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The research finds that Austria demonstrates a model of a successful federally legislated housing system. It has a national level legislative framework outlining the business model for not-for-profit housing provision, establishing cost rent setting rules and delineating conditions for the use of direct and indirect subsidies. This ensures contestability and transparency in the allocation and use of subsidies, promotes efficiency and facilitates private investment to grow supply. There is growth in Low Profit Housing Authorities which are driving new supply and taking over management for municipal housing.

The research finds local government can play a role in preparing responsive housing strategies and facilitating partnerships with local service providers. In German case studies local governments play a key role in allocating housing assistance and monitoring social contracts with landlords. City governments have played a direct role in land banking, enabling equity funding and also direct provision in Austria, Germany, Canada and the US, and have demonstrated the value of inclusionary zoning.

In the United States, declining public funds have been supplemented by Low-income Housing Tax Credits, more than doubling affordable housing output. Also in the Rent Assistance Demonstration Program housing assistance subsidies are used to leverage private investment in US public housing. This process has engaged public housing providers in the market and driven entrepreneurial approaches in public housing.

Further research could model these programs in the Australian context but findings suggest the development of a sustainable affordable housing industry requires:

  • National coordination
  • Long term mechanisms for adequate funding
  • Efficient and effective tools to channel private investment
  • Integrated and sophisticated local planning
  • Opportunity for public housing providers to be engaged in the industry
  • Anticipating maintenance and funding it
  • Innovations in linking demand assistance to capital investment
  • New funding models which drive cultural change
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