We invite you to join us in creating the Future of Home
There’s no place like home
Our homes give us stability and control over our lives. They give us access to a community of people that know, value, need and support us. They provide a space to find sanctuary and a safe place to express ourselves.
But Australia’s housing system doesn’t work well for everyone. In fact, by our calculations, upwards of 45% of Australian households – almost one in two – live in a way that holds them back, rather than gets them ahead.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Our seven years of working in home and housing has uncovered some incredible innovations, and we believe that by scaling these, we can make a housing system that works for everyone.
To improve the system, we need solutions beyond the current focus on supply and affordability. We need a housing system that puts people – not buildings – at the heart of the process, which recognises the huge social and financial benefits that are possible with such a model.
We invite you to join us in creating the Future of Home
This book illustrates what our future housing system could look like, and showcases the innovations and innovators who are already beginning to shape it. It’s the culmination of over seven years of research by TACSI and other organisations just like us all over the world.
Our hope is that this book stimulates the collective imagination of what could be, and how we might join up all the innovative work currently being conducted on the margins to build a better housing system. Our goal is to create networks and starting points, and to connect and scale existing innovators and existing solutions.
This book is designed for anyone and everyone imagining a better future for home in Australia – a future that is more productive and more equitable for everyone.
1. Why home is so important
Home is more than a financial asset or the roof over our heads
A good home provides the critical foundations for pretty much everything else in life. It’s deeply connected to agency, identity and connection. Home is where we care for children, elders, partners and ourselves. The right kind of home also provides us with a complex set of psycho-social benefits.
Australia’s housing system is in crisis
Almost one in two Australian households live in a way that holds them back, rather than gets them ahead, in houses and living arrangements that limit agency, identity and connection. The knock-on effect is that nearly half our population is experiencing poorer physical and mental health, reduced productivity and impaired learning outcomes.
This includes people living in million-dollar homes who can’t meet their mortgage repayments, people able to pay their rent but unable to buy, the 30% of older Australians who are unhappy with options for housing in later life, and Australians living homeless.
Why is our housing system failing us?
The current approach to addressing Australia’s housing crisis largely concentrates on supply, on affordability, and on meeting the needs of vulnerable groups who are particularly poorly served.
All of these factors are critically important, but they are only the symptoms of greater issues within the housing system. In spite of best intentions, the current system often generates problems in exactly these areas, so without wider systemic change, they will only continue to resurface.
Yes, we need places to live, and they need to be affordable. But to really change the game on supply and affordability, what’s required is a shift in thinking about what good housing is. Alongside supply and affordability, we need to be concerned with how the homes we live in set us up to reach our potential in all areas of life.
Why is home so important?
Answering this question has been central to TACSI’s practice and research into people’s experience of Australia’s home and housing systems. From our research across Australia, we developed a framework that sets out these three critical functions of home: agency, connection and identity. We see these three critical functions as the purpose of a new ‘system for home’.
Do you have a good home? Download this questionnaire to see if your home is positively supporting your wellbeing and productivity
2. What a new system of home could look like
We believe repurposing our housing system to be a system for home would unlock supply, affordability and access, while also creating better social and economic outcomes.
To achieve the three critical functions of home – agency, identity and connection – for all Australians, we need to reorient and extend our housing system to become a ‘system for home’.
Imagine a system where:
- Policy and markets incentivise home as an outcome
- Active neighbourhoods are shaped by the people who live in them
- Financing makes home ownership more affordable for more people
- Homes are designed with the people who live in them
- Health, care and other services wrap around the home
- Resources and structures incubate and accelerate change across the system
To make this system work, we’ll need to:
- Focus on the long-term social and economic benefit of good homes over short-term profit
- Make better use of people’s intelligence to shape the communities, neighbourhoods and buildings in which they live
- Provide a greater diversity of options when it comes to buildings, finance and ownership, and make it easy to move between those options
- Be flexible enough to adapt to local context, and even influence institutional settings like aged care and custody
3. What we need to create the new system
Underpinning the future system for home are a simple set of principles. If we commit to them, and use them to guide how we can act and behave together, we can create a future where more people live in homes that get them ahead and give them the best platform for life.
Principles for the future
The new system for home will need a broad range of innovations. While these innovations are diverse in their means and methods, the most successful share a common set of values.
The following set of principles are based on these values, and we believe they form the basis of a new system for home. They can be applied to policy, service delivery and any program of work that aims to shape better home and housing outcomes for people.
Importantly, these principles are intended as a foundation to work with – we encourage you to build on and strengthen them.
