Co-operative housing, more bang for your buck.

A visit to the Sydney student housing co-operative ‘STUCCO’

The view into STUCCO’s courtyard from the rooftop garden

We have been sketching Bareport since March this year. Aiming to create a house that is affordable, community-focused, intercultural for youth and students in Melbourne. Inspired by a real sense that we need more unity and understanding of international students and other youth and students plight for housing and community. It was the Sydney and Canberra student housing models that really gave us something to work towards. So, on our recent trip to Sydney a couple of us visited STUCCO. It quite seriously is the dream… particularly when you start drawing comparisons …

STUCCO is actually affordable at $73 per week! I pay $125, which is really decent for Melbourne, but I am an ‘unofficial’ tenant and thus cannot claim rent assistance, nor do I have any ‘official’ say in the house in terms of repairs… and the mice. The other house I rented was also ‘unofficial’, over an hour and a half from uni, and seemed to attract uninvited walk-ins through the non-secured backyard. A friend of mine pays $70… but he has no windows. His room mate is on the other side of the (ply wood) divided room and also pays $70, and equally has no windows. Another friend paid $110, but the room was mould prone, tiny and the most likely cause of his pneumonia. Friends who don’t have these ‘uncomforts’ simply pay more, $50-$100 more each week. So STUCCO’s very reasonable rate, where the house is ‘in good nick’ is refreshing.

Among the many great attributes STUCCO boasts is their great location, which puts them in walking distance of USyd, transport and shops, including a Vegetarian Butcher. The space itself was incredible too, with communal spaces everywhere, a rooftop garden, courtyards, a large bike shed, workshop room, and art spaces! Bedrooms were a good size, indoor and outdoor living areas were great. Hammocks, swings, plants adorned the courtyard. Also adding to it’s charm are the people, the community and life they bring to the space seems to envelope the place in warm vibes and womb-like goodness. And my favourite, the temporary accommodation! Because sometimes we get a little stuck and need somewhere to stay ASAP, for free. On an operational level they are always improving, adding and evaluating, not forgetting to honour their members and care about each other.

The visit just left me thinking ‘Ah, this is what we need in Melbourne’. Students and youth don’t need the financial stress that comes with renting a decent house, nor the less than satisfactory housing conditions that come with renting at an unaffordable rate. Our health and wellbeing shouldn’t be the sacrifice we pay for housing. That’s why Bareport needs to happen here.

At Bareport we are a little unique from STUCCO, and CSHC (that’s Canberra Student Housing Co-operative, not Canberra Sexual Health Clinic), mostly because we don’t have a house yet. So for now our meetings drift into visioning sessions where we dream about when we do, what it will look like. And what kind of mad-goose-chase-esk recruitment ‘missions’ we will set-out for prospective ‘Housos’, or where we will put the neon signs?

So until we have a Bareport commune (I mean, house), we are meeting, brainstorming and chipping away to make sure affordable, multicultural and community living is on the agenda in Melbourne.

∆∆ Jessie

You can join us, share what you know with us, and share us on social media.

http://bareport.coop, jessie@bareport.coop, or www.facebook.com/bareport

Oh, you can check out our friends at STUCCO and the Canberra coop here:

http://stucco.org