The association "Gemeinschaftlich Wohnen Neuwied e.V." has made the dream of living communally and affordably come true for some. With the support of an investor, 17 people now live under one roof and maintain close neighborly relations both internally and externally.
To implement a housing project like the one in Zeppelinhof 2, it sometimes takes a lot of time and patience. The following interview shows that it is worthwhile to stay on the ball, even over difficult times. In it the idea giver and association cofounder Hildegard Luttenberger (69) and Maria Wagner (70), which joined one year after the establishment of the association, report, how such a somewhat different housing project grows, how it functions and how it changes the life of the resident community. Among other things, Luttenberger, the association’s chairwoman, is also responsible for the public relations work of gewoNR e.V. responsible, while the deputy chair Wagner is mainly responsible for networking in the neighborhood.
Hildegard Luttenberger (l.) and Maria Wagner
Last year, you had already emailed us a beautiful photo spread to report on what your association had put together on Neighbors’ Day under the difficult corona conditions. What activities did you undertake this year, Ms. Luttenberger and Ms. Wagner??
Wagner: Already at the first virtual preliminary discussion in the board we could be sure that there will be no party this year, as in 2019. But we wanted to set a "corona-conform" sign! So the idea of the bookmarks was born – also because we saw in the production the chance to do something together in groups of two. On each bookmark were a We printed a small greeting and many good wishes and put them in the mailboxes around Zeppelinhof 2.
For the first time – and hopefully in the last lockdown – we thus again experienced something special in our shared apartment. Our large living room had been deserted for months by then. You would meet someone by chance while reading the daily paper, or you would deliberately drop in because there was a note on the door inviting you to z. B. to pick up a piece of cake. These were moments that, like the encounters in the stairwell or spontaneous appointments in the smallest circle, became particularly important in these special times.
Since 2019, 17 people have been living "differently" and are constantly rethinking the concept of living
So you share a communal apartment. Is this, among other things, what is behind the slogans "living differently" or "rethinking housing" that can be found on your website?
Luttenberger: Yes, the fact that we as an association have rented a communal apartment in our building, which the residents’ association finances proportionally, is certainly completely different from a classic rented apartment. New for many was z.B., that communal living can also mean: "Sharing brings profit". These are contents that we already worked out together with a mediator before we moved in. By the way, the state also provided start-up funding for this project.
… and the move-in was when?
Luttenberger: Since February 2019, we gewoNR’ler and gewoNR’lerinnen have been living in the tenant housing project we were aiming for – most of us under one roof. The Gemeindliche Siedlungsgesellschaft (GSGmbH) built seven identical houses and in 2017 enabled us to move into house 2 in the Zeppelinhof through a cooperation agreement. So we had a familiar neighborhood with each other from the very beginning and as a community of residents we were also curious about the newcomers around us.
Which people live together in your housing project and how do you get involved?? Different generations living under one roof?
Luttenberger: We are 17 people, three of whom are husbands. Our age structure is rather 60plus – tendency to over 70. Three of us already have their 80. Birthdays celebrated here. We all moved in without any support needs. And I would like to emphasize We did not have to move – we wanted to so live!
Wagner: Within our community of residents, individuals contribute in very different ways, for example, by helping out in the community.B. pass on the daily newspaper, organize the pedicure or the window cleaner, or take care of our shared dryer and front garden. Currently, we can also hope for lunch offers again or. Invitations to breakfast and coffee klatsch. Then there are also joint activities such as card games, star folding or heart sewing – the latter also has an effect on the outside, as you can read on our homepage.
Luttenberger: Since we didn’t want to exclude anyone from our way of living together, our association has been advocating the need for social housing funding since 2011. So as not to overwhelm us or. to be realistic, this resulted in our 50plus variant. Maybe you don’t think of it as generational, but when we were looking for investors, we "only" needed a house with apartments for couples and individuals. Nevertheless, we are also open to people under 50 and younger! Because now it is also important to find younger interested parties than the current residents for the apartments that become vacant and that we are allowed to reoccupy. By the way, we succeeded in the premiere!
"What one person can’t do alone, many can"
How easy or difficult was it to implement your project from the initial idea to moving in?? And who were your most important supporters during this time??
