CALICO – Care and Living in Community

Brussels, Belgium Finance, Local social sustainability, Organizational structures, Target groups of housing
“The Community Land Trust makes it possible to recreate links within neighbourhoods and more broadly within society.”


CALICO, «CAre and LIving in COmmunity», is an inter-generational and socially diverse co-housing project built in interaction with its neighbourhood.

The CALICO project was developed by the Community Land Trust Brussels (CLTB). This association, which was founded in 2012 with the support of the Brussels Government, works to improve access to housing and property for everyone. The CLTB, Housing Brussels and their partners set up the CALICO project to create a new type of intergenerational and multicultural group housing.The pilot project consists of 43 dwellings to be built in the municipality of Forest. It will target certain social groups in particular, single mothers, the elderly and low-income families. The development of this new housing is founded on a participatory and inclusive approach. The CALICO project will offer services from birth to the end of life, as well as mutual support by the residents. The UIA initiative allocated a grant of 5 million euros to the project. While providing housing for low-income households, the CALICO project rewarded today includes an intergenerational component as well as an intercultural component with a particular focus on the gender dimension.


A pilot project providing 34 homes will be developed. CLTB will buy the land and the common parts of the building. By taking this cost out of the equation, both affordable owner-occupied homes as well as social rental apartments will be provided. The CLT resale mechanism guarantees that these houses will remain affordable, generation after generation. The homes will be organised in three community-led cohousing clusters. Each of the clusters will focus on vulnerable groups, thus addressing their housing situation. One cluster will target (older) women and single family mothers. The two other clusters will take an intergenerational approach, with a significant proportion of units reserved for older adults and low-income families.

Issues tackled

The main urban challenge is the housing crisis of the Brussels-Capital Region (BCR).

  • Lack of social housing: in 2015 there were as many households on the waiting list as there were social housing units. The waiting period reaches up to ten years.
  • Low quality housing: many dwellings lack basic facilities.
  • Increase in real estate prices and rent: rents and property prices have on average doubled in the last ten years.

A second challenge is the housing situation and the quality of life of specific vulnerable groups.

  • Ageing population: Inadequate homes form a risk for the health, wellbeing, and the independence of older people. In addition, there is a scarce variety in residential options available for them.
  • Women, particularly older women, face a higher risk of social isolation and poverty because of low pensions (average pension for women is €998), part-time work (81% of those working part-time in Brussels are women), and single revenues (83% of single parent families are women).
  • Migrants and low-income families experience several challenges in the housing market.
  • These vulnerable groups are often excluded from decision-making processes within the public sphere.

The final challenge is the paradigm shift in which care for people in need becomes less institutionalised, and increasingly becomes the responsibility of civil society.

Actors involved

  • Brussels Capital Region
  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Higher Education and Research Institute
  • AngelaD
  • Pass-ages
  • Municipality of Forest - Local Public Authority
  • Public Center for Social Welfare of the Municipality of Forest
  • (Brussels Planning Agency)
  • Community Land Trust Brussels
  • Logement pour Tous


  • 34 homes spread between three co-housing clusters managed by partners CLTB, Pass-ages and Angela.D
  • An integration of mutual care within housing through interactions between volunteers and care professionals.
  • An open space for local initiatives, inserting the building within its neighbourhood and creating a space for interaction with said neighbourhood.
  • A shared community garden.
  • An inter-generational project with a social mix.
  • A common desire to promote togetherness within a building built on common land.
  • A project globally integrating a gender perspective.
  • A facility for birth and end-of-life offering people the possibility to give birth or die in a deinstitutionalized, familiar environment and surrounded with close ones.

Why it works

The project aims to empower the targeted groups by involving them during the different steps of the project. It also aims to develop a community-led model of care that reinforces the autonomy of those in need of support, integrated in an intergenerational, intercultural context. Furthermore, an accommodation for birth- and end-of-life in a homelike environment, open to the wider community, will be at the heart of one of the cohousing clusters. By bringing different population groups and different functions together in the same project, and by strengthening social cohesion, both within the project and within the neighbourhood, CALICO will investigate a new model of housing policy. By closely monitoring the project and by involving a wide range of stakeholders, the results will be sustainable beyond the time-frame of the project.