Dubbo Council is using a 3D printer as an alternative to regular construction. Picture from Contour 3D

For the last 9 months I’ve been working in the Northern Rivers of NSW as part of the flood recovery project. Regional communities are facing a housing crisis. In the past four years the value of housing in regional NSW has increased by 54%, and the rental market is tight and expensive with an average vacancy rate of 1.2%. 

Working as part of the flood recovery project in Lismore I’ve seen first-hand the slowing effects of the housing crisis on the recovery efforts. Another area that I’ve seen similar issues in is Dubbo with the influx of workers due to the growing renewable energy projects putting pressure on the rental market.

But it’s not all doom and gloom and there are some innovative solutions emerging from these communities under pressure.

  • In Dubbo multi-story apartments are being considered as an option instead of the traditional large block, low rise house. Dubbo Council has also taken a leap into the future with a 3D concrete printer capable of printing housing. In a daring move the Council’s initial work for the printer is a humble toilet block.
  • The Federal Government is also trying to address the housing crisis in regional Australia through the $10BN Housing Affordability Fund (HAF). The HAF is designed to generate houses quickly across regional Australia to address the shortage.
  • Prefabricated or modular housing is another growing sector that offers potential as either an interim or a long-term solution, offering good opportunities in terms of the speed of delivery especially where there are labour shortages. However, there are still challenges around the market perception and financing for modular housing. 

The housing crisis in regional Australia is a complex issue that requires innovative solutions and investment from both the public and private sectors. A good example of how they could cooperate is the Defence Housing Australia ‘sale and lease back model’ that has managed to attract private investment into the affordable housing sector. Imagine if this same model was applied to benefit orderlies and nurses in regional Australia.

What do you think? What are some other innovative solutions that you have seen used to help solve regional Australia’s housing crisis?