Co-City Turin: legal tools for citizen–municipal collaboration created to fight urban poverty

Co-City Turin: legal tools for citizen–municipal collaboration created to fight urban poverty

 

The City of Turin approved a Regulation for public collaboration on the urban commons in 2016, on the model of the Bologna Regulation with peculiar, context-related adaptation. In 2017, the City of Turin presented a project, admitted to funding within the context of the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) program. The “Co-City” project builds a policy program for the Co-City starting from the Regulation. The Co-City project builds on both previous experiences of the City with urban regeneration policies, fight against social inclusion, the Neighborhood Houses Network (Ferrero 2012), and on more recent proposals of innovative solutions for governing city commons or implementing a Co-City (Iaione 2016).

In particular, it looks at the transformation of abandoned structures and vacant land in hubs of resident participation, in order to foster the community spirit as well as the creation of social enterprises that will contribute to reduce urban poverty in different areas of the city. The implementation of the Regulation on the urban commons will be driven in Turin by the implementation of “pacts of collaboration” between residents or associations and local authorities, based in most of the cases on taking care of public spaces, or on the reuse of abandoned urban spaces and structures. The creation of new forms of commons-based urban welfare will promote social mixing and the cohesion of the local community, making residents actors of the urban change, while the local authority will act as facilitator of innovation processes already ongoing in the urban context.

The use of innovative ICT platforms, such as the urban social network First Life, developed by the University of Turin, and the active collaboration of the network of the Neighborhood Houses (Case del Quartiere),  will contribute to combine virtual and physical dimensions, involving different types of publics in the center, as well as in the suburbs of the city.

The regeneration of abandoned or underused spaces in different areas of the city will contribute to create new jobs in the social economy sector through the creation of new enterprises, which emerged along the process of residents’ participation initiated and facilitated by the city of Turin, together with the network of the Houses of the Neighborhoods. Moreover, the definition and the implementation of several pacts of collaboration will improve the participation of residents in different parts of the city, fostering the commitment of the citizens towards a more inclusive and cohesive city.

The role of the UIA program

It is through the «Co-City» Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) project that the City managed to invest in the urban commons as a lever for addressing key urban governance issues such as poverty, and target the most vulnerable communities in the city. In Turin, the UIA Co-City project is carried out through a partnership with the Computer Science Department and Law School of the University of Turin, the National Association of Municipalities (ANCI) and the Cascina Roccafranca Foundation as the leader of the Neighborhood Houses Network. It aims at coordinating the efforts of different urban actors in promoting the implementation of the Turin Regulation. The project provides the renewal of real estate and public spaces considered as urban commons, as instrument of social inclusion and poverty reduction in many deprived areas of the City. The project is coordinated by the City Department for Decentralization, Youth and Equal Opportunities.

The Neighborhood Houses is a policy and network that the city of Turin is implementing since 2006 (Ferrero 2012), which promotes the diffusion of community spaces all over the city. It represents a key platform for the project’s implementation. In the Neighborhood Houses Network, city inhabitants will find information on the Co-City project and the different opportunities it offers. There, they will find support for drafting proposals of pacts of collaboration as well as the opportunity to meet other city inhabitants interested in establishing a cooperation to take care or regenerate the same urban commons.

The first steps of the Co-City implementation

The first step of the UIA Co-City project was the public call for proposal of pacts of collaboration. The proposal addressed Turin’s city inhabitants. Launched by the City in June 2017, it was aimed at collecting citizens’ proposals for pacts of collaboration and therefore communicating with target beneficiaries and adopting a participative approach.

The call was a great success in terms of rate of civic participation with 115 proposals submitted. This result shows that the project stimulated civic participation and achieved quantitative success from the standpoint of the civic initiative for taking care of the public space. 54 pacts proposals out of the 115 submitted were admitted to the co-design phase. The majority of the proposals falls under measure C of the call, addressing the care of public space; the 37% of proposals falls under measure B, addressing the regeneration of platforms of public infrastructures; and the 6% for the pacts addressing measure A, peripheries and urban cultures. 54 proposals were admitted to the co-design phase. 1 proposal for measure A, 4 proposals for measure B, 12 proposals for measure B “schools”, and 49 proposals for the measure C were admitted to the co-design phase after the evaluation carried out by the City of Turin. The co-design phase started on the 28th of February and is still ongoing. The call for proposals for measure C is still open, so the number of pacts admitted to the Co-design phase will be constantly growing.

The pacts’ proposals are varied and rich (for a detailed analysis of the Co-City Turin process and the pacts of collaboration in particular, see the Co-City Project Journals). Among others, the Habitat proposal is aimed at intervening on a building in Via le Chiuse, District 4 of the City of Turin. The first floor of the building is occupied by the local health agency’s offices while the second floor is in disuse. The renovation work could change the internal disposition of the rooms, to host the pact’s activities.

The Casa Ozanam community hub proposal is presented by city inhabitants already active in the very same structure, who have previously revitalized it. The new program would allow to expand their offer, setting as its objective the realization of a new neighborhood house in District 5 of the city of Turin.

The proposals are distributed across Turin’s districts, although the peripheries received special attention. The neighborhoods often host former industrial areas that were interested in previous years by urban regeneration policies, or formerly rural areas turned into high-density residential neighborhoods. The typical case is the Falchera neighborhood, in District 6, that was already subject to urban regeneration policies in the nineties. The Falchera neighborhood is composed of two main areas, the Old Falchera built in the fifties and the new Falchera built in the seventies as part of a development project of the “INA-Casa” program, a state-level housing program which resulted in the creation of an isolated residential area for factory workers.

Christian iaione, UIA expert, carried out an analysis of the way the pacts’ proposals address the goal of counteracting urban poverty through an urban co-governance approach, rooted in the transfer of the governance of the commons theory to the city (UIA Co-City Turin Zoom in).  His analysis leads to two observations.

The first observation is that the goal of alleviating urban poverty is pursued through direct and indirect means: direct promotion of social and economic inclusion on the one hand, and urban regeneration on the other hand. The majority of the pacts, in fact, foresees low budget or medium budget interventions for the care of public spaces.  This is creating a key resource, namely social capital, which could be the stepping stone for new forms of non-monetary economies, and therefore strategies to fight urban poverty. Other pacts address urban poverty more directly by creating learning and income opportunities for the proponents (i.e. social cooperatives; NGOs involved in migrant’s integration), as well as offering forms of urban welfare to the neighborhoods inhabitants.

The second observation is related to the innovative legal and economic nature of the partnership created through the pacts of collaboration. A key turning point in this regard is the issue of risk aversion, a complex and priority issue faced by public officials at the urban level. The issue is of a primary importance for the EU, as the recently published Draft action plan of the Urban Partnership for Public procurement shows. The need for risk-takers inside any public administration is an issue that several scholars from law, economics, and policy studies are addressing. Mariana Mazzucato recently proposed to the European Commission a mission-oriented and public value approach to public investments to nurture innovation, which could be fruitfully applied to urban innovation processes like the UIA Co-City project.

The II Edition of URBACT Good Practices Festival – Bari, September 28-29

The II Edition of URBACT Good Practices Festival – Bari, September 28-29

After the success of the first edition, the National Network of Local Authorities (ANCI) is organizing the II Edition of URBACT Good Practices Festivalin Bari, Italy. In an effort to share and learn from the most inspiringurban innovation projects happening in the URBACT cities, the Festival will welcome experts, administrators, mayors, and researchers from all over Europe and Italy.

Providing a platform for the main European programme on sustainable urban development, the URBACT Festival represents a unique brainstorming occasion for public officials and experts in order to reflect on the most pressing issues of Italian cities and local communities.

