In November 2019 Co-operation Housing hosted a Forum on housing co-operatives. The evening was facilitated by Anthony James, Facilitator, Writer and Podcaster for The RegenNarration. Postcast #58 is a terrific listen to and recap of the panel discussion on the night.
Around the world, co-ops are playing a significant role in providing housing solutions, and in the process building empowered, sustainable and healthy communities. Up to 40% of housing in some cities around the world is in coops. Whether you’re talking financial, social, environmental, cultural or health outcomes, the benefits across the whole of society can be enormous.
So what are housing cooperatives? What are the main benefits and challenges? Why are they so successful in some parts of the world? And what’s needed to do more of them elsewhere?
To talk about all this, Anthony James from RegenNarration facilitated an outstanding panel brought together from around Australia by Eugenie Stockmann, CEO Co-operation Housing.
Joining Eugenie Stockmann on the panel are:
- Dr Jasmine Palmer: researcher focusing on collaborative housing and sustainable design. Jasmine is also a member of Urban Coup Cohousing in Melbourne.
- Anthony Taylor: Policy Offer at the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals - the peak body and voice for Co-ops and Mutuals in Australia.
- Michelle Mackenzie: CEO of Shelter WA - an independent peak body, based in Perth Western Australia, that advocates for social and affordable housing and ending homelessness.
- Peter Shooter: Resident First Fremantle Housing Collective and Chair of Co-operation Housing.
- With an impromptu appearance from Danielle Pender, Manager of the Community Housing Strategy at the State Department of Communities.
It’s telling that here in Western Australia alone there are 9,000 homeless people and more than 14,000 on the social housing wait list. At the same time, so much of our housing is under-utilised and misdirected. For example, 82% of housing consists of 3 to 5 bedrooms, but 58% of WA homes house just 1 or 2 people.
So how much housing do we need? How do we direct that need most effectively? And where will the investment for this come from, especially given the problems with even impact and social investment expectations? (There was a bank representative present in the room for this conversation, and his involvement was open and instructive.)
The event also launched a series of five short videos on existing housing co-operatives, screened prior to the panel conversation. Film-makers Georgi Ivers and Jake Bamford worked with prominent West Australian artist and Co-operation Housing board member, Sohan Ariel Hayes (who credits being a coop housing resident with enabling his successful artistic life). These videos are available on the Co-operation Housing website.
This episode of The RegenNarration is produced with thanks to Co-operation Housing. The event took place at the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle, and was made possible with support from the City of Fremantle.