Transforming housing: affordable housing for all

This project seeks to build partnerships to transform Melbourne’s housing industry, in order to meet social justice, economic resilience, and environmental sustainability challenges facing Melbourne and Australia. The overarching aim of this project is collaboration: fostering partnerships between key stakeholders interested in improving and expanding the provision of affordable housing.

This project (July 2014 - December 2015) follows directly on from the successful first round Carlton Connect Initiatives Fund Research Collaboration project ‘Getting to Yes: Overcoming Barriers to Affordable Family-Friendly Housing’ (March 2013 - June 2014).

About Transforming Housing

Transforming Housing is an action research project aimed at creating multi-sectoral partnerships to expand the amount and quality of affordable housing in Australia. The current research focus is on Melbourne, which is projected to become Australia’s largest city by 2050 (ABS, 2014). By affordable housing, we mean housing that does not cost more (through rent or mortgage payments) than 30% of gross household incomes for the lowest two income quintiles. By quality of affordable housing, we refer to location (located near job and services such as education and healthcare, which are accessible via public transport, walking or cycling), diversity (a range of housing sizes from studio apartments to 3+ bedroom houses or units, so that communities are mixed in terms of household composition and enable people to age in place) and design (good light, storage, community space, access to proximate public open space, etc.).

The aim of the project is to generate partnerships based on mutual respect and co-learning that result in substantial and sustainable policy shift, as well as industry innovations, towards more and better affordable housing. It is intended to inform the affordable housing policy in the refresh of Plan Melbourne, work being underdone by the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, the housing policies of the Cities of Melbourne and Port Phillip, the work of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in scaling up philanthropic sector involvement in affordable housing finance, and other industry outcomes.

Timeline of Events

An Industry Workshop with project partners and key industry representatives was held on 17 October 2014. Three core research themes were explored: sustainable funding options, policy and regulatory options, and partnership options, including demonstration projects that could showcase high quality, innovative and aspirational design, financing and policy options for Australia. This was a satellite event to the main Carlton Connect Conference (Challenges, Partnerships Solutions, held 30 September – 2 October 2014 at the University of Melbourne). You can download the background paper for this event, as well as a summary of the discussions held at the workshop.

The core research themes all led to research papers, which can be found in the Project Reports section of this page. In addition, an Options Paper was developed, which was intended to lead to concrete commitments from key sectors: state government, local government, private developers, community housing organisations and investors. The Options Paper was the basis for discussion at an invitation-only Affordable Housing Summit held 30 April – 1 May 2015. The Options Paper can be downloaded here. The proceedings of and outcomes from the Summit are detailed in the Affordable Housing Summit Report, which can be downloaded here. Presentations by keynote speakers at the Summit can be found in thePresentations section of this page.

Transforming Housing recently hosted a number of workshops and public events featuring visiting experts on affordable housing as guest speakers. You can find out more about these events, including presentation slides and/or videos in thePresentations section of this page.

Professor Whitzman gave a presentation at the Australia and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools (ANZAPS) Conference relating to Transforming Housing’s research in October 2015. She and other researchers will also be presenting their work at the State of Australian Cities Conference at the Gold Coast in December 2015. You can access these papers in the Conference Papers section of this page.


  • Carolyn Whitzman [Melbourne School of Design, Architecture Building and Planning, UoM]
  • Clare Newton [Melbourne School of Design, Architecture Building and Planning, UoM]
  • Alan Pert [Melbourne School of Design, Architecture Building and Planning, UoM]
  • Donald Bates [Melbourne School of Design, Architecture Building and Planning, UoM]
  • Georgia Warren-Myers [Melbourne School of Design, Architecture Building and Planning, UoM]
  • Andrew Martel [Melbourne School of Design, Architecture Building and Planning, UoM]
  • Andy Krause [Melbourne School of Design, Architecture Building and Planning, UoM]

Research Outputs


Industry Workshop Background Document - September 2014

Industry Workshop Summary Report - October 2014

Research Paper: Housing Expos and the Transforming of Industry and Public Attitudes - April 2015

Research Paper: Affordable Housing Partnerships: Lessons for Melbourne's Transforming Housing Project from Portland, Vancouver and Toronto - May 2015

Research Paper: Policy, Planning and Financing Options for Affordable Housing in Melbourne - July 2015

Options Paper - April 2015

Affordable Housing Summit Report - June 2015

Minor Theses

Hawkins W. (2015). Improving the distribution of service-integrated housing for the elderly in Melbourne's middle suburbs, Melbourne: University of Melbourne.


Victoria's public housing waiting list skyrockets, The Age, Monday 9 November 2015

A national affordable housing strategy: necessary, attainable and maybe on its wayThe Conversation, Tuesday 3 November 2015

ArchitectureAU, 2 November 2015, Six affordable housing lessons the US can teach AustraliaArchitectureAU, Monday 2 November 2015

Seeking shelter, The Big Issue, October / November 2015

Who can afford these prices?ABC Radio National, Wednesday 5 August 2015

Canada cracks affordable housing financing nut: Australia wants the same, Australian Financial Review, Tuesday 4 August 2015

Affordable Housing in MelbourneAll Being Equal, Tuesday 23 June 2015

Build a bridge to affordable housing in MelbourneThe Sunday Age, Sunday 14 June 2015

Housing affordability crisis brought on by government policy failuresThe Age, Wednesday 10 June 2015

City planning: we can learn from Vancouver, PortlandThe Drum, Monday 13 April 2015

Last bids: Affordable housing going once, going twice…Election Watch, Wednesday 8 October 2014