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February 2017


  1. CEO Talking Points
  2. Invitation to Launch event - New toolkit for community housing providers responding to domestic violence
  3. House Keys Update
  4. Federation Development Survey
  5. Byron Shire Affordable Housing Summit – Models, Methods and Money
  6. Housing Appeals Committee 2015/16 Annual Overview  
  7. Resilient Sydney – City of Opportunity Workshop
  8. Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART): Review of rent models for social and affordable housing – Submissions published
  9. National Housing Conference 2017
  10. Forum: Midtown Sydney II – Sydney for All
  11. More Units For Central Coast Housing
  12. Nightingale Housing 
  13. Using Value Capture To Deliver Major Land Transport Infrastructure – The Community Housing Industry Response to the Federal Government Discussion Paper
  14. New Federation Staff
  15. Delivering new homes for independence

CEO Talking Points
On Monday 20 February, the City of Sydney carried out its summer count of people sleeping rough.  There were 433 people counted in addition to which there were a further 489 people in crisis and temporary accommodation beds, and 26 people without a fixed address in hospital beds.  Nearly 11 per cent of beds surveyed at St Vincent’s Hospital were occupied by people without a fixed address. While the number counted as sleeping rough is down on summer 2016, it is still the second highest number recorded since the Counts started in 2010. These figures (understandably) fail to capture the full extent of the problem – the hidden homeless who couch surf or those who remain in unsafe accommodation due to lack of any other option.

The NSW Government is working towards a comprehensive homeless strategy. In the Federation’s response to the discussion paper we recognised the need to strengthen homelessness prevention practice and ensure that sufficient specialist and mainstream tenancy support services are in place. However, front and centre in the community housing response is the need to address the overwhelming shortage of affordable homes that leads to many people becoming homeless and makes it difficult for most to escape homelessness.

On Friday 24 February the new Planning and Housing Minister Anthony Roberts announced that the NSW government will be publishing a housing affordability policy in the near future. Although speaking about the benefits of home ownership, there were some hints that the policy should address the shortage of affordable rental properties in Sydney. The Federation will certainly be pressing for this and our submission to the Federal Government on value capture (see below) is one mechanism we hope the new Minister adopts in NSW.

This month we said goodbye to Suhasini Gunatillaka (Suha) who has left us to take forward studies towards a new career in counselling. It is difficult to precisely define what she did for the Federation as in her time she covered most things from tenant survey administration, event organisation, query handling and minute taking all delivered as required and with unflagging enthusiasm. She will be missed.

In March and April the Federation welcomes two new members of staff - see below.

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You are invited to the Official Launch Event of a New Toolkit for Community Housing Providers taking place on International Women’s Day 2017

Date: Wednesday 8th March 2017
Time: 7:00am for the 7:30am start
Location: Gold Melting Room, The Mint – 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000

Join representatives from NSW Federation of Housing, Domestic Violence NSW, Homelessness NSW and the Older Women’s Studio Development Project to learn about a new program developed for community housing providers. The program helps strengthen practice in responding to domestic and family violence and older women’s homelessness.

This breakfast event will feature a panel discussion with representatives from key specialist services and state government agencies, on the development of the program and the issues surrounding housing and domestic violence.

Please RSVP at your earliest convenience to Lillian Morrison: lillian@polkadotpr.com.au

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House Keys Update
The time has arrived to start year 2 of the House Keys Workforce benchmarking project! House Keys Workforce is now open for registrations and data collection. This is a very exciting project for the industry as it will provide a national perspective on the industry’s workforce with peer group comparisons and the maximum insight from the workforce and Board remuneration data. The Federation has worked closely with staff with HR responsibility in different jurisdictions to ensure that the right range of indicators are collected, and a number of additional indicators have been included in year 2. CHPs have already been sent an invitation to register and submit their data. For further information contact Leoni Lynch by email LeoniL@communityhousing.org.au  or phone 02 9281 7144 ext 203.

House Keys Operations Round 3 is due to start soon and the Federation will be getting in touch with CHPs shortly. We hope to reduce the time between CHPs submitting data to the Registrar and the aggregate data being available in House Keys.

