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Morocco Conference: Cooperative Housing and the real estate crisis

On Saturday 27 July 2013, The Réseau Marocain Pour Le Logement Décent organised a conference on the theme: Cooperative housing and the real estate crisis, at the seat of the Bars of Rabat.

Abdelali Essafi, a member of the central office of the organising network, opened the conference by giving the floor to his colleague Allali Abdellah, President of the RMLD, who kicked off the debate with a public reading and a question and answer session with the speakers.

First, Mr Ahmed Ait Haddout, President of the Réseau Marocain d'économie sociale solidaire, began his speech with a historical overview of cooperatives in Morocco beginning with their inception in 1978, also noting that the purpose of housing cooperatives is not only to reduce the cost of housing, estimated at 30% of market prices, but also to fulfill other objectives falling within the scope of human relations in conjunction with sharing the use of common and cohabited space among the members of cooperatives. He noted that, while there are many successful cooperatives, there are others that have deviated from their purpose, leading to unexpectedly negative results.

In a speech broadcast from New York, Mr Cesare Ottolini, coordinator of the International Alliance of Inhabitants, thanked the Réseau Marocain pour Le Logement Décent for their interest in this subject, recalling that Morocco has ratified Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, and he noted that there are a billion people in the world who do not have proper housing. He stressed that our struggle is a struggle against neoliberalism, and he spoke of the foreign debt of developing countries, including Morocco, which must be cancelled to free up resources for social policies, including decent and affordable housing. He also focused on Italy’s experience of inhabitants cooperatives. Last but not least, he emphasised the importance of working together to win this fight, recalling the World Zero Evictions Days for the Right to Habitat held throughout the world in October.

Mr Mostafa Balambo and Ms Mina Moukafih were there to discuss the involvement of the Ministry of Housing, Urban Planning and Policy of the city, approaching the subject from a technical and legal perspective. They asked the fundamental question:

What are the constraints facing the right to housing in Morocco?

Mr Balambo gave the statistics on cooperatives in Morocco, which on 30 April 2013 numbered 1087, while the number of members is in the region of 48,968. Recalling that the first cooperative started in 1978, he also added that the percentage of applications that are already authorised does not exceed 20 cooperatives annually, prompting the Ministry to implement a strategy to reactivate this domain based on two principles:

- Responding to requests from approved cooperatives;

- Encouraging the development of housing co-operatives;

Ms Mina Moukafih further developed the issue by recalling two studies conducted by the Ministry of Cooperatives and Housing Associations, thus evoking the subject of the new law on cooperatives, and she mentioned that the state has set a quota for housing cooperatives for all projects of the national company Alomran.

In addition, Ms Hayat Zuhair, representing the Office de Développement de la Coopération (ODCO) began her speech by defining and outlining conditions for forming housing cooperatives, including a discussion of funding methods.

Furthermore, she stressed that the housing cooperatives that have experienced success are those who acquire land in accordance with legal requirements on land conservation and development planning, among other things.

Ali Lotfi, General Secretary of the Organisation Démocratique du Travail, began his speech by outlining the role played by unions in the creation of housing cooperatives. Highlighting the example of France, he confirmed that unions in Morocco were on the same track in the early sixties. He went on to stress that many Moroccans are living in remote and mountainous areas which are not subject to the requirements of proper housing because of black spots in slums and shanty towns. He also discussed the subject of national constitutions, particularly in Latin America, which include laws promoting the right to decent housing. Ali Lotfi went on to discuss the issue of interest on housing loans, which is very high compared to the interest rate in Western countries (France, Spain, ...)

During his speech he stressed that the State does not attribute much importance to employees despite the agreement created in August 1996 as part of the social dialogue framework that required the provision of housing for employees.

Moreover, the public debate has been held at a very high level. Some speakers brought up constraints relative to cooperative housing and other fundamental issues, such as:

- Is cooperative housing the best way to solve the real estate crisis?

- What are the most effective mechanisms for reducing the number of players in the housing sector?

- How can it resolve problems related to the real estate crisis?


Following feedback from professors, the conference reached the following recommendations:

- Simplify the rules for creating housing cooperatives;

- Focus on promoting co-operative housing with technical assistance from the Ministry;

- Integrate local towns into the cooperative housing initiative;

- Allocate public properties on favourable terms;

- Provide public financing for technical studies;

- Use housing cooperatives to combat slums;

- Adopt a participatory policy between public sector organisations to create a single point of contact;

- Create a guide to tax exemptions;

- Review housing legislation with a view to stimulation;

- Review the distribution of bank interest rates;

- Reduce interest rates on loans for housing cooperative members;

- Control the sale of homes as part of the struggle against the "Black Market";

- Encourage communication with citizens about the definition and the role of housing cooperatives with a view to creating new ones.

At the end of the conference the network president Allali Abdellah focused on the role and importance of intellectual discussions about housing, and also thanked the speakers and the audience, saying he would see them again in future meetings organised by the Réseau Marocain pour le Logement Décent.

Перевод этого текста выполнен добровольцем из группы за жилищные права без границ МСЖ:

Pascale Stephenson


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