Festival of Urbanism Myth: Not-for-profits aren't real property developers

The University of Sydney’s Festival of Urbanism aims to change our view of cities and planning. This year’s series of talks, running the first two weeks of September, is busting myths. During Monday night’s session David Cant, CEO of BHC, attempted to debunk the myth that 'not-for-profits aren’t real property developers'. David was joined by a panel of three housing, finance and planning experts.

David highlighted the many benefits of not-for-profit developers, such as their penchant for innovation in the affordable housing sector. One of David’s personal passions is providing small apartments for elderly people living in ‘under occupancy’ units. Creating apartments that suit the needs of older people who are in need of downsizing has meant that BHC is providing a housing type that is in high demand, without having to rely on marketing to sell their units. 

In the right conditions, not-for-profits are an important player in affordable housing provision. However, David argues that in Australia, the political and legislative conditions are not present. Affordable housing is becoming an increasingly important political issue, and there is "great need to have a national vision agreed for a social and affordable housing strategy". David and the panelists all agreed that government must have a stronger role in valuing and facilitating provision of affordable housing.

David’s passion for fixing the affordable housing problem in Australia was contagious. He spoke of the urgency of fixing the affordable housing problem: “housing is a product that has such inherent value and significance…[but] has been made an instrument of increasing inequality and waste”.