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Federation Development Survey

The Federation has been collecting data to canvass the development activity of Tier 1 & 2 CHPs. The data will demonstrate what new housing has been generated, the scale of the investment and provide evidence of what funders can expect for their investment. Thus far, 10 community housing providers have provided their data which has been useful. The Federation will produce an interim report based in the data we have collected so far. The survey is still open and we encourage any providers who have not yet forwarded their data to do so. Please contact Helen Karathomas helenk@communityhousing.org.au if you have any questions.

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Byron Shire Affordable Housing Summit – Models, Methods and Money

With the prosperity of Byron Shire comes rising house prices and sky rocketing rents, as well illustrated by Core Logic’s recent spotlight on the Byron Bay property market.  Average rent for a unit is $700 pw, a rise of nearly 15 percent in one year and over 50 percent in five years.

For low income households and those relying on benefits and pensions, finding somewhere affordable to live is a challenge. Hence the Council decision to host an affordable housing summit on 10 February 2017, bringing together over 120 residents, planning, development, community services and academia experts and speakers to look at what could be done differently to improve the availability and supply of housing in Byron.

The summit opened with the Council’s Mayor Simon Richardson. Trish Evans at Social Futures in Lismore set the challenge by explaining how housing stress was impacting on the local population.  Hal Pawson - Associate Director City Futures UNSW (Sydney), continued by looking at the health of the affordable housing industry and whether it is ready to meet the challenges. Soon to be released research clearly shows there is capability but more capacity building required – improved government support and resources, better targeted regulation and a stronger community housing sector.

We then moved to two local speakers who have been tackling the region’s housing unaffordability for many years. Adam Bennett-Smith - Director at Koho, spoke about the affordable homes they have built for sale and rent. Homes are higher density and smaller in floor area, but well designed to avoid a sense of pokiness and as a later trip around the area revealed, fitting well into the local streetscapes. John McKenna - CEO at North Coast Community Housing, spoke more generally about how community housing could be a major part in the solution and spoke about working in partnership with Koho to deliver housing for people with a disability. He also drew attention to the rise in empty homes in Byron Shire.

The next set of speakers talked about initiatives from across Australia including specialist funding models, partnerships and even home sharing. Barbara Squires gave us insights into HomeShares and while recognising it can be the answer for some, it is comparatively expensive and difficult to do.  Mike Myers - National Affordable Housing Consortium Brisbane, spoke about shared equity and the product BuyAssist which he hinted may soon be launched in one State further south. The Buy Assist model supports eligible home buyers by allowing them to purchase a 75% share in the property and does not require them to pay a deposit. Unlike many low cost home ownership schemes, shared equity allows for a large part of the subsidy to be retained in the ‘system’ so other households can also benefit. Jessie Hochberg - General Manager at Nightingale Melbourne, spoke about their model which combines sustainability features such as high thermal ratings and water harvesting, with design and building construction techniques that reduce costs and promote affordability.

The closing two speakers set the scene for the affordable housing co design workshop by examining some of the planning issues and opportunities around delivering affordable housing. Gary White - Chief Planner for NSW Government, explained the legislative and policy picture and the work being done to examine the state environmental planning policies (SEPPs) and how they could better facilitate affordable housing. Gary took a range of questions about regional differences and the need to test implications of policy in local contexts. Wendy Hayhurst - CEO of NSW Federation of Housing Associations, concluded by looking at the thorny issues around community resistance to affordable housing development. The summit ended on a positive note by acknowledging that acceptance can be won through a combination of community engagement, early liaison with local councils and good design. Add to this a well-respected future manager of the homes (such as a community housing provider) and success is pretty well assured.

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Housing Appeals Committee 2015/16 Annual Overview  
The Housing Appeals Committee 2015/16 Annual Overview has now been approved. It is a publicly accessible document available for download from their website. Read about their key statistics, social housing appeal trends and other performance outcomes achieved during the 2015/16 year. Access the report via direct link click here.

