There are two types of housing co-operatives in Victoria:
- Common Equity Rental Co-operatives (CERCs) through Common Equity Housing Limited
- Rental Housing Co-operatives
Common Equity Housing Limited
CEHL is Victoria’s largest Housing Association and is both a provider and developer of affordable housing. CEHL currently houses in excess of 5,000 people in over 2,200 properties across Victoria, with an asset value approaching $800 million.
CEHL uses co-operative housing models to empower people to build strong communities through better housing solutions.
CEHL delivers two main models of co-operative housing, both of which aim to provide successful outcomes for their members. Both types of co-operative are not-for-profit community housing programs which provide affordable and secure housing for lower income households and individuals.
A Common Equity Rental Housing Cooperative (CERC) is an independent voluntary organisation that provides a supportive environment for its members. In the CERC model, the housing is managed by the Co-Operative, and members undertake significant responsibilities for carrying out of all tasks associated with running a housing cooperative, including:
- financial administration
- collecting rent
- arranging house maintenance
- selecting new members
- keeping all associated records.
All members assist with these day-to-day tasks, and benefit through reduced costs, local control and self-management, and opportunities to develop skills. Continued tenancy of a CERC home may depend on the tenant member’s continued participation in CERC activities.
All properties in the CERC Program are owned by CEHL. CEHL provides asset management including property upgrades, training and resourcing of the co-operatives, negotiating and servicing of loans, and is responsible for program administration, including ensuring program directives are met, and reporting to government.
Community Managed Co-operative Model
In the Community Managed Co-operative (CMC) Program, the properties are owned and managed by CEHL. While these co-operatives do not act as landlords, they still have considerable say in day-to-day issues, including prioritisation of maintenance, and are responsible for tenant selection. This co-op model provides opportunities for a medium level of participation in the running of the housing, with resulting high levels of satisfaction and a genuine sense of empowerment for member tenants.
Rental Housing Co-Op
The Rental Housing Co-operative (RHC) Program is independent of CEHL and uses a different co-operative model.
RHCs head lease most of their properties from the Director of Housing, and tenancy management and maintenance is carried out by a paid worker under the direction of the Co-ops Board of Directors.
RHCs are governed by voluntary tenant members with support from professional staff.
The key principles of living in a cooperative include:
- The tenant must be willing and able to participate in the running of the cooperative, and is focused on fair and equal access to those who wish to participate, which includes encouraging the occupancy, participation, and full social integration of people with special needs.
- Cooperative housing is run democratically with all members having equal voting rights, and membership is distributed in a manner that encourages equal participation.
- Members contribute fairly to the running of the housing.
- Housing cooperatives are independent entities controlled by their members.
- A housing cooperatives should support the further education of its members to help meet their responsibilities and deepen their commitment to the performance of the cooperative.
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