Is Co-operative Housing a Creative Solution for Australia's Housing Affordability Crisis?
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Although cooperative housing today in Australia can still be linked to radicalism associated with the squatter movement of the 1970s, the model has come a long way. Despite there being over a billion members of co-operatives worldwide, this housing model has been rather sporadic in Australia. But with the Australian housing affordability at an all-time high and increasing, alternative models such as co-operatives or community housing could provide some answers to providing more affordable housing. Until now, co-operatives have coped with inconsistent state and territory legislation and competitive disadvantages in comparison to entities that operate under the Corporations Act 2001.In 2007, the State and Territory Ministers agreed to implement nationally uniform legislation to address the inconsistencies and competitive disadvantages that the previous legislations gave to co-operatives. Some of these positive changes include co-operatives to have the freedom to operate on a national basis and to provide co-operatives with better access to external capital funding. Nonfor profit organisations have been actively pushing for a change in the state government's approach towards co-op housing to meet the growing demand for the social and economic benefits it can provide for people. Although there are many different forms of co-operatives, they all share one fundamental element: collective ownership. Collective ownership means affordability, security, a decent place to live, transparency in management, a strong commitment towards social goals and the possibility of personal growth by gaining new skills and knowledge. The success of housing co-operatives can perhaps be seen in Europe, where different models of co-operatives or community housing have become a more common form of real estate and are not just seen as some form of social housing. In Switzerland, housing co-ops represent 57 per cent of the non-for profit rental stock and 4.3per cent of the total housing stock. In contrast, the trend in Australia is still towards providing less social housing and concentrating on more market driven housing. Co-operative housing in Australia in 2012 only represented 0.06 per cent of the total housing stock. This paper will discuss the success of co-operate housing in Switzerland and will examine two case studies, Heizenholz in Zurich-Hoengg and Zwicky in Duebendorf. Although a community based and social way of living will challenge the traditional way Australian’s live, it could just provide some answers to the current housing affordability crisis.
AMPS Proceedings Series 10. Cities, Communities Homes: Is the Urban Future Livable
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