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March 2016

Talking Points
From the CEO

This has been a month where the community housing industry has been finalising expressions of interest for the social and affordable housing fund (SAHF) and plans to implement the other elements of Future Directions, notably property transfers have started in earnest.

At the Community Housing Providers Forum on 22 March, the Minister for Family and Community Services and Social Housing, Brad Hazzard opened the event with a clear message that Future Directions is a start and during its implementation additional affordable housing supply options will be considered.

There was further detail on how individuals might be supported

  • into the private rented sector by for example extending and modifying the Start Safely program that has initially helped victims of domestic and family violence and other client groups; and
  • through employment initiatives such as rolling out and rebranding the Careers in Caring for young people to four new locations.

There is also a welcome emphasis on the community through developing Place plans in new locations.

And now we may have an election. We will be making sure affordable housing is up there.

House Keys  - Year 2 Comparing Management Costs
The community housing sector is poised to grow and is acutely aware of the need to demonstrate that it uses resources well. Community housing providers were therefore keen to participate in the AHURI Cost Effectiveness and Tenancy Outcomes Project.

Sector representatives were actively involved in supplying data to enable the research team to develop and trial a conceptual framework and methodology to produce reliable measures of provider efficiency and effectiveness. It involved breaking down management costs into service types i.e. tenancy management, property management, tenancy support and community services. On average the six providers who participated spent 20 percent of their total management expenditure on these non -traditional but valuable services and it is necessary to factor this in when making comparisons.

Comparisons did prove difficult to make between state housing and community housing providers as the former found it difficult to allocate back-office costs and isolate housing management expenditure.  Nevertheless the sector now has a baseline from which to assess its future performance and has responded immediately by supporting the regularisation of the cost breakdown information into year two of House Keys operations.

The Federation is in the advanced stages of planning for Year 2 of House Keys: Operations, and is integrating a series of enhancements suggested by the industry as well as the AHURI Cost Effectiveness outcomes into the next release.  We are expecting to release Year 2 of House Keys: Operations by the end of June 2016 and will be in contact with providers towards the end of April 2016 to discuss this in more detail.

Managing Strategic Risk -Stage 1 report released
When asked: “Do you aspire to increase the number of tenancies your organisation manages within the next two years?”, a resounding majority of NSW providers respond positively. And providers not only want to grow, they are expecting to diversify their business. Opportunities are coming via Communities Plus, the Social and Affordable Housing Fund and further property transfer. So the industry needs to ensure that it is ready to navigate future opportunities. Effective management of strategic risks will be fundamental to its success.

This study examines current approaches to identifying and managing strategic risk in both NSW, and as a comparator Scotland, where the not-for-profit sector has been growing and expanding for longer. We launched elements at the AHURI National Housing Conference and the report gives the full (and overall reassuring) picture.

Providers are scanning the horizon and identifying the emerging risks. Key amongst these are development and financial risks associated with new business. Over 50% also identify government change as a high impact / high probability risk which is understandable given policy shifts. Most larger providers are planning for risks at least three years in advance and believe they have a good understanding of what lies ahead. Virtually all providers report that risk assessment is factored into their decision making. Governing body involvement is seen as critical. Risk is also identified as inherent in many new business opportunities which involve cross subsidisation, hybrid organisations and complex partnerships.

Stage 2 is now well underway. This focuses on in-depth case studies involving two Australian and two Scottish organisations. Rather than focus on just practice, the case studies address how risk associated with particular strategic decisions is assessed and managed.

Stage 2 will be launched at our conference in July with the participation of at least one case study organisation locked into being present.

New rail corridors must include affordable housing for key workers
Last week the Federation issued a media release explaining our industry’s position on housing developments along rail corridors: any new train lines to Liverpool and Badgerys Creek must include well-designed affordable housing along the new rail corridors to help low and middle income workers live and work in Western Sydney and ease Sydney’s traffic congestion. Read our media release here.

SGCH Hosts Digi House Launch

-Article provided by SGCH-

In February, SGCH hosted the launch of a new program, Digi House, which aims to improve the digital skills of 20,000 people living in public and social housing.

Working in partnership with Infoxchange and Google, SGCH’s tenants living in Washington Park, Riverwood were able to get comfortable with using YouTube, apps, voice search and smart phones through live demonstrations. To apply their newly learnt skills in a practical way, residents learnt how to use technology to assist them with cooking a meal, translating recipes into another language and finding out nutritional information.

Tenants holding food they made

Through teaching tenants these skills, Digi House allows them to experience the benefits of digital inclusion in the areas of health and wellbeing, education and learning, accessing employment opportunities, social connectedness and saving money.

Digi House will be rolled out across New South Wales and Victoria with the aim of expanding into Queensland and other states. The program is funded through a $500,000 grant from Google.org.

SGCH will develop a range of digital events and programs over the next few months to help tenants improve their digital literacy, using Digi House support materials.

For more information about Digi House visit: https://www.godigi.org.au/house

Sydney Olympic Park and Bridge Housing build Affordable Homes for Athletes and Wider Community
Bridge Housing has been successful in gaining the management of fifty new affordable housing apartments from Sydney Olympic Park Authority. This will add to Bridge Housing’s affordable housing property portfolio.  Twenty three apartments have already been tenanted and more park workers, athletes and others in the local community will soon find their homes through this development. Read the full article here.

City West delivers new affordable housing in Zetland
City West Housing officially opened their latest affordable housing development in Zetland on 11 March.

The Exordium Apartments at Zetland is a new $41m development comprising 104 contemporary apartments that have been specially designed to provide significantly needed affordable, high quality housing solutions to key workers within the City of Sydney. The site is located at the southern end of the old South Sydney Hospital Site, on the corner of Hansard and Portman Streets in Zetland.

The development was launched by Brad Hazzard MP, Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Social Housing and the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore.

Read an article about it here.

Launch of the Older Womens’ strategy
A group of non-government agencies concerned about the increasing numbers of homeless older women launched  a Plan for Change: Homes for older women on International Women’s Day. The Plan calls on the NSW Government to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the increasing incidence of homeless among older women.

The housing needs of older women are not adequately addressed by either government policy or the service system. Older homeless women have not usually had a history of homelessness.  They become homeless due to unemployment, illness or family crises such as separation, widowhood or domestic violence. Generally their housing problems result from their poverty.

The Plan also calls on the Federal Government to look at options for securing the financial independence of older women as lack of access to financial assets including super as well as an aged pension that is predicated on home ownership is contributing to the issue.

NDIS Market Position Statement released
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has released the New South Wales Market Position Statement (MPS), the first in a series to be developed by the NDIA. The statement will help inform current and prospective providers, and market stakeholders more broadly, of the opportunities the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will create in coming years. The current statement provides information on the projected demand for the NDIS across NSW by Local Health District and an in-depth assessment of the Western Sydney market (including Penrith).

The statement can be accessed here

Homelessness NSW Conference - 28th & 29th April
Don’t forget to book your place at the Homelessness NSW conference!

Please click below to view the draft conference program and to book tickets.


The conference is being held at Noah’s on the Beach in Newcastle on April 28 & 29 2016.

There is also a FREE half day forum to talk about the Going Home Staying Home reforms being held the day before at the same venue on April 27 2016.  Registration for this event is also available on the Homelessness NSW conference webpage.









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