Affordable and sustainable housing: An empirical study of options for redevelopment in central Australia
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There is a huge unmet demand for affordable housing in Australia, and the severe shortage of such accommodation has led to persistent long term homelessness for many families and individuals. Whilst the shortage is nationwide, the situation is particularly severe in regional Australia and, for indigenous people, their plight is even more extreme. Whilst all Australian states and territories have a statutory responsibility for housing provision, the Australian federal government is also adopting a range of strategies to address this critical situation, with indications of successful outcomes providing hope for long term amelioration of this pernicious problem. Within the context of the partnership framework, this paper reports on an initiative in Alice Springs which is proposing an affordable housing development project catering to the needs of indigenous communities, is environmentally conscious, and provides investment opportunities for the potential partners. This vision is shared by many community-based and non-government organisations as well as by the Australian government, and all parties are very sensitive to the urgent attention demanded by this growing problem. After reviewing economic, environmental, and social indicators framing the need for affordable housing at the national scale, the study applies these metrics to a property in Alice Springs which the current owners, the Anglican Church, are keen to redevelop in a manner consistent with socially responsible outcomes. More specifically, the paper reports detailed proposals for indigenous community housing and applies a financial model to test the financial viability of the proposals. This exercise is not only providing a financial feasibility of the specific proposal and site, but offers an economic model that focuses on all three aspects of sustainability and is of more general potential application for indigenous community housing.
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