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, 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 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:
- 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;
- 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;
- Neighborhood effect: the housing agencies can be urban, but also social end economic, regeneration agents acting as engine of local development;
- 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.
 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.
 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.
Urbinclusion Local Support Group. Towards the community welfare. The economic question in the public-private partnership: regulation, responsibility, governance.
A workshop of the Local Support Group of the Urbact Network Urbinclusion takes place today, Tuesday 10 July 2018, from 3.30 to 6.00 pm. The workshop will be held at Corso Castelfidardo 30 in Turin.
Institutional greetings by Marco Giusta and Paola Pisano will open the day. Then, the URBinclusion Implementation Plan – LSG will be presented by the Special Project, Innovation, Smart City, the European funds of the City of Turin. This will be followed by the presentation of the UIA Co-City Project by the AxTO Project Service, Beni Comuni, Periferie of the City of Turin.
The interventions section will follow: S & T and SocialFare will talk about “Economic models applied to public-private partnerships in the case of community welfare projects”. Subsequently, a representative of the Neighborhood Houses Network of Turin on “The management of economic activities: opportunities and constraints”. Finally, Alessandra Quarta, a researcher of the Department of Law of the University of Turin will make an intervention on the “Legal and governance aspects in the forms of public-private collaboration, from the grant to the collaboration agreements”.
The second part of the event consists in a Roundtable on the issue “What governance?”. The roundtable is composed by representatives of the institutional and civic actors participating in the Urbinclusion network and are now active in the implementation of the UIA Co-City Project. Both policy programs are funded by the EU and aimed at promoting social and economic inclusion in the City’s outskirts and are facing the related economic sustainability challenges.
Progetto Speciale, Innovazione, Smart City, fondi europei della Città di Torino; Servizio Progetto AxTO, Beni Comuni, Periferie della Città di Torino, Valter Cavallaro, Gianni Ferrero; Servizio Area Patrimonio della Città di Torino; Servizio Area Partecipazioni Comunali della Città di Torino; Attori del tavolo Azioni collettive del progetto Boostinno; Compagnia di San Paolo; UIA Expert, Christian Iaione; ANCI, Simone D’Antonio; Beneficiari di Co.City (tipologia A e B); Unito- Dipartimento di Informatica, Guido Boella; Città Metropolitana, Claudia Fassero. Moderatori: Fabrizio Barbiero (Città di Torino) e Matteo Tabasso (SiTI)
Urbinclusion Local Support Group. Verso il welfare di Comunità. La questione economica nella partnership pubblico-privato: normativa, responsabilità, governance.
Si svolge oggi, martedì 10 luglio 2018 dalle ore 15.30 alle 18.00 il workshop del Local Support Group del Network Urbact Urbinclusion. Il workshop si terrà presso Corso Castelfidardo 30 a Torino.
Dopo i saluti istituzionali a cura dell’Assessore Marco Giusta e Paola Pisano, sarà presentato l’ URBinclusion Implementation Plan -LSG a cura del Progetto Speciale, Innovazione, Smart City, fondi europei della Città di Torino. Seguirà la presentazione del Progetto UIA Co-City Torino a cura del Servizio Progetto AxTO, Beni Comuni, Periferie della Città di Torino.
Seguirà la sezione degli interventi: S&T e SocialFare parleranno dei “Modelli economici applicati a partnership pubblico-private nel caso di progetti di welfare di comunità”. Successivamente, un rappresentante della Rete delle Case del Quartiere su “La gestione delle attività economiche: opportunità e vincoli”. Infine, la ricercatrice del Dipartimento di Giurisprudenza UniTo farà un intervento sugli “Aspetti giuridici e di governance nelle forme di collaborazione pubblico-privato, dalla concessione ai patti di collaborazione”.
La seconda parte della giornata prevede una tavola rotonda: Quale governance?
