Category Archives: Housing Matters 2018

Housing Matters – October 2018

CEO Report

This issue has been put together after a week that started with an immersion in the day to day practical realities of running services in Broken Hill and Dubbo. We were welcomed by CHIA and ACHIA members – Compass Housing, Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation (MPRHC), Multi-Purpose Allira Gathering Association and Midlachlan Aboriginal Housing Management Cooperative. In this issue, we feature MPRHC. In the next issue we intend to feature the Compass 123 Community Hub – the base on Creedon Street, Broken Hill from which health, educational and recreational services are provided.

Our visit to Dubbo took in the very multi-purpose Allira who run childcare, aged care services and a vaccination program from their lively offices just outside Dubbo CBD. Allira are registered in the National Community Housing Regulatory System – one of the first Aboriginal organisations to achieve this status and recently took on management of seven new AHO homes in Orange and Dubbo. Our visit also took in a downpour that caught more famous visitors and explained why every second person seemed to wearing a tiara. Stuck at Dubbo airport with half of Australia’s press corps ought to have been the perfect opportunity to get some coverage for regional and remote housing, but sadly no one seemed interested in anything but individual stories of the great day.

Coming back to Sydney, we zoomed out to focus on housing system issues at a University of Sydney (and Henry Halloran Trust) forum ‘Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing’ which brought together academics, the Reserve Bank, NSW Government officials from Planning, Treasury, DPC and the GSC with CHIA NSW and Shelter NSW to hear Josh Ryan Collins, Head of Research at the University College London’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose.  Josh’s talk focused on the genesis of the current housing affordability crisis in the early 21st century when the house price to income ratio index soared in many advanced economies. At least until 2015, Australia was ‘winning’.

Josh took us behind the headlines to consider land and its contribution to rising house prices (massive compared to construction price rises). We then had a crash course on (1) economists’ variable treatment of land and recent tendency to view its role as akin to capital; (2) its attractiveness as collateral (3) and how, in combination with lots of cheap credit and favourable tax settings, this had combined to direct lending increasingly towards real estate. Apart from the housing affordability issues we grapple with, Josh emphasised the impact on lending for more productive activities – with outstanding mortgage credit now circa 70% of GDP as opposed to non- mortgage credit at circa 45%. The point being that the issue of housing affordability isn’t just one suffered by individuals but will have consequences for Australia’s economic health too.

While it all seems far removed from the organisations we met with earlier this week and their immediate concerns, the system remedies that Josh spoke about, such as land policy and financial reform, are necessary alongside more social and affordable housing supply to make a real difference.


Let’s end on a positive note. The ACT transitioned to a land tax without imploding. And in their recently completed AHURI inquiry on tax policy, UTAS also provided governments with a roadmap for transitioning.  Read more on that
here.

If you want to read Josh’s full argument, his new book ‘Why Can’t You Afford a Home’ (Polity Press, 2018) will be released in Australia in November 2018.

Going Out West – Murdi Paaki

Back in the days when I worked on the front line as a housing officer in London, the furthest I ever needed to walk to visit one of our tenants was around 500m. Our office was slap bang in the middle of the estate, 200m from the tube and a short hop to Brixton; the location of most of the (admittedly overworked) social, benefit and support services anyone might need. So a visit to Broken Hill was always going to teach me something. The first lesson being to check the weather forecast and avoid travelling on dust storm days.

Paula Coghill, CHIA NSW’s Aboriginal Specialist, and I wanted to meet some of our members in their own territory. We were welcomed by Murdi Paaki Regional Housing Corporation’s (MPRHC) Paul Kemp and Kylie Martyn, who provided us with an enlightening, instructive, and positive day.

Working out of Broken Hill, the 330 homes they own and/or manage are scattered across their big geography. Put into housing speak, that can be six hours to tribunal. Imagine organising 24-hour repair services, let alone finding a safe place for someone who needs to escape domestic and family violence or providing a service to help someone needing mental health support.

Unsurprisingly, affordable housing takes on a different meaning for MPRHC especially when their tenants live outside the ‘major’ hubs. Take Wilcannia, a two hour drive from Broken Hill, where the bill from food shopping will probably be well over twice as expensive as in town. Add to this higher energy and water bills and transport costs – with many households reliant on a car that may have seen better days – and finding the rent won’t be easy even on a usual routine week.

