In 2015, a study by international housing charity Habitat for Humanity revealed that a whopping 1.6 billion people worldwide did not have adequate housing and that 32 per cent of the global population live in urban slums.
This followed an earlier United Nations survey in 2005 which found that around 100 million people around the world were homeless.
Such problems are not restricted to third world countries. In the United States, Habitat says one third of the population experience housing problems, including payments which are excessive as a percentage of their income, overcrowding, poor quality shelter and homelessness.
Australia is not immune. Around the country, data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare indicates that waiting lists for social housing (June 2016) sit at 194,000 households. Nationally, between four and nine per cent of dwellings are overcrowded, whilst the number of ‘slum’ dwellings in very poor condition could be as high as 100,000.
This is happening as growing house prices and rents are making housing within the private sector market increasingly unaffordable. Surveys from groups such as Anglicare consistently demonstrated that only a tiny portion of private rental housing is affordable to those on welfare or low incomes. According to data quoted but not referenced by the Australian Council of Social Security, the number of Australians living in a state of ‘housing stress’ (where rental/mortgage payments exceed 30 per cent of income) exceeds one million.
Because of this, awareness about the importance of social and community housing is growing, and a number of developers, corporate sponsors and construction service providers are getting in on the act.
Development and Investment company PAYCE, for instance, recently partnered with community housing provider Evolve Housing to deliver a mixed tenure residential development in a high-need area in Penrith which included 134 social and affordable apartments as well as a further 134 private apartments.
On the banking side, Westpac has committed to making up to $2 billion in finance available to community housing providers.
And in construction technology, Procure has recently entered into an agreement with Habitat for Humanity, which builds affordable homes for ‘partner families’ who are able to purchase the homes under loan conditions which dictate that their mortgage repayment costs exceed 25 per cent of their income. Under that partnership, Procore will provide an unlimited user license which will enable Habitat to use its project management software across the charity’s project base. Others supporting Habitat include Boral, Dulux and Arup.
According to Procore VP of Marketing APAC Milton Walters, the reality confronting a number of Australians is that finding even rental properties which are affordable is difficult. This he says, places significant financial and emotional stress on households , families and individuals.
Walters says issues with housing affordability have been building for years and will not be easily solved. With this in mind, he says the development industry needs to get behind the community housing sector. Input from technology companies is critical to help such projects run efficiently and be delivered within budget, he said.
Throughout Australia, the community housing sector is critical.
To help, suppliers, technology companies and others must get behind it.