Deakin University researchers have received funding to develop a model for a micro-village in Geelong. 

Funded by the Geelong Community Foundation (GCF), the project would involve creating clusters of small, affordable homes in existing neighbourhoods and close to community services. 

The aim is to develop a new approach to the growing problem of rental stress, especially among retirees and elderly people in the area.

"Home ownership and the rental market in Geelong is out of reach for many people on fixed low incomes, especially retirees living on aged pensions, and we know housing stress has implications for both individual and community wellbeing,” says Dr. Ursula de Jong, associate professor in the School of Architecture and Built Environment at Deakin. 

"We want to identify the community benefits and challenges of integrating a micro-village or a cluster of small, affordable homes into the Geelong community. These homes are not just for retirees but would suit people on limited or low incomes who want to live in a well-designed, modestly-sized home."

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Geelong has a higher concentration of people aged over 65 than Melbourne. Many of these people live on a limited income, and affordable rental accommodation (costing a maximum of 30 percent gross income) can be difficult to find in Geelong. 

HOME has partnered with Geelong Sustainability to carry out a community consultation phase and has received funding from the GCF and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund to develop a best practice model that will be used to design a prototype micro-village on a site yet to be determined.

While this initial planning stage aims to deliver housing for an existing group of Geelong retirees, the micro-village model has the potential to help prevent homelessness and housing stress among a range of disadvantaged groups, in Geelong, Victoria and throughout Australia, according to de Jong. 

Unlike the Tiny Houses movement, which lacks social integration and community consultation, the micro-village concept places high value on social connectedness and its associated benefits for emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing.

"Residents would also receive security of tenure in energy efficient housing of the highest quality,” says de Jong.

"By focusing on co-design with potential residents, their neighbours, policy-makers and stakeholders, our project will make recommendations on how to integrate such a development into existing neighbourhoods in Geelong and, in this way, support the wellbeing of micro-village residents and the broader community."