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Unlocking not-for-profit housing

2 min read

Associate Professor Vivienne Milligan, of the UNSW City Futures Research Centre, said not-for-profit (NFP) affordable housing developers have a crucial role to play in sustaining a vibrant social mix in our cities and arresting homelessness, particularly in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Milligan said that despite between 2004 and 2008, the number of units developed, owned and financed by NFP housing providers increased from 1,200 to 5,440, growth many times that level was necessary to close the supply gap.

“We have a shortage nationally of 251,000 rental dwellings for low income people,” Milligan said, putting stark perspective on the meagre 5,440 units currently available.

“We have had 15 years of no growth in social housing and compared to North America and Europe NFP housing developers have been one missing element in our housing system.

“The latest research shows that skills and capacity among the leading group of 11 developers are increasing, growth is accelerating and around 30 additional providers are poised to become affordable housing developers,” Milligan said, but adequate government support was still missing from the equation.

Milligan said that while the NFP sector had been identified by the Federal Government as strategically important, it needed more support, particularly in the forms of access to affordable land for development and secure, long-term public and private finance directed to proven developers.

Associate Professor Milligan said the number of low income households was continuing to grow in proportion with the general number of households, “But the housing market has moved upmarket without replacing those affordable private rentals that have been lost or adding to the supply of social housing,” she said.

“Not-for-profit growth shouldn’t come at the expense of the public housing system but public housing is increasingly catering to highest-need individuals.”

Milligan sees the necessity for the NFP housing sector to begin to remedy this inequality.

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