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October 2016

Contents

  1. CEO Talking Points
  2. Management Transfers Industry Sounding
  3. Industry Development Information
  4. Developing and Managing Mixed Tenure Housing Developments Project Update
  5. Let’s Get Social – Federation Twitter and Facebook Pages
  6. Strategic Commissioning of Social and Affordable Housing Project
  7. Inquiry into the Management of NSW Public Housing Maintenance Contracts
  8. CHAP Cultural Competency Tool: Moving forward
  9. The future of housing assistance- AHURI seminar
  10. FACS Homelessness Discussion Paper
  11. New State Manager for CHL
  12. Appliance replacement offer
  13. MARSH Insurance and Flood Risk
  14. Janelle Goulding on ABC News
  15. National Affordable Housing Consortium PhD Scholarship
  16. SGCH Westpac deal
  17. Link housing wins Australian customer service project of the year
  18. In the news

CEO Talking Points
Plenty of positive news this month with the much anticipated announcement of the property transfer program which will see around 18,000 homes being transferred on twenty year leases to the management of registered community housing. During the parliamentary debate about the legislation enabling tenant transfer, the Federation and its members were gratified to hear the positive comments about the sector made by many members from across the political spectrum.

Community housing providers are looking forward to working with the government, tenants and staff and to ensure the transfers result in really positive outcomes.     

Also passed was the legislation to set up the Premier’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF), the state-wide initiative to support new housing for low income tenants, to be managed by not-for-profit community housing providers. While the first program is small scale in comparison to the State’s need for at least 100,000 new social and affordable homes by 2036, the legislation would allow for the SAHF to be boosted from other income sources.

The Essential Poll for the Federation has found that four in five Australians agree that more action is needed here. Almost 80% favour a government requirement that every new housing development contains some affordable housing. There are massive opportunities for the NSW government to make a difference, not least in Western Sydney. On 21 October the Premier joined the Prime Minister to announce the memorandum of understanding setting out how the State and Federal governments will work together to “deliver almost 100,000 jobs, more housing and better transport for outer Western Sydney in the first City Deal for New South Wales – the nation’s largest ever planning and investment partnership”. Really positive news but wouldn’t it have been even better if they had committed to ensuring some of the housing was affordable for the lower income households

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Management Transfers Industry Sounding 18 October
The first industry sounding event on the Social Housing Managment Transfers program was held on 18th October.  FACS made it clear that Cabinet have approved key program elements and there is no scope for variation. This includes the package locations. The emphasis is now on implementation and sector engagement and will be focused on practical matters that will enable this.

The program elements are as follows:

  • 800 properties left over from previous transfers will go to the providers initially allocated, and these properties will not be tendered.
  • 14,000 properties- will be transferred as whole of location transfers
  • Communities Plus- 3,000 properties to come across to the sector in the next 3 years, each subject to separate tender process.

Tenants are to transfer on same Terms and Conditions; except for CRA.   The evaluation of tenders will place strong emphasis on ‘coordination of wraparound services’ – and measures in place to achieve higher social outcomes.  Successful tenderers will also have to run a full access and demand service for all applicants.

Tenders are expected to be issued in March 2017 with a two month response period and decisions are anticipated mid-2017.

  • Central co-ordination of planning and negotiations
  • a transition manager in each district:

Possibly may have a limit on package numbers awarded to any one provider  
The Industry Sounding discussed a range of issues using the following broad headings:

  • Whole of Location Transfer Issues
  • Asset Management Issues
  • Social outcomes issues
  • Tender criteria, assessment and process Issues
  • Contract Conditions and Monitoring Issues

More detailed notes have been provided by Wendy Hayhurst to CEOs through a recent member briefing.  Please contact adamw@communityhousing.org.au for further information about the industry sounding.

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Industry Development Information
The sector’s experience in property development is underestimated and is arguably restricting the sector’s capacity for growth. Collecting information about the affordable housing industry’s development activity is increasingly required to demonstrate what new housing has been generated, the scale of the investment and provide evidence of what funders can expect for their investment. The Federation is responding to this issue by distributing a survey that canvasses the development activity of Tier 1 & 2 CHPs. From this data we will produce:

  • A series of infographics about what new homes the industry has generated (see here for an example)
  • An interactive map that shows what CHPs have built and where (as well as the DA approved pipeline)
  • These outputs will be turned into a series of media stories to promote the industry’s contribution and to assist in general promotion of the industry.

