Australia needs a third pillar in housing

03 May 2022

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals Housing Blueprint

Australia has a housing affordability crisis that has only been further exposed in the challenges of the last few years. A key driver of Australia’s acute housing affordability crisis is over-reliance on just two housing options: private home ownership and private renting.

We urgently need a diversification of housing models to meet the full range of housing needs and aspirations in the Australian community including key workers, young people, people with a disability, older Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.

Housing co-operatives, housing that is owned and democratically controlled by groups of residents, are the third pillar in housing that can build a better home for all Australians.

The BCCM is calling on all political parties to work with the sector to develop equity and share equity models of co-operatives housing that can give more Australians access to secure and affordable housing.

We need to look to proven, innovative solutions from around the world. Equity and shared equity co-op housing models are proven models that, in some countries, make up nearly a quarter of all housing stock. These shared ownership models can be more affordable, while delivering the security of tenure outcomes as traditional private ownership, and superior social outcomes from a vibrant resident community.

Governments should:

  1. Acknowledge the value of co-operative housing as a way of providing affordable homes that people can exercise a genuine say in.
    1. All government policy measures to support increased home ownership should be inclusive of co-operative ownership.
    2. Government measures such as guarantees for first home buyers or equity contributions for first home buyers must be inclusive of this indirect ownership model, where the members financial stake will be reflected in ownership of co-op shares/securities.
  2. Work with the sector to develop tools and template documents for Australians considering an equity or shared equity co-op housing model.
    1. Housing cooperatives are not widely known in Australia. Documentation will help communities and financial institutions understand the model.
    2. There is opportunity to draw on existing models being developed in Victoria (Property Collectives), Western Australia (Co-operation Housing WA – Kyloring development) and New South Wales (Narara Ecovillage)

The BCCM has long advocated for policies designed to tackle the affordability crisis to include co-operative solutions. Read more about co-op housing and our submissions to government housing inquiries on BCCM’s website.

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