We provide clients with information, tools and recommendations to guide evidence-based decision making, improve proposals and enhance service delivery based on specialised research and experience on best-practices in Australia and overseas.

Building Community Support for Affordable Housing

  1. About the Research

This project was originally conducted by JSA for the NSW Community Housing Industry Association in 2017-18, and is as current in today’s affordable housing crisis as it was then. It is based on extensive research about reasons for resistance to affordable (including community) housing, and effective ways of building community support for affordable housing.

The aim of the research was to provide practical, evidence based assistance for proponents seeking to build support for affordable housing developments, whether they be from the public, community or private sector.

The research includes post-occupancy research on affordable housing developments that had been subject to a high level of community opposition, including development that had initially been refused and been approved by the NSW Land and Environment Court.

  1. Why do some people oppose affordable housing?

Despite growing community concern about the ‘affordability crisis’ facing most metropolitan and regional areas, many people still don’t understand what affordable housing is, or the growing diversity of people who live in it.

Providing good information about affordable housing can be a good place to start. Reminding people that anyone in their family or community could need affordable housing at some time is also important.

Others equate ‘affordable housing’ with substandard accommodation. Many have wider concerns about changes in their community, particularly increasing density in inner-city and suburban areas, and ‘affordable housing’ can get caught up in these wider concerns.  There are also common myths about the ‘types of people’ who live in affordable housing, or that including affordable housing in a development or area will ‘lower property values’.

Showcasing good examples in design, development and management can help to overcome such concerns. The case studies featured here, and in more detail in project reports, are the outcome of successful partnerships between community housing providers and local government, State Government and/or private developers.

Understanding these factors can make you more prepared for community opposition and better able to effectively respond.

Often developments that have initially faced strong community opposition gain community acceptance either before or after the development is completed. This is good news for affordable housing proponents facing community opposition, especially in gentrifying areas where even smaller apartments are no longer ‘affordable’ for lower income households and workers.

Once those who have opposed the development understand that, like others in the community, future residents are from diverse backgrounds, they often come to support community housing.

  1. How can we build support for affordable housing?

A. Anticipate opposition and be proactive…

Even if you are in a ‘low risk’ area, it can be a good idea to expect that there may be community opposition to your development. Being prepared and proactive is a good precaution.

‘Successful’ developments have engaged council and the community (particularly those immediately surrounding the development) well before a development application is lodged. They continue this engagement long after the development is approved and occupied.

B.Understand your local community

Understanding your local community and the local affordable housing context is a good place to start.

C. Make sure you have the right site…

The suitability of the site for your proposed development is a crucial consideration in reducing risk, gaining planning approval and ensuring a successful development. A range of factors related to the ‘risk profile’ of your community, the compatibility of the development with surrounding land uses, and its ability to comply with relevant planning instruments are important.

Assessing the suitability of your site for the development is one of the first things that should be done. Comparing potential sites and selecting the best one is also a good idea to maximise yield and reduce risk.

D. Build Relationships…

The value of building relationships with your Council and community as early as possible, and over the life of the project, cannot be over-estimated. This includes getting to know your Council and helping them to understand your organisation and your project, and building a long-term partnership that benefits you both.

Consulting early and often with your ‘host community’, in particular immediately surrounding residents, is as also critical. Incorporating what you hear into your plans to the greatest extent possible, and regularly reporting back to the community, will also help win support.

E. Make sure you are compliant & address substantive issues…

Even if there is community opposition to your development, this will be harder to sustain if you have addressed all the substantive issues (like parking, heritage and privacy), administrative matters (like having the right documentation) and compliance with relevant planning process and instruments.

