AHURI NEWS

AHURI announces eight COVID-19 research projects to inform housing policy response to pandemic

The COVID-19 Research Agenda will help make the best housing policy decisions during and following the coronavirus pandemic

26 May 2020

The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) is pleased to announce the COVID-19 Research Agenda — eight priority research projects that will help governments at all levels make the best housing policy decisions during and following the coronavirus pandemic.

Having the best and most up-to-date research findings delivered by AHURI’s eight leading university research partners will enhance decision making that effects many of the most vulnerable Australians, as well as supporting the economic recovery from the crisis.

The research, which will be fast tracked to deliver findings in the second half of 2020 examines topics across the housing continuum including:

After the pandemic, can building homes rebuild Australia? By freezing the economy and social interactions, Australia has shown great success in reducing the spread of the virus, however it has come at a huge cost to employment. The housing industry has been widely promoted as an ideal mechanism for delivering economic stimulus, but how should does it actually have the capacity to deliver economic stimulus in periods of economic crisis and what forms should such response take?

Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts. The economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has placed many in the rental market at risk; they face uncertainty, tenure insecurity and financial hardship. Guided by the needs of policy, this project rapidly generates a nationwide dataset and essential reporting on the impact of COVID-19 on tenants.

Housing affordability stress during COVID-19 which examines the impacts of COVID-19 on housing affordability stress (i.e. paying more than 30% of income for housing) for home buyers and tenants across different housing types and household configurations.

Other projects will consider pathways to regional recovery, understanding the impacts of policy responses to the pandemic, impacts on landlords as well as tenants, and impacts on those in marginal housing settings.

‘This is the first time that AHURI has funded rapid research projects on this scale and reflects the urgent need for quality research to support urban and housing policy innovation given the significant impact that COVID-19 is having on Australia's urban environments and housing markets’ says Adrian Harrington, Chair of AHURI.

‘The Agenda was launched in collaboration with AHURI’s partner universities. We’re very proud at how quickly our research teams came together to develop these projects’, says Dr Michael Fotheringham, Executive Director of AHURI.

‘Having the best and most up-to-date research findings will enable governments at all levels to develop policies that support Australians during and beyond the pandemic, and help deliver safe, secure and affordable housing for all’.

The eight rapid-response projects will be published by AHURI in the second half of 2020. _________________________________________________________________________

The AHURI COVID-19 Research Agenda:

COVID-19 RESEARCH PROJECT 1 After the pandemic, can building homes rebuild Australia?
Led by Professor Steven Rowley at Curtin University

The housing industry has been widely promoted as an ideal mechanism for delivering economic stimulus in periods of economic crisis but what policies are most effective in utilising the industry, does the industry actually have the capacity to respond and what form should this response take?

COVID-19 RESEARCH PROJECT 2 Renting in the time of COVID-19: understanding the impacts
Led by Professor Emma Baker, University of Adelaide

The economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic has placed many in the rental market at risk; they face uncertainty, tenure insecurity and financial hardship. Guided by the needs of policy, this project rapidly generates a nationwide dataset and essential reporting on the impact of COVID-19 on tenants.

COVID-19 RESEARCH PROJECT 3 Supporting Australia’s housing system: modelling pandemic policy responses
Led by Professor Chris Leishman, University of Adelaide

This project will deliver the rapid redevelopment of economic / housing system modelling approaches to provide deep policy insights into COVID-19 housing interventions, focussing on impacts to employment, earnings, and outcomes for owners, renters and investors. The economic simulation model will simulate the probable impacts of three principal policy interventions.

COVID-19 RESEARCH PROJECT 4 Housing affordability stress during COVID-19 
Led by Professor Ralph Horne, RMIT University

This project will take a longitudinal qualitative approach to examine differential impacts of COVID-19 for those in housing affordability stress across tenures, housing types and household composition. It will leverage two current ARC grants with recent data to investigate the impacts of COVID-19 on material configurations, health and well-being.

COVID-19 RESEARCH PROJECT 5 Pathways to regional recovery from COVID-19
Led by Dr Julia Verdouw, University of Tasmania

Regional recovery from COVID-19 may follow a different trajectory to that of large cities. To manage the differences, policymakers will need data on how regional areas are coping and their emerging needs. This project will generate data on regional housing and household experiences arising from the pandemic.

COVID-19 RESEARCH PROJECT 6 Policy coordination and housing outcomes during COVID-19
Led by Dr Chris Mason, Swinburne University of Technology

The pace of policy interventions to support Australians during COVID-19 is unprecedented. This scoping project will systematically map policy-making activities, across government levels and non-state actors, to understand how well coordinated these efforts are, and which housing-related outcomes and impacts should be evaluated to assist policy-making through the crisis.

COVID-19 RESEARCH PROJECT 7 Post pandemic landlord-renter relationships in Australia
Led by Dr David Oswald, RMIT University

This project will provide insight into the economic and mental well-being of landlords and tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The different forms of government support across various states will be analysed, with recommendations into how and where housing policy could be further developed to assist the landlord-renter relationship.

COVID-19 RESEARCH PROJECT 8 Marginal housing during COVID-19
Led by Ms Caitlin Buckle, University of Sydney

This project investigates health and related risks associated with informal and unregulated accommodation in the COVID-19 context, using unique data sets on informal and short-term rental housing markets in major Australian cities. Policy options for expanding housing system capacity during health and other emergencies, serving vulnerable populations or essential workers, are also canvassed.