City Futures Research Centre UNSW Built Environment

Improving the Economic Arguments for more diverse and affordable housing models for Sydney

Over the past 30 years, affordable housing policies (broadly defined) have lost political traction, despite housing outcomes becoming increasingly problematic. Traditionally, housing bodies and policy lobbies have been primarily concerned with social, distributional, and more recently environmental, outcomes of housing provision. There is now also a growing recognition, however, that housing outcomes shape, and are shaped by, economic change. Previous work by CI Maclennan (Maclennan, Ong and Wood  2015) set out an economics view on housing, housing outcomes and potential wider economic impacts, including how these connections were made between housing, planning and economic policy agencies within Victoria and Western Australia. However, that work did not explore the specific subsets of affordable housing policies, nor did it address the ways in which policy cases were presented in budgetary processes nor how they were understood within Treasury/Finance ministries. 

This study addresses this gap, by developing an explanatory framework for housing based in applied housing economics research. It seeks to identify distinctive features of housing as a good/asset, and to provide a framework to identify key questions, evidence and evidence gaps. Its central aim is to relate key housing system outcomes to the key policy goals of local, state and national governments. It sets out housing cases in a language that the sector will understand but that also connects to the understandings of budgetary policy-makers. More specifically, it aims to:  

i. explore how housing is seen to connect to the economy; 

ii. assess how these housing cases are evaluated by spending and budgetary arms of government; 

iii. understand whether, how and why housing is treated differently from other infrastructure in budgetary assessments; and

iv. enable more effective long-term interaction between housing sector and government finance officials, to improve future modelling of housing sector effects.