Ignite MNC 2022 – Housing

Keynote Speaker:

Ian Ugarte:

Ian Ugarte at Ignite MNC 2022. Image by Chris Hewgill.

Ian Ugarte is a leading Australian expert on innovative and diverse affordable housing models and their implementation, including micro apartments, rooming, boarding houses, communal residences and adaptable housing. He has designed and implemented adaptions of these models for disability organisations, domestic violence transitional housing, age in place housing and enabling affordable first home ownership through rent to buy.  

Ian’s focus is on overcoming unaffordable housing and the loss of community in Australia and established the Australian Housing Initiative  to advocate for the provision of affordable housing. He is passionate about bringing change and educating Government on the ease of providing sufficient affordable housing through minor amendments to existing policy that would create sustainable and practical solutions to affordable housing and offer a win-win scenario for all stakeholders – governments, consumers and investors. 


Re-imagining housing – click here for presentation

There is a housing affordability crisis on the Mid North Coast of NSW.  Ian Ugarte is presenting at Ignite this year as an advocate for affordable housing. He calls himself a socialist capitalist, which is a bit like putting a dog and a cat together, but after waking up one morning 12 years ago, a wealthy but deeply unhappy traditional property investor, Ian decided to focus on investment models that made the world a better place.

The standard investing model is over supplying the market with 4 bedroom houses 2 bathroom houses, with Australia building the largest houses in the world, at an average of 246m2. 82% of new houses are 3+ bedrooms and 70% of renters are singles or couples, resulting in a supply-demand  mismatch. Nationally there are 1 million empty houses and 13.5 million empty bedrooms. Families are shrinking and houses are growing, and that trend is even more obvious on the Coffs Coast with an older demographic.

If you have a 25 year old still living at home with you, it’s not because they like you. It’s because they can’t afford to move out. We convert a 4 bedroom house into 4 separate living quarters with bedroom, living room, bathroom and kitchenette, with a shared kitchen and laundry. Rental price includes utilities and is around half the price of normal rentals. The co-living model promotes the adaptability of housing throughout the circle of life – from young couples, young families, full families, empty nesters, and even to disability support and aged care. One house can be used throughout the entire cycle of life, adapting and evolving throughout people’s lives, at times being able to generate income for the owners.

Ian implements this model all over Australia, in every state except NSW, which has State Government planning regulations which see these kinds of developments seen as boarding houses needing a DA. This is a costly, lengthy process, which makes it difficult to set up these kinds of co-living projects. Ian is advocating for a change in NSW planning laws.

For more information about Ian, go here.


Housing panel at Ignite MNC 2022 – Jesse Taylor, Nicole Woodrow, Claudia Conley, Michele Adair. Image by Chris Hewgill.

Jesse Taylor: Community Development Manager, Mission Australia.
Nicole Woodrow: Development Director of Landcom’s Affordable Housing Unit
Claudia Conley: Associate Product Manager, Community at
Michele Adair: Chair of the Community Housing Industry Association (NSW) and CEO of the Housing Trust, a Wollongong based affordable housing provider

  • According to Michele Adair, the biggest news in the budget is not the budget itself; it’s that for the first time, the budget has acknowledged the rental affordability crisis.
  • The Housing Accord announced in the budget is also a very positive step forward, providing the scaffolding for all levels of government to work together to solve the housing crisis.
  • Housing is not only a social need, but also an economic need  – businesses need their workers to have access to affordable housing. Cafes, restaurants, pubs, supermarkets and shops are the lifeblood of towns, and all of their workers need places to live.
  • The biggest problem with housing in Australia is that it has become a means to wealth creation rather than as the human right that it is.
  • want to break down the stigma of house sharing – it’s a sustainable and valid way of living that can work for anyone – not just uni students and inner city hipsters – Claudia Conley.
Below image from Jay Black at @andthetreesphotography
Housing panel: L-R Jesse Taylor from Mission Australia Housing, Nicole Woodrow from Landcom, Claudia Conley from, Michele Adair from Housing Trust

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