Published: 16 August 2014
To celebrate 25 years of co-operative history in 2010 SouthEast produced the booklet, The Phoenix. Download a copy by clicking on this link SEHC_Phoenix_Booklet_84_low-res
The SouthEast Housing Cooperative (SEHC) is a rental housing co-operative that exists to provide longterm secure and affordable accommodation to its members. It also reduces homelessness and poverty by providing a home within people’s financial means. SouthEast is a non-trading cooperative (meaning surpluses are not distributed to the membership) and has concessional tax status as it works for a charitable purpose.
Rental Housing Cooperatives (RHCs) began in the 1980s as an alternative to public housing. Aligning with the ethos of the times, government properties were offered to RHCs under a headlease agreement to be managed using community development principles. In a very generous deal, DHS initially provided a 99 year headlease. RHCs have been very successful proving high quality housing to thousands of people in vulnerable economic positions. The existing group of non-profit rental housing agencies in Victoria includes 10 rental housing co-operatives registered under the Victorian Co-operatives Societies Act 1996:
- Carlton Rental Housing Co‑operative Ltd
- Diamond Valley/Whittlesea Rental Housing Co‑operative Ltd
- Eastern Suburbs Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd
- Footscray Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd
- Northcote Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd
- SouthEast Housing Co‑operative Ltd
- St Kilda Rental Housing Co‑operative Ltd
- Sunshine/St Albans Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd
- West Turk Housing and Elderly Services Co‑operative Ltd
- Williamstown Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd
SouthEast manages 160 properties of which 150 are Department of Human Services owned properties. SouthEast collects the rent, performs maintenance and works closely with DHS to ensure the properties are maintained to a high standard. SouthEast also manages housing stock for other organisations.
Originally SouthEast was the amalgam of three Rental Housing Cooperatives (RHCs) who realized there would be advantages in attaining both an economy of scale and a higher degree of professionalism in 2000. The Moorabbin Rental Housing Cooperative joined SouthEast in 2004. The RHC sector has a low turnover which is indicative of a high degree of member satisfaction.
The state government instituted a registration process whereby by the 1 January 2009 all agencies must be registered as either as either an association or a provider.
Affordable Housing Association Must be a company. For larger, more robust agencies. Eligible for government development funds. Or a
Housing Provider Can be a company / cooperative / incorporated association. Generally for smaller agencies. Either ineligible or eligible for smaller amounts of development funds.
SouthEast achieved registration with the Housing Registrar as a Housing Provider on the 21st of November 2008.
Housing Provider Framework
All RHC’s have moved to the new Housing Provider Framework. This is the same funding scheme used by Housing Providers. SouthEast was registered as a Housing Provider,
Statement on the Co-operative Identity As defined by the International Cooperative Alliance
A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
The co-operative principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice:
1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organised in a democratic manner.
3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5th Principle: Education, Training and Information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
6th Principle: Co-operation among Co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7th Principle: Concern for Community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.