Common Equity Housing Limited is a co-operative housing provider based in Victoria. From the early days in 1987, the co-operative now owns over 2,200 properties, with a current value in excess of $700 million. CEHL provides housing to over 5,000 people across the state.
With housing affordability at its lowest level in 100 years, alternatives are being sought to the traditional home ownership model. Figures show Australian households are paying a larger percentage of their income on housing costs each year. The lack of available housing together with rising mortgage stress has contributed to widening and unsustainable inequalities in our society.
The seeds of CEHL and the rental housing co-operative movement in Australia began in the late 1970s. From the establishment of the first co-operative rental housing programme in Victoria in 1981, the growth and development of housing co-operatives has been a slow progress due to policy changes by various state and federal governments and other mitigating factors. Since the transition of housing titles from the Victorian government to the CEHL, the organisation has continued to grow.
The not-for-profit model can be an effective mechanism for increasing the supply and diversity of delivery for housing. CEHL itself is a unique model that can incorporate social housing in a wider housing programme – effectively a “co-operative of co-operatives”. The 114 separate rental housing co-operatives that form its members are supported by CEHL with asset management, finance and administrative support.
CEHL has been able to expand its portfolio despite a decline in government funding. CEHL continues to remain financially independent and sustainable while continuing to provide financial, educational, health and community well-being to their members.
As the urgent and pressing nature of Australia’s housing affordability crisis continues, organisations like CEHL are likely to play a leading role in addressing the failure of current housing markets. To make sure these challenges can be addressed, CEHL’s operating model needs to be constantly evolving and adapting to the changing political, social and economic environment.
CEHL is undertaking two key initiatives to help plan and adapt for the future: Future Directions Project and Program Development Project.
There is growing evidence of the failure of existing public housing models to create positive communities where tenants are empowered to make key decisions regarding their housing. CEHL will promote transfers which offer current public housing tenants the opportunity to form co-operative structures to manage their housing.
Browse the CEHL Case Study Bibliography.