The event will transform Bari in an open laboratory, with conferences and presentations taking place all over the city, focusing on a wide range of themes, starting from social innovation, quality of life, and governance and protection of common goods, to sustainable tourism, urban regeneration and re-use of public spaces. The work sessions will be organized in diverse venues around the city of Bari, like the Officina degli Esordi and the Teatro Margherita.

Starting from the good practices developed thanks to the URBACT network and financing, the Festival will provide a concrete overview of the actions and the promising prospects for the future of European cities investing in innovation and citizens participation.

From Milan and Lisbon, to Amsterdam and Turin, together with all the Italian cities participating in the URBACT programme, this event will foster new ways of thinking the city, departing from communality, sociability, participation and alternative uses of space.

Inscriptions have opened yesterday and already more than 200 people are participating in the event. For more information and to sign up for free, visit the Eventbrite page of the Festival and choose the sessions in which you want to participate.

The birth of the Community for the Public Park of Centocelle: the importance of local communities in preserving cultural heritage.

The birth of the Community for the Public Park of Centocelle: the importance of local communities in preserving cultural heritage.

Over the past three years, LabGov has been working on the city of Rome on the conditions that favors and hampers the development of a smart co-district in a metropolitan city. This hypothesis was pursued with a complex research strategy that started in 2015, is still ongoing and consisted in an application through adaptation of the Co-City protocol in the City of Rome. Info and materials are available here: www.co-roma.it. The first step was that of identifying a zone of urban experimentalism. The result of the first year of applied work resulted in the identification of an area, the Co-district “Roma Sud Est” composed of areas belonging to the V and VI Districts of the City of Rome, in particular the following neighborhoods: Alessandrino, Centocelle and Torre Spaccata. The Co-district “Roma Sud Est” represents a complex urban area because it is characterized by low indicators of social and economic fragility within the City of Rome. The VI District and in particular the urban area of Torre Spaccata presents the lowest level of Human Development Index, highest rates of poverty and of inequalities of the city. According to data on social and economic vulnerability of Rome’s neighborhoods these areas are inhabited mainly by elderly persons (more than 28% of the residents in Torre Spaccata); the Municipalities V and VI are the poorest in the city: the average income is 18.940 in the V, 17,069 in the VI; they have the lowest level of education: the average is 10.3 and 9.7 years respectively. The Human Development Index in the VI is the lowest in the city (0.455), slightly higher in the V (0.571). [1]After a long work of mapping and knowledge of the area through the organization of several cheap talks and site visits, LabGov started to collaborate with the local community and together they experimented new forms of collaborative urban governance.

The 1st December 2017 is an important date for this community, which is working for the preservation of the Archaeological Public Park of Centocelle and for the entire district. It is, in fact, the day in which the “Community for the Public Park of Centocelle” (hereinafter: CPPC) was institutionalized as an NGO[2]. Before the constitution, a co-design session and several cheap talks on field have been organized by LabGovers, putting local communities and their needs at the center. A large number of inhabitants has participated at this process: together with innovation experts and service designers, they have analyzed the territory and their needs, but also how they could contribute to the regeneration of their neighborhoods. At the end of these labs, a group of citizens decided to self-organise and to set up an association for the purpose of preserving and regenerating the Public Park of Centocelle resource and its heritage, which was in a state of complete abandonment and deterioration.

Figure 1 Co-design Lab in Casa della Cultura Villa De Sanctis, 22nd september 2016. Source: www.co-Roma.it

The CPPC is therefore the result of an intense work with the local community, based on the valorization and empowerment of its social capital.

