The Fifth Estate’s recent Let’s Hack Housing Surround Sound event was bursting with ideas on how to finance affordable housing – some we’ve heard before, others refreshingly new. There were floor space and tax incentives for developers, the re-labelling of affordable housing as economic infrastructure to attract super funds and other investors, pop-up communities subsidised by government and the private sector, and new projects containing everything from market-priced housing to disabled and aged care housing in the one development.
The ideas may have been wide ranging but the goal was the same – to grow the stock of social and affordable housing as quickly as possible.
And the search for solutions to Sydney’s housing affordability crisis inevitably circles back to finance. As a society how do we pay for it? This is a particular problem in a city renowned for property speculation largely unrestrained, and sometimes encouraged, by government policy.
Australia has super funds with an abundance of money to invest but an expectation residential property should achieve similar returns to commercial property. On the government policy side, incentives to invest in affordable or social housing have been in short supply, while mechanisms such as negative gearing have, many argue, fuelled rampant property speculation.
This is an edited transcript of the first panel which addressed macro issues. The panel features:
Steve Driscoll – head of CBD projects portfolio, UrbanGrowth NSW
Stephanie Barker – director urban and regional planning, Greater Sydney Commission
Wendy Hayhurst – CEO, NSW Federation of Housing Associations
Nigel Edgar – general manager – residential, Frasers Property Australia
Peter Phibbs – geographer, planner and social economist, University of Sydney
This is an edited transcript of the second panel which addressed micro issues and deliver. The panel features:
David McFadyen – fund manager, development and opportunity funds, ISPT
Garry McLean – partner, national real estate leader, social and affordable housing sector specialist, PPB Advisory
Jason Twill – innovation fellow, school of architecture, UTS; director, Urban Apostles
Jessie Hochberg – general manager, Nightingale Housing
Following is part 3 of an edited transcript of the Surround Sound with comments from the hot seat:
Kevin Brake – National Business Leader – Mobility Oriented Development, Arcadis
Virginie Faour – Senior Associate, Origination and Transactions Team, Clean Energy Finance
Alex Symes – Big World Homes
Nicole Gerschel – Smart Urban Villages
Abdul Khan – Ask Property
Dominic Sullivan – Payce
Guy Luscombe – Architects Johannsen + Associates
Seven key policy agenda items emerged from The Fifth Estate’s Surround Sound on Housing: affordable/sustainable/innovative that can start to change the game for housing. They’ve been distilled from the event with contributions from our panelists, guests and readers and have been shaped to make a quick summary of thinking for the benefit of governments, government agencies, developers and community groups and individuals interested to help solve this growing critical issue of concern for our future:
1. The problem needs systems thinking
2. We need affordable housing targets, which might be flexible and require incentives
3. Transparency is mandatory
4. Make affordable housing “economic infrastructure”
5. Bring super funds on board with the right incentives
6. Enable more flexible frameworks for people creating alternative community housing and enable more communication between sectors
7. Support the development of innovation and positive disruption
Our Surround Sound on Housing drew around 100 key influencers from fields as diverse as architecture, finance, community housing, planning, local and state government, and building and construction.
And, thanks to UrbanGrowth NSW, we now have video interviews with some of the audience and panellists to provide feedback on what they thought were the main takeaways from the event.