Quality universal public housing is possible

May 10, 2022
The Arkadia complex in Alexandria. Photo: Defence Housing Australia

The Arkadia Building in Alexandria, close to transport and opposite Sydney Park, is a new apartment and terrace complex, built by Defence Housing Australia.

With 128 apartments and 24 terraces, it is the largest recycled brick building in the country. It has a rooftop garden with city skyline views and a barbecue, a community garden with chickens laying eggs and an apiary with bees making honey. It is also gas-free.

For a private two-bedroom apartment of this type, you’d be looking at forking out $1.2 million. But the Arcadia Apartments are, in a sense, public housing.

It comprises 50% publicly-owned apartments for defence personnel and their families and 50% for private residences.

The whole complex cost $60 million to build, but because it is publicly-owned and the developers did not need to make a massive profit, each apartment cost less than $400,000. That’s about one third the cost of similar private housing in this area.

That is a big improvement in affordability.

If the federal government built many more like this and rented them for public housing, people would only need to pay about one third of the rent they are currently forced to pay.

Socialist Alliance believes that only 20% of people’s income should be spent on rent in public housing. The government would be able to pay this off within 25 years, and they would be completely revenue neutral.

So it is possible — provided there’s the political will.

[Andrew Chuter is standing for Socialist Alliance in the seat of Sydney.]

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