Housing Affordability Problem in Sydney

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Housing Affordability Problem in Sydney

Affordable housing entails the provision of a dwelling which meets the needs of the household within the family’s financial means. By 2007, over half of the global population were living in cities. Cities are the core of the economy of the globe and house most of the people. However, they present numerous changes including the housing affordability. Sydney is in the middle of housing affordability crisis, and the primary factor contributing to this is the characterization of Sydney by separate houses instead of more condensed living pattern, low vacancy rate, and high prices, and this contributes to the low affordability of homes. The failure of the housing market is also compound this problem as low-income earners cannot afford to live in Sydney. The high housing prices are causing many people to pay more for the house and give up the necessities of life (City of Oakland 2016, p. 2).

Housing Affordability Problem in Sydney

Other people find themselves being homeless or living in caravan parks.

The problem of housing is shared among the Aboriginals, migrants, elderly, and the lone parents. The growth of population, the inner city desirability of the high-income professionals, as well as high demand investment properties, is increasing the market prices. This is making the lower and middle-income households to afford to buy or rent near the city. The situation has been exacerbated by the successive governments’ policy failure. Over 84% of moderate and low-income households in the inner-city are facing family stress. Low salaried people are being pushed away to the fridge of the city away from job opportunities and infrastructures. The situation is worsened by an inadequate supply of affordable rental houses for workers. Apart from that, the social housing supply that should offer the safety net for individuals who are unable to afford market housing is sternly constrained (McCloskey & Birrell 2016, p, 5).

For an international city, diverse supply of accommodation and sustainability is essential to the social and cultural vitality, livability and economic growth of the city. This is engrained in Sydney city’s Sustainable Sydney 2030, the strategic plan of the city. Housing affordability and quality have an effect on the capacity of the city to attract as well as retain the international workforce. Workers essential to the city including teachers, nurses, bus drivers, and cleaners are driven out of the city due to the issue of house affordability. The crisis of housing is undermining the live quality of many residents in Sydney, and it is also the global status of Sydney city. Other cities in the globe facing similar problems include London, Oakland, and New York, and this has forced the authorities to take action. The aim of this case study is to explore the issue of housing affordability in Sydney and Oakland and identify the solutions to these problems (City of Oakland 2016, p. 5).

Oakland, a city in California, is facing a similar challenge of housing affordability. 60% of residents of Oakland are renters. The RC (rental control) law of Oakland only covers multiple-family dwelling that was constructed before 1983. Housing cost and skyrocketing rents are making many residents move out Oakland, and the government is on a slow move to resolve this problem. The rising housing cost is increasing the value of land. In Oakland, the local councils offer the landowners with incentives to ensure the maintenance of the properties, and this includes the waiving of taxes and fee break. State and local government play a major role in securing as well as providing affordable housing that is consistent with long-term growth and sustainability vision of a vibrant city (City of Oakland 2016, p. 4).

The demand for housing in Oakland is high, but the supply of the same is small. Since 2000, the median income for Latino and African-American residing in Oakland have fallen by $9,000 and $8,000 respectively. The housing rental prices and sales have climbed steadily over the same time, and this has left the Latino and the Black family to be disproportionately affected by affordability gap.

Housing Affordability Problem in Sydney 1

Oakland has addressed the housing crisis in a unique way and this is by embarking on some actions. Policy solutions have been provided to dealing with the issue of the housing crisis in the city. The leaders of Oakland city are making efforts to come up with strategies for addressing the housing crisis. Among them include a move by the current Mayor Schaaf to assemble housing experts, practitioners, and advocates to develop a cabinet on housing implementation. The committee is given a task of coming up with recommendations to ensure the preservation of housing for the current residents and at the same time make a plan for new growth. The housing cabinet of Oakland worked quickly as well as thoroughly to come up with practical as well as actionable solutions to address the crisis of housing affordability. In September 2015, there was the adoption of the «A Roadmap Toward Equity Solutions for Oakland, California (Roadmap)», a framework that aims at addressing the crisis of housing. Apart from more pipelines as well as adding new units, the members of the cabinet came to an agreement that the affordability of the current homes should be a top priority. Other recommendations include:

  • Strengthening the protection of the renters

  • Improving the services of the renters

  • Acquiring affordable houses that occur naturally

  • Purchasing homes for families in the midst of financial crisis

Addressing the crisis of displacement and housing affordability is a private and public sector shared responsibility. It is important for the residents to be part of the solution to this crisis. According to ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments), Oakland’s total population is expected to rise by about 5,350 people per annum in the period from 2010 to 2040. By 2040, estimates by Plan Bay area is that Oakland should add about 1,700 unit of houses each year.