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Resilient Sydney – City of Opportunity Workshop
Resilient Sydney is an action focused initiative pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation as part of the 100 Resilient Cities Project. It is a collaborative initiative between all Councils of metropolitan Sydney. A workshop was held on 21 February to explore what resilience means to Sydneysiders. We explored the city stresses that are specific to Sydney including social inequity and social cohesion. It was explained that some of Sydney’s most vulnerable assets were its energy and transport networks. We identified together the issues that Sydney faces including its long standing challenge with housing affordability. We workshopped solutions to these issues and discussed how community housing providers can address this problem. Findings from the workshop will contribute to the strategy that will guide dynamic solutions to address our many complex challenges. Resilient Sydney would be willing to meet to further explore the role community housing providers can play in the future of our city. If you are interested please contact helenk@communityhousing.org.au

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Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART): Review of rent models for social and affordable housing – Submissions published
IPART has published the 30 submissions received following the release of its issues paper in November 2016. Responses came mainly from representative organisations, tenant and user groups, housing providers and academics. There is a remarkable degree of consistency in responses. Many of the issues raised go to the broader housing system design of which rent setting and rent policy is just one part. Respondents were concerned about the recognition of these interconnections.

The paper focuses on the views expressed by consumer and tenant representatives and academics, rather than those of service providers or their representatives.  To summarise:

  • Governments need to fix the shortfall in social and affordable housing
  • Categorising households into cohorts is difficult and demeaning and on this basis there is little support for segmented rent models
  • Both social and affordable housing can be for the long term
  • Support for private rental assistance products useful in some circumstances
  • Respondents did not support tightening eligibility criteria
  • General support for an incomes based rents model with some modifications

 To read full article – click here

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National Housing Conference 2017 – register by 31 March to save $400
Just two months into 2017 and with housing and homelessness firmly on the agenda, the biennial National Housing Conference in Sydney this year will be the leading forum to debate and shape our nation’s housing future. The conference theme, Building for Better Lives will examine a range of priority topics that will help build a secure, inclusive and affordable housing system in Australia. Topics to be examined include policies to improve housing affordability at all levels, competition and choice in social housing, the continued transformation of the homelessness sector, financing mechanisms to improve housing supply, the future of the private rental sector and more. Wherever your interest lies in the housing industry, NHC 2017 is an exceptional, cross-sectoral forum to learn from national and international experts, to hear the latest research and examples of best practice and to network with colleagues, peers and friends. Save $400 by registering now before our special super saver registration fee ends on 31 March 2017. To register for the conference, held at the International Convention Centre in Sydney from 29 Nov to 1 Dec 2017 visit, www.nhc.edu.au.

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Midtown Sydney II Forum – Sydney for All
In October 2016, the Committee for Sydney and Sydney Business Chamber partnered to host the landmark Midtown Forum to seize the opportunity for Sydney of the renewal of our southern CBD, including the redevelopment of Central Station.  Speakers included:

  • Dr Tim Williams, -  CEO of Committee for Sydney, stressed the need for collaboration and the importance of the Government and the community working together. The forum said we should ‘think big’ but concluded that we could ‘think bigger’. We discussed thinking about renewal as a transport hub but if we only thought about it in terms of transport we would be missing some of the bigger opportunities, and that’s why overseas examples were important.
  • The Hon. Andrew Constance - Minister for Transport and Infrastructure said there is 20 hectares of opportunity and airspace above and around Central Station. Constance said it would be the transition from somewhere you have to be, to somewhere you want to be, and he raised lots of possibilities.
  • Maria Atkinson - Central Commissioner at Greater Sydney Commission, stressed it wasn’t just about the economic outcomes, but that environmental and social outcomes were important too. We were reminded that whatever we do, we have to put it into that context. We need bold thinking and we need to shift the way developers are thinking.
  • The ‘Sydney for All’ panel began with the indigenous community and wrapped it up with the really important message from Patrick Woods - Deputy Vice Chancellor Resources at UTS.  Woods said that challenge is the cost in engineering terms. So whilst there is some public space, there has to be a return for both tax payers and in commercial development. We have to get that balance between public spaces and how we best use it for all.
  • Kate Meyrick – CEO of The Hornery Institute, gave an overview of beyond engineering solutions. Meyrick said that we need to be ‘recognised globally but loved locally’. The forum discussed the importance of indigenous communities, and how housing and commercial can fit together.
  • Crissy Fanganello - Director of Transportation and Mobility at Denver Public Works, gave us a sense of the governance structure. We cannot think about renewal in isolation. We have got to find a way to have effective collaboration and partnership working, and we looked at some of those models. The vehicle for development will be critical for getting the outcomes that we want, and we were informed how other places have done it – specifically Denver’s Union Station renewal. 