According to the Statute of the CPPC, the work of the members will be based on the principles of civic collaboration and social responsibility towards the cultural heritage of the City of Rome. The CPPC is aimed, indeed at promoting and exploiting the historic, cultural and environmental heritage of the Archaeological Park of Centocelle, which is a complex resource: a cultural and environmental urban commons. It is for that reason that the CPPC has decided to initiate the procedures related to the recognition as Faro Community, taking inspiration by the principles of the Faro Convention signed at Lisbon on October 2015. As reported by the Council of Europe, a Faro Community “is a heritage community consisting of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations”. Hence, in order to transfer good practices also at the European level, the Association, among the different goals and activities set, is committed to organize regeneration activities in the Park, to promote walks and cultural activities such as workshop, meetings, aimed at involving the local community, increasing the participation and promoting a sustainable tourism and the creation of new cultural, social, polycentric and collaborative economies. For instance, the Community for the Public Park of Centocelle, in collaboration with others local NGOs like the Neighborhood Committee “Comitato di Quartiere di Torre Spaccata” and the NGO of bikers “Settimo Biciclettari” have organized several workshops about the archaeological and historic heritage of the area. The labs have taken place in several key places of the district and have been organized by important experts who have told the community the history of those places. Experimenting the culture as an entry point has been the main goal of these laboratories.

Moreover, CPPC is the community organizer of the “Civic Collaboration Day”, an all-day long itinerant journey throughout the co-district, during which several activities are organized: from walks to activities of community gardening, labs, kids’ games and concerts in order to cultivate the community and to live the neighborhoods in a different way. The third edition of the Civic Collaboration Day was held on May 5th 2018 in the so-called Co-District. During the day the CPPC, together with LabGov, LUISS University, ENEA and the Vth District of the City of Rome, have organized a heritage walk to promote a new way to live and discover the territory, thanks to the work done by the local community and new narratives of those places and who lives there, telling their histories, projects and experiences. Hundreds of persons have participated, walking or riding bikes, discovering the key places and taking part in several and different activities. The most exciting aspect of this day has been the wide participation and collaboration of local citizens in organizing the walk. Starting from the Park of Acquedotti in the neighborhood of Don Bosco, passing through Torre Spaccata, Centocelle and Tor Sapienza, the walk ended at FusoLab, in the Alessandrino neighborhood, which is a community hub that provides local services, organize cultural events and which works as a catalyst for the entire area and local community.

Figura 3 Heritage Walk during the Civic Collaboration Day, 5th May 2018. Source Facebook

In conclusion, it has been not only a walk, but the result of years of hard work of research and action carried out by experts, researchers and citizens to preserve and valorize the important heritage, of which they are the guardians.

 

[1] http://www.editricesapienza.it/sites/default/files/5664_Politiche_Urbane_Roma_web.pdf

[2]According to the reform of the so-called “third sector”, the law that regulates the social and not for profit sector approved in Italy on July 3rd 2017, “D.Lgs 3rd July 2017, n.117”

“Organizing, Promoting and Enabling Heritage Re-use through Inclusion, Technology, Access, Governance and Empowerment” (Open Heritage): a research project funded by Horizon 2020 for theorizing and testing inclusive governance models for adaptive heritage re-use

“Organizing, Promoting and Enabling Heritage Re-use through Inclusion, Technology, Access, Governance and Empowerment” (Open Heritage): a research project funded by Horizon 2020 for theorizing and testing inclusive governance models for adaptive heritage re-use

The Public Archaeological Park of Centocelle

LUISS University and LabGov have achieved an important goal at European level! They are, in fact, involved in the project “OpenHeritage” admitted to funding in the Horizon 2020 program: LUISS University is part of the interdisciplinary EU consortium for the realization of the project.

The project “Organizing, Promoting and ENabling HEritage Re-use through Inclusion, Technology, Access, Governance and Empowerment, (hereinafter: OpenHeritage)” aims at creating, testing and optimizing an inclusive governance model of adaptive heritage re-use and an interdisciplinary toolbox which will be tested in six diverse Cooperative Heritage Labs (CHLs) to produce usable and transferable results. The main idea behind the project is that abandoned or underused buildings, areas, which have a symbolic or practical value for heritage communities, represent also important instruments and opportunities to increase social cohesion, introduce innovative bottom-up economic activities and create employment opportunities.

