The Challenge is the Foundation’s contribution to developing an innovative model of affordable housing, which demonstrates how land holders can contribute to affordable housing supply using underutilised land, strata or buildings.
The Foundation wanted to use its grant of $1 million, and the potential for impact investment, to unlock land at no cost for affordable housing. We wanted to involve cross sector partnerships and we decided to start with local government.
The Affordable Housing Challenge is an initiative of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation that encourages cross-sector collaboration in response to Greater Melbourne’s homelessness and affordable housing issues.
The Challenge was initially designed through the Foundation’s partnership with Transforming Housing, based at The University of Melbourne, and with the help of international expertise provided by David Rosen who had previously advised the MacArthur Foundation.
In 2017, the Foundation sought local government land partners who could make suitable land available at no cost (by title transfer or 49-year lease). The Foundation applied site selection criteria to identify the best located site close to amenities such as public transport, work opportunities, medical services and schools.
Through the site selection process, the City of Darebin was selected to partner with the Foundation, providing a council owned car park close to amenities in Preston, as a potential site for affordable housing. Working in partnership, the Foundation and the City of Darebin called for suitable community housing providers to develop and lease the site. The Foundation and the City of Darebin worked through all the due diligence processes required by both philanthropy and local government and learned a lot about working together.
Ultimately Housing Choices Australia was selected as the community housing developer, based on a concept that provides 40 affordable housing units and also incorporates public and private communal space. The five-storey development will be rented to tenants who have very-low or low incomes and residents will be supported to create pathways to employment and community connection. New Housing Choices properties incorporate environmentally sustainable design features and maximise energy efficiency.
The outcomes and learnings from the first challenge will be promoted widely, allowing other local councils to partner with community housing providers to produce affordable housing for its community.
Following our first Affordable Housing Challenge, the next Challenge will focus on eligible not-for-profits, including faith-based organisations, who wish to use their land holding, including vacant land, strata or redevelopment of existing buildings, to increase the supply of affordable housing in Melbourne.
The Foundation will continue to use its grants to model these innovative projects and provide toolkits to allow landholders the means to offer affordable housing on their land.
The Affordable Housing Challenge is a Foundation initiative which demonstrates a scalable and replicable solution to providing affordable rental housing.
The Foundation was honoured to win Philanthropy Australia’s 2020 Better Philanthropy Award for the Affordable Housing Challenge.