STUCCO is a democratically managed student housing cooperative. How does it all work? Who owns the place? Where does our rent money go? Why do landlords suck? Find our below!
Low-Income Student Housing
Stucco began as a co-op for low-income students of Sydney University. Its rent reflects this heritage and we strive to ensure that we prioritise students who are have long-term financial disadvantage or housing need.
Landlords and real estate agents suck. That’s why we got rid of them (for us, at least). Rather than paying a landlord money to fail to fix your plumbing, we organise maintenance and upgrades ourselves!
But how do we make decisions? Through the power of democracy! We have General Meetings and Committee Meetings where we discuss, plan, and decide upon our path forward.
Situated in the heart of Newtown, STUCCO houses a total of 40 people in 8 self-contained units. There are six 5-bedroom terraces and two 5-bedroom flats, all of which face onto a fantastic, leafy courtyard. In each unit there is a kitchen, living room and two bathrooms. We have a common laundry with three washing machines. Each household decides how it will be run. Some may have communal cooking and a cleaning roster, whereas other units may be less strict. There is also a hall with a piano and pool table, beautiful gardens and a sun-deck.
Cost of Living
Rent at STUCCO is one of the cheapest at just $110 per week, and this is primarily due to it being run as a cooperative. Whilst STUCCO picks up the water bill, each unit is individually billed for their electricity…which is renewable-powered and cheap as sunlight. The only other costs you will incur is a bond equal to 4 weeks rent.
But what on earth does cooperative housing mean?
It means that instead of requiring a landlord, real estate agent, or building manager to attend to administration and maintenance of the building, we do it ourselves! The members / residents of Stucco are responsible for everything relating to the management of Stucco. We organise our management of the building through four committees and regular meetings.
Each new member is assigned to a committee upon moving in and are expected to take an active role in their committee as well as general STUCCO administration. It isn’t like doing the chores, though. We get to learn new skills, creatively (and frustratedly) solve problems, and collaborate with other members in ensuring that our cooperative project can continue pushing on. Living in a cooperative is empowering in a way most of us never realised before moving in.
STUCCO operates on the basis of some core principles: co-operation, democracy, non-hierarchical member control, respect, equality, responsibility, self-help, autonomy, independence, unity
The Four Committees
Each committee has its role to play in the effective running of the cooperative, meeting approximately once a fortnight to discuss various issues relating to their responsibilities.
- Building & Maintenance are responsible for repairs, additions and maintenance to the building, and is a fun committee if you enjoy tooling around. The purchase of major items, contracting tradesmen for larger works and the general cleanliness of common areas are also taken care of by BnM.
- Membership is the publicity machine of STUCCO, advertising for new prospective members, maintaining a list of these people and arranging interviews for them when a room becomes available. Membership also runs STUCCO’s temporary accommodation service and takes care of new members and their lease, bond, etc.
- Finance looks after the income and expenditure of STUCCO, such as petty cash and rent payments, dealing with the finer points of the workings of STUCCO. Finance liaises with various bodies, such as the University, the Registry of Co-operatives, and STUCCO’s auditors and accountants, to ensure the smooth financial running of the Co-operative.
- PANDA stands for Problems and Administration, and oversees issues such as rent payments and meeting attendance. They also take minutes at meetings and deal with the rare conflicts that arise within units or within STUCCO as a whole. Lately, PANDA has been engaged in creative ways to enhance our community, including communal food and more.
Every 15 days the STUCCO community comes together for a General Meeting. All residents are expected to attend. Issues relevant to the entire cooperative are raised and dealt with in a democratic fashion, meaning that everyone gets to have their say. Each committee also makes a report so that everyone is aware of current developments and can offer suggestions or opinions. This will give you a good idea of the people who live here and the way in which we operate the cooperative. It’s a good chance to chat to members and ask any questions you may have!