Alla tavola rotonda parteciperanno rappresentanti di realtà civiche e istituzionali impegnate in Urbinclusion e adesso nel progetto Co-City Torino, entrambi finanziati dall’Unione Europea ed entrambi focalizzati sulla promozione dell’inclusione sociale ed economica nelle periferie della città di Torino: Progetto Speciale, Innovazione, Smart City, fondi europei della Città di Torino; Servizio Progetto AxTO, Beni Comuni, Periferie della Città di Torino, Valter Cavallaro, Gianni Ferrero; Servizio Area Patrimonio della Città di Torino; Servizio Area Partecipazioni Comunali della Città di Torino; Attori del tavolo Azioni collettive del progetto Boostinno; Compagnia di San Paolo; UIA Expert, Christian Iaione; ANCI, Simone D’Antonio; Beneficiari di Co.City (tipologia A e B); Unito- Dipartimento di Informatica, Guido Boella; Città Metropolitana, Claudia Fassero. Moderatori: Fabrizio Barbiero (Città di Torino) e Matteo Tabasso (SiTI).
From Wednesday 20 to Sunday 24 June Pakhuis de Zwijger (Amsterdam Metropolitan Area) will host the We Make The City Festival. Five days celebrating the urban living by collectively debate the challenge of making better cities. This huge event will erupt in the streets of Amsterdam with 30 urban talks, 50 workshops, 30 city expeditions, 15 special events, and 10 exhibitions bringing together 600 local, national and international speakers, and 30.000 participants including municipal workers, inhabitants, active citizens, commuters, and visitors to talk about the most urgent urban issues like climate, safety, affordable housing, and health.
LabGov will participate in the session – on Thursday 21 June – about Co-Creating the City contributing to answering the question “How does co-creation work in the urban practice?”. The notion of co-creation evokes and resonates the one of co-governance in raising awareness and addressing the need of a collaborative city-making approach able to include different type of urban stakeholders (knowledge institutions, businesses, start-ups, SMEs, welfare organizations, social innovators and the government) for a more inclusive, innovative and sustainable urban development.
In the context of a full day debate with representative of European municipalities, foundations, citizens and civil society associations – including Amsterdam, Athens, Ghent, Groningen, Lisbon, Madrid, Nantes, Reykjavik, Rotterdam, and Vienna – a well as researchers from worldwide knowledge institutions – like Harvard University, LabGov São Paulo and San José State University – and international networks like the Project for Public Spaces; LabGov will share the added value of the Co-City approach leading a panel to discuss “Infrastructure and the Co-City: How Might We Make Urban Infrastructure Work for Everyone?”.
Christian Iaione (Professor of Urban Law and Policy at LUISS University, and LabGov Co-Director), Sheila Foster (Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Georgetown), Simone D’Antonio (URBACT), Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes (New Orleans Business Alliance), Marcella Arruda (Instituto A Cidade Precisa de Você, LabGov São Paulo) and Joachim Meerkerk (PhD researcher, Amsterdam University of Applied Science) – in a break-out session facilitated by Alicia Bonner Ness – will address the issue of how the Co-City approach can help city leaders and city-makers in serving collective needs leveraging public-community cooperation.
Key in the discussion will be the focus on infrastructures. Not only because urban infrastructures are the main resources in becoming urban commons if collaborative managed and collectively shared; but especially because this multi-stakeholder and democratic management of common goods is itself co-creating new infrastructure of urban governance. According with the Co-City methodology, in fact, the creation of a collaborative social and economic ecosystem will be transitioning urban governance from urban commons projects to the City as a Commons.
Another interesting highlight of the week will be the participation of Professor Christian Iaione in the EMMA experts event in The Hague on Wednesday 20 June that will also be focused on collaborative partnership between local public authorities, social innovators and civil society in the co-creation of the city that is the basis of the quintuple helix theory of the Co-City approach.
