Housing Key Workers

This Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) report undertaken by researchers from the University of Sydney report considers whether governments in Sydney and Melbourne and select international jurisdictions (the USA and UK) consider key worker housing needs and how they support key workers to access appropriate housing.

Background

The term ‘key worker’ usually refers to employees in services that are essential to a city’s functioning but who earn low to moderate incomes. The report finds that key workers are more likely than the labour force generally to reside in outer suburbs and satellite cities and to commute more than 30kms to work. It also finds that over 52,000 key workers in Sydney and over 37,000 in Melbourne are living in households that can be classified as being in housing stress.

However in Australia, policies and projects to support key workers to access housing are limited and sporadic.

Key Points

  • There is no single definition of what constitutes a ‘key worker’. The term usually refers to employees in services that are essential to a city’s functioning but who earn low to moderate incomes. In cities and regions with high housing costs, this makes access to appropriate and affordable housing in reasonable proximity to work difficult for key workers.
  • All key worker jobs require physical presence—few key workers can ‘work from home’. Proximity to work is particularly important in healthcare, emergency services and some community and welfare support roles in order for workers to cover shifts, quickly respond to increases in service demand and attend emergency situations.

Read the report here.