CHPs have been contacted to provide this information. Please note that all CHP data will be aggregated to produce the outputs listed above. Individual development data will be kept confidential. If you would like more information on this project or if you have any questions, please contact helenk@communityhousing.org.au

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Developing and Managing Mixed Tenure Housing Developments Project Update
The project seeks to position community housing providers and the community housing sector to take advantage of increasing opportunities to manage, develop and, where appropriate, lead the re/development of multi-tenure developments, including through strategic partnerships with the private sector.

Dr Judy Stubbs is leading this research and the following case studies have been chosen for further analysis:

  • Riverwood North, Sydney
  • The Nicholson, Melbourne
  • Carlton, Melbourne
  • UNO Apartments, Adelaide
  • Ropes Crossing, Sydney
  • New Gorbals/Crown Street Redevelopment, Glasgow
  • East Thames Housing Group – Abbott’s Wharf/Vickery’s Wharf, London

A literature review has been drafted which aims to better understand the evidence base regarding best practice in the planning, delivery and management of different types of multi-tenure developments. This review will be available for distribution shortly.

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Let’s Get Social – Federation Twitter and Facebook Pages
Follow the Federation on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date on the latest housing news, research, newsletters and other announcements. Also featured are the activities of our member community housing providers. 

Connect with us today through our social media sites. You can:
“Like” us on Facebook Facebook logo

“Follow” us on Twitter Twitter logo

If members would like the Federation to feature any relevant stories, please contact helenk@communityhousing.org.au or suhasinig@communityhousing.org.au.

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Strategic Commissioning of Social and Affordable Housing Project
The project for the Strategic Commissioning of Social and Affordable Housing is well underway with the first reference group workshop to be held shortly. A discussion paper is currently being prepared by SGS Economics & Planning to identify solutions for NSW. We have a number of key stakeholders who will provide valuable insights into the research including representatives from:

  1. Aboriginal Housing Office
  2. Greater Sydney Commission
  3. NSW Family & Community Services
  4. NSW Department of Planning & Environment
  5. NSW Department of Premier & Cabinet
  6. NSW Treasury
  7. PAYCE
  8. Renewal SA
  9. The Committee for Sydney
  10. University of Technology Sydney
  11. UrbanGrowth NSW
  12. Westpac

We expect the Discussion Paper to be available at the end of this month. Thank you to all the providers who made this project possible.
Logos of CHPs

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Inquiry into the Management of NSW Public Housing Maintenance Contracts

The Inquiry published its report on 11 October 2016. The Committee conducted this inquiry in response to expressed concerns about the current state of public housing maintenance in New South Wales. FACS is to report back to the Committee on the below recommendations as part of the twelve month review of the new maintenance contract progress report. The Government must make its response to the report within six months. A link to the full report can be found here.

Recommendations
The report makes the following ten recommendations framed mainly as assessing progress. The Inquiry recommends that FACS:

  • provides a progress report to the Committee in 12 months detailing progress on the new maintenance contracts including tenant satisfaction levels
  • implements new procedures to better inform tenants about how their Client Service Officer can assist them in seeking repairs to their home
  • reviews the protocols between tenancy management and asset staff to ensure effective communication
  • reviews the complaints handling process
  • includes an assessment of the operation of the codes of conduct for contractors and complaints mechanisms in relation to contractor behaviour
  • ensures that consistent and mandatory codes of conduct for contractors are implemented across the public housing and community housing sectors
  • monitors, evaluates and reports on the success of the new system in addressing maintenance difficulties experienced by tenants with disability
  • examines the current funding formula for maintenance and modifications of housing stock with a view to funding modifications separately
  • reports the impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme arrangements on the social housing sector
  • provides an update on the transfer of property management to community housing providers.