PRINCIPLE 1: Prioritise the critical functions of home: agency, connection and identity
PRINCIPLE 2: Prioritise long-term social and economic returns over short-term profits
PRINCIPLE 3: Work with people as the experts and agents of change
PRINCIPLE 4: Generate greater diversity, for better choices
PRINCIPLE 5: Make adapting and moving between options easy
PRINCIPLE 6: Respond to place and local context
Put the principles into practice using this questionnaire
4. The six parts of the future system
Existing innovations are mostly at the fringes, but when they’re joined up, scaled up and supported by enabling policies, they have the potential to create homes that work better for all Australians.
The building blocks for a new system for home are already in place. Across the nation, individuals and organisations have seen how housing without agency, identity and connection can limit people, and started to do something about it.
- Financiers are creating options for ownership and financing that make homes more affordable
- Essential services are organising delivery around the home
- People are creating their own communities to enable connection
- Governments and developers have implemented design processes that listen to people, and communities are running development processes where they set the agenda.
These innovations prove that we can successfully address the most tenacious challenges of the housing system – but currently they operate in isolation from one another, and on a small scale. If we could successfully join up and scale up these innovations, we believe we could make a housing system that works for everyone.
The six parts of the future system
To paint a picture of this new future, where all Australians live well, we’ve organised the system into six parts:
1. Policy and markets for home
Our experience of home is determined by a complex dynamic between policy, business, cultural norms and personal circumstance. Enabling the critical functions of home for more people will mean shaping the dynamics of the housing system in multiple settings, including rentals, the residential property market, aged care and social housing.
2. Places and communities for home
Home happens in places and communities, and shaping the nature of those places and communities is critical; a house can only really be a foundation for connection if it’s surrounded by an active community that you want to engage with.
3. Finance for home
New approaches to financing can place the critical functions for home within reach for people who would otherwise be excluded; for example, people caught between homelessness and rental, or rental and ownership. New approaches to financing can also unlock access to more pro-social ways of living (such as co-housing) and reduce the friction of moving between housing options.
Financial products are products like any other. They can be designed to meet the needs of particular cohorts and customers, and a number of innovators in Australia and overseas have been doing just that. These innovators are showing that different financial products and services can meet the needs of low-income groups and support a diversity of ways of living beyond ‘owner-occupier mortgage’.
4. Design for home
The physical design features of a home have a direct impact on the critical functions of home, but so too can the involvement of future residents in the design process. Building a home is a process of many decisions. In most cases, these decisions are not made or informed by the people who come to live in the finished product. Notable exceptions are co-housing and Baugruppen-type developments, in which residents take on the role of developers.
At TACSI, we’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of organisations to run participatory design processes in which future residents do actually shape developments. Through this work we’ve also identified a number of repeatable patterns; physical design features that can contribute to the critical functions of home. We’ve compiled and included these features here.
5. Services for home
A system for home would enable people to maintain the functions of home even when their circumstances change and they need additional support. A diverse range of innovators have been thinking about how to help people get more from their homes, stay in their homes longer and get a home-like experience when they can’t live without support, or have to live in an institutional setting.
6. Innovation for home
There’s a chance that some aspect of the future of home is already happening on your street, around the corner, or down the road. But joining and scaling up the innovations profiled here, and adding a few new ones to fill the gaps, will take purposeful effort. A new system for home is emerging, but it needs help.
There is a clear role for government, philanthropy, industry bodies and networks to invest into accelerating the development of a new system for home. Doing so would see the outcomes associated with the functions of home realised more quickly and sustainably.
Download the e-book to read more about these six parts of the future system of home, and to immerse yourself in what the Future of Home could really look like.
5. How you can shape the future of home
Your role in the Australian housing system is an active one. Wherever you identify yourself in the system – as a renter, a policy maker, a property manager, a landlord – you play a part in how the system functions and how we all experience home.
We all need to play a part
To change the system, we all need to recognise and use our power within it. This could mean:
- Changing what you ask for from architects and builders, and how you speak about housing day to day
- Re-evaluating how you see yourself, your contribution and your home in relation to your community
- Using your voice to shape policy or public perceptions to be less focused on housing and more focused on the critical function of home
We hope this book will provide ideas and suggestions for ways that you could help change the system, and become innovators in the future of home. Download this chart to see further ways you can help move Australia’s housing system towards a system for home.
Use it to explore your role in giving more people – yourself included – a greater chance to live with the fundamental benefits of home.
6. Meet the people making it happen
In our seven years of working in home and housing, we’ve met some pretty inspiring people and learnt about some important projects.
They’ve convinced us that it’s possible to think differently about our housing system. We invite you to join and help them.
Download the e-book to meet the innovators making change happen