Starting from the assumption that the heritage preservation and management efforts are often inefficient and unsustainable, and from the assumption that local communities can play an important role in solving this lack, the starting point of the project is the possibility of empowering the local community in the redevelopment process of cultural heritage sites. Hence, the work will be based on the concepts of heritage community and participatory culture. The methodology adopted is built on a case-study approach on the one hand, and an action research methodology on the other. An important goal of the project is the development of innovative financial tools in order to develop alternatives and to enable local communities and their actions to be economically sustainable.

The partnership

The project will be realized throughout four years (starting in June 2018/2021) by a large and diverse consortium composed by 16 participating organisations: Metropolitan Research InstituteEutropianUniversiteit GentNewcastle University, Humboldt Universität zu BerlinOddział Warszawski Stowarzyszenia ArchitektówICLEIEuroditeStiftung triasUniversita degli Studi Roma TreCenter for Urban History of East Central EuropeLUISS Libera Universita Internazionale Degli Studi Sociali Guido CarliPlatoniq Sistema CulturalCentral European UniversityCamara Municipal de LisboaTyne & Wear Building Preservation Trust. The lead partner and project coordinator is the Metropolitan Research Institute based in Budapest. LUISS University is a partner affiliated to the project through LabGov (LABoratory for the GOVernance of the Commons) and will bring a trans-disciplinary set of scholars; Christian Iaione (UniMarconi and LUISS school of Political Science, co-director of LUISS LabGov); Michele Sorice; (School of Political Science) Emiliana De Blasio (School of Political Science); Francesco Rullani; (School of Economy); Daniele Gallo (School of Law); Elena De Nictolis; (Phd Candidate, School of Political Science) and will bring on board other Phd students and post-doc researchers that will be selected in the upcoming months.  

The work plan and the role of LUISS-LabGov

The work plan consists in 6 working packages and the work is built around the following guidelines:

  1. Diagnose what works, and what does not, in the adaptive re-use of cultural heritage currently
  2. Identify the micro and macro level conditionality of good practice transferability
  3. Explore, create and test new tools and methods that advance the more efficient adaptive re-use of cultural heritage assets in term of societal value, economic and environmental sustainability
  4. Disseminate the results

LUISS University is involved in work packages number 2, 34, 5, 6 and 7: in  WP2, it will lead the task on the analysis of 16 Observatory Cases (OCs). The OCs are existing re-use cases, dispersed across Europe that provide the micro level perspective in the multi-level analytical framework of OpenHeritage. The OC analysis will be based on three main pillars of OpenHeritage:

  • community and stakeholder integration
  • resource integration  
  • regional integration

and will contribute to establishing new tools to support adaptive re-use, will provide ideas for the 6 CHLs and help to  identify the main bottlenecks and drivers of adaptive re-use today, also contributing to the work on the transferability matrix as well . The Luiss-LabGov team will play a major role in work package 4, which consists of setting up, managing and evaluating the six Cooperative Heritage Labs, which are adaptive re-use laboratories aimed at creating transferable and adaptable models across Europe. They are set up in different European regions covering several heritage types, having as a common denominator their collocation outside of main urban and touristic centres. One of the six CHLs selected is the Roman case of the Parco Arceologico of Centocelle, which is part of the wider project Co-Roma, carried out by LabGov in collaboration with ENEA, LUISS University and the local community. It is aimed at developing an idea of collaborative city by applying the five key design principles for the urban commons (urban co-governance, enabling state, experimentalism, poolism, tech justice) and more in general the CO-City Protocol, and creating a smart co-district. In the framework of the project the role of heritage will be explored as well, and new methods of using heritage as a catalyst for social development will be tried.

Steering Committee Meeting, LUISS University of Rome, June 14th 2018

First steps: the Open Heritage Consortium Meeting in Budapest (24-26 June 2018).

Work has already begun and in the past June, the project’s partners met in Budapest to know each other better, harmonise the approaches and working methods, and set out the guidelines for upcoming steps.

