The State Planning Commission together with the Office for Ageing Well, the University of South Australia (UniSA) along with the Cities of Unley, Burnside, Prospect and Walkerville is working in partnership on a Co-Housing Project to test what housing options might be possible in response to the needs of older residents. The project will undertake four detailed design studies focusing on new opportunities for existing housing.
A significant number of older residents face few choices to ‘downsize’ in their current neighbourhood when their housing no longer suits their needs or when they wish to avoid living alone.
This project, significant in its scope and broad in its application, will for the first time explore a major gap in housing opportunities – the ‘missing middle’ of Adelaide’s older suburbs. The project is in response to recent demographic data that illustrates by 2036 that one in three households in South Australia is anticipated to have just one occupant, many of whom will be over the age of 65.
The project will investigate how existing older houses in Adelaide might be altered and extended to create one or more additional dwellings on an existing site to create socially cohesive co-housing arrangements for older residents wishing to stay in their own home – often referred to as ‘ageing in place’.
A hypothetical example to help illustrate a possible co-housing scenario is the story of Ron; a South Australian resident for 46 years. Ron’s wife passed away last year, and although Ron wants to stay, he finds it difficult to keep up with the maintenance of the large house and garden. Ron would like to share his property by building and renting a small unit in the rear of his property. The person renting could assist Ron with household duties and yard maintenance, they could share a meal regularly or work together on a vegetable patch. In this way, the project assists not only older people, but also those looking for reduced rent options or to better connect with their community.
In May 2021, the ‘Co-Housing for Ageing Well Project’ won the Community Partnerships and Collaboration category of the Local Government Professionals Australia’s SA Leadership Excellence Awards Program and has been shortlisted as a finalist the 5th Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation.