Social housing should be treated as a form of essential infrastructure, in order to create a viable basis for private investment, according to the study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI).
The research, which was undertaken together with the University of Tasmania, the University of New South Wales, and RMIT University, aimed to promote and conceptualise the value of social housing as an investment opportunity, as a part of the investors’ infrastructure portfolio.
University of Tasmania’s lead researcher, Kathleen Flanagan, said that housing could be seen as infrastructure in that it allowed labour be productive.
"In particular it affects productivity through agglomeration economies—the size and density of populations housed impacts the costs of commuting, public health, ageing, and childhood development and learning,” he noted.
The report also warned that solely thinking of social housing as productive infrastructure risks excluding the valuable aspects of social housing was not easily monetised.
“There are risks an uncritical adoption of a business case approach that focusses on the measureable financial aspects of social housing may exclude or hide other important qualities that are relevant to the purpose of social housing,” Flangan concluded.