Treating social housing as a form of essential infrastructure is the focus of a joint research paper released last week, featuring the University of Tasmania’s award-winning researcher Kathleen Flanagan.
Dr Flanagan last week received the Federal Minister’s Award for Early Career Housing Researcher at the Australasian Housing Researchers Conference in Adelaide, where she provided an overview of the research, A conceptual analysis of social housing as infrastructure.
Released by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), Dr Flanagan said the research challenged the mainstream assumptions about who social housing should be for and why and was a collaboration with The University of New South Wales and RMIT University.
“There are risks an uncritical adoption of a business case approach that focusses on the measurable financial aspects of social housing may exclude or hide other important qualities that are relevant to the purpose of social housing,” Dr Flanagan said.
“The report argues that any infrastructure analysis of social housing should take into account the broad range of economic and social outcomes possible for households at the lower end of the income spectrum.
“Rather than simply conceptualising social housing as a targeted welfare safely net.”
A free lunchtime forum open to the public will be held tomorrow (13 February) at IMAS in Hobart, where Dr Flanagan will join forces with one of the key researchers Associate Professor Julie Lawson from the RMIT AHURI Research Centre, Centre for Urban Studies.
Professor Lawson is the lead researcher on an Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) inquiry into effective strategies for funding social housing and will discuss the inquiry report, which looks at the:
- experience of public and private investment strategies in this sector both nationally and internationally;
- level of need (and backlog) for social housing in Australia for the next 20 years, and
- cost procuring this housing across different land and construction markets.
Professor Lawson said the latest research modelled five alternative pathways to funding social housing and found the ‘capital grant’ model, supplemented by efficient financing, provides the most cost effective model for Australia.
“The research also established the current and future unmet need for social housing in different parts of Australia,” Professor Lawson said.
“Demographic and financial modelling has also been undertaken of the estimated need and cost to government of five different investment scenarios from direct mission driven equity investment to private financing with an operating subsidy.
“The results have important policy implications for the scale and direction of social housing investment in Australia, including the newly established National Housing Finance Investment Corporation.”
Dr Flanagan, who is also the Deputy Director of the Housing and Community Research Unit (HACRU) will give an overview of her latest report into social housing.
“There is widespread recognition that the private housing market is failing to meet the housing needs of a growing proportion of Australian households,” Dr Flanagan said.
“The impact of this market failure extends beyond the narrow group of people targeted by the present-day social housing system.”