front verandah

bonsai collection

quiet street

Open day at new units in Watson

yurt

Courtyard bliss

An ECHO member

Minister Yvette Berry at new units in Watson

Key handover at new units in Watson

new garden

homes

Chair receives certificate of Registration from the Minister for Housing, Ms Joy Burch

About ECHO

The Environmental Collective Housing Organisation (ECHO) is a not-for-profit association providing affordable rental housing in Canberra's inner north for people on low or moderate incomes.

In 2007, two tenant-managed community housing organisations amalgamated and ECHO was formed. ECHO builds on the former organisations' experience, strengths and resources to ensure that inner north tenant-managed housing remains a viable and vibrant option for people in need.

ECHO's aims

  • To provide secure, affordable accommodation for people on low and moderate incomes, who may be otherwise disadvantaged in the housing market and want to live in tenant managed housing in Canberra's inner north.
  • To develop ecologically sustainable practices and infrastructure for tenants.
  • To provide a successful model of tenant managed housing (that can be duplicated by other groups in need of housing) and to cooperate with and assist other bodies with similar goals, especially those in the local community.
  • To build on ECHO's identity, which ECHO members defined as:

    being an inner north community

    being environmentally aware and 'green'

    being participative/collective in nature

    being 'arts' oriented

    valuing space in a crowded environment

    providing security of tenure

    having an opportunity to

    participate in decision making (empowerment)

    contributing to the community

    modelling an effective socially just alternative approach to housing

What accommodation is offered by ECHO?

ECHO currently manages thirty one properties in Canberra's inner north. Properties range from 1 to 5 bedrooms.

ECHO also offers a variety of group-share options.

ECHO offers both income-based (25% of an individual's assessable income) and affordable (72.5% of market rent but no more than 30% of an individual's assessable income) rental options. For more details on eligibility please refer to 'Useful links'.

Prospective tenants should be willing to participate in tenant-managed housing and support ECHO's aims and objectives.

What is tenant managed housing?

Tenant-managed housing co-operatives are managed by voluntary tenant members who provide the role of the 'landlord'.

ECHO provides opportunities for tenants to be involved in the management of the organisation and encourages participation. This maximises individual satisfaction with the housing provided by ECHO and helps the organisation to deliver services that meet the needs of tenants and communities.

How can I get involved?

ECHO encourages the involvement of its tenants in the social activities, daily management and long term planning of ECHO's services. ECHO ensures that tenants are well informed and have the opportunity to participate in decisions concerning the management of ECHO and its tenancies.

Tenants are kept well-informed of the operations and policies of ECHO through regular newsletters and by ensuring that policies and procedures are fully explained wherever necessary and made available in a detailed manual.

Tenants are encouraged to attend general meetings at least twice each year. Tenants are also encouraged to be a member of one of ECHO's subcommittees (Employment, Finance, Asset Maintenance and Development) or on the ECHO Management Committee, from time to time. Committee meetings are currently held monthly, general meetings every three months and strategic planning meetings every two years.

Tenants are also provided the opportunity to:

  • provide feedback about the organisation's Policies and Procedures
  • provide input into formal consultations or advisory committees
  • make decisions about the management of the tenant's own complex or dwelling
  • make decisions about policies and activities of ECHO through membership of sub-committees and the Management Committee
  • provide formal written feedback through satisfaction surveys, evaluations and suggestion boxes.

ECHO aims to ensure that the rights of all tenants are respected and that the interests of all members are taken into account when decisions are made.

 

THE ECHO HOUSING MODEL       

 

o    ECHO is a community housing provider which manages 34 properties in the inner north of Canberra, with 39 separate tenancies or occupancies.

o    The ACT Government owns 33 of the ECHO properties and provides them to ECHO on a 6 + 5 year sublease up to 2023.

o    ECHO has been able to add one property to its community housing portfolio by purchasing a freestanding 3 bedroom house in inner north Canberra.  This property is adjacent to another ECHO property and has excellent redevelopment potential.

o    ECHO is responsible for all property costs (land rates, water & sewerage rates, insurance, responsive & planned maintenance), and all employment and administrative costs of the Association.

o    ECHO retains all of the rent it collects and no funding is provided by the ACT Government or other sources.

o    ECHO provides all of its tenants with a rental rebate on current market rent:
- For “affordable” renters, rent after rebate is 72.5% of market rent (“ECHO rent) with provision to reduce rent to 50% of market rent, based on 30% of gross household income;
- For “income-related” tenants, rent after rebate is 25% of gross household income (including Centrelink rent assistance);
- Many of our “income related” tenants are actually paying “ECHO rent” or close to it, often because their financial position has improved as a consequence of obtaining appropriate rental housing with security of tenure.

o    The total market rent for ECHO properties is about $828,000 pa, and actual rent paid by ECHO tenants after rebates is $405,000 pa (an approximate 51% saving overall).

o    ECHO tenants have residential tenancy agreements under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, and effectively have long-term security of tenure under ECHO’s tenancy policies and procedures.

o    The ACT Government owns the land title to the 33 properties subleased to ECHO, with no attached property costs, and has benefited from a very substantial increase in the value of the properties over the past 10 years of ECHO’s management.

o    ECHO is a registered provider under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH).

o    ECHO is an endorsed charity under the ACNC, has charitable tax status and is exempt from ACT taxes.

o    ECHO is an incorporated association in the ACT and, under its Rules, effectively operates as a cooperative governed by its tenant members.

o    Over 10 years, from 2007 to 2017, ECHO has developed a financially viable model of community housing focussed on retaining housing stock for “social contributors” in the inner north of Canberra and improving the environmental quality of that housing. 

o    ECHO has demonstrated that cooperative, tenant-managed housing provides a good option for tenants who want community involvement.

 

July 2017

 

 

 

26 September 2017