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Vietnamese Seniors Housing
The Van Lang & Lac Viet Housing Cooperatives, established in 1994 and 1998 respectively, providing affordable rental housing for people from the Vietnamese community. The cooperatives operate three properties, including one that is specifically designed for older people.
About the cooperatives
Common Equity NSW provides and develops affordable housing across NSW and is the peak body for NSW housing co-operatives. Two of its members are the Van Lang & Lac Viet Housing Cooperatives, established in 1994 and 1998 respectively.
The two co-operatives operate three separate housing sites, providing affordable rental housing for people from the Vietnamese community. One of these, in Canley Vale, is specifically for older people. The two-storey building has 17 units and a shared community room. The upper level is accessible by a wheelchair-friendly ramp and a lift. The site has been operating as co-operative housing since December 2011.
Under the cooperative housing model, Common Equity owns or leases properties and sub-leases to the housing cooperative, which is responsible for management of the property and deciding on tenancies. Rent is set at 25% of household income for tenants that are eligible for social housing, which helps to provide security of tenure for those on lower incomes, such as the pension.
The Van Lang and Lac Viet Housing Cooperatives are large and growing family cooperatives, with one site specifically for older people and their extended intergenerational families. Members are predominantly from the Vietnamese community, which helps to bond the residents.
Co-operative members organise and participate in a range of cultural and community activities as well as meeting formally as a committee to collectively manage their properties. The three properties are supported by a part-time co-operative support worker, employed by Common Equity, which further helps to maintain the community. The community support worker is able to assist residents with many of their day to day needs and help them engage with other local community services.
There is a substantial waiting list, particularly for older people. The two co-operatives are currently discussing with Common Equity the potential for a new co-operative housing development to accommodate those waiting for housing.
What is shared?
How did it happen?
The property at Canley Vale includes a community meeting space used for committee meetings and day to day community activities. There are also shared outdoor spaces, a communal lift to increase accessibility for older people, and an office for the community support worker.
Van Lang Cooperative drew on rental surpluses to purchase the Canley Vale site in 2008. Construction was funded under the National Rental Affordability Scheme. The co-operatives worked closely with Common Equity and the architect to ensure the design met the needs of older people – particularly through the inclusion of the ramp, lift and community meeting space.
Common Equity is a not-for-profit limited company, which leases properties to the cooperatives. Co-operatives are governed by the Co-operatives National Law, which is applied in NSW by the Co-operatives (Adoption of National Law) Act 2012. They are legal entities that operate to protect the rights and interests of all members.
The cooperatives are self-managed and each of the three housing sites have their own committee. Common Equity provides support, training and advice. Co-operative members are expected to attend at least monthly meetings and contribute to the management of the co-operative. They are also expected to volunteer several hours a week to administration, financial management and housing maintenance, and to fill official roles such as Chair and Secretary.