Several key words and concepts have arisen during the Open Heritage First Consortium Meeting, hosted by CEU, such as the important role played by cities in the field of open innovation, the concept of partnership as a new way of working and the importance of the evaluation process. The concepts of participatory heritage management and the possible uses of crowdsourcing were also explored. The days have been organized into site visits and several working sessions, during which the participants have started to define the next steps and strategies to be adopted and implemented during the next four years. They were full and interactive days: during the first day participants visited one of the six Cooperative Heritage Labs, the Pomáz-Nagykovácsi Cooperative Heritage Lab, and learned about the challenges of this peri-urban archaeological site.  The working sessions, instead, were held at CEU, at the end of which participants have participated in guided tours to the discovery of heritage re-use practices in contemporary Budapest.

Christian Darr, from Stiftung Trias, commented on the meeting that: “Within our first european research project we expected three days of work in Budapest – we haven’t been disappointed. But most of all it was really good to see motivated people from all over Europe – with different languages, educations, professions and experiences, but mostly with a common point of view and a strong basis for common work and plans – a little bit like meeting friends. Therefore we are very motivated and can’t wait to start with OpenHeritage!”

Picture from site Visit in Budapest, 26th June 2018

Working Session at CEU, Budapest,  25th June 2018


Un importante traguardo a livello europeo è stato raggiunto dall’Università LUISS Guido Carli insieme con LabGov. Sono, infatti, attivamente coinvolti nel progetto “Open Heritage”, finanziato dal programma europeo Horizon 2020: l’Università LUISS Guido Carli è una delle istituzioni facenti  parte del consorzio interdisciplinare europeo che provvederà alla realizzazione del progetto.

Il progetto Open Heritage (Organizing, Promoting and ENabling HEritage Re-use through Inclusion, Technology, Access, Governance and Empowerment) si occupa dei processi di rigenerazione del patrimonio urbano con un modello di sostenibilità basato sul coinvolgimento delle comunità locali.

House as a commons: from collaborative housing to community housing

House as a commons: from collaborative housing to community housing

Housing is one of the most serious urban issues: the Housing Europe 2015 Report described a dramatic situation marked by the lack of adequate housing, the increasing of social and housing polarization, phenomena of housing deprivation and  the reduction of affordability. In Italy, the last Federcasa-Nomisma report too has let emerge a difficult situation: the housing discomfort in 2014 involved 1.7 million households, touching both the Public Residential Building (ERP), and the non-ERP rentals. The social housing, even if able to offer leases lower than the market, cannot keep up with the growing demand; the Real Estate Funds System did not create enough accommodation to meet the housing demand. In addition, the last ISTAT report (2018) revealed the highest peak of absolute poverty since 2005, foreshadowing a possible increase of the housing emergency.

An important gathering to reflect about the Italian housing situation has been held in Matera (Basilicata) during the General Assembly of Federcasa[1], last June 27th -28th. A two-day conference introduced by a seminar event “House as a common. Public housing as a social infrastructure for urban regeneration and development”, organized by Federcasa in collaboration with LabGov – LUISS Guido Carli University and the ATER of Potenza and Matera. The event, with an international approach, was opened by the Federcasa President, Luca Talluri and moderated by the General Director, Antonio Cavaleri. It saw the presence of institutional actors and academic experts discuss the potentiality and critical issues of the new management and financing models for the public real estate. Among them also Professor Christian Iaione, which coordinated a recent research developed in collaboration with Federcasa to understand how to make the use of the existing housing stock more efficient and to investigate new models able to increase the availability of housing units and guarantee new ways of access.

