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Report Social and affordable housing Housing assistance and policy

Evaluation and learning in public housing urban renewal

Final Report No. 358

Date Published: 15 Jul 2021

Authors: Christian Nygaard Simon Pinnegar Elizabeth Taylor Iris Levin Rachel Maguire

This research analyses how evaluation of public housing renewal is informing policy development and delivery so as to maximise financial returns and socio-economic outcomes, and seeks to understand how key public policies, such as mixed-tenure development, can enable both social and economic returns.

Since the 2000s public housing renewal policy has increasingly emphasised ‘unlocking’ under-utilised sites (i.e. public housing estates) for the benefit of jobs, investment and urban renewal. In this situation, public housing urban renewal, in practice, becomes mixed-tenure public housing renewal.

An overview of public housing renewal projects in NSW, Victoria and South Australia reveals key public housing renewal policies include leveraging publicly owned land and capturing land value through tenure mix and increased residential density. In this respect, a 30/70 public/private mix rule-of-thumb signals a shared understanding of the market parameters of the public housing renewal process. 

In order to initiate and give direction to public housing urban renewal, public authorities are reliant on entering into ‘bargaining’ or dual dependency relationships with private sector actors to deliver public housing renewal. Access to negotiated land rents, in turn, compensates private sector actors for site and neighbourhood-specific risk factors. The central role of land value in policy-making has raised concerns that public housing urban renewal is increasingly driven by asset-based viability considerations and reduced government exposure to risk. Other objectives (such as wider social and economic benefits for public housing residents) become increasingly shaped by – rather than shaping urban reconfiguration processes. 

DOI: 10.18408/ahuri51226

Published by: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited

ISSN: 1834-7223

ISBN: 978-1-922498-25-0


Citation: Nygaard, C., Pinnegar, S., Taylor, E., Levin, I., and Maguire, R. (2021) Evaluation and learning in public housing urban renewal, AHURI Final Report No. 358, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/358, doi:10.18408/ahuri51226.