Affordable Housing Challenge

The Challenge



Using philanthropy as a tool to help unlock solutions to the affordable housing crisis.

As of 2011, approximately 23,000 people are homeless including people staying in temporary crisis accommodation, sleeping in cars, or ‘couch surfing’ at family or friends’ homes. 

There is also a shortage of at least 72,200 rental homes for households that earn the lowest 40 per cent of incomes. As a result, nearly 60 per cent of low and very low-income households are paying unaffordable rents.[i]
The Affordable Housing Challenge is an initiative of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation that encourages cross-sector collaboration from philanthropy, commercial developers, architects, urban planners and government in response to greater Melbourne’s homelessness and affordable housing issues.
Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is offering a $1 million grant as part of the Challenge to increase the supply of affordable housing in Melbourne.  An impact investment of up to $2 million from the Foundation is also available through Social Enterprise Finance Australia (subject to SEFA requirements) as a below market loan for the successful project. Financing opportunities are also expected to be leveraged from other philanthropic, government and commercial partners.

Not-for-profit organisations are encouraged to partner with housing developers to submit an initial proposal to construct around 50 new units for very low to moderate income households.  

It is anticipated that the Affordable Housing Challenge will inspire innovative, energy efficient solutions to help meet the affordable housing needs of our community and that the successful project will be replicable, scalable and provide learnings for future initiatives.

Learn more about Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation Homelessness & Affordable Housing Impact Area >

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2018/19 Update

Recently, Darebin City Council (Council) resolved to explore the long-term lease of Council land for the purpose of affordable housing, and to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Foundation, in order to progress the Affordable Housing Challenge (AHC). The Foundation is pleased to be working with Council to explore AHC as an affordable housing demonstration project.

Council is now undertaking a community consultation process and other Council processes as required by the Local Government Act 1989.

If Council decides to lease the site, the Foundation will proceed in November this year with our grant application process for a $1 million grant in conjunction with Council’s process to identify a tenant to develop and manage the site (through an expression of interest). The Foundation will also refer the successful applicant to Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA) to be considered for an opportunity to apply for an impact investment from the Foundation through SEFA of up to $2 million.

We received three high quality Expressions of Interest for the first iteration of the Affordable Housing Challenge in 2017/18 and, should Council resolve to lease the site, these community housing associations are encouraged to participate in Council’s expression of interest process and the Foundation’s grant application process in November.

We will keep you updated with regular communications about the progress of AHC18/19.

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Key Dates

Developer Team Initial ProposalsCLOSED
Invitation to shortlisted Developer Teams26 March 2018
Power-Up SessionApril 2018 [TBC]
Final proposals and presentations23 May 2018
Board approval of grantJune 2018
Project completionBy June 2020
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Request for Proposals - Stage 1

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Request for Proposals - Stage 2

Sample Outline Joint Venture Agreement (JVA)

Exclusive Right to Negotiate (ENA) - document available prior to the commencement of Stage 2.

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Advisory Committee

Catherine Brown (Chair)


Catherine Brown is the CEO of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, which has been responding to the critical issues facing the Melbourne community since 1923.  Catherine is committed to maximising philanthropy’s role in supporting positive change within the community. In addition to thoughtful grantmaking, the Foundation is an active participant in a number of initiatives and cross sector collaborations, uses research to gain a deeper understanding of community challenges and, through strategic communications, brings people together and grows knowledge about community issues and philanthropy.
Catherine’s interest in affordable housing began with one of her first projects when she worked at the MS Society in the 1990s – closing a nursing home and developing well designed, mainstream supported living units within the community for people with severe disabilities. She was also involved in training staff at a range of community housing for older people who were financially disadvantaged and young people at risk when she worked at Wesley Mission. She gained practical knowledge of property law during her private practice and in house legal roles.
Catherine is a lawyer (LLB/BA (German), University of Melbourne) who has also studied business management and is undertaking a PhD in practice related research at Swinburne University related to philanthropic foundations and innovation.
She has worked in law, not for profit management, consulting (strategic philanthropy, NFP organisational development and governance) and on a variety of government and not for profit Boards, including as Chair of both the Queen Victoria Women’s Trust and the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust.  She is the author of Great Foundations – a 360⁰ guide to building resilient and effective NFPs (ACER Press, 2010).

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Rebecca Leshinsky


Dr Rebecca Leshinsky is an Australian property and land use planning and development barrister. She holds the position of Senior Lecturer in the school of Property, Construction and Project Management at RMIT University. Her research interests are in the areas of: affordable housing; owners corporations law and living; equitable planning instrumentality and PropTech & FinTech tools and services.

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Prof. Robert McGauran


A founding Director of MGS Architects, Rob’s particular areas of interest are around the themes of knowledge cities, inclusive cities, sustainable cities and connected cities and the buildings and programs that support these themes. This is drawn from both the particular and distinctive attributes of and challenges facing Australian cities.

His relevant skills are in master planning, design of mixed-use, inclusive community activity nodes, affordable housing, sustainable transport infrastructure and sustainable architecture.

He is an experienced advocate, managing community consultation and government partnership processes. His master planning projects involve the design management of large and complex multidisciplinary consultant teams and stakeholder groups.

At a strategic planning level Rob has been responsible for urban design frameworks and structure plans for key areas of Melbourne, including Arden Urban Renewal Precinct, Footscray University Town, Chapel Vision Structure Plan, and Cremorne Precincts. He led the master plans for La Trobe University and Monash University campuses, University of Wollongong’s Wollongong Campus, and the historic Alphington Paper Mills.