Find the complete program of the Festival on the official website: https://wemakethe.city/nl/programma
Dal 20 al 24 giugno Pakhuis de Zwijger (Amsterdam) ospiterà il We Make The City Festival: cinque giorni dedicati alla celebrazione dell’urban living attraverso un dibattito collettivo su come migliorare le nostre città. LabGov terrà, nella sessione “Co-Creating the City” un panel sull’approccio Co-Cities dal titolo “Infrastructure and the Co-City: How Might We Make Urban Infrastructure Work for Everyone” e una break-out session facilitata da Alicia Bonner Ness.
A discussion about Principles and Practices for Urban Commons Law and Regeneration in the framework of URBACT 2nd Chance Network
Today, 19 April 2018, LabGov will participate to the Final Event of the URBACT 2nd Chance – Waking up the “sleeping giants” project in Naples.
The URBACT 2nd Chance project aim at defining actions, strategies and ideas for the reactivation vacant large buildings and building complexes that are in decay, derelict and losing their original purpose, through a participatory urban governance approach, in order to awake their potential to provide space for needed functions in the city and to support a sustainable city and neighbourhood development.
The project created a large European Network of Local group members, local authorities and urban partners that tested and applied, in the last 3 years, a new collaborative approach resulted in the Integrated Action Plans of the 11 cities of Europe that will be presented and discussed with a wider audience of urban professionals, decision-and change-makers from 18 to 20 April in Naples.
In this framework, Professor Christian Iaione, LabGov Faculty Director and URBACT Expert, will contribute to the discussion by sharing concepts, methodology and experiences of urban governance and economy based on years of researches and practices of applying and adapting Elinor Ostrom principles of collaborative management for economic and environmental sustainability to commons in urban contexts.
Ostrom in the City: Design Principles and Practices for the Urban Commons
The integrated and participatory urban renewal strategies experienced by the URBACT 2nd Chance projects involving cooperatives, builders’ groups, associations or foundations as well as self-organised citizens and communities to give new social and ecological sustainability to vacant large buildings are in line with the thinking and experimentation of LabGov that to achieve social, economic and institutional regeneration of urban areas, it is necessary to experiment “urban co-governance“, according to which public authorities shall enable the collective action of city inhabitants and invest on the creation of collaborative partnerships with and/or between city inhabitants, knowledge institutions, NGOs and businesses.
LabGov will be thus in the event in Naples looking forward to get new inputs, to share knowledge and best practices and to network with active urban actors from all Europe.
More info about the event here:
In my previous post I presented the phenomenon of Social Street and different ways of these neighbourhood communities to interact with their urban local government. After its publication I had the chance to discuss about it with Luigi Nardacchione, administrator and member of the group Residenti in Via Fondazza – Bologna, and founder – together with Federico Bastiani – of the website Social Street Italia. Our conversation was useful for resuming what has been said about Social Street so far and to clarify once more what we are exactly talking about.
Luigi Nardacchione and Federico Bastiani, administrators of the group “Residenti in Via Fondazza – Bologna” and founders of the website Social Street Italia. Credits: Facebook group Residenti in Via Fondazza – Bologna.
At the question what Social Street is, this is the usual and immediate Luigi’s answer: Social Street is sociality. «The aim is to facilitate the relationships and the acquaintance of neighbours, to re-create the sense of sociality». Sociality, therefore, is the most important goal to reach. All the initiatives, that every Social Street organizes – such as parties, walking tours, cooking laboratories, cleaning of the green public spaces, organisation of second hand markets, etc – have the single purpose to stimulate citizens in socialising. They represent a way, an “excuse”, to gather neighbours around common projects and interests. The will of maintaining members’ relations as first and main goal refers to the concept of «pure sociability», considered the most authentic and transparent model of interaction. In this perspective, sociality becomes a value and a good in itself.