What makes the story positive is that no one is throwing their arms up in despair; instead, they’re rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in. Their first initiative, which we have mentioned previously, is the Tenant Support and Education Project (TSEP). MPRHC has been part of a consortium with Midlachlan Aboriginal Housing Management Cooperative, and Coonamble LALC to deliver tenant education and support services. The services focus on water and energy usage as well as rent advice. Attendance at the remote workshops are large – 65 turned up to Wilcannia and the results speak for themselves, with many tenants reporting large reductions in energy bills and rent collection rates going up to by around 96-98%.

Although it’s not just about special services but routine housing management practice – including setting clear expectations on rent and following up in a fair and firm way. Understanding community and being respected is critical. They also know what they want to work on – housing education for young people before they leave home; perhaps delivered at school, getting in more support services and tackling DFV.

It can still be a challenge where properties aren’t up to scratch. Some don’t have the most up to date energy efficient systems (or still rely on wood burning stoves where wood isn’t exactly in abundance) and people rely on cheap fan heaters in winter and repair services delivered by contractors based many kilometres away that aren’t always providing a satisfactory service. Paul also gave us one example that summed up the remote issue for me – the program that replaced light fittings with ones that required bulbs which were only available from shops a plane ride away. Getting properties adapted for people with disabilities is also difficult.

Again there are answers, if not all the funding yet. Where they have control, MPRHC use local firms, encourage local apprenticeships and report higher satisfaction. They are also well on the way to producing a comprehensive asset management plan. MPRHC are also part of the Housing Consortium working through the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly to deliver appropriate housing for Aboriginal communities in the region.

Interview with Bridge Housing’s Helen Tighe on the Social Housing Management Transfer Process (SHMT)

This month Housing Matters spoke to Helen Tighe, the acting General Manager, Operations at Bridge Housing about their experience to date of the Social Housing Management Transfer process.

The SHMT is the largest scale program transferring management of public housing to community housing providers that NSW has ever undertaken. From October 2018 to September 2019, management of 14,000 public housing properties across 35 local government areas will transfer to 10 community housing providers.

Bridge Housing, in partnership with the Women’s Housing Company, will be taking over management of 1200 properties in the Northern Beaches and Mosman. Housing Matters asked Helen when Bridge Housing’s go live date was and she told us 5 August 2019, “Being one of the last providers to go live does give us the opportunity to learn from the experiences of all the other providers going before us, which is probably a bit of an advantage.”

Taking on a coordinating role with other local services is a key part of the management transfer process. In North Sydney, there are three packages and four providers (Bridge Housing & Women’s Housing Company, Linking Housing and SGCH) which will be taking on management of all the social housing in the North Sydney area. The four providers are jointly developing a service system coordination plan which will be the framework for forming, building and strengthening relationships with local communities and services.

Bridge Housing is sure that it can deliver for its new tenants; “We are very confident that we have an operating model that we can transfer to our new office in the Northern Beaches” Helen says. “It will be really important for us to establish the Bridge Housing culture in this location, we are making commitments to our new tenants about what they can expect from us as an organisation and delivering on this will be about our ability to embed our culture”.

Helen also spoke about Bridge Housing and the Women’s Housing Company’s soft engagement with tenants in the Northern Beaches. They have held 4 of 5 planned events so far. All the events have been very well attended and have been positively received by people. “Obviously there is some anxiety there”, says Helen, “this is a big thing for a lot of people, particularly for some of the older tenants. They have seen Millers Point and are concerned about their homes, but once we have reassured them that we are not there to sell their homes, they have been really positive about the change. I think it’s been really good for them to meet us face to face and to be able to talk about their issues.”

Helen was positive about how Bridge Housing had been working with FACS and the Land and Housing Corporation to prepare for the transfer. “This is a huge undertaking for all parties”, Helen told us, “but I think we have entered into it in good faith. We’ve tried to find a way of working that works for everyone and most importantly I think we are being listened to”.

Royal Commission into Aged Care: ageing without a home

CHIA NSW attended a Diversity Roundtable consultation held as part of the development of the Terms of Reference for the recently announced Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. CHIA NSW called for increased consideration of the care, support and housing needs of homeless older people and those who don’t own a home.

The 2017 NSW Ageing on the Edge Report highlighted a major rise in the number of older people renting in the private market. High rents, insecurity and limited accessibility mean that the private rental market is unsuitable for older renters, placing them at risk of homelessness.

