[Article originally written in Nov 2018. Now with minor references to COVID]
Did you know that you were once fined by the authorities if you had a water tank in your backyard?
If buying a house was not challenging enough, to live affordably is a whole different ball game. Our cities and communities are increasingly under stress partly as a consequence of our own success, but mainly from the acceleration of demographic shifts and population growth. There are more of us with increasing needs that are attempted to be delivered by a decreasing pool of resources. We need to think smarter and differently to meet these challenges.
Many of us have difficulties in finding affordable child care spaces, paying for quality aged care services and reducing energy bills. On a broader level, bureaucrats are searching for an equitable approach to delivering disability services while social planners are struggling to halt a mental health epidemic that is increasingly being linked to loneliness. [Now we need to deal with COVID19!]
These are not necessarily new problems; however, the issues are now overlapping and multiplying the sense of overwhelm, making it difficult to find a solution to one issue without affecting others.
Our urban environment has changed, and as technology and global urbanisation speed up, we cannot remain stationary. Applying existing controls to this changed urban context will stymie our ability to adapt and provide us with substandard options. Do you remember what it was like riding a taxi before Uber came to town?
We should be encouraged to work towards a range of useful options that collectively start making inroads in some of the pressures and stresses of urbanisation. Unfortunately, the sensitivity behind housing and the protective nature of regulators is discouraging the necessary innovation which can deliver positive change. Just like other industries that were asleep at the wheel, change in this space is inevitable and will be dramatic as the need for a different approach becomes more urgent. [As COVID has only highlighted to well when it comes to home care for children and our elderly]. Where the need is the greatest, or more viable solutions are technological available, others will enter the landscape and begin to force the change of the rules just as uber did to the taxi market.
How long will it take for regulators to understand that the status quo needs to shift? If we needed a drought to force us to sensibly reverse water tank rules, what will it take for regulators to examine new housing approaches? The Royal Commission into aged care? The housing affordability crisis? [The clarity of our urban issues as being made more clearly by COVID19].
I really hope we are better than that.
A property expert with over 25 years experience working across both private and public sectors, predominately within the housing space.