A Recent collaboration with state and federal policy makers, community housing association, industrial representatives, and other stakeholders, demonstrate a high professional commitment degree, optimism, and skill about the prospect for crafting a vivacious policy of affordable housing nationwide. The optimism comes in the midst of the challenge of affordable housing crisis facing Australia. Among these setbacks include lack of permanent as well as a consistent funding source to offer support to affordable housing as well as a limited mechanism of current policy to ensure the securing of affordable housing thru the system of planning. Another challenge is Sydney’s obscure geography that reduces its chances for growth (McCloskey & Birrell 2016, p, 15).

The government policy makers, as well as community and private sector, should have a close working relationship to deal with the crisis of housing. The policymakers should come up with long-term solutions to ensure that the housing supply in Sydney is adequate, one that can meet the population’s needs as well as connected to major infrastructure.

Social housing entails accommodation for physically-disabled people as well as those earning a low income. The Sustainable Sydney 2030 roll out the bold vision of Sydney for ongoing growth as well as success in which numerous housing tenures and types is provided to underpin the cultural and social vitality, and economic productivity (McCloskey & Birrell 2016, p. 7). The core housing goals are to make sure that:

  • Its housing supply is adequate to ensure that the needs of the growing population are catered for

  • The affordable housing supply continue to achieve sufficient growth to meet the needs of the community

  • The social housing supply within the city is increased or maintained to cater for the needs households with low income and this

Oakland has among the most expensive houses in the globe, and this compounds the affordability crisis. Sydney is among the most unaffordable sites around the world. The conventional market of Australian housing can be perceived to be a total failure. In Oakland as well as other parts of the US, community land has been essential in offering affordable housing. Such a move would help Sydney in cementing equity and home ownership helping one to retire on a small income. Recently, most cities in the US have witnessed an upsurge in the rent rate. Oakland is the hottest market as far as the increase in rent price is concerned (Urban Strategic Council 2015, p 17). Oakland has embraced the CLT (community land trust) to offer lasting assets to the community as well as opportunities for permanent affordable housing. CLTs ensures that the local communities have permanent affordable housing. Such a move can primarily be employed in Sydney. It is important for the local government to change the local housing policies as this will help in addressing the housing crisis in the future. Another significant move that can assist in addressing the housing crisis is infill, a process of offering cheap housing units that can be afforded by many Australians. In Sydney, the city planners are expecting that infill would provide about 50 to 60% of the additional housing needs (City of Oakland 2016, p. 4).

All residents of Oakland are required to take part in coming up with the solution to housing affordability crisis. The city has embarked on creating about 17,000 homes to preserve the city’s racial and economic diversity. 22% of Oakland’s residents face high costs of housing about income. Sydney face similar situation because, in both cities, this population has a high risk of being displaced the two places faces failing housing market. Oakland City Council is working with the non-profit organization to ensure the rehabilitation of old buildings, a move aimed at providing affordable housing for the residents. Apart from that, Oakland’s cabinet committee is working with the University of California, Berkeley to identify financially distressed families and eventually help these families to acquire homes (Urban Strategic Council 2015, p 23).

To tackle the issue of housing crisis in Sydney, it is important to address the key issues including the following:

  • Reforms on housing should address declining rental security and housing affordability.

  • The supply of affordable rental houses need to experience significant growth to ensure the economic and social sustainability of Sydney

  • It is important to develop a sustainable model for the provision of social housing as an essential form of social infrastructure.

  • The solution to ending homelessness would be the investment to ensure an expansion of innovation model of housing.

  • Infrastructure and housing delivery need to undergo integration thru Sydney metropolitan planning (McCloskey & Birrell 2016, p. 5).


City of Oakland. 2016. Oakland at Home: recommendations for implementing a Roadmap towards rom the Oakland Housing Cabinet. Oakland: City Council of Oakland.

McCloskey, D, & Birrell, B. 2016. Sydney and Melbourne’s Housing Affordability crisis. The Australian Population Research Institute.

Reynold, S. (2014). Solutions to the Australian Housing Affordability Crisis. Sydney.

Urban Strategic Council. 2015. Oakland’s Housing Affordability Crisis. Retrieved from https://urbanstrategies.org/about/approach/

Hask-Leventhal, D, & Lyons, M. 2009. The common causes report into Sydney’s key social issues.