The rising number of homeless older people and older people at risk of homelessness is a major conundrum for the aged care system, which assumes home ownership. A fixed address is a requirement for access to home care services and residential aged care facilities generally require the upfront payment of a bond in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. While there are concessional places available for older people who don’t have the capital to pay a bond, these are tightly rationed which in turn limits the choice of facilities.

In an increasingly user-pays aged care system, older people who don’t own a home have a limited capacity to access the care and support they need, which is a major human rights issue. One way of addressing this is to transition away from user-pays to a universal needs-based model much like our health care system. At the same time, there is a need to significantly increase the supply of social housing to cater for an ageing population and declining rates of home ownership.

CHIA NSW will be watching as the Royal Commission unfolds, looking for opportunities to advocate for the needs of homeless older people and those who don’t own a home.

Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs Toolkit

The Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs Toolkit has been developed by CHIA NSW to give community housing providers a resource specifically designed to help them work with tenants with complex needs to sustain their tenancies.  The toolkit provides both a framework for understanding what it means to house people with complex needs, but also what is considered to be contemporary best practice in responding to those needs as a social housing manager. To support community housing providers to review their sustainable tenancies practice, an implementation strategy has been developed that includes a ½ day management implementation workshop and a one-day training workshop. The management implementation workshop explores information, tools and resources in the toolkit and enables housing management staff to reflect on their current practice and identify opportunities to further strengthen practice. The one-day training workshop is designed to expose all staff employed by a community housing provider to contemporary good practice in working with tenants with complex needs and provide opportunity for staff to explore how they might build their tenancy sustainment practice.

Housing Trust is the first community housing provider to take up implementation support. Amanda Winks, the Chief Housing Officer Customer Service and Support at the Housing Trust shares the following:

“Housing Trust has an ongoing focus on sustaining tenancies and working closely with tenants to identify and support complex needs. Housing Trust has a dedicated Community Support Worker and sees the Sustaining Tenancies Toolkit as a practical way to assist with improving policies, procedures and tenant communications focused on tenancy sustainment. Housing Trust has committed to implementing the Toolkit as part of our annual team plan. Housing Trust is committed to early intervention and has already implemented the use of the Home Visit Risk Assessment. We are committed to the ongoing implementation of the vulnerability assessment tool and tenancy response plan as tools to assist with supporting tenancies through a consistent approach. Housing Trust has recently undertaken the half day management workshop and full day team training with Sue Cripps with extremely positive feedback and high engagement amongst the team.”

Southern Cross Students Complete Part 1 of their Certificate IV in Social Housing

Southern Cross Housing enrolled 10 students in the Certificate IV in Social Housing from across all areas of the organisation. All students were enrolled in the Smart and Skilled Part Qualification Program and they have achieved a land mark 100% completion rate. They are all on track to complete the qualification by the beginning of next year.
This has been made possible by the wonderful support provided by the management of Southern Cross Housing in encouraging and supporting students in their studies.

Centre for Training in Social Housing (CTSH) new one day seminar “Introduction to social housing for new workers”

CTSH has launched a new one day seminar “Introduction to social housing for new workers” for new entrants into the industry. With so much change and new staff commencing in the community housing sector it was seen as essential to give new starters an understanding of their industry. This session will outline the social, political and economic development of social and community housing in Australia and in particular NSW. It will explore the issues which may affect your clients and the current factors affecting the provision of housing. The first workshop is being held on the 14th November in the Training Room at CHIA NSW.

If you would like further information on our courses, would like to discuss a contextualised course design relevant to your staff or to chat about future possibilities please contact us on trainingenquiries@communityhousing.org.au

 

Affordable Living in Sustainable Cities Congress event

It’s just one week until the Affordable Living in Sustainable Cities Congress in Newcastle.

The congress features a packed program and there is something for everyone with eighteen strands and four plenary sessions covering urban renewal, sustainability, ethical cities, economic development and everything in between. Register here.

Award-winning sustainability program helps residents and the environment- Evolve Housing

For many Evolve Housing residents, the choice between putting food on the table or heating the home in winter is a very real one.

To counter this challenge, Evolve Housing has created the Evolving Green – Energy Action Initiative to reduce power prices for disadvantaged and low-income residents while also helping the environment.

Evolving Green was launched in May 2017, and as the result of careful planning, has made impressive progress against its targets in just over a year.

