Ten housing units were successfully rented out last month to aged or disabled Australian-Filipinos in Leumeah, Campbelltown region.
On hand to welcome the new tenants to their Sedgwick Street newly-built accessible accommodations on Sunday 30 January were Federal MP Laurie Ferguson of Werrima who has jurisdiction of the area, Campbelltown Mayor Paul Lake, Representatives of Housing NSW led by Metro Manager Martin Johnston and Common Equity NSW Ian Sinnett and some 200 friends, relatives and new neighbours.
In welcoming the new tenant members in Leumeah, KCL president Ruben Amores said, “Being housed in a coop, unlike other kinds of government housing, is not a dead-end street for the homeless only but an opportunity to benefit from a more affordable rent in a safe and comfortable neighbourhood, to personally develop and in return, be able to help others.” Amores, enjoined all coop members to be active in community development activities especially projects of significant impact like housing and other social services so more people from all sectors may benefit.
This is part of the south-western expansion of the services of Kapit-bahayan Co-operative Limited, coming shortly after six newly-built townhouses were handed-over to deserving families in Merrylands, Parramatta LGA in December. Another six affordable town houses are expected to be completed by the middle of the year in Canley Vale, Fairfield LGA. These put KCL in five local government areas: Auburn, Holroyd, Parramatta, Fairfield and Campbelltown. Plans are being discussed to organise similar viable housing projects for families and the elderly in Blacktown, Penrith and the North Shore.
Co-operative houses are run voluntarily by the tenants in an organised, participatory and democratic manner as guided by the government’s Community Housing Program that owns the buildings and monitors finances. The quick expansion of KCL-managed properties is attributed to its being one of the best housing coop organisations in NSW. The Canley Vale lot at the corner of Sackville Street and Canley Vale Road where the next project is being built was bought by the coop out of its savings, being one of only two coops in NSW with substantial operational savings. The unique and modern design is a collaboration of the coop members and a voluntary community technical group.
Tenants are chosen from qualified applicants targeted according to the site, their willingness and ability to participate in the management, maintenance and expansion of the project and their personality to fit-in with their neighbours. As the coop has no paid managers or staff, tenants must have a high sense of community spirit, responsibility and caring and sharing for others to run the coop effectively. This is an effective and viable alternative to the run of the mill mass housing because there is no recurrent funding and the assets are well-maintained, not to mention the tremendous social capital gains or community benefits attained.
Tenants pay rent at only 25% of their household income up to a market rate, receive commonwealth housing assistance for the coop, participate in decision making including tenant selection and termination, while water, repairs, insurances and council fees and rates are paid for by the coop. While rent may vary according to incomes, house sizes and locations, coop services are efficient, non-discriminatory and equitable. No wonder coop tenants are a happy and contented lot!