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July 2016

Contents

  1. CEO Talking Points
  2. Shared Homeownership  - an option for people on moderate incomes wanting to enter the housing market.
  3. Productivity Commission – Inquiry into Human Services
  4. Federation Response to the Draft Central West & Orana Regional Plan
  5. New Strata Laws Starting 30th November 2016
  6. Australia's first Social Value Bank to be launched
  7. Australia’s Largest Wooden Building Project developed by BlueCHP
  8. House Keys: Workforce aggregate report released
  9. Centre for Training in Social Housing – News
  10. PAYCE and SGCH welcome the Riverwood Masterplan
  11. What a Home Means to You- exhibition by Link Housing tenants
  12. AHURI Conference
  13. Secure Occupancy In Rental Housing- City Futures
  14. National Homelessness Week

CEO Talking Points
So we have a new Federal Government but still no housing minister to really focus on a national strategy to address the housing unaffordability crisis.  The HILDA data released last week showed homeownership rates declining across the country and a prediction that renters will soon outnumber owners. NSW has the lowest home ownership rates in the country, with young people and key workers such as nurses and childcare workers in Sydney at the epicentre of the affordability crisis. While there are great plans to create high value jobs across Sydney such as the medical hub around the Westmead precinct in Western Sydney, there seems to be less focus on where the hospital staff, the nurses, the cleaners, and support staff will live.

This week the Federation with Homelessness NSW holds their Affordable Housing Conference, with the theme ‘100,000 additional affordable homes for NSW’. Let’s make this a conference to remember and make sure the message is loud and clear.

And why focus on 100K? The rationale is set out by Dr Judy Yates Honorary Associate, School of Economics, University of Sydney; Senior Visiting Fellow, City Futures, University of NSW)

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Shared Homeownership  - an option for people on moderate incomes wanting to enter the housing market.

On 18 July over 70 people representing the business community, banking industry, government and not for profit sector gathered at the NSW Business Chamber in Parramatta to hear from the NSW Shared Home Ownership Group about how its model could contribute to solving housing unaffordability in the State.

Welcomed by Rob Lang, Chairman of Regional Development Australia Sydney, the audience then heard from David Borger, Western Sydney Director, NSW Business Chamber the challenges facing his members hiring staff in a booming economic hub like Parramatta. Wendy Hayhurst, from the NSW Federation of Housing Associations set out the bare statistics about declining home ownership and the gulf that had opened up between wages and house costs.

Craig Johnston from Shelter NSW explained that Western Australia, South Australia and the ACT had introduced similar successful initiatives; and the time for NSW to do so had arrived.

The session then focused on the shared homeownership housing model developed by the group that could deliver a much needed pathway to housing affordability for people on-low-to-moderate incomes. The scheme is simple to administer and implement and does not require a specially designed loan from the banks.

Emilio Ferrer from Sphere Consulting who had assisted the group in the scheme’s development prepared explained it will enable homeowners to purchase between 25 to 75 percent of the value of the dwelling, with a not for profit community housing association as a non-residential purchase partner. It is envisaged home buyers will:

  • Be eligible up to a maximum household income and be currently renting.
  • Provide a 10% deposit on their share of the property.
  • Obtain a bank loan on normal commercial terms.
  • Buy their proportion of the dwelling at market value.
  • Be able to increase the proportion they own.
  • Not pay housing costs (Mortgage repayments + administration costs + Home ownership costs such as maintenance, insurance) that exceed 35% of household income.
  • If they decide to sell the home, share any capital gain or loss with the Housing provider in accordance to their share of ownership.

Patrick Ryan from SGCH spoke about the extensive market testing they had carried out to inform any development. They had found widespread interest and characterised those most likely to come forward as smaller households on a gross income between $60,000-$110,000. Many would be currently living in Western Sydney and commuting locally or further afield to the inner city / CBD. They would be working predominantly in the community services, health, and education sectors and ideally were hoping to purchase in the next 2-3 years.

Neil Kenzler from Teachers Mutual Bank explained the work he had been doing to examine the shared homeownership model and the challenges it posed to conventional bank lending. He acknowledged some difficulties to work through in relation to cases of mortgage default but none that could not be worked through.

The final speaker Padmini Saxena, Director Housing, Market and Providers NDIA broadened the discussion about the target audience for shared homeownership to include people receiving disability payments but ineligible for the housing payment. This prompted the audience to quiz the final panel about other households who might benefit such as older women who might have some equity to put in.

Asked about what government could do to support, the panellists all pointed to the anomaly with the First Home Owner Grant which currently is not available to purchasers of a shared home ownership scheme- a simple and very cheap task for government that would make a major difference to the purchasers.