It was recently recognised with the Parramatta Light Rail Excellence in Sustainability award at the Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence, and the project was shortlisted as a finalist for Sustainability Program of the Year in the Optus My Business Awards.

Its three main objectives are to reduce energy poverty and inequality, reduce carbon emissions and drive down operating costs of common areas and the corporate office.

Initiatives include replacing inefficient systems, installing solar PV systems and panels, upgrading lighting in common areas, no interest loans for residents to replace appliances, government subsidies for energy efficient washing machines and TVs.

Beyond assisting our residents to access energy efficient assets, Evolve Housing is also offering free workshops on saving energy in the home and has partnered with Energy Locals to secure fairer electricity deals for tenants.

These developments will deliver savings of $1.94m over the next ten years, which amounts to 745, 000 kWh of energy and a potential saving of $594, 000 or up to $859 per household to Evolve Housing residents. To understand how the Energy Action Initiative has a positive effect on the environment, this equates to removing 217 cars off the road a year.

The savings to our residents will make a huge impact on their quality of life, and allow them to both take pride in choosing sustainable energy and keep more money in their pockets.

“Earning low incomes makes our residents extremely vulnerable to energy price rises and often residents will go without heating or cooling to balance their budgets,” Evolve Housing CEO Andrea Galloway said.

“The savings our residents make on power bills can be spent on basics like food, transport or other bills.

“The quality of life and health benefits that it delivers can’t be understated especially in western Sydney where the weather can be extreme”.

 

Evolve Housing appoints John Nesbitt to its Board of Directors

Evolve Housing, a leading community housing provider, is pleased to announce the appointment of John Nesbitt as a Non-Executive Director of the Company. John Nesbitt is a Non-Executive Director with more than 40 years’ experience across a number of sectors including investment management, banking, insurance, property, construction and infrastructure.

He officially joined the Board of Directors of Evolve on 16 October 2018, and will draw on his vast professional experience in the financial services industry to chair the Board’s Finance, Risk and Audit Committee.

2018 NSW Business Chamber State Business Awards Finalists Announced

Congratulations to our members who are State finalists for the 2018 NSW Business Chamber Business Awards!

The NSW Business Awards celebrates business excellence in entrepreneurship, innovation, export, business growth, sustainability and employment practices. The State Finalists represent the category winners from 16 regions across NSW.

CHP nominees are as follows:

Outstanding Business Leader: Charles Northcote, BlueCHP,

Excellence in Innovation: Compass Housing Services, BlueCHP

Excellence in Sustainability: Evolve Housing

Excellence in Social Enterprise: Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, Central Coast, BlueCHP

Winners will be announced at the NSW Business Awards Gala dinner on Friday 23 November 2018 at Luna Park, Sydney.

OTCP and TSA now trading as Momentum Collective

Momentum Collective is the new trading name for On Track Community Programs (OTCP), Casino Neighbourhood Centre and more recently Third Sector Australia (3SA). CEO Karen Murphy says ‘while our trading name is new, our ABN and business name remain unchanged as Third Sector Australia Limited’.

You can contact Momentum Collective for more information on info@mymomentum.org.au or 1300 900 091. You can also visit the new website: www.mymomentum.org.au

New Staff Announcement

Introducing Adam Hansen – CHIA NSW’s new Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist

I am really excited and looking forward to working for CHIA NSW as the Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist and applying my skillset to further support positive outcomes in the Community Housing sector.

The main focus will be consulting with our members and providing support and facilitation to deliver the Aboriginal Outcomes strategy.  This will include supporting members around the Cultural Competence space and up skilling organisations to provide further assistance to Indigenous people, families and communities and to help Community Housing Providers to engage in building stronger relationships with local Aboriginal communities, tenants and organisations.

I am really excited to get started and feel very privileged to be in this position to help continue the positive work that CHIA NSW has already achieved, and I am hoping to add to the excellent work already done.

I am a proud Noongar man from Bunbury Western Australia but have lived and grown up in Sydney and call the Inner West of Sydney home. I studied a Bachelor of Human Movement with a Diploma of Education at the University of Technology, Sydney and graduated in 2011 and I am currently studying a Masters in Indigenous Education. I value the power of education and I have spent a large amount of time empowering young people to fulfill their potential when it comes to education through the power of mentoring.

