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More carrots for developers to boost affordable housing

By Ian Bushnell - 2 August 2017 0

New public housing stock in the ACT. Photo: ACT Public Housing Renewal Taskforce

Relaxing code requirements for developments and offering apartment developers in Town Centres more floor space are ideas being canvassed by the ACT Government to boost the supply and range of affordable housing in the Territory.

Part of a discussion paper, Towards a New Housing Strategy, released for public comment, the ideas are part of a suite of policy suggestions to deal with homelessness and improving housing affordability in the ACT.

The Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Yvette Berry, said the Government would also be talking to community organisations, industry and service providers.

Response to the paper will be brought to the ACT Housing and Homelessness Summit in October before being considered as part of the Government’s new housing strategy that will aim “to reduce homelessness, strengthen social housing assistance, increase affordable rental options and improve pathways to affordable home ownership”.

The paper says developers of taller apartment buildings in Town Centres could be offered additional gross floor area in return for “better community outcomes”.

“The benefits could include communal open space, increased accessibility or universal design standards, public realm upgrades, increased affordable housing provisions and greater variation in unit sizes and types,” it says.

The paper says that enabling a range of options for appropriate housing has the potential to boost supply and help deliver more affordable options.

“Consideration could be given to including a definition for affordable housing in the Territory Plan to assist with development considerations, or to relaxing code requirements where an affordable housing development also includes other benefits for the community,” it says.

The paper says the Government will also consider changing the Territory Plan to help increase the range of housing options, which may subsequently increase the amount of affordable housing that is available.

The Government has identified priority groups within the 60,000 lowest income households in the ACT ($0 to $100,000), with the primary focus on the estimated 1700 homeless people who are living in supported accommodation, staying temporarily with other households, living in severely crowded dwellings or sleeping rough.

There are 7000 households in the private rental market paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent and at a high risk of homelessness, with 9000 households living in either public housing or community rental housing.

Other ideas canvassed in the paper include more rental supports for those in the private market, incentives for landlords to provide below-market rents, a shared equity scheme to assist home purchase with lower deposits and repayments and an innovation fund to support new housing options.

The Minister said the Government had already implemented measures to improve affordability including accelerated land supply, the 20 per cent Greenfield affordable housing target and cuts to land tax and stamp duty, particularly for properties at the lower end of the market.

The 2017 ACT Budget also changed land tax arrangements for vacant investment properties to encourage owners to provide their properties on the rental market.

To access the discussion paper and other information, as well as provide your feedback go to

www.yoursay.act.gov.au/affordablehousing

Do you think the planning rules need to be loosened and developers given more incentives for housing to be cheaper in the ACT? What else could be done?  Has the Government done enough on land supply?

What’s Your opinion?


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