The report Doors to Ownership: a business case and guidelines for a shared homeownership scheme with NSW community housing associations, can be downloaded at http://www.communityhousing.org.au/S8_Shared_Home_Ownership.html

Presentations from the event are also available here.

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Productivity Commission – Inquiry into Human Services

The Federation of Housing Associations made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Human Services on behalf of other housing representative organisations – Community Housing Council in SA, Community Housing Federation of Victoria, Community Housing Industry Association, Shelter TAS and Power Housing.

The Inquiry is broad ranging in scope considering the broad range of human services including health and education. Naturally our submission focused on not for profit housing. The Inquiry focus is to build on the Harper review and its overall purpose is to examine how the application of competition and user choice might be used to improve outcomes.

The Inquiry is in two parts, first identifying which services lend themselves best to more competition and a second to examine in more detail how this might be achieved.

The Inquiry Team has published an Issues paper to inform discussion on Stage 1 available from the link below. http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/human-services

The paper sets out principles around variations on the competition theme, broadening to consumer choice and contestability. It outlines the questions that will inform whether services are considered best suited to outsourcing - around the themes of scope for service improvement, potential benefits of increased competition (including increased accountability) and the costs of outsourcing.

Our response explained why not for profit housing should be a priority area for review by the Productivity Commission. We noted that non-market housing supported by Government is a key human service but one where competition and user choice has been modest although previous inquiries have highlighted the likely positive outcomes from doing so.  Community housing’s transformation to a vibrant, well performing growth sector with provider contestability shows the benefits that have already come about from relatively small scale transfers of public housing.

Our main points include:  

  • The Inquiry’s definition should be broadened from ‘social housing’ to ‘non-market housing’
  • Different approaches to user choice and competition are needed for the various housing options along the housing continuum
  • More user choice and contestability between suppliers is possible with housing products aimed at moderate income households
  • Further transfers from public to community housing will increase contestability
  • Data collection needs to be transformed with a focus on outcomes, greater comparability and more transparency for users
  • Public and community housing should be consistently regulated, and some funding allocated competitively by the Commonwealth
  • Governments need to establish frameworks and funding for ‘intermediate housing products’ that enhance user choice
  • Combining asset ownership and tenancy management leads to more efficient housing delivery though better asset management
  • Web based social and affording housing advertising promotes ‘choice based letting’ where tenants are able to exercise more control over the decision about their landlord
  • Funding contestability between housing providers improves efficiency, but needs to be restricted or costs and burdens will increase

Our response also highlights reservations about introducing a US type voucher system made available to certain lower income households to ‘buy’ rental accommodation from landlords. It  should be noted:

  • US vouchers are severely restricted in number, with only 0.5% of the population receiving vouchers.  Not all eligible applicants receive a voucher, and there are long waiting lists.
  • Having a voucher does not guarantee low-income household can use the subsidy. In the US the lowest success was achieved in tight rental markets with few vacancies - the typical position in Australian capital cities.

Challenges with a US-style voucher system led the Australian Industry Commission’s 1993 ‘Public housing’ report to conclude vouchers were not cost effective. Vouchers may push rents up, will not generate new supply and voucher administration costs are high.

Submissions closed on 25 July 2016. The preliminary findings should be released in September 2016 and a final study report will follow in October 2016. Stage 2 of the Inquiry will follow in October 2017.

Our full submission is available here.

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Federation Response to the Draft Central West & Orana Regional Plan

The NSW Department of Planning & Environment released its Draft Central West and Orana Regional Plan which outlines how the region will change over the next 20 years. There is clear alignment between the Federation’s Industry Strategy and the aim of the draft Regional Plan for the Central West & Orana to support the growth and diversification of the economy of the region over the next 20 years. However, there are two other key areas that the Federation recommended to the Department that should also be implemented in the Regional Plan:

  1. Adoption of affordable housing supply targets: Targets are of tremendous practical and symbolic significance in focusing attention on achieving desired outcomes. The Federation believes that affordable housing targets should be introduced to complement general housing supply targets for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas. Ideally these should flow from state to regional level and on to sub regional and local levels. Targets should be informed by robust housing needs analysis and supported by requirements to report against their achievement at all levels.
  2. Provide for a range of measures/requirements to facilitate a diversity of housing types, sizes and price points to meet housing needs and to empower planning agencies at all levels to implement measures to facilitate and, where appropriate, require the provision of affordable housing.