Key points for CHPs
A new public housing maintenance contract was introduced by FACS in April 2016 which FACS believes will bring significant efficiencies in the delivery of maintenance services, reduce administration costs and increase tenant satisfaction. The report acknowledges that new public housing contracts may yet yield benefits as it was too early for inquiry participants to provide detailed comment or analysis of the new contract during this Inquiry.

It has been recommended that codes of conduct for contractors are to be mandated across the community housing sector as well as public housing. Whilst the Committee notes that the community housing sector is confident that induction material is accessed by all contractors who conduct maintenance on community housing properties, the expansion of the community housing sector under Future Directions may result in tenants experiencing the same negative issues with contractors that public housing tenants have experienced. The Committee considers that codes of conduct and training programs for contractors should be consistent and mandatory for all contractors, so that the same protections are afforded to public and community housing tenants alike.

The report outlined that the combination of an ageing housing stock and changing tenant demographics present additional challenges for the management and maintenance of public housing. For instance:

  • The average age of public housing stock is 37 years, with 20% of stock over 50 years old.
  • We have an ageing overall population. Residents over the age of 55 years now account for over one third of people living in public housing in NSW and this proportion is increasing each year.
  • More than 35% of social housing tenants live with a disability. National Disability Services (NDS) highlighted to the Inquiry that this percentage is widely expected to increase due to new social housing allocations to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants seeking to live more independently.

These factors continue to drive up maintenance costs and present key challenges in modifying dwellings to address tenants’ needs.

In connection with this, submissions to the Inquiry also highlighted tenant difficulties differentiating between maintenance and home modifications. NDS asserts that while many of the requests made by tenants with a disability may not be categorised as maintenance, there is no other way to address their immediate needs. In the Committee’s view, this issue combined with the inability to distinguish between maintenance and refurbishment/modification is another hurdle complicating the provision of safe accommodation to people with a disability, and this necessitates a new approach to funding these two parts of the public housing system (see Recommendation 8). The Federation will be keen to see how progress towards this Recommendation interacts with work currently being undertaken by FACS to more clearly delineate social housing providers' ‘reasonable adjustment’ responsibilities with regard to home modifications.

The report made reference to the inappropriate design and construction of housing constituting significant barriers to the participation of people with disabilities in community life. Whilst the Government’s Future Directions strategy requires new social housing to be built to Liveable Housing Design guidelines, the bulk of current stock does not meet those specifications. A range of specific measures are needed to address the mobility and access barriers faced by tenants who have additional support needs.

The report also explored the relevant impacts of the NDIS, noting that while the NDIS provides ongoing support for daily living, it is not a housing provider. FACS further reinforced this via its submission, stating that ‘social housing providers will continue to be responsible for making accommodation available to those in need of housing assistance, including appropriate and accessible housing for people with a disability. The NDIS will be responsible for home modifications for accessibility in private dwellings and, in some cases, social housing’ (p. 43). COAG has confirmed that the NDIS will be responsible for applicable modifications in social housing on a case-by-case basis, but not to the extent that it would compromise the responsibility of housing authorities.

As the NDIS has limited capacity to fund modifications for social housing tenants it is important for the social housing sector to factor in the implications of the NDIS for the provision of housing for tenants with a disability. The Federation will keep a watching brief on current COAG investigations examining the implications of this for the social housing sector. The Inquiry has also recommended that FACS provide the results of this COAG examination in its progress report to the Committee (see Recommendation 9).

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CHAP Cultural Competency Tool: Moving forward
After the successful launch of the Cultural Competency resource on the 10 August 2016, the Federation is eager to see how CHPs are progressing with the development and implementation of the resource within their organisations. As part of the ongoing support for the sector, the Federation will be hosting a number of webinars and seminars as a learning and supportive tool to enable discussion and identify any key challenges and highlight providers' successes in the implementation.

We will send out further information about the events, but in the meantime, please note the upcoming events.

Introduction to the Cultural Competency Tool: Webinar 17 November 2016 at 11.00 am
This 1hr introductory webinar will be targeted at staff who did not attend the launch event and have not yet had a chance to review the resource and be given an overview of how to use the resource and be given a brief guided tour through each of the Standards.

