This is a translation of the Preface to The Citizens’ Housing Coop Bylaws, published in 1962 by the Central Council of Coops in Prague, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

Stanovy stavebního družstva občanů. Úvod. [The Citizens’ Housing Coop Bylaws. Preface.] Ústřední rada družstev [Central Council of Coops], Praha 1962.

The Czechoslovak people, under the leadership of the Communist party, have achieved major political and economic successes, which have enabled the XI Congress of the Czechoslovak Communist Party to set the historical goal of completing the project of socialist construction in our nation.

In accordance with the rising living standards of our workers, their claims on the quality of their housing grow as well. The successes that have been reached in the process of building socialism provide all prerequisites necessary for solving the housing shortage in a very short period of time. Thus the XI Congress of the Czechoslovak Communist Party set as one of the main goals the solving of the housing problem, in a way which would guarantee an appropriate flat for every household. In order to meet this goal, 1,200,000 flats must be built between 1959-1970. This will increase the overall quality of the housing fund and will help overcome the legacy of capitalism in this area as well. This goal, however, requires that, under the leadership of the party, all participate in this building project- including the masses of our citizens, the local chapters of national committees, economic units, the revolutionary trade unions, youth organizations, as well as other socialist organizations.

Housing coops are an important component of solving the housing problem. By connecting societal interests with the individual interests of workers, they create ideal conditions for the workers’ maximal participation in the building process. Direct participation of coop members in the housing building process decreases the final cost of flats, accelerates their construction, increases their quality, and results in an efficient use of local resources and also in a better maintenance of the flat fund.

The coop form of new flat building will be fully supported. The state will provide a 30% subsidy on the construction materials and a 30% credit over the period of 30 years with 3% interest. The coop member’s contribution will be 40%, and each member will be able to cover their contribution either financially or by self-help (svépomoc). A coop member will be able to draw a loan from the State savings bank (Státní spořitelna) to help pay for the member contribution fee, and their employer can also offer a financial loan for the same purpose.

Houses built as coops are exempt from house taxes, and the heirs to coop flat members are exempt from the inheritance tax. Housing coops are further exempt from the local national committee directives regarding flat allocations, as well as from oversize flat fees. Coop members cannot be expelled from the coop since housing coops fall under the tenant protection regulations.

Local chapters of national committees have a decisive role in the organization and management of the coop housing construction as they – with the help of the revolutionary trade unions and state firms – can best mobilize labor force and needed material resources and can engage workers in the flat construction. National committees will manage the coop flat construction by allotting flat units, securing appropriate land and ensuring its use for the coop housing construction. National committees will also be responsible for securing the needed technical documentation and for the integration of the construction into the overall local building plan.

Solving the housing shortage is one of the key political and economic goals within the overall peaceful competition of the socialist camp against capitalism. In our republic this objective is the objective of the entire nation and meeting this goal will further increase the living standards of our people. To help housing coops meet their mission, the present coop Bylaws template has been issued. Its pages convey the key principles of coop democracy and democratic centralism, which enable the broadest participation of coop members in their housing coop functioning and which provide basic preconditions for the solution of coop housing construction issues.

Translation Iveta Jusová