The Federation’s submission highlighted how community housing providers are well placed to work with local councils, non-government organisations and businesses to provide a diversity of housing to meet local and regional needs. By necessity, community housing provider operations are flexible, efficient and are therefore, attractive partners in joint initiatives. The Federation also suggested that the Department should conduct modelling to predict housing needs in the Region into the future including both social and affordable housing numbers. The full submission can be downloaded HERE.

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New Strata Laws Starting 30th November 2016
New Strata laws will start on 30th November. These reforms will “give strata communities the tools to effectively run their scheme and shape their own by-laws”.

Some key changes include:

  • strengthening the accountability of strata managers
  • allowing owners to adopt modern technology to conduct meetings, vote, communicate and administer their scheme
  • the need for owners to review by-laws (strata community rules) within 12 months, which can be customised to suit their lifestyle - such as whether to allow owners to keep a pet by giving notice to  the owners corporation
  • a process for the collective sale and renewal of a strata scheme
  • a simpler, clearer process for dealing with disputes
  • broadening tenant participation in meetings
  • a new option to manage unauthorised parking through a commercial arrangement between a local council and a strata scheme
  • a clearer and simpler three-tier renovations process, which waives approval for cosmetic renovations within the strata lot (for example, installing handrails for safety)

A fact sheet is downloadable here with the major changes summarised.

It is expected that the final regulations will be published no later than early August to provide property professionals time to understand them. These will supply the detail needed for the new laws to operate from 30 November. Fair Trading will also run information sessions and work with industry bodies to support strata schemes and update the Fair Trading website with comprehensive information on the reforms.

The new building defects bond started on 1 July 2017. This will allow for the new Australian Standard for inspecting group title buildings to be adopted as the standard for the defects inspections. 

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Australia's first Social Value Bank to be launched
Demonstrating the real value of social responsibility
Every day Australian companies and business give back to our community. Every day social organisations and not-for-profit companies are helping our communities to improve their lives. The Australian Social Value Bank will help you put a well-researched economic value on the services and programs you deliver and the individuals you help.

The Housing Alliance and the NSW Federation of Housing Associations are working together to bring to Australia our own version of the UK Social Value Bank. We are working with internationally renowned economist Daniel Fujiwara, from SIMETRICA in the UK, to create a bank of methodologically consistent and robust social impact values for Australia.

Daniel Fujiwara’s Masterclass which will be run on 1st August is almost sold out.  If you would like to reserve one of the last remaining places please click here to register.

The “bank” will provide access to financial proxies for a wide range of well-being values that can be used to:

  • conduct a basic assessment of the economic impact of socially directed initiatives
  • provide evidence of value for money for Board reports or Government grant applications
  • compare the impact and return on investment of different programs and optimise the value for money in program design

Values can be used within a full Social Return on Investment assessment or as a basis for cost benefit analysis.

COMING SOON - It is anticipated that the bank will be available for purchase under licensing by November 2016.  You can register your interest for updates at ASVB@communityhousing.org.au

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Australia’s Largest Wooden Building Project developed by BlueCHP

Work has begun on an affordable housing project developed by BlueCHP, which will be Australia’s largest wooden building project. The building will be three towers of six, seven and eight storeys.

The construction materials and method are hailed as revolutionary and  will have benefits such as “Less waste, less on-site construction resources and a safer, quieter, cleaner overall build site”, according to Adam Strong, whose company is designing and constructing 'The Gardens'.

Below is the article that appeared in the Australian Financial Review, available to subscribers here.

The construction of Australia's largest wooden building project is making rapid progress at Campbelltown, in Sydney's west, courtesy of 3000 cubic metres of pre-fabricated timber panels shipped from Austria.

In early July 78 shipping containers began arriving at The Gardens, a 101-apartment affordable housing project across three towers of six, seven and eight storeys, developed by BlueCHP
Inside the containers, solid panels, made from layers of spruce glued and pressed together. It is cross-laminated timber, or more simply CLT. The material comes from one of the largest CLT producers in the world, Binderholz. It has been cut and processed precisely in a factory, ready for to be installed on site.

With the concrete podium ready, the panels are swung into place and fastened together with super-size screws and brackets. Photographs taken by The Australian Financial Review less than four working days apart show just how swift is the execution. The material and methodology – established for more than decade in Europe – brings to Australia the potential of faster and more cost-efficient construction.
 Blue CHP construction
Start of the project: The site as it awaits the first wooden panel to be lifted into place for construction of The Gardens, an affordable housing development in Sydney's Campbelltown. Peter Rae

Blue CHP construction2
Four working days later: The first floor is completed and walls are nearly finished on the 2nd floor. Peter Rae

The revolution is quite literally a quiet one, says Adam Strong, managing director of Strongbuild, the company which has designed and is constructing The Gardens. 

