Communal living touted as answer to Australia’s housing problems
9 July 2019 at 8:17 am
Collaborative living could alleviate the housing affordability crisis and give older Australians more freedom, says a new guide aiming to change the way Australians view their future living situation.
The guide, based on research by the University Technology Sydney Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) and supported by funding from the New South Wales government, said that collaborative housing encourages participation, sharing and community-building, while still allowing privacy, security and financial autonomy between households.
The housing, which is already popular in Europe and the United States, is shaped by residents and is designed to encourage social connection and be more affordable.
While collaborative living is a broad term, common features include a mix of private and shared space, with the sharing extended to vehicles, equipment and resources.
The web guide, which introduces collaborative housing and explains how it works and how to get started, said sharing resources kept not only the financial cost down, but the ecological cost to the planet down.
It identified seven different types of housing, allowing people to choose whether they want to share a little or a lot.
Lead guide author Professor Chris Riedy said it could be particularly beneficial for older people.
“We found collaborative housing can help older people to stay in a community they love, in a supportive environment that will provide them with social interaction and greater access to services as they age,” Reidy said.
“Residents often get involved in the design of the property, share some facilities and resources, and collaborate on managing the property.”
Collaborative housing projects can vary in size, from a few homes sharing a single block to much larger developments.
The guide said that this means there is potential to make buying or renting a home cheaper, particularly in large cities.
“Trading off private space for shared space means some costs can be shared and overall costs per household will be lower. There is also potential to save money via lower per-household utility bills and sharing of cars and household goods,” the guide said.
The guide also points to 15 Australian examples, including two housing cooperatives that developed a property for older people from the Vietnamese community in Canley Vale, Sydney, and Nightingale 1 in Melbourne, which involved future residents in the design of a 20-apartment building block.
Riedy said he is hopeful the guide will get the ball rolling on how to scale collaborative living projects in Australia.
“Our hope is that this web guide will kickstart the collaborative housing movement in Australia and help to address housing affordability, sustainability and connectedness,” he said.