Cooperative Housing Association of Aotearoa New Zealand
Code of Practice


Explanations of some of the terms used within the code:

Affordability - where housing costs leave a household with enough income to meet other basic needs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education.

Authentic Work - any human activity contributing to the common good & which benefits the subject who performs it.

Charity - activity in which individuals, groups & institutions, fail to act for the common good, when they do not work to change disabling structures for which remedies are available!

Charitable Trust - a legal entity whose objectives benefit an appreciably significant section of the public at large, for example, by acting to relieve poverty, or acting in other ways that promote the common good.

Civil Society - when human relationships are taken beyond isolation & self-interest towards building societal capital.

Common Good - the duty of all to sustain the well-being of the human community & the natural environment, as well as the right to benefit from that well-being.

Cooperative - an autonomous association of people united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, spiritual, cultural needs & aspirations, through a jointly-owned & democratically controlled enterprise.

Cost Rental - where housing rentals & related outgoings do not exceed a fixed proportion of a household's income.

Funding the Infrastructure - the process of supplying the intellectual & institutional capital by which groups & individual families have the capacity to meet their own basic needs.

Housing Delivery System - the processes required to produce the housing stock. It includes the financial mechanisms; the building methodologies; the social & economic development models applied; & the environmental protection measures adopted.

Licence-to-occupy - where the community allow a family to occupy one of its houses, to which they earn the right of secure tenure by payment of rent.

Neutral Tenure - where no household pays more than say 30% of income on housing costs.

Not-for-Profit Organisation - a legally constituted group or institution which reinvests for the common good, the wealth it creates.

Principles - guidelines by which members of common-good groups & institutions put their values into practise.

Revolving Building Fund - the fund established by a not-for-profit organisation, which is used to sustain & expand its operations for the common good by the reinvesting the wealth created by the participants in further building.

Shared Equity - the portion of ownership that the community & a family share, depending on the contribution of each in a licence-to-occupy arrangement.

Social Compact - a commitment by government & the community to work in partnership for the common good through nurture & support of voluntary & community not-for-profit activity.

Societal Capital - where the goods of the natural environment & from the cooperation between people are available to use for the common good.

Sustainability - to provide for the needs of the preseent without sacrificing the ability of future generations & the natural world, to meet their own needs.

Third Economic Sector - a sector within the formal economy that is beyond the market & the public sector. Among other things it can create wealth, make housing more affordable, & offer opportunities to do authentic work as jobs disappear in a rapidly urbanising world.

Values - where individuals, groups & institutions practise self-help, self responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, & solidarity - showing belief in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility & caring for the common good (including the common "goods" of the natural environment.

Whole-of-Society, solution-based housing strategy - a strategic partnership between the public, private & community sectors, to address the housing affordability crisis in practical ways.


This Code of Practice (CoP) integrates the operation
of the Cooperative Housing Association of Aotearoa
New Zealand (CHAANZ) under the general rubric of

    To provide for the housing needs
    of the present generation
    without sacrificing the ability
    of future generations
    and the natural world
    to meet their own needs.°

         ° Based on the Bruntland Commission (1978)'s
           definition of sustainability.

Implementing locally the Istanbul Declaration:

    There is a sense of great opportunity & hope,
    that a new world can be built,
    in which economic development,
    social development
    & environmental protection,
    as interdependent &
    mutually reinforcing components
    of sustainable development
    can be realised
    through solidarity & cooperation,
    within & between countries
    & through effective partnerships
    at all levels.°

                ° U.N. Habitat II Agenda, Istanbul (1996)

Promoting the common good
in two priority and related areas:
by the provision of affordable housing;
& new opportunities to do authentic work.


The United Nation’s Istanbul Declaration expresses the great human agenda for the present age as: "economic development, social development & environmental protection".

The Declaration sets out the expectation that the themes of this agenda will be addressed through partnership, "Partnerships at all levels - within & between the public, private & community sectors - are needed to provide shelter for all in sustainable human settlements in an urbanising world"!

This Code of Practice (CoP) identifies the principles to guide operations in such partnerships to provide housing for all. The principles are inter-dependent & mutually reinforcing.

The CoP identifies first, principles for economic development. The context for doing so, is the failure of the market to provide affordable housing in Aotearoa. The economic principles are for building & sustaining a community’s capacity, where appropriate, to address its own housing needs. The Code then gives several examples of the application of these economic principles, to the task of building up societal capital ° in the form of an alternative housing delivery system.

Secondly, the CoP identifies the principles for sustainable social development. In solidarity with the marginalised such principles are needed to maintain a disciplined focus on the common good. The context is serious social decay (evidenced in high crime rates, poor health, low educational attainment, & sub-standard housing). A "whole-of-society" approach is the only socially sustainable way to restore the quality of life for all our people. The Code then gives some examples of the application of these social principles in the work of enhancing social cohesion & inclusiveness.

Thirdly, the CoP identifies the principles of environmental protection. That is about meeting the economic & societal needs of the present, without pushing the social & environmental costs onto future generations. Then the Code gives examples of their application to local environmental protection.

The principles are our guides, to the practice of human solidarity, cooperation & respectful partnership. The nuture & support of these qualities, makes for a robust ethical democracy, & the principles that underlie them, are the foundation of all our partnerships within & between all of us who work on the affordable housing agenda.

Economic Development Principles

Because the market has failed to make housing affordable for those on lower incomes:

Principle 1:
The community adopt a structural
economic developmental response to
the housing affordability crisis.
The application of this principle:

°   Create economic partnerships to work towards an inclusive society in which all can afford housing.

