Post 8: Pinpointing the Problem Statements

Post 8: Brainstorming possibilities for a design response
Christine Ye

Group Brainstorming Session

At this point in the subject, it was about time to start thinking of some design possibilities that could target the issue of housing affordability… a complex topic that has proven itself to be affected by so many factors, and at the same time is growing to affect so many Australians. While each of our blog posts brought out a new set of insights through the specific research tasks, it was still difficult to pick exactly where a design intervention could fit into the puzzle and hopefully also help a small portion of the issue. To get us moving along, we collaborated as a group to brainstorm some problem statements by answering 5 questions of the who, what, when, where and why of the issue.

Who does this issue affect?
The issue of housing affordability affect everyone, as housing is a necessity in life. However our main stakeholders are the younger and future generations of Australia, especially focusing on those from Generation Y who are currently looking for or planning to invest in their first homes with their low to middle level incomes.

What are the boundaries of the issue?
The boundaries of the issue include intergenerational differences, a lack of mutual understanding between parties, foreign buyers and property investors, the Australian economy, the government and the personal political agendas of those with the authority and power to make a difference. We discussed that the income gap and current housing market prices don’t give equal opportunities to young Australians, that there is a lack of collaborative organisation towards taking actions to solve the issue and in general the housing issue holds a low priority in the eyes of young Australians.

When does the issue occur?
This is an ongoing issue that occurs continuously, however is generally only noticed when individuals start to look for house buying opportunities and continues throughout the looking and buying process.

Where does the issue occur?
The issue mainly occurs around the more populated areas in Australia, such as the main cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Due to various factors such as employment, transport and locational convenience, people have identified the surrounding suburbs of the CBD (especially within the 20km radius according to my probe research) to be the most attractive in terms of liveability and hence comes with an expensive price tag. Those who cannot afford houses in these locations are forced to either buy further away at the expense of liveability factors or wait for an unlikely opportunity.

Why is the issue important?
As the housing affordability issue is continuously growing, it is important to take action so that the future generations of Australia will have a fair opportunity to own a house which also meets their housing expectations.

If the issue isn’t resolved it will only get worse, with young Australians having to live with their parents for a longer time and renting may become the norm for ‘home ownership’. Those who can afford houses in more attractive suburbs accumulate wealth in property that increases the gap between the rich and the poor, and at the same time pushing lower income groups further away from the city.

Group brainstorming map for possible problem statements.

Initial Problem Statement
In 21st century Australia, Generation Y is experiencing difficulties when it comes to buying their first home. Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in the world and because of the high cost of living, paired with the younger generation’s low to medium starting income, this creates unfair opportunities for them in a housing market dominated by older, richer generations and property investors. The lack of collaborative government support in affordable housing, and a surplus of unsuitable property supply, resulting in a rapid disappearing model of the Australian Dream.

While this exercise was meant to generate 5 individual problem statements and several design possibilities to those statements, due to some confusion, our group ended up generating one cohesive problem statement to describe the housing affordability situation. Although the statement helped to paint a vivid picture of the housing situation, we realised that the problem statement needed to be far more specific in order to help us generate a more plausible design opportunity – I later broke this down into 5 different possibilities.

5 Problem Statements (and Some Ideas)

1) The high cost of living in Sydney, coupled with a housing market that is dominated by the older, richer generations and property investors, creates unfair opportunities for the younger generation to buy or invest in their first homes.

2) The Australian Dream of home ownership is fleeting; the price to pay for a house in a location that fulfils the needs and expectations of Generation Y is generally way out of their reach, thus young Australians have just accepted how difficult it is to enter the housing market.

  • An questionnaire that generates the ‘ideal house’ for an individual and how much it costs, comparing to a generation of the houses that are possible options for the individual based on their current income level in x many years time.
  • What does Generation Y expect or want in their house? A calculator that shows how much it’d cost to renovate x into an existing house instead of how much it costs to buy a house with x. This idea tries to provide individuals with an option to reduce costs to live in a place they want.
  • A questionnaire that generates what Generation Y consider the Australian Dream, what they think of the housing situation and how the housing situation makes them feel.

3) Despite the housing affordability situation, housing sits itself as a low priority for majority of young Australians who would rather spend on other things. Where do they spend their money and why, also how does this affect them?

  • A visual comparison model of spending on necessity and wants between those who are home owners and those who are not; aiming to show individuals how the cost of owning a home can be adjusted into their income spending habits.
  • Calculating how many of _____ it takes to save up for a house. On a scale of 0 – 10, how important is _____ to you vs. how important a house is.
  • A questionnaire and visualisation to show what the younger generation feels about home ownership, what things they would be willing to give up and what they wouldn’t be able to give up for a house (this could link to the idea of what quantity they’d have to give up to save x amount of money) – an attempt to understand the lifestyle of young Australians.

4) Intergenerational differences and a lack of mutual understanding between generations has stereotyped Generation Y as being lazy and not willing to work hard to achieve the housing dream.

5) There is a lack of collaborative action and innovative housing solutions towards facing and solving the housing affordability issue.



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