Chapter 14: Innovations in affordability policies
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Housing affordability has become an increasingly contested area of public policy. House prices and rents have risen in many parts of the world, representing a boon for property owners but reinforcing barriers to first-home ownership faced by younger generations and lower-income earners. To address falling rates of home ownership and rising levels of rental stress, many governments have sought to implement ‘innovative’ strategies for housing affordability, within the confines of fiscal austerity. This chapter canvases these efforts, focusing primarily on examples from the UK, the USA and Australia. However, the notion of ‘innovation’ in housing affordability policy is problematic, often code for initiatives which promise novel responses to affordable housing need but fail to address structural inequalities across the housing system or committing additional funds for affordable housing supply. Within this wider context three areas of potential policy innovation are outlined: (1) reduced construction and development costs; (2) new tenure arrangements; and (3) inclusionary planning.  The chapter concludes that both market and policy innovations can reduce construction costs. However, to drive genuine affordable housing outcomes, these savings need to be directed towards first-home buyers and low-income renters.

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