A higher attention towards the urban territory arises in Social Streets’ members as a consequence of the increase in sociability and in activities done together in the area of residence. Indeed, the fact that meetings and events are organized in the neighbourhood makes residents more aware of public spaces: «we feel the territory as our own house, we claim it and we take care of it». This dimension has been already underlined by some members of the group Residenti in Via Fondazza whom I interviewed three years ago. After the Social Street creation and after meeting the neighbours living in the street, they recognize the sidewalks, the arcades and the street in general as an extension of their home. This brings members of Social Streets to notice negative behaviours or lack of attention towards the urban territory and to act consequently: «In one year and a half, every Sunday we met to clean all the entrance doors, all the gates and all the walls facing the street. We do it just because we are glad to do it and because we like to meet on Sundays». The presence of residents committed to this activity give the chance to other neighbours, who initially did not participate in Social Street or who were sceptical about it, to appreciate its values and to socialize more. Besides triggering the sociality in the area, this behaviour produces a second mechanism, similar to the one described by the theory of broken windows: many inhabitants of the street start to clean their own facades autonomously. «Instead than saying “it will be dirty again, why are you doing it?”, there is this virtuous mechanism, without getting angry. You do what you can without complaining».
What is fundamental, however, is that citizens’ care does not depend on the collaboration with the urban local government and it has not to be triggered in any case by the public administration’s request. «I claim the city because I live here, not because the municipality asks me to do so […] We can do everything without political and economic compromises. We want to show that this experiment [Social Street] is possible staying outside of the existing structures, because sociality is out of the system». Luigi mentions many examples of Social Streets that decided to establish a formal collaboration with the local government, both in Bologna and Milan, some of them also signing a collaboration pact. In Bologna the most part of parks and green areas are managed and cured by citizens – individuals or associated in formal organizations. This citizens’ attitude is not wrong generally and Luigi is not against either citizens/committees engaged in this kind of activities or the public administration that opens up this possibility. He does not agree with it just when Social Streets give more values and importance to this aspect than to the generation of sociality. Moreover, since the subjects formally involved in the maintenance and cleaning of public spaces are already numerous, Social Street does not need to base its activity from the same starting point. The possibility to take care of the urban territory is positive – reporting Luigi’s words – and it is possible that neighbours who met thanks to Social Street, decide afterwards to engage in the management of a common good collectively. Nonetheless, it has to remain characteristic of an individual agency, not of a collective and informal subject such as the Social Street that aims, firstly, to include everyone in socialisation practices. Inclusion, indeed, is a variable that strongly matters when one Social Street has to decide whether collaborating with the Municipality. Signing a collaboration pact implies getting closer to the political party that is leading the city at that moment. Some members of the group might disagree with political decisions of this party and, thus, disagree with their Social Street’s decision as well: the result would be that these specific members get distant from the group, not feeling included and engaged anymore. In Milan, really few Social Street – 28 out of 76 – decided to enrol in the official register for informal associations founded by the current municipality’s administration. According to Luigi, this happened because engaging in the research of solutions for collective problems or in the regeneration of urban spaces is not the first aim of Social Street. These aspects become important within Social Street framework only as vehicle of sociality.
Together with sociality, another solid idea emerging from Luigi’s words is that social initiatives do not need to be framed in the existing mainstream structure and political system to be innovative. They can bring innovation by being free, unformal and based on little, but always kept central, values: «Small revolutions are made on even smaller things, but these things have to be really clear».
L’articolo riassume il significato di Social Street, basato sul valore fondante della socialità. La cura verso gli spazi pubblici si sviluppa in un secondo momento e secondo Luigi Nardacchione, amministratore della prima Social Street e fondatore del sito Social Street Italia, questo non implica una collaborazione con la pubblica amministrazione. Anzi, l’intento originale è quello di non entrare nel sistema politico ed economico già esistente, ma dimostrare che le innovazioni possono svilupparsi anche da piccole iniziative, libere e indipendenti.
 All quotations refer to the conversation that I had with Luigi Nardacchione on 16/11/2017.
 Simmel G., 1997, La socievolezza, Roma: Armando.
 Kelling G. L., Wilson J. Q., 1982, Broken Windows: The police and neighbourhood safety, Atlantic Monthly, pp. 29-38.
 Regulation on civic collaboration for the urban commons.
 Avviso pubblico Social Street, politiche sociali, Comune di Milano