away the pressure from individuals in resolving their housing condition. It is centered around a cooperative of inhabitants that collectively develops, finances, maintains and operates a multi-apartment building. Because it controls the entire trajectory (and does not need to make profit), the resulting apartments are much more affordable for the inhabitants.

The cooperative owns the real-estate as well as takes on the necessary loans to pay for its construction. Participating households or individuals (the members of the cooperative) thus collectively own their building. And keep it there, because individual members or households cannot speculate with their apartment – in that way it is not just a safe and affordable option for the first generation, but for many generation of its inhabitants to come.

As an inhabitant of a MOBA apartment, you pay a one-time entry fee (deposit) and a monthly contribution (“rent”) that covers both the costs of the apartment as well as a predetermined amount for the utility costs (water, electricity, etc.) – so you always know what you are up to.

In short:

  • collective ownership: real estate is bought or constructed and owned by the cooperative
  • credit is assumed by the cooperative, thus handling risks in a more robust way
  • cooperative membership gives access to stable long term use of a unit
  • members contribute financially (on a monthly basis) and through participation (investment)
  • affordable monthly costs ensures that all units are sustainably affordable for their inhabitants

MOBA is based on experience from other recent co-operative housing developments: so while it is new to South-Eastern and Central-Eastern Europe, it has been already tested elsewhere in Europe.

Tools and resources

While re-inventing housing from the ground up, we have recognised that we need to become experts in all the relevant aspects involved: from project management, legal issues all the way to detailed cost analysis. This allows us to take control of the entire trajectory.

As a result, we are developing a common pool of skills, resources and tools that are available to the participating teams.

In addition, we have developed an advanced costs-calculation and life-cycle costs analysis model: OpenFRM. It allows us to have a detailed insight in the costs of developing, maintaining and operating multi-apartment buildings. OpenFRM is now being made available as an open-source tool to similar pioneering initiatives.

About MOBA network

We are a network of pioneering housing cooperatives from Belgrade (Ko gradi grad), Budapest (Rákóczi Collective),  Ljubljana (Zadrugator), Prague (Sdílené domy) and Zagreb (Cooperative for Ethical Financing)  with support from the Cooperative for Ethical Financing, Socialni inovatori, FairCoop, Heinrich Böll Foundation, urbaMonde and World Habitat. We respond to similar problems of access to housing and affordability of housing in our cities, have come up with a common approach based on the co-operative model, and have innovative solutions in our work of introducing a novel approach to housing. We believe together we can overcome these obstacles and make a breakthrough for a new model of cooperative housing!

In 2017, we decided to join forces and meet regularly to build the necessary pool of expertise, capacities and (financial) instruments to launch our pilot projects in our region.