Luttenberger: We live in a region that was shaped by Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen. His "What one can’t do alone, many can" fits very well with our project idea. Even more important to me, however, is the realization that I personally know how I want to live – if possible until the end. It’s important to look early, even at what I don’t want for myself. And then it’s a matter of concluding this discussion – possibly in order to set out on the path. This is how it was for me in 2007. Around this time ten years ago, we were approaching the founding of the association. My perseverance succeeded with like-minded people – they were my pillars. Our weekends under one roof or the meetings among us made me stay tuned. It was difficult to have the impression for a long time that we were not being taken seriously. taken seriously. This situation changed – surprisingly for us at the time – only in 2015, when the municipal housing company, GSG, handed us a letter of intent. This allowed us to approach our goal in a more relaxed manner – with different challenges!
How would you like your association and its Describe activities in a few sentences?
Luttenberger: 30 gewoNR residents, 17 of them as members of the residents’ association, want to promote new living and some also want to live a "more together" life. Both require activity and commitment – externally and within the housing project.
"New living" in a familiar neighborhood – even with a residential entitlement certificate
What do you think is important to your association?. the residents’ community particularly well?
Luttenberger: In terms of the association, for me this is first and foremost that we succeeded in realizing a tenant housing project in which people with a housing entitlement certificate can also live!
Wagner: As a community of residents, we were above all very lucky! After all, in February 2019 we were still able to create our vision of communal living without any contact restrictions. In the time in between, we were able to take advantage of our familiar neighborhood – sometimes perhaps not consciously enough. I myself still don’t find it self-evident to use our jointly purchased dryer in the attic, the proof of "sharing brings profit"!
And where do you still see challenges that you would like to tackle??
Luttenberger: The challenge of the coming months will be to get back into a regular good exchange with each other. We call these dates residents’ community meetings. Up to now, only two a year were obligatory. And of course: the members’ meeting, which in 2020 could not take place in attendance.
Moving into a "long-cherished dream"
What are the most beautiful moments of your work and your living together that you always remember with pleasure?
Luttenberger: In my case, it was the laying of the foundation stone, which we were able to play a decisive role in shaping, and the visit of the SWR team when we moved in. I feel good when I can contribute to nice things for our common area every now and then.
Wagner: My special moment – after the long dry spell – was the signing of the cooperation agreement. Thus, the prerequisite for our community living project was "in the bag". The day of moving into my apartment I also felt very special. Finally I had arrived at what I had been dreaming of for a long time.
I also have fond memories of the meetings with the residents’ community, from breakfast to barbecues, with the desire to reactivate all these activities after Corona.
For the future I would like to have more time together again. Time for crafting, cooking, baking, playing and meeting neighbors. Maybe it is possible that the "gardening together" community can invite to a harvest festival in the fall.
Being and staying by your side until the end
Have you had any experiences in your project where roommates need not only support services but also care services? To what extent does the way you live together influence these developments or. can influence it?
Wagner: So far only small support services have been used. But even at that we still have to practice asking for help. Addressing this again – now that we will soon have our resident community meetings again – is a challenge. However: We already dealt with the topic of "living and living communally – as far as possible until the end" before the last Lockdown. We were pleased that this was initiated by the youngest member – and I am sure we will take it up again!
Luttenberger: This also pleased me very much, because the occupation with the topic must take place – from my view – before the serious case. Basically we had already clarified before moving in, that we do not promise ourselves here care. Care services can come to the barrier-free apartments or possibly also be ordered together. The resident community "only" ensures being and staying by the side – fed by the common living time in the housing project.
"Moving, moves something"
What are your goals that you have set for the future?
Luttenberger: As gewoNR chairwoman, it is particularly important to me that we succeed in what we were promised in the cooperation agreement: z.B. to know suitable tenants for our housing project who would move in if someone from house 2 passes away. This has the consequence that we must be continuously and also creatively perceived in public. Furthermore, through my involvement in the senior citizens’ advisory board, I hope to encourage cooperation in the LAG GeWo RLP e.V. and through such contributions as this one, to fundamentally bring the idea of the multifaceted New Living further into people’s consciousness and to find even more people who support this. I very much hope that we are an example that encourages others to follow the motto "get moving, make a difference"! Sometimes you get! In our case, into the tenant housing project – even for people with housing entitlement certificate!
Thank you very much for the interview Mrs. Luttenberger and Mrs. Wagner.
Further information on the association website and the project presentation on the website of the state initiative.