Reviewing and Implementing the Cultural Competency Tool: Webinar 21 November 2016 at 11.00 am
This 90 minute supportive webinar will be to provide practical advice and follow up to ensure that CHPs are making progress with the self-assessment tool and to encourage peer support. Prior to the webinar, CHPs will be encouraged to forward any issues/challenges to the Federation’s facilitator Adell Hyslop so that strategies can be developed and discussed.  CHPs will be encouraged to share the work they have done using the self-assessment tool since the launch day as well.

Partnerships and Networks Seminar: 30 November 2016
The Federation will be hosting a full day Partnerships and Networks seminar with invited guests from ACHPs, Aboriginal community organisations and Aboriginal tenants. The aim of the seminar will be to discuss best practice strategies and implementation processes to address key areas within Standards 1, 5, 6 & 7. CHPs will have the opportunity to learn and discuss ideas and issues first hand with invited guests to gain a better understanding and insight into the importance of partnerships and networks with Aboriginal organisations and community.

Follow up support: Webinar 30 January 2017 at 11.00 am
This 90 minute supportive webinar will be to provide follow up support to CHPs on the implementation of the resource. CHPs will have an opportunity to discuss any highlights or challenges that their organisation may be experiencing in the development or implementation of the Cultural Competency resource.

Impacts of social and historical events on Aboriginal people Seminar: 8 February 2017
The Federation will be hosting a full day 'Impacts of social and historical events on Aboriginal people' seminar with invited guests for ACHPs, Aboriginal community organisations, Aboriginal community members and tenants. The aim of the seminar will be to provide CHPs with an insight into the events that have ongoing impacts to the social and wellbeing of Aboriginal people. CHPs will have the opportunity to learn and hear stories from Aboriginal people about the impacts these events have had on their lives and how they continue to impact them today. This seminar will provide CHP with a better understanding and insight into the importance of understanding the past to improve service delivery to Aboriginal people in the future.

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The future of housing assistance – AHURI seminar
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) held a one day seminar on 19 October covering a smorgasbord of topics ranging from housing needs, to addressing supply, industry capacity and innovative tenancy management approaches. Delegates came from across Australia to hear the newly appointed Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Senator, the Hon Zed Seselja and Hon Mick de Brenni MP, Minister for Housing and Public Works in the Queensland Government.

The Assistant Minister’s address focused on declining housing and homelessness outcomes; mentioning specifically the incidence of rough sleeping and housing unaffordability. He noted that since NAHA was implemented “the proportion of low income households in rental stress had increased from 35.4% in 2007-08 to 42.5% in 2013-14 and the number of homeless persons has gone up by 17.3% since 2009”. He acknowledged that while there was plenty of “activity” such as the Affordable Housing Working Group, Smart Cities and the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Human Services, proposals to tackle the issues had yet to be agreed. He promised the housing and homelessness ministers’ meeting in Sydney in early November would be used to get things moving.   As he said “In particular, we need to look at how planning and zoning issues can be a key impediment to increasing housing supply and improving housing affordability”. Also on the table is what NAHA may look like in the future.

The Queensland Minister spoke about his intention to address the shortfall in affordable housing preventing young people moving on from social housing. He explained the proposal for the State government to manage all social housing as one motivated by the fact that this tenure is now the ‘ultimate safety net’ and that governments cannot abrogate their responsibilities. Many present would disagree with his opinion that property transfers from public housing to community housing has yielded few benefits. We can for instance point to new homes built here in NSW and high tenant satisfaction but we wouldn’t quarrel that, with the right policy settings, community housing organisations will come forward with  ‘innovative solutions for affordable housing’. 

 There was plenty of food for thought from other sessions including Prof Steven Rowley’s early findings from his work, modelling housing needs in Australia. His modelling confirms and starts to quantify the extent of housing need in NSW. It will be updated with 2016 Census figures and should form a robust basis for setting affordable housing targets.

Prof Gavin Wood’s presentation focused on estimating the numbers in private rental housing who might be eligible for social housing – around 897K of whom 650K were 65 plus, disabled or had dependent children. He also put forward a proposal for attracting mum and dad investors into social housing. This involved compensating investors via a premium based on the capital ‘loss’ incurred through committing to a five year tenancy and limited rent rises. 