The research “House as a Common: from collaborative to community housing”, presented during the conference and to be published in the next months, focuses on the analysis of new forms of living, currently under testing both in Italy and abroad, able to promote or facilitate initiatives of urban regeneration through processes of social, cognitive and technological innovation and to generate new forms of urban governance. In particular the national and European contexts, both in terms of legal systems and practices, analyzed in the report, have highlighted the relevance of new housing models in which the cooperation, sharing and collaboration are predominant. The report started from the Elinor Ostrom’s design principles, glimpsing in the cooperative and collaborative management model of living and in self-organized communities of residents an alternative way potentially able to give a new and effective answer to the housing problem. The Ostrom’s approach has been developed by Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione to adapt it to the urban context and the research used the five design principles identified by the two scholars through the field work of the “City as a Commons” approach to analyze the housing sector. Applying the Co-City approach to the housing sector means reading the current problematics through a different lens paving the way for the hypothesis that new housing models based on cooperation and collective forms of management can represent a concrete answer to the current housing shortage.

The research in particular analyzed and codified 73 Italian case studies, using the five design principles (urban co-governance, enabling state, economic and social pooling, experimentalism and tech justice) as empirical dimensions operationalized with qualitative indicators, taking inspiration from the Ostrom’s institutional analysis and from the Co-City database analysis, together with a hypothesis-generating and refining case studies methodology (Yin, 2014; Swanborn, 2010; Stake, 1995). In addition, an in-depth analysis through semi-structures interviews was made on 9 cases considered significant, extracted among those better able to show the main features and the dynamics to monitor under the Co-City protocol, and the main patterns emerged from the case selection.

In particular, in terms of co-governance, translating this Co-City reasoning at the housing level, allowed to retrace a three stages model: the simple building sharing (first degree of the co-governance gradient, sharing), collaboration or co-production of services operated by the actors involved in the housing project (second degree: collaboration) and co-management and co-ownership of the buildings by the actors involved (third degree: plycentrism). From the analysis emerged a tendency towards the polycentrism even if there are not completed forms of it. In Italy, in view of interesting experiences, they still situated at the first and second degree but allow to understand some crucial aspects: first of all how the implementation of complex levels of co-governance in the housing sector required to develop new multi-actors social partnerships forms (i.e. public-civic, public-private-civic, etc.) and an ecosystemic approach to realize the transition towards new forms of affordable housing. The role of the public actors (enabling state) appears as a key element that favors the success of the housing projects and the presence of economic and social pooling processes through collaboration enables positive externalities of public utility for the local community. In addition, the civic element seems to be a better guarantee in the creation of truly collaborative projects and the presence of the private actor can influence the development of the project especially in economic terms.

Nevertheless, there are some critical aspects underlined by the research: 1. A geographical imbalance in the distribution of the innovative experiences (the main innovative projects are located in the North and Central Italy, while the South still strive to find solutions in terms of housing affordability, the involvement of the public actor is still very marginal and the offer proposed by the active actors on the housing sector remains mainly private in nature); 2. Beneficiaries are mainly part of the so-called grey segment of population (people that cannot access to the traditional real estate market and not even to the public housing) and not the weakest; 3. Urban regeneration does not necessarily go through the re-circulation of disused public or private buildings; 4. With the Integrate Fund System often the public actors provide the land or the real estate but at the end the public resource benefits mainly the private actors and the fund becomes in this process a kind of privatization of the ERP system, hence the system should be rethought in order to avoid the risk to reproduce the same market fails of the public-private partnerships.

What emerges from the research is that the public support becomes more effective when combined with the private sector and the civic component in order to favor the shared use of the commons, maintain a high level of experimentalism, encourage the use of technological innovations and the spirit of collaboration. What is still missing is a widespread administrative favorable context, that is the enabler infrastructure required to spread these emerging models (Aernouts and Ryckewaert, 2017). Therefore implementing models that enhance the universalistic role of the public housing agencies considering the activation of multi-stakeholders partnership inside new co-governance models, could help to face the more dramatic situations and cover more segments of population looking for a housing solution (Aernouts and Ryckewaert, 2018).

