Making affordable housing projects happen: principles to achieve affordable housing

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What does it take to make affordable housing projects happen?

Clearly investment is a critical component and one that is most lacking, but money is only part of the equation.

As the housing sector and increasingly private industry advocate for governments to establish the structural framework and investment opportunities required to enable a robust and long-term affordable housing industry (and governments appear to be listening) it is worth reflecting on what other elements might need to be in place.

In 2007 the US Urban Land Institute undertook a cross-industry engagement process that culminated in the development of ten principles to help governments, industry and communities “understand what it takes to make affordable housing projects happen… understand the principles behind the production of affordable housing… [to] lead to the creation of effective affordable housing policies and programs and to the fostering of a climate that is more supportive of the development of affordable housing.”

The ten principles they nominated are:
1. Inspire Leadership
2. Build Community Support and Trust
3. Learn the Alphabet . . . and Do the Math
4. Know Your Market and Your Customers
5. Nurture Partnership
6. Select Sites for Opportunity and Choice
7. Strive for Healthy, Balanced Communities
8. Use Design to Foster Community, Safety, and Pride
9. Empower the Residents
10. Orchestrate Sustainability

Their report sets out these principles in greater detail essentially providing a set of actions that combined with financing and funding opportunities are proposed to provide for greater support for, and delivery of, affordable housing outcomes.

As Australia moves towards establishing a bigger and stronger affordable housing industry it is worth considering how these principles might translate and what aspects we might need to strengthen our skills and practice.



Bach, Alexa, Prema Katari Gupta, Richard Haughey, George Kelly, Michael Pawlukiewicz, and Michael Pitchford. Ten Principles for Developing Affordable Housing. Washington, D.C.: ULI–the Urban Land Institute, 2007 (