Affordable living – a new future

As a nation we are faced with the issue of providing enough affordable housing in a market that is consistently decreasing in affordability, particularly around our major cities.

There has been no relief for people on low incomes looking for affordable and suitable homes in our major cities. For people on minimum wage, options are also becoming limited.

Sustained growth in housing costs, well above the rate of income growth, has made it increasingly difficult for an ever expanding proportion of Australians to afford housing.

Statistics on affordable housing

In 2012, the National Housing Supply Council estimated that:

  • the gap between overall housing supply and demand was 228,000 dwellings
  • there was a deficit of 539,000 affordable rental properties for lower income renters.

An increasing number of Australian renter households are experiencing housing stress. This is when a household is paying more than 30 percent of their income in housing costs.

For low-income households in greatest need, governments provide social housing. However, it’s not increasing at a rate sufficient to keep up with demand and waiting lists for social housing remain long.

There are:

  • more than 30,000 people on Queensland’s social housing register
  • almost 20,000 (19,800) homeless people in Queensland.

The leading causes of homeless in Queensland are:

  • financial difficulties—housing stress, unemployment (25%)
  • accommodation issues—housing crisis, inadequate or inappropriate dwellings (34%)
  • domestic violence and relationship issues—time out from family, family breakdown, violence and assault (24%)
  • health reasons—mental health issues, substance abuse issues (3%)
  • other—transition from care/custody, lack of support, discrimination (13%)

Who needs affordable housing?

There are many people who require affordable housing who don’t fall into the need for social housing, but cannot afford high private rents.

This is sometimes the case even for people working full time in essential services such as the police, nursing or child care, particularly if they are starting their career or are a single income family.  

Sometimes through life circumstance, people can no longer afford higher rents or mortgage due to the loss of a job, separation, illness or death of a loved one.

Many pensioners are also faced with extreme housing stress, which is compounded by age-related healthcare costs. This is also experienced by single parents, students and individuals on other benefits. Private rental costs in cities are taking up huge proportions of their income, leaving them vulnerable when there are extra healthcare or other costs.

Making a difference – Kurrajong Townhouses

Affordable housing is essential and we understand the importance of increasing supply in the right locations. Our housing-first approach means that once people have a safe, stable, affordable and appropriate home, they can then work on other parts of their life, such as their health, employment or education needs.

On Saturday 16 June we officially opened our Kurrajong Townhouses in Kallangur. This development, managed by Churches of Christ Housing Services, fills a gap between social housing and the increasingly expensive private rental market.

The 50 townhouses are now home to 91 residents, with many moving from unaffordable and inappropriate homes.

Kurrajong Townhouses are kept affordable through:

  • affordable rents (less than 30 per cent of gross household income)
  • energy efficient products
  • access to transport and employment.

The townhouses also provide security for residents, with lease terms up to three years.

There are many challenges in delivering an affordable living development and finding appropriate and affordable land is one of the biggest. Kurrajong Townhouses was possible thanks to the generous donation of land by Ian and Neva Handy for the specific purpose of creating affordable housing in Kallangur.

With the land donated, we were able to successfully deliver this $10.6 million development through a combination of private investment, subsidies and tax incentives.

Kurrajong Townhouses represents a new way of thinking about and delivering places people can afford in our communities and addressing housing affordability in our society.

Posted June 25, 2018 in Our blog