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The Gold Star Project is aimed at stimulating the development of innovative financial products that would enable people of limited means to achieve housing security through building equity in their home. The focus is on shared equity products that can be accessed by women who are unable to access commercially provided standard home loans. The cohort of particular concern is women over 55 years living in Queensland given the rising numbers experiencing financial stress and at risk of homelessness. The economics of housing for single older women are particularly challenging, for reasons outlined below, so inclusion of other cohorts may have to be considered to improve scheme viability.
Housing policy is enhanced through the recognition of the importance of housing for human welfare and the severe detrimental effects of homelessness. The benefits of housing go well beyond physical shelter – the Australian Centre for Social Impact has distilled the three critical functions of home as acquiring agency, connection with others and expression of identity.1
The gulf between renting and home ownership is enormous and the number and diversity of people occupying this space are growing. Beyond the current focus in the policy debate on supply and affordability of housing, greater diversity of options is needed when it comes to buildings, financing, tenure and ownership types to reflect the diversity of the population. Innovation is needed that places people rather than buildings at the heart of the process to provide greater diversity of options. Shared equity has an important role to play in enabling innovation, allowing people to move from insecure rental to homeownership, and unlocking the benefits of secure housing for a diverse group.