2016 Affordable Housing conference highlights

August 8, 2016 @ 10:37am

What would it take to create 100,000 new affordable homes in NSW?

This was the aspirational question posed as the theme for this year’s Affordable Housing Conference, held in Sydney on July 28-29 with Argyle Housing as proud conference partner.

The 400-odd delegates were challenged by numerous international and domestic speakers from academia, government, industry and the housing sector to think of ways we could collectively achieve this ambitious goal.

The Shadow Minister for Social Housing, Tania Mihailuk, kicked things off with a keynote speech that included a pledge from a future Labor state government to transfer public housing asset title to Community Housing Providers.

Such a move would allow CHPs to leverage the full potential of the housing assets under their management. If Labor do happen to win the next election, we will all be lining up to remind Tania of her very public pledge!

In the first Panel Discussion of the conference Professor Geoff Meen from the University of Reading (UK) then argued that the issue of housing affordability would not be fixed by simply building more dwellings.

Professor Meen said that the research evidence suggests there are a number of demand-side factors, such as tax concessions, that actually play a big part in driving up property prices. His point was that we should not just assume more housing means cheaper housing – the picture is more complex than that.

Multi-tenure developments – Best practice approaches to design and development
Argyle Housing was proud to sponsor one of the concurrent sessions on Day 1 in which social researcher Dr Judith Stubbs and Dominic Sullivan, General Manager of developer PAYCE, reported on two current schemes intended to promote and support best practice in designing multi-tenure developments.

Where will your children (and your childrens’ children) live?
Day 2 kicked off with a lively Panel Discussion launching the business case for a new financial intermediary that would be essential if CHPs were to get anywhere near developing the proposed 100,000 new affordable dwellings across NSW.

The keynote speaker was Piers Williamson, CEO of The Housing Finance Corporation, a UK-based financial intermediary that has sourced over $70 Billion in funds for affordable housing initiatives over the past three decades.

Piers said that the key to success was a long-term pipeline of affordable housing developments to keep investors interested, and that this was only possible if the Government where to commit to substantial ongoing investment.

He implored the Sector to unite in a concentrated and sustained campaign to put pressure on our politicians to commit to action. He said that the key to action in the UK was to get a ground swell of public support, and suggested a social media campaign that asks a very personalised question like “Where will your children afford to live?”

A genuinely thought-provoking conference.