Louise Crabtree, Neil Perry, Sidsel Grimstad and Joanne McNeill, International Journal of Housing Policy

In many countries, housing cooperatives are longstanding and stable components of housing systems, providing a range of housing options that sit between the historically dual tenure poles of renting and owning. In others, such as Australia, cooperatives represent a very small proportion of total housing stock. Such differences derive from institutional lock-in resulting from market failures, government policy, and historical norms. Breaking the institutional lock-in requires evidence of the benefits of cooperative housing to demonstrate the rationale for appropriate policy frameworks. However, despite their longevity in some countries, cooperatives remain relatively under-researched, such that their purported benefits as compared to other tenure forms can be hard to assess or compare. This article provides a brief synthesis of the extant literature on the benefits of cooperatives before focusing on Australia where the sector is poised for growth from a very small base. We consider the impediments and opportunities for growing the sector in Australia, which highlight issues of potential relevance to other jurisdictions with similarly nascent cooperative sectors.

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