As economists such as Brendan Coates have argued, high house prices are pushing older renters and recently separated women across Australia into financial stress.

It’s a national crisis. But there’s still plenty we as Canberrans can do to help. Legalising co-housing would be a step in the right direction.

Our current laws make co-housing too hard

One of the biggest problems for people looking to downsize is the lack of affordable housing options in their neighbourhood. One great option being trialled in Ainslie at the moment is co-housing: three smaller units with some shared amenities on a standard block.

This kind of mid-density homes in established suburbs are great for residents who want to downsize while still keeping connected with their community and family. They also ensure residents remain close by to healthcare, shops and public transport.

Sounds like a great idea right? There’s just one problem: this kind of home is illegal in most of inner Canberra because of RZ1 zoning rules which mandate single family detached homes on 80% of Canberra’s residential land. Sadly, when the planning code was altered to enable the Ainslie project, only a single block was rezoned.

Canberra can lead the way on housing affordability

It’s always great to see policy experts taking housing affordability seriously at the national level. But it’s also easy to feel overwhelmed at the scale of the issue.

In reality, we don’t even have to look beyond our own backyard to make a difference.

Our current planning rules make it too hard to build the homes we need, in the areas they’re needed most. That’s why it’s so great to see more local politicians advocating for reforms to enable more co-housing projects.

Allowing co-housing across the ACT would be a great way for Canberrans to show that we take seriously the need to build more homes, lower housing costs, and build a more lively, prosperous, and sustainable city.