The forum was wrapped up with a panel on the importance of placemaking.

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More Units for Central Coast Housing
Senior Property Officer Land and Housing Mark White with Pacific Link Chairman David Bacon and board member Stephen Brahams at the handover.

Regional community housing group, Pacific Link Housing, has added 36 units to help address the need for additional social housing on the Central Coast.  Speaking at a handover ceremony at which Pacific Link was given the future management of the units by the NSW Land and Housing Corporation, Pacific Link Chairman, Mr David Bacon said ‘the great majority of those on waiting lists for housing on the Central Coast – as well as many of those now in housing – have a stated preference for unit living in line with commercial housing trends.  With 36 additional units now available Pacific Link will be able to provide good quality, secure, affordable housing for people who qualify for assisted housing.  Empty nesters in larger social housing homes will now be able to downsize into a unit complex that provides opportunities to build new friendships and participate more widely in the local community.  This will help to free up larger homes for families in need’.

Pacific Link Housing was awarded a long term management contract for the refurbished units in January 2017 following a competitive tender process.  The organisation already manages more than 1000 properties in the Central Coast and Hunter regions and was last year jointly named as New South Wales Housing Provider of the Year.

For further information, please contact David Bacon on 0427 413 612
or email on:  DavidB@pacificlink.org.au

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Nightingale Housing 
Nightingale Housing
is a new social enterprise that supports the delivery of contemporary housing built for wellbeing, community and liveability. Its model repositions human needs, good design and home owner agency as central to the development process, and works with architects and communities to support multi-residential projects that are environmentally, financially and socially sustainable.
The Nightingale model was born from a pilot project by Breathe Architecture: The Commons, based in Brunswick, Melbourne. In two years, it became the most awarded building in Australia - not only for its physical design, but because it was designed to create a community. The Commons has served as a prototype for many of the ideas inherent to the Nightingale Model, from material reductionism to the social impacts of shared facilities, and the Nightingale Model has now been licensed to sixteen architectural firms committed to delivering better urban environments and the first fully fledged Nightingale project will be completed in late 2017.

Nightingale model projects are designed with the purchasers input to equally reduce impacts on the environment and household budgets. Initiatives on projects can include the use of share car schemes or centralised facilities such as rooftop laundries both allow for more usable space within dwellings and to promote informal connection amongst residence.  The key difference financially between Nightingale model projects and conventional apartment keep the home price as low as possible without requiring subsidies.  Some key pathways to reducing costs are smarter designs, capped investor profits and no marketing budgets.

The style of Nightingale homes has attracted unmet demand for local buyers wishing to have a well-crafted, more affordable and sustainable home with a sense of community and Nightingale Housing currently holds a buyer registry approaching 2000 people. Oh, and investors need not apply, Nightingale homes for solely for owner-occupiers.  With the opportunity to purchase a home around 20% below the market average, purchasers are also agreeing, through a covenant in the sales agreement, to on-sell the unit equally below market so they may pass the same opportunity on to someone else in the future. 

Learn more about Nightingale at the Federation’s March Exchange where Jason Twill, Director, Urban Apostles (Nightingale Representative for NSW) will be speaking.

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Using Value Capture to Deliver Major Land Transport Infrastructure – The Community Housing Industry Response to the Federal Government Discussion Paper

In November 2016, the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) released its discussion paper on how better use of value capture could be made to partially fund transport infrastructure; alongside or by replacing traditional grant funding and user charges.

Simply put, value capture is used to safeguard some of the economic gains arising from public investment and/or planning decisions to offset the costs of infrastructure provision or to provide other community benefits. The logic is that it is unfair that only private landowners derive the benefit from a government action.  This value capture explainer published in the Conversation, written by Prof Nicole Gurran and Stewart Lawler, provides a great introduction for the uninitiated.

