Bennett Street Foundation Housing

Bennett Street by JCY Architects & Urban Designers. Image: JCY Architects.

There is an answer for those on low incomes in need of affordable, secure housing. Foundation Housing, a non-for-profit community housing provider is the state’s largest tenancy manager with over 2,000 homes in management, housing over 3,500 people[1].

Their recent development on Bennett Street, East Perth is a 70 unit complex with a mix of studio and one bed apartments. Once the site of an old lodging house, the site has been converted into apartments all being fully self-contained.

As appointed architects of the project, JCY Architects and Urban Designers focused very much on the brief that Foundation Housing had provided, focusing on environmental sustainability, spacious communal facilities and incorporating landscaped gardens for the residents.

Perth’s climate is ideal for utilising passive solar design in which the development incorporates cross-flow windows negating the need for air conditioning and thus limiting the ongoing utility costs for the residents.

Bennett Street by JCY Architects & Urban Designers. Image: JCY Architects.

Importantly, developing Bennett Street means that the tenants are connected to local infrastructure and the opportunities it provides. Providing good quality, well designed architecture connects people living in, and around, to those in the wider community. The intent of Bennett Street makes it a project that has exceeded all expectations in terms of the finished product and its immediate impact that it has already had on people’s lives. As one article found in The Architect explains, tenants feel a sense of connectedness and an ability to make their rooms their own. Moreover, one tenant explains that his move to central Perth and the proximity to TAFE means that his studies at the college since improved for the better, it has impacted his attendance and interest for the course[2].

The development at Bennett Street was funded largely by Foundation Housing with an additional $1.7 million contribution from the State Government . The development of innovative partnerships between the government and the private and community sectors is a key element of the Liberal-National Government’s Affordable Housing Strategy 2010 – 2020: Opening Doors to Affordable Housing which to date has opened over 6,200 doors for low-moderate income Western Australians[3]. The combination of the state government and Foundation Housing grants a range of housing projects to take shape in the Perth Metro area including  Foyer Oxford in Leederville and a Newcastle Street complex.

Housing Minister Colin Holt says that “We are well on our way to meeting our target of 30,000 affordable homes by 2020, with more than 23,600 delivered already.”[4] The evidence is real, the numbers are real, and the strategy is real.

While it can be acknowledged that significant challenges remain the development at Bennett Street is a clear example of what a high quality product delivered by the community housing sector can do for those who need assistance in our community. Ensuring those in society who may be vulnerable or even homeless can access safe and secure housing is a measure of a compassionate and equitable society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Kerryn Edwards, “Foundation Housing,” The Architect, no.2 (2016): 41

[2] Ibid.

[3] Government of Western Australia, Department of Housing, “Affordable Housing Strategy 2010-2020 – Opening Doors to Affordable Housing Progress Report, ” Department of Housing, June 30, 2012, accessed September 6, 2017, http://www.housing.wa.gov.au/HousingDocuments/progress%20report%20LR.pdf.

[4] Giovanni Torre, “East Perth: $25m development to provide housing for low income earners opens,” Guardian Express, August 2, 2016, accessed September 6, 2017, http://www.communitynews.com.au/guardian-express/news/east-perth-25m-development-to-provide-housing-for-low-income-earners-opens/