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Housing and equity

Housing and equity

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New strategies needed to unlock supply


Housing is a universal challenge for cities – and a particular one for Sydney.

All cities that we spoke to have been experiencing significant house price inflation during the pandemic. This has extended to many wider city-regions too such as the New York region, where prices in some areas have risen 18% since mid-2020.

Failing to ensure housing affordability has the effect of pricing poorer residents out of the city, or forcing people into crammed, substandard living arrangements – typically disconnected from basic infrastructure and jobs.

Addressing this issue is therefore vital as a matter of equity, as well as to ensure cities attract and retain talent.

To serve disadvantaged populations, some cities are auditing publicly-owned land to identify opportunities for affordable housing.

Other innovative ideas being investigated include providing social housing on an ownership basis and giving tenants the option to sell back to the government.

Reforms are also being pursued in cities to unlock greater housing supply, as well as innovative home planning and construction. Examples include subdividing large homes into units, attaching granny flats to the family home or making it easier to install basements and extra floors.

The San Francisco Bay Area is pioneering modular and industrial housing production. The trend to reconfigure CBD hotel, commercial and retail space is most advanced in cities like London, Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore due to ageing stock.

Rapid transport hubs and strategic corridors are logical places for increased density. In Sydney, the North West Metro is facilitating transit-oriented development that will continue as new Metro projects also come online in the city’s west.

The region 60 to 150 minutes north-east from New York City, linking New Rochelle, Stamford and Yale University, is transitioning gradually to medium-rise housing.

In Paris, the Grand Paris Express metro project, a group of new rapid transit lines, is designed to connect strategically located suburbs.

Seoul is building “compact cities” around train stations where homes and workplaces are co-located through high-density mixed-use.