29 May 2023
For Urbis Director Kate Meyrick the topic of housing supply and affordability makes her “angry”, and it should make you feel that way too.

“It is not okay to not have enough homes for people to live in,” she said at The Property Council’s recent Future Cities Summit.

“This is not a new problem…we have been grappling with it since 1944. Since 1944 we have not had enough houses for our population. 

“And the reason it is not okay to not be able house our population, is because cities are all about people, they are the most important asset a city has, and if our people are not enabled to participate fully in the social, recreational and cultural life or actually be productive economically than the city itself is going to fail.”

Ms Meyrick said housing is also an important social determinate for someone’s overall health.

“It is the thing that determines how well we do throughout the course of our life. For some people by the age of four their ability to remain physically healthy, mentally well, be well educated, get a great job, to sustain secure personal relationships has already been compromised because they did not have an adequate home to live in,” she said.

And unfortunately, the situation is only getting worse, she said.

“Housing is not a luxury item, it is basic right. Nations that cannot house their cities are being negligent and it is all of our problem to do something about,” she said.

“Not just because we’ve got a growing population, not just because we are slightly slowing in our delivery of housing units, not just because we’ve got more household formations but also because we are expecting to see another 400,000 skilled migrants enter the country this year.

“Where are they going to live? It is not just that we don’t have homes that are affordable, we just don’t have enough houses at all.

“This is not about tweaking around the edge of the system; it is about a complete rethink.”

Ms Meyrick said we could have done what a city like Helsinki did, which founded a low and non-profit organisation as part of state and city government policy to make sure it was a homes first policy for homeless people.

She also pointed to Manchester in England, where the largest single-family build-to-rent scheme ever achieved in the UK took place. A 918-unit development that was highly energy efficient and will double in size over the next five years.

Another example can be found close to home in the Gold Coast, which created ‘micro urban village’ by taking one single family dwelling to create 10 units around 61 sqms each, occupying a footprint of only 38 sqms each.

Over in Los Angeles, Ms Meyrick said the city created an interim solution between the delivery of build-to-rent and for those moving in by creating homes made out of containers next to where the construction is taking place so people can stay there, watch their home being built, and move in afterwards.

“There are many extraordinary solutions that we have that will allow us to do things differently,” she said.

“This is a problem about people, not a problem about spreadsheets and product typologies. We have to think of ourselves like an ecosystem and behave like one to. We have to go away today…and we have to do something quickly and something different.

“We have to act like it matters, because it absolutely does.

View the original Property Council of Australia’s article here.