Housing affordability is a perennial problem in Australia and has worsened significantly over the past three decades.
Multiple reasons exist for the the lack of affordable housing. On the demand side these include population growth and increased migration to urban areas, easily accessible housing finance, tax incentives and a "strong cultural preference for owner-occupied detached houses". On the supply side, affordability problems are exacerbated by inflexible and slow responses to the need for new housing stock, lack of infrastructure and generally inefficient planning processes and development assessment by local governments.
The increasingly popular tiny house movement has been mooted as a potential solution to some housing affordability issues. The movement originated in the US in the late 1990s, largely in response to housing affordability problems, the global financial crisis and the desire to live more sustainably. At the time, the tiny house movement was very small and localised; in the past decade, it has become increasingly mainstream.
But how realistic is the potential for tiny houses to address some affordability problems in Australian urban areas? Certainly, there is very strong demand for affordable housing and for alternative housing forms. Recent research (an online survey, a series of interviews and social media analysis) has shown tiny houses appeal strongly to a wide demographic, particularly to single-person or couple households.
By Heather Shearer, Griffith University. Published by The Conversation on 10 July 2015.