The $12.4 million refurbishment of Lakewood Housing Co-operative in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs is being hailed as a potential blueprint for the development of similar sites to help ease Australia’s chronic shortage of social housing.

The Lakewood redevelopment, which was jointly funded by the Federal Government and Australia’s biggest co-operative housing provider, Common Equity Housing Ltd (CEHL), consists of 80 units for renters needing secure and affordable accommodation.

“This model demonstrates how the co-operative housing sector can collaborate to help alleviate the affordability crisis,” according to the chief executive of the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), Melina Morrison.

Under the co-operative housing model, tenants have access to affordable rent and share responsibility for managing and maintaining their homes. Through this shared responsibility, co-op members gain a greater sense of community and housing security as well as developing transferable skills.

The refurbishment of Lakewood posed several challenges for its residents including lengthy construction delays caused by Covid, which required them to move to temporary accommodation across Melbourne.

The Managing Director of CEHL, Liz Thomas, said the support of Housing Australia was key to overcoming the challenges encountered during the past six years.

“Today we celebrate the resilience and determination of the Lakewood community to retain their co-op identity and return to their homes, which now offer much improved amenities and functionality.

“The community housing sector is unique; it’s not focused on short term financial gain but on delivering permanent housing solutions. To do that, we must work with a financial partner with the same values and philosophy, Housing Australia met that brief.

“Lakewood is testimony to how co-operative housing can deliver scale, affordability and community, where the people living in these homes work with CEHL to deliver more than just housing”.

Ms Morrison said the co-operative sector hoped to see the Lakewood model replicated model as part of addressing Australia’s affordable housing crisis.

The Federal Minister for Housing, Julie Collins, who attended today’s launch said the refurbishment of Lakewood demonstrated the strength of governments and the community working together.

“Forging partnerships is critical to ensuring more Australians have a safe and affordable place to call home,” Ms Collins said.

“This is exactly what the Albanese Labor Government will achieve through our new historic investments in housing including the $10 billion Housing Australian Future Fund and $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator.”

The $10 billion HAFF was established under legislation passed last September with the aim of building 30,000 new social and affordable homes within the next five years.

Listen to Christina, tenant and board member at Lakewood Housing Co-op, and Liz Thomas from Common Equity Housing Limited (CEHL) discussing co-op housing with Rafael Epstein (ABC Melbourne). Listen from 2:13:00.



About Common Equity Housing (CEHL)

CEHL is Australia’s largest rental co-op housing provider. With almost 100 rental housing co-operatives in membership, CEHL provides housing and related services for 2,100 households across Victoria. CEHL’s $1.1b housing portfolio is in 60 local government areas. CEHL is committed to maintaining and growing the co-operative model to provide secure and empowered housing for more people needing affordable housing.


About the BCCM

The BCCM is the national peak body for Australia’s co-operatives and mutuals. Co-ops and mutuals provide essential services and affordable pricing to their members across the economy from banking, insurance and superannuation to retail, agriculture, health, social care and housing. One in eight Australians are members of a co-op or mutual.