"Less waste, less on-site construction resources and a safer, quieter, cleaner overall build site," he says. "It offers benefits to both our client and our site teams whilst also having less impact on the local neighbourhood during construction."

And, like all revolutions, this one has taken considerable preparation. Mr Strong's interest was piqued three years ago by a CLT tower built in Melbourne by Lendlease, the first such in Australia.

​Then followed tours of existing CLT structures in Europe. After that there was much effort by Strongbuild, with help from the CSIRO, to establish how the new material complied with building standards here. 

Interest is growing in prefabrication. Earlier this month the University of Melbourne won a government Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) grant worth up to $3 million to research and develop pre-fabricated building systems. The university's associate professor Tuan Ngo says the project, with manufacturer Speedpanel Australia, will borrow more from advanced manufacturing techniques to advance the processes that can nearly halve the construction time of projects.

The viability of CLT gained a considerable impetus in May this year, when the National Construction Code introduced less onerous requirements for timber towers of up to eight storeys. "We've always worked very closely with timber," Mr Strong says. "We love it as a product. It's sustainable, it's renewable. We wanted to take a timber structure taller and CLT is the obvious solution for that."

The opportunity to test the strength of the idea came with the tender from BlueCHP, an affordable housing developer which emerged from the community housing sector.  
The Strongbuild pitch with CLT came in well below traditional concrete and steel structures. The lighter timber needs less foundation. There is less spent on scaffolding.

The biggest saving is in time. The Gardens will be complete in 14 months – four months quicker than a typical build. That saving appealed to Charles Northcote, BlueCHP chief executive, who estimates the Strongbuild approach will cut 15 per cent in costs from the $40 million project. A veteran of the manufacturing and timber industries himself, Mr Northcote understood the acoustic and thermal qualities of timber and its environmental benefits. "It's a great product. For me, it's the beginning of the revolution. It's providing choice. A lot of people talk about innovation but they don't do it," he said.

For Mr Northcote, necessity is the mother of innovation. BlueCHP buys land at market rates, but must deliver housing that can be rented out at below market cost.

"Those key drivers make us innovate, to think about how we can deliver cost-effective product."  
Another key player in the Campbelltown project is engineering firm Aecom. Like Mr Strong, Aecom's building structures leader Marc Colella had begun thinking about CLT several years ago.

He began putting together a team with the skills to work with CLT as he appraised the changing construction sector: increasing urban density, more infill sites, more development in spaces that are difficult to built in.  Timber, which could be used to roll out new schools quickly, or add several storeys atop existing buildings, made sense. "You always take a risk when you invest in new capability. It's the direction the industry needed to go," he said.

That far-sightedness is beginning to pay off.​ The towers at Campbelltown are rising fast. By the time they are built, more components of an emerging industry will be in place.  Lendlease is building its own factory this year in western Sydney factory to process CLT. New Zealand timber producer XLam is going one step further, with a plan to set up a plant near Albury to produce the CLT from Australian pine.

And already Mr Strong is preparing to build what may be the largest CLT project in the world, with 7000 cubic metres of the product for a retirement home developed by Mulpha in Sydney's Norwest business park.

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House Keys: Workforce aggregate report released
The Federation is pleased to announce the release of the aggregate report on the sector’s workforce using data submitted through House Keys: Workforce.

House Keys: Workforce is the new national workforce benchmarking system developed by the Federation in partnership with Q Shelter.  It will set industry standards and allows community housing providers to see how they compare with peers around Australia.  House Keys: Workforce has been developed to support community housing providers’ human resource strategies by making comparative data on salaries and key workforce metrics available.  Data was provided between August and September 2015 by 29 CHPs located in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. 

Headline data includes information on our workforce composition and diversity, employment conditions, salary increases and key metrics such as staff turnover.   House Keys: Workforce also contains information on salary levels across a wide range of community housing specific job families and information on board composition and remuneration.  The aggregate report can be downloaded here.

The Federation will start collecting data for  the 2015-16 financial year from September this year.

