Over the past few years we have witnessed housing ‘experts’, planners and policy wonks endlessly spruik ‘tiny homes’ as a solution to Australia’s chronic housing affordability problems. The most recent example was a fortnight ago.
The reality could not be further from the truth. Travel throughout Australia and you will find caravan parks providing long-term leases to the poorest and most marginalised in society. You also won’t find any actual home ownership, since there is no land and no title.
The only difference with “tiny homes” is in name only. It is a marketing con aimed squarely at dressing up something old and depressing – caravan parks used to house the poor – into something that is exciting and new. Add the term “sustainable living” into the mix and you have all the ingredients needed to con the public into believing that tiny homes are a genuine solution to Australia’s busted housing system.
Enter The ABC, which published a depressing article over the weekend on the realities of tiny home living at Fairfield West Caravan Park in Western Sydney:
For those who live here — contractors, shift workers, divorcees, pensioners and ex-cons — it’s often the same story.
They rolled in for a short stay only to put down roots for years, even decades.
For some, a patchy rental history or precarious employment arrangement made it difficult to secure a lease elsewhere…
Fairfield West’s manager, Andrew Drury, keeps watch over the 98 caravans on an extensive CCTV system with nine rotating cameras…
The park’s owner is an investor from the eastern suburbs and Andrew often warns the residents that if the boss is ever “thrown a big bucket of money”, he will sell…
The park makes more than a million dollars a year but, like any investor, George would sell at the right price.
If tiny homes represented a genuine solution to Australia’s housing woes, then why haven’t we witnessed a stampede of people seeking to live in caravan parks?
The fact that such parks are used as emergency accommodation for poor people reveals the true merits of tiny home living. It’s better than homelessness, but not much else.
Sadly, it is easier for policy makers and the media to use marketing spin and propaganda to spruik tiny homes than to actually address housing affordability at its source, through property tax reforms, enforcing a sustainable population policy, freeing up urban land supply and planning, and increasing investment in social housing.
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