Deakin researchers examining Micro Villages
Researchers at Deakin University are working on a community project that will create clusters of affordable homes for retirees and elderly people living on limited incomes in Geelong.
The ‘Micro Village’ project recently received funding from the Geelong Community Foundation.
Deakin University school of architecture and built environment associate professor Dr Ursula de Jong is a member of the university’s multi-disciplinary research network HOME. She says the project would develop a new approach to the growing problem of rental stress, particularly among the elderly.
She explains that home ownership and the rental market in Geelong is out of reach for many on low incomes, especially retirees on aged pensions.
“We know housing stress has implications for both individual and community wellbeing. We want to identify the community benefits and challenges of integrating a micro-village or a cluster of small, affordable homes into the Geelong community.”
She stresses that the homes would also suit people on limited or low incomes who want to live in well-designed, modestly-sized homes.
Statistics show that Geelong’s population has more people aged 65 and over than Melbourne. Affordable rental accommodation, defined as costing a maximum of 30% of gross income, can be difficult to find in the area. HOME has teamed up with Geelong Sustainabiliity to carry out a community consultation phase. They have received funding from the GCF and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund to develop a best practice model to design a prototype micro-village.
Ursula says that the aim is to deliver housing for an existing group of Geelong retirees but points out that the model also has the potential to help prevent homelessness and housing stress among a range of disadvantaged groups throughout Geelong, Victoria and nationwide.
She adds that Micro Villages would differ from the Tiny Houses movement which lacked social integration and community consultation. The project, she says, will place emphasis on social connection.
“Residents would also receive security of tenure in energy efficient housing of the highest quality. By focusing on co-design with potential residents, their neighbours, policy-makers and stakeholders, our project will make recommendations on how to integrate such a development into existing neighbourhoods in Geelong and, in this way, support the wellbeing of micro-village residents and the broader community.”