News | 12 May 2015

How to fix the housing crisis

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More than 650 people answered the Every Australian Counts call to share the challenges they face in finding accessible, affordable housing. We also received feedback from a range of organisations actively working in the housing arena.

Every submission highlighted the need for affordable, accessible housing that gives people with disability choice about where they live and how they live.

They also suggested great practical solutions to housing concerns. Here’s a snapshot of what the organisations told us they think is needed:

Plug into planning laws

Networx Integrated Housing suggests councils set 15 per cent of all land releases aside for affordable housing.

In Pittwater alone, the council is considering a subdivision for 1,500 new homes covering 110 hectares at Ingleside in Sydney’s north. A 15 per cent target would add another 225 affordable homes to the area which has very high house prices and big rents.

Networx says new land releases also provide an opportunity for small groups of no more than four house blocks that are close to amenities and transport be reserved for purpose built homes – allowing residents to pool support if they choose.

Networx also turned its attention to redevelopments on council owned land, which they believe offers joint venture opportunities between local government and private developers to provide accessible communal spaces such as libraries and community centres alongside universally designed homes.

“This would ensure a central accessible location, connection to community services and keep rent affordable.

“A return could be delivered to council from the sale of private residences and this could be a way of building quality units for affordable or social housing.”

Minimum design standards

The Australian Network for Universal Housing Design believes it’s time for governments to introduce compulsory minimum accessibility requirements in new buildings.

The Network believes that despite the best efforts of the government and others, the existing voluntary code is not working,

“ A generous estimation is that the current voluntary approach will achieve less than 5 per cent of the National Dialogue’s 2020 target,” they said.

Instead the network would like the Australian government to incorporate minimum access requirements into all new and extensively modified buildings, including:

  • An accessible path of travel from the street or parking area to and within the entry level of a home;
  • Doors, corridors and living spaces that allow ease of access for most people on entry level; and
  • A bathroom, shower and toilet that can be used by most people.

Youngcare , which focuses on providing accommodation for young people in need, also believes building regulations should be changed to ensure there is consistency across all states and territories.

“Regulations should stipulate that all new buildings must comply with simple design innovation to enable easy conversion of all new homes – such as increasing the minimum width of doorways to accommodate wheelchair access.”

Every Australian Counts received more ideas from housing organisations, who are at the coalface of providing specialist accommodation in Australia.

Their ideas also covered financing, varying views on co-location, the special needs of young people with disability and new ideas in financing.

Stay tuned and we’ll share some of their ideas with you here over the next few weeks.

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