Having spent 8 years at not-for-profit organisation working in between High Schools and Universities to help support Indigenous high school students and to help increase the University Admission rates among Indigenous students. I am a passionate and committed individual with a background working with in the community sector with a specific experience with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The past year or so, I have been working for myself as a consultant with the focus being on Cultural Competence and best practices when and how to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. I have had the pleasure working with the University of Sydney in the Wingara Mura Team and in the Widening Participation and Outreach Team helping both teams to support their staff in Cultural Competence and facilitating a suite of workshops that allow their staff to better understand Indigenous culture, people and communities.

Watch this space, and please get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions about how I can support your organisation: adamh@communityhousing.org.au

Save the date: Everybody’s Home Town Hall Assembly – 14 March 2019

The Everybody’s Home campaign is partnering with the Sydney Alliance to hold a Town Hall Assembly in support of affordable housing. This action will bring together thousands of people and organisations to show our political leaders and policy makers that together we have solutions to Australia’s housing affordability problems.

More details to come, but in the meantime you can register your interest in attending the Assembly, which will be held 6.30pm 14 March 2019 at Sydney Town Hall.

Don’t forget to sign up to the Everybody’s Home campaign and ask your organisation to join as a campaign partner.

 

Housing Matters – September 2018

CEO Report

There’s enough evidence to demonstrate Australia needs much more social and affordable housing but insufficient to convince the state and commonwealth governments to fund the numbers to make an inroad into the massive shortfall.

This month Ilan Wiesel and colleagues took a look at how the Australian housing boom had impacted on inequality. In their article they built on the recent Productivity Commission research into inequality to also consider housing costs. Once mortgage and rent costs are considered the increases in household’s disposable incomes between 1988 and 2015 is ‘30% in the lowest decile compared with 81% in the highest decile’. This is explained by housing costs accounting for a greater proportion of lower income households’ spending also exacerbated by disproportionate increases in rents at the lower end of the market. Higher income households – often home buyers, have at the same time benefited from lower interest rates and hence cheaper mortgages.

Housing has also contributed to rising wealth inequality with lower income households seeing ‘little or no wealth gains from housing’ in contrast to the upper deciles who experienced annual rises of circa 3% in their wealth.

There is a general acceptance that too much inequality is bad news – both for individuals but countries as a whole. As the not exactly radical OECD said in its report on inequality “econometric analysis suggests that income inequality has a sizeable and statistically significant negative impact on growth.”

So it makes big sense to do something about housing not just to ease the passage into home ownership but also to ensure a good supply of affordable rental homes for the many households who are unable to purchase in the near future.

While we look to the state and commonwealth government to do the heavy lifting, this month saw some Councils taking the initiative including City of Sydney, where Council are proposing to extend the current affordable housing contribution schemes operating to other land including Central Sydney – see here.

On the Central Coast the Council has just put its affordable housing strategy on exhibition. Amongst its 28 recommendations are the following:

  • Using Council land for social and affordable housing in partnership with registered community housing providers
  • Actively promote new generation boarding housing in appropriate locations
  • Developing a voluntary planning agreement policy

And we should also acknowledge the latest Communities Plus opportunity released in early September to provide circa 60 social, affordable and market homes on Crown Street, Wollongong – see here.

Industry Development Powering On

There are several industry development projects underway at CHIA NSW. These projects are funded by FACS under the NSW Community Housing Industry Development Strategy (IDS) and focus on building the capacity of both community housing providers and also the infrastructure needed to support the community housing system in NSW.

The Working with Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit has been finalised and we are hoping to launch it to coincide with the White Ribbon 16 Days of Activism. We know that a number of our members have either received accreditation from White Ribbon or are in the process of doing so and we really want to continue to help the industry to tackle this incredibly important issue.

The Financial Inclusion: effectively preventing and managing rent arrears project will soon come to an end with the final report and resources due for publication in the next couple of months. Thanks to all of the providers that opened their doors to me to talk all things rent – I found it riveting and as always to hear what providers are doing and whilst there is a lot of great practice out there the report will throw down the gauntlet to our members to have a rethink about how they are managing the issue of rent and debt, particularly as our sector grows and costs for tenants keep rising.

Tom Kehoe has started the Improving Responses to Antisocial Behaviour Project. On 27 September, Tom is hosting a consultation workshop with community housing providers to capture issues, challenges and solutions. What we hear at this workshop will help shape a toolkit which will give practical resources to community housing providers managing antisocial behaviour. The project will be completed in December 2018.

