City Futures Research Centre UNSW Built Environment


City Housing

Led by Professor Hal Pawson, the City Housing Program encompasses a wide spectrum of issues related to the governance, financing and development of social and affordable housing as well as the analysis of housing affordability and the operation of private housing markets.

This program has developed in large part through its success within the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) network. AHURI is a national research commissioning body funded by the Commonwealth and State Governments. It comprises a central management office (AHURI Ltd) and a network of nine participating universities or Research Centres who undertake AHURI-supported projects on a competitive funding basis. While City Futures leads the UNSW AHURI Research Centre, colleagues from other faculties within the university also contribute to certain projects.

Since 2013 the City Housing group has also been developing a stronger presence in the field of private rental housing research. This has primarily involved two major Australian Research Council Discovery grants. One (in collaboration with UTS and Swinburne University) focuses on the growing cohort of long term private renters. The other (also in collaboration with Swinburne University) explores the spatial dimensions and housing market impacts of private rental investor activity.

Beyond its AHURI and ARC-funded projects, the City Housing program has in recent years included studies commissioned or grant-funded by a wide range of other agencies. Recent instances have included (the former) Housing New South Wales, the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, Tenants Queensland and not-for-profit housing providers. 


City Housing research is closely linked to a number of courses within UNSW Built Environment at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.  The following postgraduate courses are led by City Housing staff who leverage considerable research experience into delivering to students the most up to date knowledge relevant to today’s changing urban landscape. 

The above courses are components of the postgraduate program: Master of Urban Renewal and Housing (launched 2016)


Current Projects

Affordable housing prospects in different market contexts
Affordable Housing SEPP and Affordable Housing in Central and Southern Sydney
Australian Homelessness Monitor
Energy Efficiency Decision Making in the NSW Social Housing Sector
Equitable Density: The place for lower-income and disadvantage households in a dense city
Family impacts of social housing legal responses to occupier misconduct
Government led innovations in affordable housing delivery
Improving outcomes for lower-income private renter households: opportunities and challenges
Improving the Economic Arguments for more diverse and affordable housing models for Sydney
Increasing affordable housing supply: evidence-based principles and strategies for Australian policy and practice
Innovation and change in the institutions of private rental housing: an international review
Inquiry into the potential of new technologies to disrupt housing policy
Longitudinal Evaluation of Riverwood North Renewal Project
Lower income barriers to low carbon living
Policy and Economic Change in England under the Coalition Government: Monitoring the impact on Homelessness
Technological disruption in private housing markets: the case of Airbnb
The design, collection and distribution of an Australian housing condition survey
The institutional dynamics of the Australian private rental sector: prospects and opportunities
The role of investor landlords in restructuring Australia’s major cities
Understanding the ‘disruption ecosystem’ - a review of current and emerging technological disruptions

Completed Projects


Milligan, V, Yates, J and Pawson, H (2016) 'Submission to the Council for Federal Financial Relations Affordable Housing Working Group', City Futures Research Centre, UNSW

Chris Martin (2016) 'Submission to the Review of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (NSW)', City Futures Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney.

Pawson H; Herath S, 2015, Disadvantaged places in urban Australia: Residential mobility, place attachment and social exclusion, AHURI Final Report No. 243, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne,">

Hulse K; Pawson HR; Reynolds M; Herath S, 2014, Disadvantaged Places in Urban Australia: Analysing socio-economic diversity and housing market performance (AHURI Final Report No 225), Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Melbourne,

Cheshire L; Pawson H; Easthope H; Stone W, 2014, Living with Place Disadvantage: community, practice and policy (AHURI Final Report No. 228), Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia,

Easthope H, 2014, 'Making a Rental Property Home', Housing Studies, 10.1080/02673037.2013.873115

Groenhardt, L 2014, Understanding the spatial impacts of direct and indirect government housing expenditure, Final Report no. 234, AHURI, Melbourne.">

Legacy C; Davison G; Liu EY; van den Nouwelant R; Piracha A, 2013, 'Democratic Infrastructure? Delivering affordable housing under Australia's Social Housing Initiative', in Ruming K; Randolph B; Gurran N (eds.), State of Australian Cities Conference 2013: Refereed Proceedings, SOAC Research Network, Sydney, presented at State of Australian Cities Conference 2013, Sydney, 27 - 29 November 2013,

Davison G; Legacy C; Liu EY; van den Nouwelant R; Piracha A, 2013, 'How and why does community opposition to affordable housing development escalate? “Unsupported development” in Parramatta, NSW', in Ruming K; Randolph B; Gurran N (eds.), State of Australian Cities Conference 2013: Refereed Proceedings, SOAC Research Network, presented at State of Australian Cities Conference 2013, Sydney, 27 - 29 November 2013,

Pawson H; Gethin D; Vizel I, 2012, Addressing concentrations of disadvantage: Policy, practice and literature review, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia,