City Futures Research Centre Arts, Design and Architecture

Understanding Decision Making in Third Sector Housing Organisations: Longitudinal and Comparative Elements

Entrepreneurial not-for-profit (NFP) organisations are of growing importance in the delivery of housing assistance for low to moderate income households, with the community housing sector providing 65,000 dwellings in 2014 (up from 46,000 in 2009-10), constituting around 16 per cent of all social housing provision across Australia. This study, completed in 2015, sought to understand how leading representatives of such organisations were managing growth and volatility in their environment and the consequences for their businesses.

Key findings of the research included that:

  • NFP housing organisations are changing in corporate structure, scope and geographic reach as they adapt to purposes broader than, or to sustain, their core social mission.
  • Organisations are becoming more hybrid in nature as they strive to maintain a balance between a business culture and a social ethos.
  • In response to a volatile policy and market environment, organisations were employing strategies such as: business diversification, pursuing economies of scale and seeking alternative private financing to government funding.
  • While housing policy, such as national regulation, has impacted on business structures, a robust funding policy and funding framework will be required to support the development of a larger and more sustainable NFP housing sector.

To increase understanding of how this model fares in different political, economic and social contexts, the research also included a comparative component involving simultaneous studies using similar methods by international colleagues in England and the Netherlands.

The Australian research was undertaken jointly by the UNSW, Swinburne and UWA AHURI Research Centres.

A summary and the final report of the study is available at

Funded by

Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC)

Collaborating partners

Swinburne University of Technology
University of Western Australia

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