• Co-operative housing should make up 10 per cent of all social housing vs just one per cent now
  • Housing co-ops far more prevalent in overseas markets

The co-operative housing sector has called for the Federal Government’s proposed $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund to include a greater role for co-ops in helping to solve the rental supply and affordability crisis.

The Australian Co-operative Housing Alliance (ACHA) and the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) propose that at least 10 per cent of Australia’s social housing stock should be co-operatively owned.

At present only around one per cent of all social housing is run by co-operatives. Much of this is concentrated in Victoria, where it represents about 3.4 per cent of the state’s social housing. (Social housing consists of government run public housing and community housing which is run by not-for-profit organisations and co-operatives).

The largest provider of co-operative housing in Australia is Common Equity Housing Ltd (CEHL) a Registered Housing Association that manages a $1BN housing portfolio. CEHL’s Managing Director and Chair of ACHA, Liz Thomas, said the sector would like to see the share of housing under co-operative management grow to 10 per cent.

“We know from experience here and overseas that this is the most successful model of delivering social housing. It gives vulnerable Australians secure tenancy as well as a sense of community and autonomy over their living situation.”

“The Australian Housing Future Fund is a meaningful and vital first step towards achieving a fairer and more equitable society for all Australians, but we must ensure rental housing co-operative models are included in the plan”, Ms Thomas said.

Speaking on the eve of International Day of Co-operatives, BCCM Chief Executive Melina Morrison emphasised the need for innovative models to help get more Australians into affordable and sustainable housing.

“Co-operative housing is a proven model in other countries and one that is deserving of greater attention in Australia,” Ms Morrison said.

Housing co-ops, which allow for democratic management by member renters, are a widely accepted model in many overseas markets, but remain relatively unknown in Australia.

Rental housing co-ops make up 20 per cent of all social housing stock in Denmark and 16 per cent in Canada.

A recent survey by Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) found that co-operative housing was the second most preferred model for precariously housed older Australians.

Media enquiries

Ian Pemberton, P&L Corporate Communications – 0402 256 576.

Available for interview and comment

Fiona Herman, CEHL Chair & Liz Thomas, CEHL Managing Director – 0412 977 161 (Liz).

Fiona’s story shows how co-operative housing can change lives. She joined her housing co-op as a single mother looking for a permanent affordable home. With support from her co-op community, Fiona worked, studied and cared for her family. She now has a Master’s Degree and is the Chair of the CEHL Board.