March 11, 2019

What Seattle Can Learn from Denmark about Community-Owned Housing

MLA student Roxanne Glick went to Copenhagen, Denmark to study their community-owned housing model. She brought what she learned from her time living in Denmark and studying their housing system back to Seattle. Roxanne shared some of her discoveries with The Urbanist. Below is an excerpt from her article.

Inspired by the community ownership movement, I travelled to Denmark last fall to learn from a country known as one of the most cooperative in the world. A third of housing in Copenhagen is cooperatively-owned and the non-profit sector houses a fifth of Danes. I saw the benefits of community ownership but also how the struggle to create it has been forgotten and it has been almost entirely defeated by neoliberal policies in the last 18 years.

To my dismay, I found that Denmark is now considered a ‘post-welfare’ state, rapidly instating overlapping racist and neoliberal policies while housing prices have become unaffordable for many. During my time there in November, I witnessed the government passing neo-apartheid housing policiescalled the “ghetto package.” The package applies harsher, discriminatory laws and threatens demolition to poor and ethnically “non-Western” non-profit housing neighborhoods officially labeled “ghettos.” The “ghetto package” is not only racist, it leverages racist public opinion to undermine the non-profit housing associations sector’s self-determination.

But just as I am grateful that every Dane didn’t judge me for American political leadership, I found that many Danes still have open hearts and communitarian values. Through living in two communities and many interviews, I had the opportunity to learn about the vestiges of community-owned housing in Denmark before it’s lost from living memory.”

Read the full article in The Urbanist.

Roxanne’s travel was supported by the Valle Scholarship. Learn more about this opportunity.