A look at cooperative housing in Egypt

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Egypt is a highly urbanized country, whose population is growing by 1.3 million people per year. Rapid urbanization has brought with it a lot of informal housing, squatting and slums.

Cooperative housing, which first emerged in Egypt in the 1930s, provides an affordable housing option for a large number of citizens. It was originally the domain of private developers until the 1950s, when the government became much more strongly involved in cooperative housing provision. Then, in the 1970s, private developers once again played a key role, with the state supporting cooperative housing development through loans to cooperative associations.

The status of housing co-ops in Egypt is such that there are provisions in the nation's constitution requiring the state to take care of cooperative associations. They are exempt from a range of taxes and fees under the country's legislation, which also requires the state to facilitate loans and offer discounts on land. Housing cooperatives receive a guaranteed discount of 25 percent on land owned by the government, which ministerial approval can bring up to as much as 50 percent.

About one-third of the 80 million strong Egyptian population are members of housing cooperatives. In the last 60 years, more than 2,300 housing co-op societies, comprising half a million dwellings, have been established.

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