discussion about the need to offer pro bono work

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The Age: on one of arch-peace probono project

Photo: Roger Cummins
Carlton uni squat talks stall

Annie Lawson (The Age)
October 9, 2008

"NEGOTIATIONS have stalled between the University of Melbourne and students squatting in terrace houses the university owns in Carlton.

Fifteen homeless students moved into the Faraday Street properties two months ago, frustrated by soaring rents and a shortage of suitable properties.

Although vice-chancellor Glyn Davis has publicly lamented the student housing shortage, nothing has been done, according to the squatters.

The rental vacancy rate in inner Melbourne is 1.1% and the university's residential colleges, which house about 2300 students, are full.

According to the university's Student Housing Services, students are spending up to 40% of their income on rent.

The student squatters have installed fire alarms, repaired holes in the floors, patched leaking pipes and draped banners over the balconies promoting SHAC - the Student Housing Action Collective. The not-for-profit organisation Architects for Peace has agreed to plan a renovation so the terraces can accommodate 40 students. The Melbourne body wants to follow the lead of the University of Sydney co-operative STUCCO, which charges rents as low as $70 a week. The Melbourne collective's spokeswoman, Allegra Reinalda, said: "It's a public statement about what students want in terms of housing - they want the co-operative model that enables a community atmosphere."

But the university refuses to negotiate until the students move out. Student Housing Services manager Adrian Burrage said the university was exploring co-operative housing but declined to comment on whether it would consider the Faraday Street terraces.

The squatters get most of their food from supermarket rubbish skips."

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