City Deals can remedy affordable housing shortages: AHURI

Australia’s emerging City Deals model can leverage affordable rental housing choices near employment to enhance urban and regional productivity more widely.

However, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) says specific strategies are needed to ensure that jobs are brought closer to existing and planned housing and that rental accommodation remains affordable and available for low-income households.

In a new report examining how “placed-based deals” can leverage affordable rental housing choices near employment centres, AHURI says employment growth, transport connectivity and housing choice/affordability are all key objectives emphasised by Australia’s capital city strategic plans.

However, strategies for integrating these elements are underdeveloped and depend on high levels of coordination and collaboration between state and local agencies.

“There is strong potential for strategic funding interventions such as city deals to catalyse key elements of these strategic frameworks – as is occurring through the Western Sydney City Deal and the planned Geelong City Deal – bringing employment closer to existing and planned housing.”

One of three lessons from the report – which drew on interviews with state and local planners and economic development officers – is that the primary objectives of funding deals “need to be made explicit, and governance arrangements should be robust and transparent.

“Additional capacity funding for local governments is often needed,” the report added.