While the DIRD paper was focused on transport, the state and national peak community housing organisations strongly believe that value capture mechanisms have a significant role to play in addressing the shortfall in affordable housing across Australia.  Increased land values upon which value capture mechanisms are premised almost inevitably result in adverse impacts on housing affordability; thus worsening in many cases existing housing stress. 

Our response focuses on making the case for including affordable housing, defined in the submission to include social housing provided by state government and community housing providers, as well as other subsidised rental housing including under the National Rental Affordability Scheme, and potentially some shared equity options.  We do this by examining in more detail the extent of housing need, the impact on affordable housing from government investment in infrastructure and of urban development decisions and the positive impacts arising to communities and the wider economy from investment in affordable housing. We argue that value capture ‘should first offset the negative impacts of infrastructure on housing affordability and ensure opportunities continue to be available for a full range of households to foster sustainable, inclusive communities in line with sound planning principles.  Only once these fundamentals are satisfied, should value capture be used to help fund the costs of infrastructure and deliver other public benefits’.

Our response also addresses the design of value capture mechanisms and in particular through inclusionary zoning whereby a share in the value generated from planning decisions to rezone or up-zoning (the latter essentially allowing more housing to be built) should be used for provision of affordable housing.  The submission draws heavily on the NSW Community Housing Industry Planning Strategy which was the subject of extensive consultation both within the industry and with other stakeholders.
We look forward in being involved in further discussions with the Federal government on how value capture is taken forward.

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New Federation Staff

The Federation is very pleased to welcome two new members to our team

Deborah Georgiou, Head of Policy and Communications
Deborah takes up this newly created position at the Federation from the beginning of April 2017. Deborah has extensive experience working in social and affordable housing in Australia and the UK. She was a consultant with the Priority Estates Project in London, and a Neighbourhood Renewal Manager, working on large-scale estate renewal and regeneration.
In Australia, her work has mainly been with the community housing sector. Deborah was the Director Policy, Planning & Reform for community housing in FACS, managing the Industry Development Strategy, implementation of CRA based rents, consolidation of the co-operative sector, and approval of title transfer for NBESP and properties under management.

Deborah will join the Federation after a period as CEO of the Women’s Housing Company where she has led organisational change, including setting up a new homelessness service in South Western Sydney and improving practice in meeting the housing needs of older women.

Molly O’Halloran, Administrative Officer
Molly takes up the position of Administrative Officer in February 2017.  She will replace the treasured Suha.  Molly has a background in Environment and Sustainability issues and is currently studying her Masters of Environmental Science and Management at Macquarie University, with a particular interest in marine pollution issues.
Molly applies her longstanding passion and knowledge of social justice issues to this position.

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Delivering New Homes for Independence
With Sydney's housing affordability crisis continuing, Hume is proud to deliver a 10 townhouse and 4
villa development at Warwick Farm, assisting to reduce the affordable housing supply shortfall in the
Liverpool area and provide new homes to more than 35 residents. The new development provides
affordable homes to people on very-low to moderate incomes. Homes that are both affordable to rent
and to live in.


On Wednesday 22nd February Federal Member for Fowler, Chris Hayes along side Hume's Chairman
Robert Vine and CEO Nicola Lemon officially opened the Warwick Farm development.

During his address, Mr Hayes highlighted the importance of social and affordable housing particularly
for those with disability due to increasing housing costs and affordability issues. Mr Hayes indicated
that he was exceptionally impressed that the development includes platinum level adaptable housing
for those with disabilities meeting the needs of the local community. Mr Hayes congratulated Hume on
the delivery of an outstanding development and the provision of ongoing quality services to residents
of Warwick Farm and the greater Liverpool community.

Hume's Warwick Farm development provides homes to individuals and families that are secure, safe
and high quality. The Warwick Farm development has focused on making sure that the houses are
affordable to rent and to live in with proven passive solar design and highly rated energy efficient
appliances, keeping heating and cooling bills to minimum.

Using the support services provided by Hume and its community service partners, residents have the
opportunity to realise their goals and aspirations, to increase their independence and transition out of
social housing.

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