Study Suggests Cooperatives Could Hold Key to Fixing Housing Crisis
11 July 2018 at 3:08 pm
A new worldwide study suggests cooperative housing could hold the key to alleviating Australia’s housing crisis.
Research commissioned by Australia’s peak co-op housing bodies analysed existing housing research from a dozen countries to identify the extent and value of housing cooperatives around the world.
Louise Crabtree, a senior researcher from Western Sydney University, said the existing research indicated numerous potential benefits created by a cooperative housing model.
“This gives us a solid starting point for identifying the extent and nature of the value created by Australia’s housing cooperatives, including the value generated by the people who live in cooperatives,” Crabtree said.
The researchers found that cooperative housing built stronger social networks and support, as well as better relationships with neighbours compared to other forms of social housing.
Canadian residents for example reported feeling that their neighbourhood was improved by the presence of housing cooperatives.
The research also found strong economic benefits of a cooperative housing model. In Canada, the cooperative housing sector cost 14 per cent less in capital and operating costs than any other affordable housing model.
Meanwhile, evidence from the UK revealed lower rates of debt, faster re-letting and lower vacancy rates from a cooperative model, while German research found that living in a cooperative could reduce health care needs and costs.
James Brown, the CEO of housing cooperatives peak body Common Equity NSW, said this overseas evidence suggested that cooperative housing could hold the key to alleviating Australia’s housing crisis.
“[It’s] clear that co-operative housing should be a more significant part of the housing mix in Australia to deliver more diversity and choice in affordable housing and to enhance the broader economic, social and community benefits,” Brown said.
“Especially at a time when in Australia, with one of the most diverse populations in the world, in which many are facing a housing crisis, this research provides valuable information to support the case for change.”
Common Equity NSW estimates that more 8,000 people are currently living in housing cooperatives across Australia.
The full research report for stage one of the study will be released in August 2018.