From the analysis, the research identified the Community Land Trust[2] as the tool better able to reach the level of polycentrism, since it is a model of property cooperativism able to realize stable partnerships among the public institutions and the so-called “public as community” – inhabitants, civil society organizations, cognitive institutions). The CLT is a community-centered model that tends to connect the diverse autonomous centers of a city, foreseeing a property scheme; while the sharing and collaborative experiences observed in Italy are mainly based on the use and management of the housing property without opening to the wide community. The research suggests that in Italy this solution could be introduced experimenting the potentialities of legal forms such as the community cooperatives, the participatory foundations, and other forms of social partnership and administrative tools already existing in the Italian legal background. What is required is a contextual-based method applied through a preliminary experimental process inspired by the principle of the administrative self-organization of the local authorities and by the civic autonomy considering the specific variables of the urban social context and the institutional capacity. In this sense adopt an Advisory Board could be helpful to support the local governments and the agencies of public housings.

Besides the research “House as a commons: from collaborative to community housing” the conference saw the speeches also of other experts: Laura Fregolent from the IUAV University presented a research on Venice estimating the crisis impact on the housing sector and suggesting to rethink the city starting from a wide-ranging knowledge of the local contexts. Alice Pittini, research coordinator of Housing Europe, explained how the principles of self-management, empowerment and co-creation can be integrated in the housing theme. Joaquin the Santos from the CLT Brussels presented the Community Land Trust operating in Brussels.  Nestor Davidson, professor of law at the Fordham University, via skype call, explained how the American public housing works, going throw historical and political steps, stressing the concept of neighborhood effect, highlighting how the crisis is generating new housing models, talking about the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program, presenting some best practices such as the Common Property Funds or the New Yorker’s legislation to provide low-income citizens with access to counsel for wrongful evictions. In particular Nestor Davidson emphasized how the uncertainty of federal funding, as well as the political polarization, have led to social innovations and new models demonstrating that public and private can work together simply finding new tools to do it at best. Edoardo Reviglio from Cassa Depositi e Prestiti remembered the success of the old GESCAL founds and the importance to rethink the Piano Casa in order to consider the weakest segment of population.

Professor Iaione proposed some closing food for thought for the future:

  1. Knowledge: it’s important to note that a new social pact is already being re-established between those who manage the housing projects and those who live there and today there are already new solutions in the housing sector, hence we should start from the critical issues to understand how overcome them;
  2. Pluralism: the public actor is not alone, it can count on the communities and on a plurality of emerging solutions, actors and tools, from which the public houses should be reconceived as social infrastructures;
  3. Neighborhood effect: the housing agencies can be urban, but also social end economic, regeneration agents acting as engine of local development;
  4. Institutional capability: testing before and evaluating after, should be the guiding concepts before any concrete action or change in the normative frames.

The conference was closed by the President of Federcasa which also stressed the importance to start from what already exist in the Italian context to experiment new solutions, looking to processes of regeneration that are urban as well as social and economic.

[1] Federcasa is an association bringing together 114 public housing companies and housing bodies at the provincial, communal and regional level. Members of Federcasa provide over 850.000 social dwellings to low and middle income households, partly financed by public funding.

[2] TCP’s articles about CLTs available here.


Il mondo delle case popolari si è incontrato a Matera il 27/28 Giugno 2018 in occasione dell’Assemblea Generale di Federcasa. Un appuntamento arricchito dal convegno “Casa Bene Comune. Le case popolari come infrastrutture sociali per la rigenerazione e lo sviluppo urbano”, organizzato da Federcasa in collaborazione con l’Università LUISS Guido Carli e le ATER di Matera e Potenza. Diversi esperti, tra cui anche il prof. Nestor  Davidson in collegamento skype dalla Fordham University di New York, sono intervenuti per discutere delle potenzialità e delle criticità delle nuove formule di gestione e finanziamento dell’edilizia residenziale pubblica. In particolare è stata presentata la ricerca “Casa Bene Comune: dall’housing collaborativo all’housing di comunità”, coordinata dal prof. Christian Iaione che ha investigato nuovi modelli di abitare capaci di aumentare la disponibilità abitativa e garantire nuove formule di accesso.