Affordable Housing
Bridging the Gap

by Margie
The corona virus pandemic has increased the visibility of some of the most complex issues our society faces. Housing is one such issue, with availability and affordability exerting stress on people’s housing choices. The flow-on effect of unemployment on housing is most tangibly felt by our community housing providers, who were already heralding the significant under-supply of affordable housing before the outbreak of Covid-19. Edmiston Jones’ DA in a Day project brought together a local community housing provider and Council to investigate options for affordable housing in Bomaderry. Released in March this year, Wollongong Council’s Draft Housing and Affordable Housing Options Paper reported that for just over half of all households in the Wollongong local government area, housing affordability represents a large and growing issue. Council’s ability to affect the situation is within the town planning domain, where it has identified three priorities:
  • increase diversity
  • plan for housing growth
  • increase supply
Other than changes to legislation such as the Local Environment Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP), how can this diversity and supply be delivered? Policy that supports change is certainly necessary but increasing supply of affordable housing requires a financial injection with a social purpose. This has historically been provided by government funding. We read with great interest that a collaboration between Federal and State governments and a private sector super fund recently announced a pilot programme to offer low-interest, long-term funding to the sector. The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and Cbus Super worked together to develop the pilot that includes six ‘shovel-ready’ sites across Sydney to deliver 96 dwellings. Some Edmiston Jones' projects for Land and Housing Corporation that will increase housing diversity in the Illawarra Shoalhaven. Studio units now under construction and designs in progress for general housing.  The three organisations have signed a joint letter to registered Community Housing Providers, opening an Expression of Interest period to roll out the programme. A second tranche of sites is already being prepared, including a mix of 300 new social, affordable and private dwellings in regional as well as metropolitan areas. If any silver linings have emerged from the corona virus crisis, one must certainly be the collaborative approach of Federal and State governments, combined with the private sector’s commitment to social investment. It resonates with Edmiston Jones’ vision of ‘a place for every person.’
Affordable Housing<br>Bridging the Gap