We also have been approved for five new projects in 2018/19 including one designed to give our members guidance and resources to help address the growing issues associated with managing a tenant population that is ageing, and one that will trial improving housing pathways for people leaving prison in two regional Social Housing management Transfer locations.

Adam West will be leading Stage 2 of the Technology Mapping Project, on making even more industry information available to members through the development of a data dashboard, and on developing value for money indicators – critical to ensure we can continue to argue about the effectiveness of our industry. Wendy will lead on designing a framework for revitalising the National Community Housing Standards, our way of demonstrating the commitment the sector will make to achieving high service and property standards in return for the investment made in social and affordable housing.

If you want to know more about any of these projects or want to see how you could be involved please get in touch with us and we look forward to keeping you updated.

 

CHPs, Landcom and NHFIC – cooking up affordable housing?

Early one cold bright morning in late August, NSW community housing non- executive directors, Landcom luminaries and one notable NHFIC representative gathered for breakfast in Martin Place to cook up some ideas for an affordable housing feast. 

First to the table was Landcom’s CEO John Brogden with his ingredients outlined in their Strategic Directions. These include targets for affordable housing on government land, some special projects, and a commitment to reduce wastage through smart commissioning. He brought out an example he had prepared earlier; one along the North West Sydney metro line at Tallawong. While the community housing industry would have preferred more affordable housing and a sell by date beyond ten years, it’s a good start.

Next up was CHIA NSW to demonstrate the not for profit community housing industry credentials as affordable housing cooks. Since 2012 providers have delivered over 1250 new homes and have at least 1500 more in the pipeline; with a total investment of circa $1 billion. They build well, involve their local communities and aim to cut the energy bills for the consumers according to our Industry Snapshot. For the industry, Landcom is a vital ingredient – just look at what happens when they share a kitchen. Evolve Housing’s Harts Landing is proof of the pudding.

Last but not least to step up was the NHFIC’s David Crawford who spoke about how his outfit could oil the wheels by offering bulk deals to reduce the costs. Low interest, long term inputs and a cast iron guarantee. They’re even offering a capacity building service for new entrants. It’s all modelled on The Housing Finance Corporation in the UK , which has been baking social and affordable housing for 30 plus years without any needing to be thrown away.

To repeat it’s a good start but we do need a bit more fat to bulk it up. A capital growth fund, tax incentives, input of government land at scale – all will help. Let’s get cooking.

 

CHIA NSW Exchange a Success!

Thank you to all of our members and guests who attended the September CHIA NSW Exchange. We hope you both enjoyed and took away useful information from the sessions you attended. If you would like to give feedback on event, please email brigitteg@communityhousing.org.au for a link to the feedback form.

Speaker slides from the Exchange are available here: https://goo.gl/SXCi8R

Photos are available here: https://bit.ly/2Nn3sWX. If you would like a hi res version of an image, please contact brigitteg@communityhousing.org.au

Our next CHIA exchange will be in June 2019 but there will be plenty of events in between. Watch this space.

 

The Connection between Domestic Violence and Homelessness

AN INTERVIEW WITH GUDRUN BURNET by Sue Cripps

In August 2018, the National Homelessness Conference in Melbourne heard that the homelessness and affordable housing crisis is getting worse with nothing to indicate this trend will be significantly reversed. At the same time, efforts to reduce the unacceptable level of domestic violence are also struggling to have an impact. Yet as this interview with an acknowledged expert demonstrates, housing availability is a, probably the, key to reducing the ongoing exposure to abuse by victims of domestic violence.

This interview was conducted by Sue Cripps in London with Gudrun Burnet of the Peabody Trust, a large housing association in the UK, and looks at what social housing landlords can do to help reduce the impacts of domestic and family violence.

Could you tell me a little about your background and what led to your current role?

I started my career on the National Domestic Violence Helpline 15 years ago and then got a job as a domestic abuse support worker in South London where I qualified as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) which in the UK means you are qualified to work with families experiencing domestic abuse who are at significant risk of harm or death. I was then promoted to floating support coordinator across South London.

In this role it became apparent to me that housing was fundamental in all the work I was doing with families. However, I found the response I got was limited or non-existent. So, nine years ago I started working with Peabody and have supported them over the years to improve their response and identification of domestic abuse.

