It’s time to put housing at the centre of an infrastructure ecosystem

Housing is a basic human need, but it is not yet universally available as a basic human right. It should be.

Housing is a basic human need, but it is not yet universally available as a basic human right. It should be.

Unlike other crises, the global housing crisis has not been fuelled by a reduction in resources or economic downturn. Rather, it is a result of housing provision not keeping up with economic expansion and is tied to growing inequity. According to the World Bank, 1.6 billion people globally are expected to be impacted by housing shortages by 2025.

Across all 10 countries surveyed, respondents identified housing affordability and cost of living as a top three priority. Together with environmental and transport challenges, communities are under increasing cost pressures notably experienced through a lack of affordable housing coupled with the rising cost of necessities, interest rates and inflation.

Cost of living pressures means that people are reconsidering where and how they live. 63% of people said they are prepared to pay more to live near public transport, work, schools, hospitals and amenities, even if it means a change in lifestyle. For example, 71% of respondents said they were open to living in communities offering a mix of housing types, including government-owned or subsidised social housing blended with traditional privately owned or rented options.

Around the world, governments expect significant population growth to continue. It is anticipated that the world’s population will increase by nearly 2 billion people in the next 30 years. In Australia, the Intergenerational Report 2023 from the Federal Government, anticipates Australia will be a nation of 40 million people by 2060, or an increase of around 2.5 million people a year for 35 years. Every one of those people must be housed safely, securely and to the standard of quality expected.

The research highlights that Millennials around the world emphasise housing affordability, climate change and public transport as priorities. As such, Millennials are recognising the interconnectedness of these challenges. With the emphasis of governments and media on housing as an end state, it can be easy to forget the role that related challenges have in delivering on the housing ecosystem – challenges like climate change, social impact, environmental protection and reliable and affordable public transport. Housing is inextricably linked to the infrastructure that enables it: roads and rail, water and utilities, transitioning energy systems, and jobs, health and wellbeing.

Working towards solving the complex housing crisis cannot be done in isolation. It is imperative that traditionally siloed industry sectors collaborate across the stakeholder economy. It is essential we work together.