AFFORDABLE HOUSING through CO-OPERATIVES

with Mark Snell

The cost of living is increasing dramatically, as the media is quick to tell us. The cost of food, retail goods and the utilities is the usual focus. These costs are nothing compared to the cost of housing, which has increased threefold compared to the average wage since the early 1980s. For most young people and many others who do not own homes, the prospect of owning their own home is remote.

Since the 1970s and before, rural landsharing communities have provided a low-cost option.  Increasingly, homes in these communities are becoming more expensive, often requiring a lifestyle change with a poorer quality of life.

Co-operative communities can be set up for affordable quality of
life, both for their founding members and for future generations.

How do you do it?
What are the opportunities?
What are the challenges?
Where do you start?

Mark Snell is chairman of Equilibrium Community Ecology Inc, a community-based non-profit eco-village group on the NSW Central Coast, which operates an online Co-operative Living Information Service (www.coopliving.info). He was written papers and spoken at a number of conferences on the topic of “Affordable Housing through Co-operative Ownership”, proposing a cost-based approach supported by a co-operative ownership fund. He has an interest in how co-operative communities are affected by planning and building law and has recently submitted a paper about owner-building to the Review of the NSW Home Building Act. Mark lived for five years at the Moora Moora Co-operative Community Ltd in Healesville Victoria, a community settlement co-operative that remains successful after more than 30 years. He continues to visit regularly. Mark is honorary editor of the Peninsula News, Woy Woy, and president of the Central Coast branch of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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