The Cities Leadership Institute held the first of our Urban Leaders Boardroom Lunch Series, where we bring together city leaders to discuss crucial urban planning issues that many communities are facing today. This event in particular focused on Housing Affordability, where we addressed the main obstacles and explored some innovative ways to address it head on.
Boardroom Lunch: Housing Affordability participants.
The event began with a presentation by Catherine Gilbert, where she shared with us her key findings from a recent report she did about housing affordability in Sydney in relation to key workers. Check out the University of Sydney's Urban Housing Labs report here for more information about her findings and proposed strategies. Jason Twill followed with a presentation on his work surrounding Collaborative Urbanism. Twill spoke about the changing priorities we are seeing in how people want to live. There is also a growing cohort of people, who do not qualify for affordable housing, yet cannot afford rising rent prices, who are being pushed out of cities, which has led to the innovative solution of co-living.
Following the presentation, Cities Leadership's Professor Edward Blakely moderated a discussion among the 20 participants to identify the specific challenges and constraints they are seeing in the housing sector today. In the room, we gathered a diverse group of key stakeholders, with representatives from a number of local governments across New South Wales, along with professionals from the private sector.
One issue that many of the councils feel their community members are facing is a deposit gap. Due to the high rent in many cities in and around Sydney, people are unable to save money to put towards a deposit on owning a home, yet home ownership is still a value that is strongly held by many Australians. A question was also raised about supply and demand. Professor Blakely asked the room if there will be enough people to fill such proposed affordable housing developments. Response was overwhelmingly that the scale of housing needs is huge in the Sydney area, and likely going to continue to grow, so demand will undoubtedly meet supply, if supply is increased.
There were a few key takeaways from the discussion, that we want to see actioned into solutions. Firstly, local governments must govern. This requires implementing appropriate changes to tackle issues such as a lack of affordable housing. Second, there must be collaboration among all stakeholders, including the public, which means having a community that is both educated on their specific challenges and also informed on what the local government is doing to address those challenges. Housing affordability is a big challenge, but it can certainly be achieved with good planning and collaboration!