Conference paper
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'An alternative solution' 553.68 KB

Following World War II, Australia was confronted by a severe shortage of dwellings. In 1944, the Commonwealth Housing Commission Report estimated that Australia needed 700,000 new homes within a decade in order to overcome both the existing deficit and meet anticipated demand. Initial plans intended that half this number would be supplied as public housing for low-income families, but this tenure contributed only one sixth of completions by 1950. With significant barriers to obtaining housing through private rentals, large numbers of families faced the long-term prospect of inadequate lodging. In this space of need, the construction of an interim shelter as a first step on the route to an affordable home proved one feasible strategy. The scale and significance of this phenomenon has been neglected in the Australian historical literature. Through a case study of activity at Sydney’s suburban fringe, this paper explores how many home-seekers resorted to what historian Stuart Macintyre (2015) has described as ‘an alternative solution’, and acquired an un-serviced residential lot on which to construct a small temporary dwelling. Drawing mainly on oral histories and archival research, the occupational status of those families that relied on this housing route is surveyed and the financial arrangements which enabled the purchase of land and building materials explored. The paper concludes by suggesting that this method of obtaining a home not only helped ease the post-war housing crisis but enabled self-provisioning in housing to households which historically had been dependent on the availability of rental properties.

Publication Details
Source title:
Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2018