1 Oct 2020

At a time when the importance of the home has become all too apparent, systemic issues such as housing affordability and homelessness demand new approaches to addressing the problem.

However, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution: we need to embrace a cross-sector approach to identify opportunities within the challenge, and it is out of this imperative that the Housing Action Lab was born.

Australia’s first Housing Action Lab is looking for developer and property industry partners to explore commercial solutions to the most pressing housing and homelessness issues.

Leveraging a proven multi-party innovation framework and design-thinking methodology, the Housing Action Lab has united sector leaders Urbis, Wiley & Co, BlueCHP, BHC and Parks and Leisure Australia.

Urbis Director and Housing Action Lab Advisor, Michael Stott said the timing of this initiative couldn’t be more important.

“The COVID-19 crisis has only served to further highlight the social and economic costs of our sizable affordable housing shortage here in Australia.”

The COVID-19 crisis has only served to further highlight the social and economic costs of our sizable affordable housing shortage here in Australia.

Michael Stott View Profile

The first of its kind in Australia, the Housing Action Lab is backed by Q Shelter, Queensland’s peak body for housing and homelessness, and powered by internationally-awarded strategy consultancy Business Models Inc.

Participants will be taken through an iterative process that connects concept development and experimentation with capability development for both the sector and participants.

Australia’s first Housing Action Lab builds on global best practice and will take part in a learning exchange with the founders of the Greater Toronto Area Housing Action Lab, Evergreen Canada, to experiment with new and alternative approaches that create impact at scale.

The Canadian Housing Action Lab was a powerful accelerator of change, with outcomes including increased local collaboration; influencing government conversations on affordable and fair housing policy; catalysing action on the City of Toronto’s Open Doors incentive program and guiding the development of Ontario’s pilot Portable Housing Benefit program.

The upcoming Queensland Housing Action Lab looks to build on these learnings in a uniquely Australian context, and will also feature in the global forum, “Future Cities Canada: Unexpected Solutions”.

Isabelle Cascante, director of impact and evaluation at Evergreen Canada, said initiatives such as the Housing Action Lab are a way to facilitate new thinking and new solutions.

“[And] without new thinking and new solutions we can’t make change.”

Through co-investment and partnership, opportunities will be identified, tested and refined to facilitate new ventures, joint projects and even the creation of new startups.

Q Shelter board of directors chair Darren Mew said Australia’s inaugural Housing Action Lab will be “action-oriented, designed to deliver real results, and a prototype for new models”.

Five teams will be each focused around key challenge areas developed in collaboration with the Housing Action Lab advisory board to address current sector needs.

The conversation in each team will be steered by a “foundation partner”, surrounded by up to four “general partners” aligned by their mutual commitment to addressing a specific challenge.

After a three-month journey of co-creating solutions and pathways, the process will culminate in a pitch night where the Housing Action Lab teams will showcase their solutions.

Teams with viable solutions will have the opportunity to be supported by the Housing Action Lab seed fund to accelerate their solutions and go further, faster.

The Housing Action Lab serves to fast-track solutions, bridge efforts and forge partnerships to address some of the most critical issues plaguing the housing sector.

The above is a snipped for an article that was originally published by The Urban Developer