The Victorian Government’s ‘Melbourne, let’s talk about the future’ planning discussion paper was released last year. There are many great things addressed in the paper very well, but one theme that I found particularly relevant and interesting was the issue of affordable housing.
Housing prices have increased at a phenomenal rate over the past few decades, especially in inner and middle suburbs. It is now virtually impossible to buy a house in Boroondara for under about $900,000 (the median house price for Boroondara is upwards of $1 million) and there is little housing diversity. What we are seeing happen before our eyes is young people being priced out of the housing market and are either forced to remain living with their parents for long into their early adulthood or settling for being burdened with huge debts just to buy or rent a place to live.
The discussion paper talks about these issues very well. Under its ‘strong communities’ principle, it states:
Neighbourhoods should be able to cater for people’s housing needs over their lifetime, bearing in mind that adults move six or seven times on average
It then goes on to talk about young people and first home buyers in particular:
Singles and students usually require one and two bedroom accommodation in close proximity to transport, education and entertainment choices…Housing diversity enables people to downsize or upside their housing requirements within their local area…They can stay in their local area – while maintaining social and support networks – but in accommodation that meets their needs and budgets.
Further discussion on changes that need to be made to the current housing stock and changes in attitudes that need to occur:
Rather than viewing medium and higher density residential development as a ‘problem’, it needs to be seen as an opportunity to bring people more closer to existing services and jobs. There are different ways of increasing housing density without undermining the valued characteristics of local areas. Investment in high quality design, attractive public spaces and other public benefits are central to delivering acceptable urban change.
Hopefully something concrete eventuates on affordable housing from this discussion paper. It is a desperate situation at the moment that will only get worse if nothing is done soon.