The ACT will need a strong "political champion" and a supportive public service to increase affordable housing in Canberra, a new analysis of the 2007 Stanhope-era housing reforms suggests.
A report released last week by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute looked at the ACT's 2007 affordable housing reforms as one of three key state or territory government case studies.
It comes as more than 100 industry and community sector leaders meet on Tuesday for a long-awaited summit on affordable housing and homelessness, in a bid to find some potential solutions.
The report looked at the territory's 2007 reforms including the land rent and OwnPlace scheme and other measures which led to a rise in land supply, more affordable land, and some 500 more affordable dwellings in the city.
While the institute did not make specific recommendations to the territory government, the analysis emphasised the importance of then Chief Minister Jon Stanhope's advice to all directorate heads that affordable housing was "the government's number one priority".
It also said having a key political leader as the "champion" of such a strategy, senior advisers with cross-department experience and public servants backing the government's plans were critical.
"It is difficult to sustain affordable housing when the political champion withdraws," the report reads.
"Given the rapid turnover of governments and politicians this will be an enduring problem for affordable housing strategies.
"Effective strategies might be ones that deliver actions that are difficult to 'unravel'."
Researchers at the institute examined a raft of relevant policy documents and statistics, as well as interviewing Mr Stanhope, the then-Under Treasurer and several senior policy officials in government at the time.
Mr Stanhope told the researchers the ACT "always came out as the most affordable state in the country, but that was "a trick".
"That's fine for high income households, but there is a whole cohort of people living in this prosperous city for which housing is a real battle," he said.
"We were leaving a large number of people behind—and that's our constituency."
The former Treasury chief of policy told the researchers the "value system" of ministers was important and when public servants took the land rent scheme idea to the same government in 2003, the response was "that the market is doing what the market is doing".
"'[But] with the [2007 affordable housing plan], the value system is different - housing is a basic right," he said.
"This value system comes from the Chief Minister."
The report also emphasised the role of community sector housing providers, pointing to the success of Community Housing Canberra (CHC) in providing more affordable housing without major government investment.
While CHC was noted as part of the successes of the strategy at that time, it also found the community sector struggled to attract major private investors, particularly during the global financial crisis.
It also highlighted the need for the government to set specific affordable housing targets, in addition to its targets to reap revenue from land sales, a key concern in Canberra given rising land prices and largely government-controlled supply.
"It was considered that this strategy would help the LDA to focus on the price outcomes of their activities and not just on their financial performance," the report reads.
"Being able to guarantee increased land supply (and not just planning approvals for land development) as well as the price points of that land is a very powerful tool for a government trying to generate affordable outcomes."