We should also mention Nicola Lemon, Hume’s CEO, who participated in the panel on innovative tenancy management and argued strongly for treating tenants as customers.

The presentations are available on the AHURI website. http://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/resources/presentations All or worth a look, including early findings from the AHURI Inquiry into the Affordable Housing Industry (in relation to increasing supply) and institutional investment in affordable housing.

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FACS Homelessness Discussion Paper
The Federation supports the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) in its decision to develop a homelessness strategy for NSW, and welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the consultation process.  Our submission will be published on our website next week. Underpinning our response is a belief that if we are to stem the increase in the number of people becoming homeless, we need to see the homelessness strategy integrated into a comprehensive NSW-wide housing plan that addresses the issues facing the whole housing system.

As this research demonstrates, there is also a compelling economic and financial case to be made for ensuring homeless people are housed. The research team found that it costs government an additional $13,000 per annum to keep someone homeless rather than to provide them with a permanent house and support services.  Using data from government services, the researchers showed that ‘over a 12-month period, people who were chronically homeless used state government funded services that cost approximately A$48,217 each. Over another 12-month period in which they were tenants of permanent supportive housing, the same people used state government services (including housing) that cost approximately A$35,117’. Read the full article at The Conversation.

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New State Manager for CHL
Announcement from CHL
“It is with great pleasure that Community Housing Ltd (CHL) announces the appointment of Dr. Lucy Burgmann to the position of State Manager for CHL in NSW. Lucy will be known to many of you in her previous role as Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Federation of Housing Associations and Chair of the Community Housing Federation of Australia. Lucy has also had many previous roles in Government, the community and worked in policy and consultative positions. Lucy will be commencing with CHL in late October.

This [announcement] also acknowledges the work of Frank Birkefeld who was CHL’s State Manager for three years. Frank will be taking up a new role assisting in the operations of housing and homelessness services for CHL around the country.”

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Appliance replacement offer
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has launched a new program which offers 40-50% discounts on new energy efficient fridges and TVs. The program aims to support households experiencing energy bill stress.
To be eligible households must:

  • be a NSW resident
  • hold one of the following valid concession cards:
  • Pensioner Concession Card, Health Care Card or Low Income Health Care Card from Centrelink; or
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs Gold Card
  • own a fridge six years old, or older, and want to replace it
  • own a plasma or cathode ray tube (CRT) television and want to replace it

To find out more about the program and how you can support tenants accessing this offer see the THIS document.

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MARSH Insurance and Flood Risk

The Federation are pleased to announce we have reconfirmed our partnership with MARSH Australia for the year ahead. If members are looking for an insurer, we encourage you to enquire with MARSH.

"Marsh is a world leader in delivering risk and insurance services and solutions, working with clients to build resilience and protection, to find opportunity in risk and, ultimately, to help them grow with confidence and certainty"

If you would like to contact Marsh, please email Heather Coutts at Heather.Coutts@marshadvantage.com

Marsh have helpfully provided the following information about preparing and managing flood risk:

When it rains it pours
-Adapted from the ‘Know Risk’ Newsletter

Australia and New Zealand have historically been vulnerable to freak storms and flash flooding.  In fact, just recently, floods have devastated Central West NSW – leaving many with damage to their homes and business.  

On average, severe thunderstorms and flooding alone cost our communities 500 million annually – add bushfires, cyclones and earthquakes to the mix and the cost becomes much greater. With more and more natural disasters predicted each year, it’s important for you to know how to prepare for wild weather when it strikes.
Floods: How to prepare
Floods: what to do during a flood
Floods: what to do after a flood
Is your home covered for natural disasters?

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Janelle Goulding on the ABC
If you missed Janelle Goulding CEO of City West Housing, talking about the lack of affordable housing for both potential buyers and renters, click here

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National Affordable Housing Consortium PhD Scholarship
The National Affordable Housing Consortium (NAHC) and UNSW have come together to offer a scholarship tailored to support candidates undertaking a PhD in the area of integrated social and affordable housing. 

