City of Cockburn, PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC, Western Australia, 6965
Telephone: (08) 9411 3444

What is affordable housing?

Affordable housing is housing that addresses the needs of a range of very low to moderate income households and priced so that these households are also able to meet other basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education.

For the purposes of the Cockburn Coast Local Structure Plan, 'affordable housing' refers to either of the following:

  • Dwellings that are sold to Eligible Households at or below the benchmark price outlined in table 4 of the structure plan; or
  • Dwellings that are sold or transferred to a recognised affordable housing provider, which in turn leases or sells the properties to Eligible Households (under an approved affordable housing program); or
  • Private provider selling to Eligible Households; or
  • Commonwealth or State endorsed affordability program.

Why plan for affordable housing?

Western Australia's rapidly growing economy and population has led to a massive increase in the cost of housing in the State. Upward pressure on rents and house prices has led to a decline in the supply and availability of affordable housing for people on very low, low and moderate incomes.

Exacerbating the issue further, direct housing costs (rental or mortgage payments) have increased much faster than household incomes, resulting in many individuals and families being priced out of the market for the foreseable future.

The reasons why it is important to plan for affordable housing inlcude:

  • Minimising household financial stress and preventing homelessness;
  • Preventing homelessness;
  • Helping businesses to attract and retain workers that support the local economy;
  • Providing a range of housing types that allow individuals to remain in their communities as their housing needs change throughout their life.

The demand for housing due to rapid population growth and a growing economy has put pressure on the market to deliver sufficient housing supply in Western Australia. Insufficient housing availabilty has put upward pressure on rents with median house prices having reached an all-time high, reducing the number of the properties affordable for households on low to moderate incomes.

The cost of housing (through rent and mortgage payments) and other associated costs of living have increased faster than household incomes, pricing an increasing number of household out of the market.

Why should we plan for affordable housing?

  • to help retain the diversity of communities;
  • to help local business attract and retain workers that support the local economy;
  • to provide a range of housing types for households and individuals to remain within existing communities;
  • to enable households on low to moderate incomes access rental and home ownership opportunites with their financial means.

How is affordable housing in Western Australia developed?

In Western Australia the State Government has released the Affordable Housing Strategy 2010-2020: Opening Doors to Affordable Housing, which identifies the importance of a cross-agency response for the next decade.  Affordable Housing in WA is developed and funded through a range of sources including community housing providers, initiatives introduced by the Department of Housing, grant or land contributions, planning incentives, and through the provision of local planning policies and initiatives by various levels of government including local government.

Common methods include:

  • Partnerships between government, the private sector and not-for-profit groups to deliver high quality affordable housing products;
  • Establishing alternate housing products, perpetual shared-equity products and affordable lifestyle village concepts;
  • The provision of local government planning incentives to encourage the development of affordable housing. Incentives may include but are not limited to height and density bonuses, planning codes that facilitate medium density mixed use or multi-unit developments, and project-specific development offsets.

Further information can be found on the Department of Housing Website

In 2013, the WA Planning Commission published the Planning Provisions for Affordable Housing Discussion Paper, which sought feedback on options to deliver affordable housing through development control policies in Local Planning Schemes. The results of feedback on this discussion paper will eventually inform a more consistent approach to the use of planning provisions accross Western Australia.

The Discussion Paper can be found here .

How is affordable housing different to social housing?

Social housing is one type of affordable housing, but it is by no means the only type that can be provided. Affordable housing can fall into many different categories, with different price points, tenures and dwelling types. While social housing is generally provided to people on very low incomes, other products such as shared equity or discount market rental housing often cater for workers on moderate incomes, such as police, nurses or teachers.

The type of affordable housing provided in a particular project will depend on a number of factors, including local housing needs, the objectives of the developer, the nature of the local housing market, and any partnership arrangments that can be established with affordable housing providers. 

Types of affordable housing

Affordable housing types commonly found in Western Australia include:

Affordable rental acommodation:

  • Community housing;
  • Discount market rental Housing  (NRAS)

Affordable purchase:

  • Rent-to-buy;
  • Shared equity (through the Shared Start scheme);
  • Full home ownership (below median market value).

How is eligibility for affordable housing determined?

Most affordable housing types, particularly those delivered through Government or Government-supported programs, have eligibility criteria for purchasers or renters. These vary considerably, depending on the type of affordable housing that is being provided.

Household income limits apply in most programs, and are usually set by the relevant affordable housing provider. In other cases, there may be restrictions related to residency status, cash asset levels, or property ownership.

More information relating to eligibility criteria for different affordable housing types can be found here