Can we make affordable, accessible housing financially feasible in Sydney?

The University of Auckland
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
5th Australasian Housing Researchers' Conference, 17-19 November 2010: refereed papers, 2010, pp. 1 - 18
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Stimulating affordable, accessible infill development is essential if Sydneyâs housing deficit is to be reduced without the environmental impacts of large scale Greenfield development. But despite a Metro Strategy that targets 70% of new development for infill sites, an enhanced array of Commonwealth and State housing supply subsidies, and increased state government intervention in development regulation, too little affordable market rate housing is being developed (NHSC 2010). One important reason claimed by some commentators is that low-priced housing is not financially feasible in accessible locations. Some interesting recent analyses have identified a significant gap between the costs of housing development and the price at which it will sell, and suggest that merely increasing densities will not resolve this problem (NHSC 2010; Graus 2010). Is it possible to rethink the form in which subsidies are provided, or the ways that development is regulated, to enable developers to produce housing that is both affordable and accessible? This paper investigates this question, using a hypothetical set of development options for three sites in Sydneyâs middle ring suburban southwest. I focus on market rate housing affordable to new home buyers (although there is significant overlap with the provision of affordable market rate rental housing). I do not address the provision of social housing which generally provides deeper subsidies to low income households, although the argument presented here may have implications for subsidized housing provision. Sydneyâs housing affordability problems stretch quite far up the income distribution, with median home prices reaching $625,488 in mid-2010 (APM 2010).
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