NAHC believes that smart investment in social and affordable housing can deliver sustainable benefits to health, employment and social inclusion for the whole community and this scholarship aims to support a high achieving candidate to pursue a research topic relevant to NAHC core values.  

UNSW Built Environment National Affordable Housing Consortium PhD Scholarship is $35,000 per annum for three years. 

To apply
New PhD applicants should follow the application process as detailed here. That process includes the submission of an Expression of Interest (EOI), which will be considered by the faculty’s Higher Degree Committee. 

New PhD applicants and also current PhD candidates should write a separate 1000 word statement clearly summarising the proposed topic area, a suggested methodology, a preliminary title and the contribution of the research to new knowledge related to the following areas: 

Measuring societal benefit of well-planned and integrated social and affordable housing;
Examining the United Kingdom system of housing plans and Australian applicability of the “support plan” concept. 

New PhD applicants should submit their EOI (with required attachments and this scholarship statement) to Judith O'Callaghan, Director of Postgraduate Research with a copy to Professor Bruce Judd at b.judd@unsw.edu.au. Please include “NAHC PhD Scholarship” in the subject line of the email.

Current PhD candidates should submit their statement to Professor Bruce Judd. Please include “UNSW Built Environment National Affordable Housing Consortium PhD Scholarship” in the subject line of the email.

Deadline for submission:  30th November 2016

Read more about this opportunity HERE.

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SGCH Westpac deal
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 - This week marks two years since the signing of Australia’s largest single community housing finance deal, bringing more affordable housing to local communities.

As part of a broader commitment to lending and investing in social and affordable housing, Westpac is providing the A$61 million debt finance to SGCH to facilitate the construction of 240 new affordable and social housing dwellings across the Sydney metropolitan region.
Since this landmark deal, SGCH has purchased two sites and commenced construction of the first group of properties – 113 in total – in two key areas of housing need – Westmead and Sutherland. Read the full media release HERE.

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Link housing wins Australian customer service project of the year
Link Housing has become the first community housing provider in Australia to win ‘customer service project of the year’ for its ‘mystery shopper’ program. The prestigious accolade was awarded in Melbourne last night at the Customer Services Institute’s Australian Service Excellence Awards. The organisation was also a finalist for the ‘customer service organisation of the year’ award. 

Andrew McAnulty, Link Housing CEO, said, ‘This is an awesome initiative in partnership with NSW FACS which has generated training and jobs for tenants with a focus on improved customer service. This is the first project in Australia that utilises their own tenants to mystery shop the services of their housing provider’

Earlier this year, Link Housing became the first community housing provider in Australia to be certified to the International Customer Service Standard (ICSS: 2015-2020).

Link Housing describes the drivers of its customer service strategy as, leadership, innovation and a customer-centric approach to all its services and operations. Delivered in collaboration with NSW Department of Family and Community Services, the ‘mystery shopper’ program involved tenants assessing and reviewing the effectiveness of processes and customer satisfaction. The program has gained some tenants long-term employment and motivated others towards further education.

Lance Carden, NSW FACS Director Customer Service and Business Improvement, said, ‘the collaboration between FACS, Link Housing and our tenants has been driven by a desire to create real tenant engagement and long-term service improvements.’

Link Housing is one of the oldest not-for-profit community housing providers in NSW and manages approximately 1400 homes with over 2,500 customers across Northern Sydney. They work with clients along every step of the journey, from placing tenants into their new home all the way through to managing sustainable tenancy outcomes.

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In the news

Over the last month, the Federation and Wendy Hayhurst have been referenced in the following news articles:

- SMH, October 6, Almost 20,000 public housing units to be transferred to not-for-profits
- News.com, October 12, Project Sydney: Why 1900s-style terraces can fix NSW’s housing crisis
- Federation media release, October 17, Four in five call for government action on housing affordability
- Canberra Times, October 17, Strong majority backs requiring developers to build affordable housing
- ABC, October 24, Developers need incentives to build affordable housing, industry says
- Ten News, October 25, Why building more homes isn't the solution

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