  1. Links to Reports and Videos









NSWCHIA Case Study: The Platform – Affordable Inner City Living –


NSWCHIA: Case Study – Pembroke St Summer Hill: Designing for Diversity –


NSWCHIA Case Study: Nicholson St Wollstonecraft Boarding House – Building Social Inclusion –


NSWCHIA Case Study: Worrigee Affordable Housing Development – Building Opportunity –


Understanding Overcrowding in South Western Sydney
Shelter NSW
JSA is working with Shelter NSW and its community partners to undertake research to better understand and document overcrowding in South Western Sydney, a rapidly growing but under-researched form of homelessness.
Household overcrowding can have adverse impacts for occupants due to inadequate space within the dwelling for living, sleeping and household activities. Stresses associated with household overcrowding have been associated with adverse physical and mental health impacts for occupants across different cultures and in developed and developing countries around the world.
The objectives of the study are to identify and describe the characteristics of people living in overcrowded dwellings in South Western Sydney, to articulate and understand their housing experiences and needs and to develop and recommend solutions that would help to address these identified housing needs.
The study will focus on recent migrants and university students in the culturally and linguistically diverse Canterbury-Bankstown LGA.

Responding to Housing Challenges in Regional NSW
Community Housing Industry Association of NSW (CHIA NSW)
Community Housing Providers delivering social and affordable housing in regional and rural areas of NSW face different challenges and pressures to their metropolitan Sydney counterparts. Regional providers operate over vast geographic areas, deliver services and housing in communities with more variable rental markets due to employment that is highly reliant on agricultural and/or resource extractive industries that are often subject to market fluctuations, changes in policy, or seasonal/climatic variation such as significant drought events.
CHIA NSW engaged JSA to work in partnership with two regional CHPs, Argyle Housing and Housing Plus, to develop place-based affordable housing strategies for two of their local areas, Leeton Shire Council and the City of Orange. This work involved a detailed demographic and housing demand/supply analysis, a review and understanding of the local policy context, consultations with providers and local stakeholders and the development of a set of tools for other providers operating in regional and rural areas to assist them to undertake their own place-based planning.

Affordable Housing Needs Assessment for Inner Metropolitan Melbourne Councils
Inner Metro Partnership (City of Melbourne, City of Port Phillip and City of Yarra) – Affordable Housing Working Group
JSA developed a robust and consistent methodology to calculate affordable housing need at the local and regional level for the three inner metropolitan councils in Melbourne. The development of the methodology was informed by best practice, a review of work previously undertaken for the three Councils and substantial additional research by JSA.
The development and application of the methodology is the first stage in a broader process by the Inner Metro Partnership , which will investigate and develop planning mechanisms to facilitate the provision of affordable housing in the three local government areas. JSA’s research provides the evidence based and strategic justification to support this work.

Multi-Tenure Developments: Best Practice Approaches to Design, Development and Management
Community Housing Industry Association NSW

This guide presents an overview of ‘best practice’ for multi-tenure developments based on extensive research of projects that bring together social, affordable and private housing in new developments that deliver vibrant communities that work well for different people. Through case studies, the report provides excellent insights into the key design, development and management approaches of a range of successful multi-tenure developments in the UK and Australia.
Click here

Building Community Support for Community Housing
Community Housing Industry Association NSW

JSA undertook extensive research about the reasons for community resistance to affordable housing, and effective ways of building support for it.
The research set out the need, demand and key barriers to affordable housing development and explored community and institutional resistance to new affordable housing through the planning to post-occupancy journey of 15 affordable housing developments. Case studies included detailed desktop analysis and door-knock surveys of neighbours and local businesses to better understand their pre- and post- development perceptions and experiences.
This comprehensive research has been refined into an online Tool Kit of resources, tools and videos for practitioners and anyone interested in building support for affordable housing in the community.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Transitional Housing as a Homelessness Intervention
Wollongong Women’s Housing

JSA carried out research for a specialist homelessness service in Wollongong funded by the NSW Government’s Going Home Staying Home program. The research evaluated the effectiveness and efficiency of existing service interventions used by the service in achieving and maintaining secure, long-term housing outcomes for women who were homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness; and whether there are different long-term housing outcomes for women who are homeless or at imminent risk of homelessness with different personal characteristics, independent of the type of service intervention they receive.

The research was profiled in the November 2016 edition of the Council to Homeless Persons’ national magazine, Parity.

Link: Council to Homeless Persons Parity Magazine