COVID-19 and Investing in Affordable Housing: an opportunity

WHATS GOING ON?
With the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenburg affirming that Australia in recession, the need for economic stimulus is ever-present. Whilst initiatives such as the JobKeeper Payment, supplementary payments to individuals, and early access to superannuation have been effective in the short-term, there is a demand for broader strategic planning from the Federal and State Governments.

So far we have seen the HomeBuilder grants scheme. The package will boost the economy by keeping residential builders and trades in their jobs, however, the payments target audience of home-owners with surplus cash has been criticised. Arguably future stimulus grants should benefit those most disadvantaged in our society.

Be it public housing, community housing, or private rentals, there is a national shortage of affordable housing for those in need. In 2019 the national social and affordable deficit was 651,300 and this is expected to rise to 1 million by 2036.

A conglomerate of NSW based industry associations has recently called upon the State and Federal Government for greater investment in affordable housing and Victorian counterparts have done the same.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
There are many opportunities to improve the provision of affordable housing:
• Identifying unused government-owned land for development.
• Collaboration between designers, planners, housing advisors, philanthropists, councils and governments.
• Fast-tracking of approvals.
• Requirements for developments to include affordable housing.

CASE STUDY: COMMUNITY CARE ACCOMMODATION IN WANGARATTA

BY Projects has worked closely with community housing organisation BeyondHousing in developing an underutilised site to provide community care accommodation in Wangaratta. Thirteen 1-2 bedroom units will provide affordable housing to tenants with the capacity to act as transitional and crisis housing when required.
Marrying affordability with liveability was critical to the design, with each unit achieving at least silver standard under the Livable Housing Design Guidelines and also complying with the DHHS Housing Design Guidelines.
Access to quality green space is emphasized with each unit having ample private open space complemented by generous communal areas. A rain garden is featured at the low point of the site to aide with the retention of stormwater on-site.
With government funding, many more projects such as this could provide affordable housing to communities across Victoria. The expertise of designers, housing expert advisors, planners and the community are waiting to be utilised.

 

Zeb Kitchell, 8 August 2020