GENERAL / BACKGROUND
What is a rental housing cooperative? What kind of ownership model is this?
A rental housing cooperative means that the members are individually tenants and collectively manage the cooperative. We pay rent to repay our loan. No one can own or sell their unit. The building is effectively taken off the real estate market, forever.
What do you mean by commoning, care, diversity, sustainability?
- Commoning means shared creation, use and management of resources that we all benefit from.
- With diversity we intend to create an inclusive community and actively work to create a safe space for everyone.
- Care implies tending to the needs of its members in terms of social relations, financial situation, physical and mental health and more.
- And by sustainability we mean maintaining a long-lasting, resilient and adaptable building and community.
We have adopted these values to guide us when we have to make difficult decisions.
How and when did it all start?
dNM started in March 2018 to apply for a tender from the municipality of Amsterdam. The tender was aimed at setting up one of three pilot projects to build a rental housing cooperative. We came together around a call to “build a postcapitalist urban commune in Amsterdam Oost” and worked tirelessly every Sunday for a year. After two rounds of selection, we won the tender in July 2019.
What have you been doing all these years?
Since winning the tender, we have co-designed the building with our architects Time to Access (together with Raumplan) as well as obtaining the land lease and building permits. We have also organised three rounds of admissions, launched and completed a crowdfunding campaign, negotiated a loan with two banks, and spent many, many hours on Zoom for dNM during the pandemic.
What is the expected timeline for construction and moving?
After significant delays due to rising costs and interest rates, we have finally secured our main loan and can finally start building. Construction is scheduled from November 2023 to December 2024. We hope to move in early 2025 and of course have a festive opening!
How is the municipality involved?
The municipality of Amsterdam has set the conditions for the tender, leased us the land on the Archimedesplantsoen and we work with them to monitor our process. They have also given us a loan from the Duurzaamheidsfonds and Stimuleringslening. We are autonomous in our internal affairs and in the selection of our members.
FINANCES / LEGAL
What’s the structure of your association?
We are a membership-based association with a board and a members meeting. However we tend to make decisions by consensus in a general assembly that is open to all. We are also setting up an advisory committee to safeguard the values and long-term viability of the association.
Who’s funding all this and how much?
The total budget is around 8 million euros (Stichtingskosten). Most of the loan comes from Rabobank, followed by the loan from the municipality of Amsterdam. We have also received grants from Noord-Holland and raised €450,000 in bonds through our crowdfunding campaign.
Who owns what?
Nobody owns anything individually, but collectively the members are the caretakers of the building. At the moment we owe substantial loans to the bank and the city, which means they have a mortgage on the building.
Are you making a profit on this project?
No. We have set statutes which state that we cannot sell the building or make a profit from it. The association is self-contained, in the sense that it cannot be taken over by another entity.
What happens when the loan is paid off?
Once the loans are paid in about 30 years, the members will keep paying rent, which will then go to maintaining the building and funding similar projects in the solidarity economy: cooperatives, neighbourhood initiatives, noncommercial activities etc.
How much rent will you be paying?
For the independent units, we are legally bound by the social rent levels set by the City of Amsterdam. This means around €900-980 per month (including energy performance fee and some other costs). The co-living units pay around €3200 per month in total (so €640 per person). We have yet to set some additional fees for the maintenance of the building, but these will be income-adjusted to remain affordable for all our members.
Who are your professional partners?
In addition to our architects Time to Access (icw Raumplan), we have been supported by dedicated and generous advisors: Jasper Klapwijk, Gerben Kamphorst, Fabian Streefland and more. Our contractor is Zenit Bouw.
What other organisations/networks are you part of?
We see ourselves as part of a growing network of housing cooperatives. We strive to learn from each other, find common ground and combine our forces to improve the conditions of our sector. See PWA, Wooncooperaties in Noodverband and Cooplink: kennisnetwerk wooncooperaties for more information.
MEMBERSHIP / COMMUNITY
How do I become a member? What are the requirements?
