A national strategy
It is a given that house prices have risen beyond the ability of low incomes earners and pensioners to pay. The reasons for this are still up for debate, but the urgent need for at least 100,000 new affordable homes is not.
There are many piecemeal housing projects around the country, filling perceived shortfalls in the supply of affordable housing. There are three main issues with this:
- we do not know how many new affordable houses are entering the market
- we do not know the type and quality of the housing being built
- we do know which portion of the homeless or housing stressed they will house.
There is no planned end-to-end national strategy designed to address the real needs of the entire homeless or housing stressed population.
What affordable housing is currently being built?
This image shows the types of homeless and the solutions they need. To my observation, all the current effort is going into emergency and short term accommodation – the red houses – and lower cost purchase accommodation – the purple house. I can identify no effort going into the development of long term rental – the yellow houses.
The red and blue houses
To meet the short term need, and maximise profits from government perks, unscrupulous developers are developing substandard accommodation. Unfortunately affordable housing associations are doing the same thing. Well meaning councils are under pressure to break their own building regulations, despite the fact that these are designed to keep housing to a basic minimum standard. They are doing this to fast track low-quality, low-cost and unsustainable temporary housing developments. One example of this are the developments along Ballarat Road, Footscray which I talk about here. Ballarat Road development
The purple houses
Another type of developer is developing lower cost town-houses and units for young couples who can raise some collateral.
There is also a range of grassroots projects and co-operatives building community housing developments on the co-housing model, again for those with some capital. You can read about a few of these here. What is being built
What affordable housing is currently NOT being built?
The yellow houses
I can see little evidence of houses being built to satisfy the largest component of the affordable housing market, those people who have simply been priced out of the rental housing market. These are people who will never have the collateral to afford to purchase but who need security of tenure in order to create homes out of houses. Most homeless women are in this category, and these are the bulk of the people on the various public housing waiting lists.
Require every regional town in the entire country from population 30,000 to 300,000 to identify vacant, government owned land within their city limits and get that land allocated to housing development.
Build well-designed, socially and environmentally sustainable communities on that land using the most modern low-cost pre-fab buildings available. Well-designed means communities not just houses. And well-designed includes a variety of components that I deal with here. What homemakers (women) want
These properties are either government or charity owned. They are offered to tenants on long-term or lifetime leases, and rents are controlled to a price it is viable to pay on low or fixed incomes. I talk about this in more detail here. Management Plan