Australian researcher unlocks housing disadvantage puzzle

August 26, 2011

When researcher Dr Yan Liu from The University of Queensland recently relocated back to Brisbane, she faced a common problem – where to find an affordable home.

Concerned by rising housing prices and the disparity between different neighbourhoods, Dr. Liu, from the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, decided to look closer at how disadvantaged communities are created.

“Unequal access to resources and services among neighborhoods (known as spatial disparity) and the concentration of social disadvantage has become a significant issue in Australia,” Dr. Liu said.

“Studies have shown that those living in socially disadvantaged locations consistently have poorer health and wellbeing outcomes,” she said.

“Spatial disparities, when combined with regional divisions and political and ethnic tensions, have added significance that can undermine social and political stability.

“This is why the Federal Government has implemented a number of measures, such as the Social Inclusion Strategy, Housing Affordability Program and National Housing Reform.”

Dr. Liu is using her skills in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to approach the problem by taking social, economic and housing data and displaying her findings visually.

She is currently about half way into a 12-month project and is expecting to produce findings by early next year.

“Each set of data is like another piece of the puzzle. By mapping together these pieces we can start to see how they fit together in certain areas to contribute to social disadvantage,” she said.

While there are many studies describing and measuring the unequal distribution of services and the concentration of social disadvantage in Australia and overseas, research focusing on the housing market and how this may generate or reinforce social disadvantage is limited.

“In particular, we know little about how the supply of, demand for, and distribution of private rental housing has contributed to the concentration of social disadvantage,” Dr. Liu said.

Dr. Liu hopes to use her research to influence policy and improve outcomes for those who live in disadvantaged communities.

“The results from the project will enhance our understanding of how the private rental housing sub-market contributes to the overall concentration of social disadvantage,” she said.

“It will contribute to the existing evidence base on concentrations of social disadvantage and marginal rental markets that can be used to develop sustained and effective intervention to assist highly .”

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not rated yet Aug 27, 2011
I don't presume to understand AU politics or economics.
But it sounds suspiciously like US politics and economics.
Low income families live in neighborhoods that are underserved by both private enterprise and public agencies, which is a self-reinforcing paradigm.

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