His built projects are known for their innovation, relevance to contemporary issues and community focus. Each has won multiple awards across planning, urban design, architecture and environmental and social sustainability disciplines.

He acts as an expert witness at VCAT on numerous projects and provides urban design advice and expert advice to the Planning Minister, Government Agencies and Local Government jurisdictions.

In the not-for-profit sector, Rob has been a board member of Housing Choices Australia and Melbourne Affordable Housing.

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Alastair McGibbon


Alastair was formerly a career banker with more than 20 years experience. He spent the last 10 years at National Australia Bank where he held the position of Head of Banks and ADIs in the Financial Institutions Group.  He had oversight for managing all of NAB’s relationships and transactions with bank and ADI counterparties including debt markets, securitisation, financial markets and transactional banking with responsibility for the credit exposure for all counterparty dealing. Alastair formerly worked at Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Bankers Trust Australia specialising in derivatives and debt capital markets. He previously worked in London where he was Head of Primary Markets , Europe with responsibility for working with financial, corporate, government and supranational bond issuers to develop the Australian Kangaroo bond market.

In 2011 Alastair spent six months in the Northern Territory visiting many remote Indigenous communities whilst making the documentary ‘Northern Lights: A season with NT Thunder’ giving him a first hand perspective into the problems facing Indigenous Australians. He has spent much of his time working with disadvantaged groups with a particular focus on the homeless.

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Gail Owen OAM, FAICD


Gail has been a member of the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation Board since December, 2015 and is the Chair of the Governance Committee and a member of the Audit and Risk Committee.  She is a commercial lawyer, with particular expertise in energy and resources and is currently a partner of HWL Ebsworth Lawyers. Gail is also a trustee of The Queen's Fund and Chairman of the Victorian Fisheries Authority.

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Dr Matthew Palm


Matthew Palm is a Research Fellow in the Melbourne School of Design at Melbourne University.  He studied housing and transportation policy at the University of California, Davis and, prior to coming to Australia, worked as a research Analyst for the California Housing Finance Agency.  His research covers affordable housing policy, finance and links with sustainable transportation planning.

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Robert Pradolin


Robert is an engineer by background and has been active in the property industry for over 30 years most recently as General Manager of Frasers Property Australia (formally Australand).
Over his career, Robert has always had a keen interest in the development of all housing types and in particular, a focus on housing affordability. His experience extends from the development of land subdivisions through to medium density housing and apartments.
Over his time with the company, Robert steered it into the social and affordable housing space with the redevelopment of two significant Victorian government housing estates.
Robert believes that “housing for all – rich and poor” is not only a fundamental human need but it is also in the long-term interest of the economy as it will reduce social service costs consequently he believes that social and affordable Housing is economic Infrastructure.
He is currently on the Board of the Property Industry Foundation, the Summer Housing Foundation and the HIA in Victoria and is a past Board member of the Property Council of Australia, Residential Development Council, UDIA, Livable Housing Australia and the Heritage Council of Victoria.

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David Paul Rosen


David Paul Rosen, Ph.D., Founder and Principal of DRA in California, is an internationally recognised authority in the fields of redevelopment, affordable housing finance, policy, land use, analysis, negotiation, lending and investment strategic planning. DRA Principals have advised on more than $9 billion in low income housing finance and project development.

David is expert in deal structuring, renewable energy and energy efficiency, value capture analysis and asset management. He was invited on numerous occasions to provide briefings to the Obama White House and senior Administration officials in half a dozen agencies, presenting policy recommendations for sustainable community development, capital formation and financial regulation on more than $7 trillion in federal investment in real estate, housing and economic development.

He is an internationally published author in the field and frequent international speaker on economic development, redevelopment, housing and energy policy and practice. He has served as an advisor to the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, European Mortgage Federation, the Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute, the International Real Estate Federation (FIABCI), the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and UN HABITAT, among many other international institutions and more than 300 governmental jurisdictions. David earned his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and his doctorate in public policy from the Union Institute.

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Angela Skandarajah


Angela Skandarajah is currently General Counsel at Development Victoria, the Victorian Government’s property development agency. She joined Development Victoria in 2017 after 13 years as a partner at Minter Ellison. As the former head of Minter Ellison's National Real Estate, Environment and Planning team, Angela's broad experience spans State significant property and infrastructure projects, major acquisitions, disposals and leases, and Crown land developments.

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Judy Sutherland


Judy Sutherland has over 10 years of local and international experience in leading complex projects in the community sector. Judy is the Assistant Director of Social Housing Reform in the Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria and has the responsibility of leading broad policy and system reforms for the social housing sector. In her previous role Judy was Manager of the Strategic Policy team which was responsible for the development of Homes for Victorians, the Victorian Government’s housing affordability strategy, as well as securing investment in housing solutions for family violence affected households.  Judy holds a Masters in Urban Planning and previous roles include Business Development Manager for Housing Choices Australia, a national, not-for-profit housing association and Senior Consultant at SGS Economics and Planning. She is passionate about working in complex environments and designing collaborative, tangible solutions that benefit people in disadvantaged communities.

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Prof. Carolyn Whitzman


Dr. Carolyn Whitzman is Professor in Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne. She is the author, co-author, or lead editor of five books, including: Melbourne: What Next? A Discussion on Creating a Better Future (2014) and Building Inclusive Cities: Women’s Safety and the Right to the City (2013).  Her research interests include: integrated planning for affordable housing and social infrastructure; improving access to public space for women, children and people with disability; and collaborative planning partnerships. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed scholarly publications on partnerships for social justice in the city, and frequently provides policy advice to local, state and national government and to the UN.

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