Is a New Public Housing Model The Solution For Affordable Housing in Australia?

With Australian property prices continually on the rise and foreign investment both encouraged and welcomed by the government, the Australian government needs to look at helping its citizens who might not be as financially well off.

The median house price is currently at a record high of $826K in Melbourne, so how do we go about creating opportunities for young buyers and mid to low income earners?

Purchasing a property shouldn’t be an unreachable dream or an impossible task for Australians, but our government needs to start affording all individuals the opportunity to acquire a permanent home.

Looking to the likes of countries such as Singapore could be a good start.

Singapore is miles ahead of us when it comes to addressing this issue. For example, Singapore has tackled the problem through purpose built public housing, offering apartments for a leasehold of 99 years.

Initially built to provide access to housing, these apartments have now grown in popularity, with more than 80% of the residential population living in this type of lease.

While what is equivalent to superannuation is partly used to purchase this, they can still be sold or inherited as people can, in a sense, still claim ownership over these.

It’s the easy way to get rid of a landlord, while still being able to claim ‘ownership’ of a property.

These apartments are sold at lower-than-market prices and are available in a variety of types and layouts to meet the needs of differing budgets. They are also made more accessible through government loans.

The majority of these residential housing developments are managed by Singapore’s Housing and Development Board (HDB), and are also publicly governed and developed. If you also own a freehold property, which costs millions of dollars in Singapore, you lose eligibility for this incentive.

It’s dramatically different to what Australians consider public housing to look like.

It’s not awful like what we make it out to be and it’s also much easier to gain access to, where in Australia most people who can’t afford to buy a home still won’t qualify for public housing.

By putting these apartments in self-contained housing estates, Singapore has been able to create miniature towns with schools, medical clinics, gardens, sport and recreational facilities along with supermarkets.

Planned, designed and built with sustainability and a sense of community in mind, these HDB residences also help to promote social interaction and offer residents added security.

With the facilities second to none, even Singapore’s current President Halimah Yacob, lives in a sixth-floor housing board flat in public housing and has expressed no intention to move.

When we can see how successful this approach has been in Singapore, and how it has helped them to achieve virtually no homelessness, how can our government not be making inroads in creating our own solution in Australia?

We need to look at alternatives to our current property climate to make living in Australia’s major cities a more affordable option.

Australian’s need more options and greater opportunity when it comes to housing and our government needs to start creating these.

 

Bruce Oliver is the co-founder of Xynergy Realty.