We are currently working on a new admissions process which we hope to announce before the end of 2023. There is a low-income limit for the independent units (which can benefit from rent subsidies), while the co-living units don’t have a limit (but can’t benefit from subsidies).
What are the rights and responsibilities of members?
Members will have the rights of social housing tenants. In addition, members have duties to the association to self-manage and look after the building and its community. This includes attending meetings, taking on tasks and fostering healthy relationships between members.
What is the demographic composition of your community? How many of you are there?
We strive to reflect the diversity of the city we live in. Currently we have 25 members, consisting of 15 BIPOC and 10 white people, 13 are cis-men, 9 cis-women, 2 non-binary people and 1 trans woman. Within the community 9 people are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
What kind of people do you encourage to apply?
dNM is for low to middle income individuals and families. We also have preferential selection criteria that prioritise minorities, taking into account race and origin, gender and sexual identity, class and status, and with different mobility and accessibility needs..
I am a journalist / researcher. How can I collaborate with you?
We are happy to respond to your enquiries. However, we do not engage in one-way, extractivist relationships that take up a lot of our (non-paid) time and give little in return. We only pursue mutually beneficial relationships with journalists and researchers who are willing to embed themselves in the community.
How will you engage with the neighbourhood?
We are striving to become a vibrant hub for the whole neighbourhood. Our communal lobby will host non-commercial events and activities that are by and for our neighbours. All our neighbours will have a place to express themselves and take part in decision making at our monthly assemblies.
ORGANISATION / PROCESS
How do you make decisions? How do you work together?
In principle, we meet twice a month to share updates, discuss proposals, make decisions and distribute tasks. We are currently reorganising our internal process to reflect our current needs. All our members are expected to participate in task forces to contribute to the running of our association, community, and building.
What is the main language of your organisation?
We currently conduct our meetings in English but for those who feel more comfortable speaking in Dutch (or their mother tongue), we take the time to translate. We aim to be a multilingual community, welcoming old and new Amsterdammers alike.
What will you be working on during the construction phase?
A lot! We need to plan for what happens after the building is ‘done’, such as the Do-It-Together phase of the construction. We also still have to develop our bylaws and lease agreements, establish co-budgeting protocols, carry out the admission and onboarding of new members and possibly deal with unforeseen emergencies. And eventually document and disseminate our learnings
How do I contact you and get to know you?
You can email us with any specific questions or requests and we will try to answer them. Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter so you can keep up to date with our public events where you can meet us in person.
I would like to support you. How can I get involved as a volunteer?
It’s great that you’re motivated! We always have tasks and projects that need support, from helping out at public events to fundraising. Our process coordinators will be happy to match you with tasks that suit your skills and interests.
DESIGN / BUILDING
How many people can live there?
Officially there are 40 members sharing 15 independent units (for 1-2 people) and 5 co-living units (for 4-6 people). The building can potentially accommodate up to 50-60 people including partners and children.
How many and what kind of units are there?
The independent units range from 40 to 50 m2, with smaller single-storey units and larger duplex units. Each living group shares 180 m2, with individual rooms ranging from 15 to 20 m2.
What are the living groups, what do you mean by co-living?
Living groups are people who live as a close-knit intentional community and kinship beyond the convention of the nuclear family. They share their domestic life, including their living room, kitchen, bathroom, balcony and household finances.
What are the sustainability features of the building?
The building is designed with a wooden structure, solar panels and a geothermal heat pump and is energy neutral (EPC=0,0). We will upcycle as much as possible when finishing the building. We will share common facilities such as a laundry room, tool shed and transport vehicles. Read more about the sustainability features of the building on our building page.
What else will there be in the building apart from the residential units?
Our communal lobby has a shared kitchen and pantry as well as a flexible multi-purpose space for meetings and events. There is a courtyard and a large green roof that is accessible to all. There is also a separate workspace that can potentially accommodate something like a cafe or small restaurant.