Opinion: Solving the affordable housing crisis through collaboration

Recently FMSA Architecture Directors Greg Anson and Riordan Gough shared their perspective on the housing affordability issue:

Completed in 2013, the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway project is a great example of the positive outcomes that partnerships between government agencies and non-profit housing associations can deliver. The project provided benefits not only to the precinct through an increase in supply of affordable housing within Melbourne’s eastern growth corridor, but also improved and renewed the urban fabric, increased diversity and delivered triple bottom line returns on investment.

Designed by FMSA Architecture, the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway project provided a supply of affordable and socially mixed housing with private units within the same development as a result of a leveraged partnership between the State Government and not-for-profit housing association Port Philip Housing Association (PPHA).

The project was leveraged via the alternative procurement model to enable the delivery of a greater number of new social housing units for a lower end cost to the taxpayer than would have been possible for a traditional “government as developer” housing project. Land and funding from the Government initially facilitated the project, with PPHA and the developer led team going on to sell off 25% of the units to the private market and inject those profits back into additional social housing units.

What is different about this project is that the development far exceeded the typical ratio of 10-20% mix in social and private housing that is recommended for new private developments. In this case, the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway delivered 75% social housing and 25% private housing, resulting in a successful business model.

In her recent piece for The Age, Dr Kate Shaw from the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne commented on Melbourne’s increasing housing affordability issue.

We share Dr Shaw’s point of view that we can provide solutions that address the needs of the community by assessing the State, council and government land assets, especially near major transit corridors within the inner ring, and using the identified supply of public land now to create a supply of affordable housing in the vein of the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway model through partnerships between private investors and non-profit housing associations.

We believe in co-creating supportive environments for people through social innovation. We are looking forward to the opportunity to create the next affordable innovative housing project that positively contributes to the community and the environment.