NSW Housing Buzz Networking Event overview

Is NIMBYism blocking affordable housing in NSW?

Question: What do affordable housing practitioners and housing developers see ahead? Answer: A sharing society! This surprise emerged in our regular wine bar discussion event, the Housing Buzz, with a panel of the wise and witty – Debbie Georgopoulos CEO Womens Housing Co.Karen Walsh CEO NSW Shelter, and Chris Johnson CEO NSW Urban Taskforce. The MC for the night was the infatigable Rebecca Pinkstone from Bridge Housing.

The AHI’s NSW Committee’s popular post-work wine bar housing events from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, encourage informed and energetic housing debate and controversy in a relaxed sofa environment, helped by a free drink included in the modest entry fee. Much informal discussion follows as people plan their evenings. Chatham House rules rule.

The May discussion began with 5-10 minute up-front positions by the three panel members, each with views ranging from NIMBYism as a reasonable expression of community anxiety with change, to self-regarding exclusion of otherness – the ‘us and them’ syndrome.

That set the room buzzing, with a wide range of views from the floor expressing displeasure with current investment-led high-rise housing developments that failed housing affordability and equity, marketing of new housing with images of exclusivity, tax regimes that encouraged speculation, and plenty of examples of ‘not in my backyard’ views of social housing from local government and the 2010 public housing Nation Building response to the GFC.

Although affordable housing as an issue appears systemic and chronic, Chris Johnson suggested that trends are driving new housing towards greater resource sharing in the form of multi-unit medium-high density communities, and away from the detached ‘home as castle’ models of shelter. He suggested that with increased communal living, the distinctions between low-income accommodation and exclusivity of high-end housing will diminish, citing examples such as Barcelona.

Our MC thanked the panel and the 35 or so attendees agreeably satisfied by the discussion, and debate continued elsewhere over drinks and café dinners. The wine bar model appears to be a successful way to expand the reach of the AHI and housing professionals, and the NSW Committee is busy organising the next Housing Buzz event.

Mark Singer
AHI NSW Committee Member