“A way of living, not just housing”, participatory housing is flourishing around Montpellier

“A way of living, not just housing”, participatory housing is flourishing around Montpellier

Jean-Louis et Odile Jacquet, fondateurs de l’association Ecohabitons34 et habitants de Fabrègues. Midi Libre – E. L.

In a cooperative of residents, or under other legal forms, participatory housing carries values ​​of solidarity and ecology. Around Montpellier, around twenty groups are active.

Eco-piddum is looking for its co-inhabitants… In Murviel-lès-Montpellier, this eco-housing project will include 21 housing units on the Sablières ZAC. A small group is leading the project, Hérault Logement is supporting it, and the Ecohabitons 34 association is accompanying it. “We now have our little experience but we need to find people interested in embarking on this new Murviel adventure!”, says Jean-Louis Jacquet, who has been living in Fabrègues with his wife Odile since 2016 in a large building divided into 8 dwellings. A rectangular plot of land, cut in two lengthwise with a common area where a chicken coop, a vegetable garden, a borehole and anything else the small community of residents decides are installed.

“Mutual aid on a daily basis”

Here, a key box gives everyone access to other people's keys, cars are shared and travel is shared. Once a month, a meeting is held to agree on everyday topics. The last one allowed us to discuss the freedom of the chickens – which will be a little more supervised – and a request from the children to have a dog – not yet won –."The principle of participatory housing is daily mutual assistance. We are carrying out a real estate project together but above all, values ​​and a desire to live as close as possible to others. It’s a life adventure, not just housing”, adds Odile Jacquet.

"We were taken for dreamers"

In the Montpellier area, this type of housing is under development. "It’is better and better understood by elected officials, but each project still puts a lot of effort into time to succeed !", assures Bruno Chichignoud who took over from Odile Jacquet as president of the association. A twenty groups of inhabitants have been formed, seven places are already inhabited.

Other projects

Several projects are being developed in Montpellier, such as La Folie Solidaire which will have 24 housing units, in the center of Montpellier, in Beausoleil. No cooperative here but a legal framework for co-ownership, with a mix of housing for owners but also tenants of social housing and perhaps the creation of an SCI for a few tenants who would be outside the social rental criteria. The initial group, made up of 11 households, would be helped by a social landlord. 

Already in existence since 2016, MasCobado (the acronym for Cooperative house built with gentleness) is a set of 23 housing units in two small collective buildings located in the Zac des Grisettes. Here, 18 accommodations are owned and 5 are rented. A multipurpose room, three guest bedrooms, laundry rooms, gardens, a collective terrace, but also tools and household appliances are shared.

Here and there, the projects have the particularity of being of interest to single elderly people (many women) and single mothers. "We are overwhelmed with demands. Whereas when we started the association in 2008, we were considered dreamers!" analysis Jean-Louis Jacquet .

In Fabrègues, where the oldest, André, is 82 years old while the youngest Alice is 3, diversity is there. Intergenerational thinking is required everywhere, as is an ecological approach. "We don't set up participatory housing projects to build thermal sieves. We are not seeking to be fundamentalists but to achieve a certain ecological coherence" analysis Bruno Chichignoud.

In Prades-le-Lez, his own villa was deconstructed to become 11 accommodations with a common room and laundry room, a shared studio for entertaining friends. "We have chosen the form of a cooperative. Each resident thus has a social share. The advantage is that it is easier to enter when you have few resources and, as we did, to also have external subscribers. For our project, 54 people contributed", continues Bruno Chichignoud.

In Montpellier, in the Figuerolles district, she is an owner inheriting from her deceased mother who wishes to sell and transform the family home for a virtuous project. 

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