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The housing crisis: lessons from distorted housing markets and City of Melbourne’s DAH Strategy

The City of Melbourne announced their Draft Affordable Housing (DAH) Strategy for public consultation at the Transitions Film Festival last night.

A panel of local housing experts discussed housing affordability in Melbourne alongside the Australian debut of the documentary “Push”. This documentary is a thoughtful and engaging look at how treating housing as an asset rather than a basic human right can rapidly distort housing outcomes.

You can find out more about it here:

The City of Melbourne’s DAH strategy focuses on the creation of affordable rental housing and includes four priorities as follows:

  1. Advocate the state government for mandatory inclusionary zoning – We note that the government’s Planning Mechanisms for Affordable Housing Advisory Committee will make an announcement some time this year, and it will be interesting to see whether inclusionary zoning is part of this.

  2. Develop affordable rental housing on City of Melbourne land – Including an aim to deliver up to 25% of residential development as affordable housing, and working with other Councils to establish opportunities and share resources to enable affordable housing projects.

  3. Strengthen internal affordable housing processes – Including developing an affordable housing planning policy outlining when an affordable housing contribution should be made, how the rate of affordable housing should be calculated, and what should be included in an affordable housing agreement. We agree from our previous affordable housing work for other municipalities and state government that it is crucial to be very clear about the process, and commend City of Melbourne for seeking to learn lessons from its current ad hoc approach to affordable housing approach within its planning scheme to create a much clearer process.

  4. Advocate and partner for affordable housing – Including educating the community on affordable housing issues and alternative housing models. We agree that this will be an important way to support affordable housing developments to reduce any concerns within the community which may impact on planning approvals.

Some interesting points from the report:

  • The current uplift incentives in the Melbourne Planning Scheme and the Planning and Environment Act voluntary agreement process have yet to deliver any affordable housing in Melbourne.

  • The strategy identifies that for every $1 invested in affordable housing, there are $3 in benefits to the community due to key worker retention, educational benefits, enhanced human capital, health cost savings, reduced family violence and reduced crime.

Echelon Planning is assisting a number of Councils to prepare affordable housing strategies, policies and planning controls, so we look forward within interest to see what feedback the City of Melbourne’s DAH strategy elicits.

The draft strategy can be viewed here.


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