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Centre for Training in Social Housing – News- New Qualifications

We are still taking enrolments for the following Qualifications
•             CHC42215 Certificate IV in Social Housing
•             CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services

Please check out our temporary website which contains all the information you require. Don’t forget you can enrol in just one or two units and continue your qualification later: http://communityhousing.org.au/ctsh/

Skills IQ Workforce survey
As some of you may know we are represented on the Community Sector Development Reference Committee for Skills IQ

SkillsIQ is the Skills Service Organisation supporting the Industry Reference Committee responsible for training package development in our sector. SkillsIQ wants to hear about the changes and workforce challenges in our sector and is currently conducting an Industry Workforce Survey to collect your feedback on these issues. It is important for them to understand how these changes and challenges are impacting your organisation and how the workforce needs to evolve to meet the current and future demands. Everyone is encouraged to complete the survey to provide feedback.

Please also share within your networks if appropriate, to ensure broad industry views are captured. The data collected will be used to inform future directions of qualifications and training packages. In order to access the survey please click here.

The survey will be open until the 29th July

For any information on any of the above areas please contact the Training Manager Kevin at KevinS@communityhousing.org.au

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PAYCE and SGCH welcome the Riverwood Masterplan
The NSW Government announcement that it will commence work on a masterplan for the entire Washington Park site at Riverwood North is a major boost for the local community, PAYCE Consolidated General Manager, Dominic Sullivan and the CEO of SGCH Group, Scott Langford said, “We applaud the NSW Government for having the foresight and genuine commitment to deliver better communities for the vulnerable.”

Mr Sullivan said “We believe that in partnership with the NSW Government we have demonstrated at Washington Park what can be achieved. This announcement will give other families the opportunity to not only enjoy first-rate accommodation but also a better quality of life. Since completion of the new social and affordable housing at Washington Park we have seen a community thrive.”

Mr Langford said: “We’ve seen with the first stage of the development what a successful public-private partnership can achieve and what community housing providers can bring to the table in the development space. There is opportunity to now build on that success with the next stage of the development.”

Under the plan announced by Housing Minister, Brad Hazzard, an area of 30.5 hectares of the Riverwood estate is being submitted as a State Significant Precinct (SSP) which will involve planning to identify all types of housing, community amenity, services and infrastructure needed for the local population.

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What a Home Means to You- exhibition by Link Housing tenants
In early June, budding and established artists across Sydney took part in a community art exhibition convened by Link Housing using the theme: What a Home Means to You. Held at the Warringah Creative Space, over forty artists contributed to the exhibition using a range of mediums, including paint, ceramics and sculpture.

Andrew McAnulty, CEO at Link Housing said; ‘When you have a home, it can often be taken for granted.’ The eclectic mix of art and interpretations of the theme, encouraged thought and reflection on the importance of a ‘home’, and the role it plays in each of our lives.

Ten pieces from What a Home Means to You, will be showcased at the 2016 Affordable Housing Conference held on Thursday and Friday this week at the Sydney Masonic Centre.

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AHURI Conference
AHURI will be holding a second conference in a new national series of cross-sectoral policy focused events. The future of housing assistance will be held in Adelaide on Wednesday 19 October 2016

What's it about?
With the election of a new Federal Government and national funding agreements up for renewal, now is the right time to debate, discuss and consider the future of housing assistance in Australia. Over the course of the day, this national conversation will examine the following:

  • Political leadership and the future of housing assistance
  • Current demand for housing assistance in Australia - featuring the latest AHURI research
  • Strategies for increasing the supply of affordable housing
  • Strategies for improving tenancy management and support
  • Contemporary trends in social policy and their relationship to housing assistance

Program now available
We have now released a comprehensive program overview. Visit our website for more details.

Date and time: Wednesday, 19 October 2016, 8:00am – 4:15pm
Venue: Adelaide Oval

Adelaide flights and accommodation
Travelling from interstate? We’ve compiled a list of flights to each capital city to help you with your travel plans and we’ve also secured discounted rates at a number of hotels located close to Adelaide Oval.

Registration
$295 AUD (including GST) which includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.

Find out more at the official conference website.

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Secure Occupancy In Rental Housing- City Futures' Event
 
Prof Suzanne Fitzpatrick, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
Prof Alan Morris, University Technology Sydney
Prof Hal Pawson, City Futures Research Centre, UNSW

Date: Tuesday 2nd August 11:30pm - 1:00pm
Venue: Level 2, Meeting Room 2046, Red Centre West Wing, UNSW Kensington

Suzanne Fitzpatrick: Transitioning to 'ambulance service' social housing in England: social landlord and tenant attitudes to the introduction of fixed-term tenancy regime

Alan Morris and Hal Pawson: Long-term private renters in Australian cities: Perceptions of security and insecurity

Register here

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National Homelessness Week

Click below to find out moreabout the Sydney launch of National Homelessness Week by Homelessness NSW next week on 1st August. Tickets are available here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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