Thanks to the action of Dph, the authorities commit themselves for the habitat
(Projet Coralli en italie)
10 / 1999
The problem of immigration surges in Italy during the summer of 1990. In numerous towns (mainly in the center and the north of the country), the presence of thousands of immigrants was revealed through the illegal occupation of empty houses. The truth was that most of them had steady jobs but were living in extremely poor conditions: people coming from distinct origins living together in abandoned farms, some of them camping along the rivers, or living in excessively expensive flats.
Some militants of the Inquilini Union (national tenants’ union that guarantees and promotes the housing right) decided to work on proposals made to all the persons concerned with the problem: immigrants, social organizations, NGO and institutions. To face a crucial problem in collecting the information, the militants quickly imagined the Coralli project, a european and pluricultural network in charge with the counting of experiences around the continent, their analysis, the reproduction of the most relevant ones or the production of new ones. Their field of intervention included the housing right and the struggle against discrimination and social exclusion.
In december 1991, with the financial support of the FPH and of the Cooperativa Padovana Muratori (masons’ society of Padova), the patronage of the city of Padova and the collaboration of Habitat International Coalition, the Inquilini Union has organized an international seminar entitled "A house for all for a new city". The Coralli network got started on that occasion and began a scrupulous inventory of the housing right issue, searching several databases and urging various associations to start a research/action programme. The results were put together in 62 cards, written in french and italian. Their diffusion engendered contacts with other groups in Europe, mainly in Italy, France and Belgium.
Thereafter, for mere financial reasons, the Coralli project restricted its actions to Italy, while keeping close links with the other countries.
Since then, the RIAS (Network of Initiatives for Social Housing) was born, gathering NGO, cooperatives, associations and research consultancies. RIAS is a useful tool for the exchange of experiences and the reinforcement of each one’s role in the city. It also carries on an action towards the authorities: from simple claimings to true proposals. Its most remarkable achievement is the Coralli Cooperative Society, in Padova. It took the network barely five years to achieve the building of flats for 18 italian and extra-communitarian families. That experience is a good example of the possible interaction between disadvantaged persons, authorities, associations and cooperative economical entities.
Dph : a method for a practice
Within the Coralli project, Dph played both parts as a technique and a practice.
a) A technique with the use of a program for the creation of a database. It allowed a relevant capitalization and presentation of the experiences, providing tools for a heavy dialogue with the authorities. The publishing of the research/action results in Dph cards eased the contact with new partners: the cities of Padova, Venice, Bologne, Modena, Genes, Florence, Verone, Rome and others; various institutions (the ISMU-CARIPLO Foundation in Milan, The Micheluzzi Foundation in Florence and several public local organizations); dozens of associations all around the country. Lots of students also used the cards to enrich the bibliography of their thesis. The publishing of Dph cards, easy to read and presenting the precise references of the experiences, is unanimously considered as a great tool for interventions at all levels.
b) A practice around the funding principle of Dph: the unique and constructive value of experience. The belief in this particular value allows people to confront their daily practices in order to find appropriate solutions to their difficulties (...). It has never been a matter of reproducing models but of creating new models in coherence with the existing practices: "useful information for the action".
The part played by the FPH is essential here. Without its primary financing, it would have been extremely difficult to launch the Coralli project. The financial support of the FPH also made it possible to benefit from other financings: from the European Commission, Venice region, Padova and Modena. Those financings were used for the holding of meetings and seminars and for the publishings. The exchanges with Venice and its region have permitted to finance the Padova flats (Coralli project). But the most important support came from the dozens of militants who worked voluntarily for our action: the institutional financing would have been useless without the work of the militants (...). It is fundamental to assume that key data for a good understanding of the value of the exchange of experiences. If it would not be the case, the debates might turn technocratical and cut the information from action.
Another card upon the Coralli project has been published in the Dph Letter n°22, in December 1997
Cooperativa Coralli - rue G. Morandini 28, 35136, Padova, ITALY - Tel. : + 39 (0)49 890 04 17 - Italie - giuseppe.labiunda (@) pdnettuno.it