The state of Victoria is receiving more and more help from co-operative housing efforts to provide affordable dwellings to 1.1m residents, the latest one being from Common Equity Housing Limited (CEHL).
 
CEHL is set to expand the range of Australians who can receive co-op housing benefits and attract middle-income residents. The organisation has secured funding from the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Package, the government’s austerity stimulus.
 
To date, the housing association is providing homes to 4,000 people through its 2,200 properties across Victoria. CEHL is owned by 114 co-ops.
 
“We’ve got a great opportunity to articulate the benefit of co-op housing and some solutions to the housing crisis we face,” said managing director Stephen Nash.
 
For Australian housing co-operatives, Nash claimed the greatest challenge is “to find ways to grow in an environment where the model is not well-known at this stage”.
 
“I think we can offer solutions to address the housing crisis and avoid the poverty, alienation associated with it. It’s an empowering model as well, people have a say in how the housing goes, involve in running the co-op. It’s an opportunity for people to develop confidence and skills to go into further education and employment,” he said.
 
Meanwhile, unaffordable housing rates in Melbourne are rendering homeless women helpless from men who demand sex with them in exchange for accommodation.
 
The Victorian government has vowed to consider funding a new program to address the issue, particularly men’s attitudes towards homeless women.
 
To date, about 22,000 people are homeless on any given night in Victoria. The number has risen 20% since 2006. On a national level, there are about 105,000 homeless people, with women making up about a third.

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