English representation of our cooperative
We prepared a small representation of our cooperative as an English language service for you. It may help you to get an overview of what we do and what we are
Representation of our cooperative
The SelbstBau e.G. is a housing cooperative, whose main objective is the provision of accommodation at moderate rent levels for its members. We run socially-oriented and mixed-generation projects, Furthermore, we work as a non-profit organization, and, in a way that we stand outside the mainstream of the housing market. We regard ourselves as a grass-roots democracy initiative, our residents play an active role in the cooperative and furthermore, each house project itself is a financial unit, so you can say responsible.
In addition, our cooperative promotes high ecological standards with regard to the construction of buildings, energy supply and consumption and the sustainable management of the houses.
How do we understand housing cooperative
A cooperative is a socially-oriented business that is run by people who invest time and money for their mutual benefit. These people aim to achieve common economic, social and cultural goals.
The main idea is based on the principles of the member’s promotion, self-help, self-responsibility and self-administration. In a cooperative, the aid of members is the main point of work. For a housing cooperative, it means that it provides its members with suitable accommodation. The members do not own a particular flat, but a virtual share of the cooperative.
History of the SelbstBau e.G.
Our cooperative had its beginnings in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) — in 1988. At this time, Germany was divided into two states and so was Berlin. In the eastern and socialist part of Berlin, the government planned to pull down many buildings from the late 19th century, to build new housing stock in form of precast concrete slabs in inner city areas.
In the east-district of Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, there was one of the first successful citizen initiatives where the local people managed to avoid the termination of their houses they lived in. The government gave up their former ideas; instead, it planned to provide funds and to engage in the maintenance and refurbishment of the houses.
However, the process of refurbishment of this old houses in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg, especially in Rykestrasse, fell in the time of the break-up of the socialist government in GDR named East Germany in 1989 and the process of unification of the two German states.
In the course of unification, the common law and value system of the GDR was replaced with the political and economic system of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) named West Germany as it is known today. This included changes in ownership structures and the institutional regulation of the housing sector. After 1989, there was the possibility to buy or rent houses in the former socialist part of Berlin.
At this time, housing and living conditions in East Berlin’s inner city areas were quite poor, notably the technical and energy standards of the housing stock.
So, the SelbstBau e.G. was established in 1990 because the legal construct of a housing cooperative allowed the residents of the houses at Rykestraße number 13/14 in the district of Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg to buy and refurbish their houses as well as to apply for government funding. By doing so, they managed to improve living conditions and to keep the property under control.
In the next two years, other initiatives got in contact with the SelbstBau e.G., this started a discussion process within the SelbstBau whether to expand the cooperative and to purchase and include more houses to gave other citizen initiatives the opportunity to acquire and refurbish houses with the support of SelbstBau. By now our cooperative had acquired 20 houses.
The SelbstBau mainly invests in projects where they can be sure that the prospective residents are interested in contributing actively to the development of the project, for example by using their manpower and other resources. The SelbstBau itself is to be understood as an umbrella association for the different resident initiatives.
Structure of the SelbstBau
The regulatory framework for a cooperative is always made up of a board of directors, an executive board and an assembly of members. It is the same for the SelbstBau e.G.
Today, we have about 500 individual members. Most of them are residents in one of the 23 projects from the SelbstBau e.G.; these people form the assembly of members.
The assembly of members elects the board of directors. The board of directors consists of one member of each house. The board of directors’ task is, among other things, to appoint the executive board from the SelbstBau. At the moment, the executive board has two members. They are responsible for the management of finances, property and members as well as for the representation of the SelbstBau e.G..
The executive board is accountable to the board of directors, and the board of directors is accountable to the assembly of members.