°   Establish cost-rental housing programme where housing costs do not exceed 30% of household income.

°   Re-invest the wealth created, into the production of further social housing stock, as the cost-rental housing matures.

°   Promote neutral tenure & seek conditions that will remove the burden of providing for the welfare of low-income earners by household subsidies so that no household pays more than 30% of income on housing.

Principle 2:
Neither pay nor charge market rates of interest on any financial transactions in the not-for-profit sector.
The Application of the principle:

°   Avoid borrowing at market interest rates & keep the initial costs of house-building low.

°   Seek direct sponsorship from material suppliers & pass the cost-savings on to the end-users & future housing needers.

°   Share economic risks in all management operations with third sector partners.

°   Defend against privatisation of the community housing stock, by legal safeguard.

Principle 3:
That Third Sector community partnerships in social housing become self-funding.
The Application of the principle:

°   Contribute to a Revolving Loan Fund.

°   Fund the infrastructure for the start-up operation of other would-be third-sector partners, by acting as a financial umbrella organisation & an economic strategy mentor.

°   Keep capital costs of construction of new building as low as possible, by appropriately chosen methods & techniques of building & financing.

°   Accelerate the creation of a civil-society, not-for-profit export market using the wealth created within the programme.

°   Invest the wealth created from the spread of third-sector intellectual capital & trade in value-added products, (such as: pre-built housing components & sawn-timber door and window joinery) to fund the infrastructure for further social housing programmes within Aotearoa.

Social Development Principles

Solidarity in working for the common good (including the environmental common goods) is best served by actions which enhance societal capital.

Social cohesion & cultural inclusiveness touch centrally on the issue of access to the quality of life available in our society. Only a whole-of-society response is sustainble as social needs grow - therefore there should be:

Principle 4:
Respectful partnership in relationships at all levels within & between the public, private & community sectors.
Application of this principle:

°   Disperse authority as close to where the decisions that affect individuals & households are made - the local housing trusts or community group. For ethical social democracy to flourish, there needs to be many layers of authority; each in a set of relationships with one another but ordered towards the common good.

°   Promote inter-dependence in determining the economic, cultural, political & spiritual relationships, within & between all partners in civil society which means having a responsibility for each other.

Principle 5:
A universal needs approach.
The Application of the principle:

°   Lower social costs to all. The programme to create a sense of participation by all, in a democratic & ethical society.

°   Build the social support structures that lead to such a sense of cooperation & participation.

°   Create a good-will surplus, so that householders feel able to contribute to the common good.

°   Remove discrimination against age, race, gender, religion & culture, in social housing programme.

°   Have sanctions in case of criminal behaviour by householders.

Principle 6:
Make a preferential option for those at-risk - especially children & the elderly - rather than pass judgement on adult family members.
The Application of the principle:

°   Recognise the dignity of all - by caring most for the vulnerable members of society.

°   From each, according to ability, to each, according to need.

Environmental Protection Principles

At the UN Conference on Environment & Development, nearly all the world's countries acknowledged that development as currently practised, is not sustainable into the future, & that society is pushing enormous social & environmental costs onto future generations.

The Treaty which resulted from the Rio Conference, enjoins both nations, local authorities, & communities in general, to produce a sustainable development strategy as regards the built-environment.

Therefore in meeting the economic & societal needs of the present:

Principle 7:
Do nothing to compromise the ability of future generations & Nature to meet their own needs.
The Application of the principle:

°   Adopt of a quality-of-life focus in strategic planning decisions for housing programme.

°   Commit to use low-energy, renewable-resource materials & low-impact technologies as & when they become available.

Principle 8:
Use planning & design solutions for the efficient use of energy, that recognise the needs of the end-users, their attitudes, & practices.
The Application of the principle:

°   Adopt energy-efficient & environmentally sound technologies in all construction operations & services.

°   Encourage the use of solar heating and energy efficient design, ventilation & improved insulation of buildings to reduce energy consumption.

°   Use only safe industrial waste products and other types of low-energy & recycleable building materials where appropriate in construction.

°   Encourage & promote the use of new energy efficient technologies, as and where appropriate.

Integrating Principle

The preceding principles underpin a solution-based approach to social & economic development. The focus has been on an alternative housing delivery system that makes possible the dream of neutral tenure & reintroducing housing choice to all levels of housing needers in our society.

The CoP’s principles affirm an all-of-society approach leading to a sustainable & genuine social democracy in which solution-based social & economic development will help to end welfare dependency & allow participant households to contribute more to the common good.

Principle 9:
Integrate principles 1-8 in a whole-of-society approach to establish a sustainable housing policy into the future.
The Application of the principle:

°  Initiate a nation-wide compact between the public, private & community sectors, to rid Aotearoa of substandard housing within the next ten years.

°  Nuture & support a robust third sector response so that the structures which have caused the present poverty & exclusion, are eliminated.

°  Combine the above initiatives with a choice of appropriate methodologies & technologies that enable a low producer-goods regime to emerge along with a maximising opportunities for authentic work.


The principles above underlie a formal third economic sector. We need to implement them to lift marginalised families out of passivity & together, discover we can assert greater control over the quality of our lives, & contribute to the common good. The principles guide our local action on the U.N.’s Istanbul Declaration’s twin general themes - "providing shelter for all", & "creating sustainable human settlements in a rapidly urbanising world" - themes that succinctly restate the global common good!