The cost of living crisis deepens its roar everyday. University students struggling to make ends meet on the pittance of Centrelink or on unreliable casual work are resorting to living in dingy houses with wallpapers of mold. One student from Malaysia I became friends with was kicked out of his home illegally, unaware of his rights or the avenues for assistance. He told me this in the living room of my home, where he had been referred to by the SRC.
Beginning as a glass-making factory on Wilson Street, Newtown/Macdonaldtown, STUCCO has been turned into student-run cooperative housing that caters to the people most in-need, without the impositions of landlords or high-prices. Based on an egalitarian philosophy, STUCCO is maintained by its forty student-residents, with general meetings held fortnightly to discuss items relevant to the cooperative, the maintenance of the building, and the inner-workings of each of its four committees.
To apply all that is needed is that you must attend three meetings (with at least one being a General Meeting), must be an Australian citizen or Permanent Resident (this is due to NSW laws), a USyd student (either full-time, or part-time and registered with disability services). The dates and times of each meeting are listed on the STUCCO website.
But even if you are an international student, STUCCO offers emergency temporary accommodation – regardless of citizenship or resident status. If you or someone you know has been kicked out or is unable to find somewhere to live, we have a number of rooms set aside for exactly that situation.
As of 2023, STUCCO has been around for 32 years, with over 600 students having filled out its rooms during its lifetime. Built on the foundation of needs-based housing, it allows those who would otherwise be unable to move out of their current places a chance to find stable and accepting accommodation. In every unit there are ghost-spots, names unremembered and belongings left-behind. This quasi-inheritance contributes to STUCCO’s atmosphere of expression, connection, and decades-long cooperation. Unit 6, my unit, has a segment of wall in the kitchen used as a graveyard, with each name a memento mori, reminding me as I cook eggs of who once lived here, of who cooked eggs where I now stand.
One day, two or three years from now. I’ll add my name there, my vagabond mark. And someone I’ve never met will wonder where I am now, maybe it will be you. Maybe one day you’ll decide to paint over that graveyard. And I will still remember STUCCO as STUCCO remembers me, the thrum of my time here beating throughout the halls like a tell-tale heart under infinity-white walls.