Residents concerned about the public housing component of a proposed 200-unit development on Burt Street might fare better if part is run as a housing co-operative, says a lobby group for the sector.
Rebecca Hicks is the CEO of Co-operation Housing, the umbrella organisation for Fremantle’s two public housing co-ops as well as one in Bunbury and another in Subiaco/Leederville. She says her group would love to run a demonstration co-op when the site is redeveloped.
During a recent Fremantle council meeting which endorsed the rezoning of the site, residents expressed support for public housing but concerns about the crime and anti-social behaviour they’d experienced before the demolition of the old block of flats previously on the site.
Ms Hicks says with a co-op, residents can have the best of both worlds.
Co-ops take both traditional Homeswest tenants and workers who qualify for affordable housing, such as nurses or police, and she says anti-social behaviour is very rare.
That’s partly because the department is unlikely to put hard-core tenants in a co-op, but Ms Hicks says there’s also a process to make sure residents fit in.
“We have an acknowledgement from the department of housing that co-op living requires a certain skill set so our tenants undergo a membership process to make sure they are informed about what co-op living is and what everyone’s responsibilities are,” she says.
She says her organisation, which is registered by Homeswest, could potentially partner with the department, the council or even a private developer on the site. Apartment purchasers could choose to join the co-op, or not, and they’d keep their own title.
Traditionally the department keeps ownership of co-op property, but the co-op takes the rent and manages the maintenance.
by STEVE GRANT