Peabody has been creating opportunities for Londoners since 1862, when it was established by the American banker and philanthropist, George Peabody. The housing charity owns and manages more than 55,000 homes, providing affordable housing for around 111,000 people. Domestic and family violence (DFV) is a major issue in Australia, which I know having recently visited as part of a Churchill Fellowship and this trip taught me that there is an amazing opportunity to share best practice across the world.

We are very interested in the innovative approach Peabody Trust has taken to help the victims and their families. Can you tell us more about the work you are doing and why it is so important?

As well as bricks and mortar, Peabody provides a wide range of community programmes in their neighbourhoods, including help with employment and training, health and wellbeing projects, family support programmes and a dedicated care and support scheme.

Peabody has shown the vital role Housing Providers can play in identifying and supporting families affected by domestic abuse. Housing providers have unique access to the ‘hidden’ spaces occupied by perpetrators and individuals experiencing abuse, through regular contact with residents carrying out services such as repairs and community development activities. Housing provider employees are trusted and accessible and are considered by many more approachable than the police or other statutory agencies.

In the UK, on average two women a week are murdered by a current or former partner. Each year around 2.1m people suffer some form of domestic abuse: 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population). In 2008, Peabody changed our approach to domestic abuse including training, updated policies and procedures and proactively publishing our work externally and internally.

Do you have any statistics or other information about the effectiveness of the approach/model you are developing?

That is why over 3 years ago Gentoo, Peabody and Standing Together Against Domestic Violence created the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA). It brings together their combined best practice and is the UK benchmark on how the housing sector can improve their response to domestic abuse. It is underpinned by 8 priorities including policy & procedure, case management, risk management, partnership working, equality & diversity, staff training and publicity for customers in the support a housing provider can offer. We were also funded in 2017 by the Home Office to create a free online toolkit which any housing provider can access here.

In addition to the toolkit we are running free workshops all over the UK to increase awareness and cover the 8 priority areas in more depth to support housing providers to attain accreditation.

At Peabody and Gentoo (two of the founding partners of DAHA), this approach has had a significant impact on reporting rates and understanding of domestic abuse and its dynamics. At Peabody, over 9 years, there has been an increase in reporting of 1,425% and we get a new case reported to us on average every 3 days. In research undertaken by Safelives, Gentoo tenants accessed support from Gentoo’s specialist team one year earlier than the national dataset (made up of specialist domestic abuse services) demonstrating the unique role that housing providers can have with their customers.

Recently we launched in partnership with Alison Inman, the President of the Chartered Institute of Housing and Women’s Aid the Make a Stand campaign to ask housing providers in the UK to make a pledge to implement four key activities that would make a difference to their tenants and staff which include:

  • Put in place a policy on domestic abuse for your residents
  • Put in place a policy on domestic abuse for your staff
  • Publish information on local and national domestic abuse services
  • Appoint someone in your organisation at a senior level to lead this.

The momentum of this now is incredible.

As with many complex issues, one of the key solutions is always collaborating effectively with support services and other partners to ensure that everyone is speaking the same language. What thoughts do you have on how this can be progressed?

The key to this is raising awareness across the world and understanding that housing providers do and can play a vital role in responding to families experiencing domestic abuse. I have trained over 50 Housing Provider’s globally and am the housing representative for the national Violence Against Women’s and Girls (VAWG) stakeholder panel hosted by the Home Office.

I am also involved in a European Project called ‘Safe At Home’ which is about disseminating training across the EU and in particular the UK and the Netherlands.

As part of my Winston Churchill Fellowship I visited Australia and was asked to be part of your launch of the toolkit via Skype which was a first for me. It is astounding the cross over and partnership work we can do across the globe and I could not be more excited that some of the tools we use here are being used in Australia.

I have also had the opportunity to speak at international conferences in Canada, USA, Czechoslovakia, Brighton, Belfast, Brussels, and The Hague about my work in housing and domestic abuse. I am a trustee of Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) and was shortlisted for Red Magazine’s Pioneering Woman of the Year Award 2016.

Can you tell us what approach is being taken to support housing workers as they engage with perpetrators of DFV?

Housing providers are in a unique position to identify and respond to domestic abuse in their communities. Furthermore, through publicity and campaigns they can raise awareness of the issue to ensure communities show zero tolerance to perpetrators of domestic abuse and support and help those that need it. Housing Providers are also able to make domestic abuse a breach of tenancy to hold perpetrators to account for this heinous crime.

CONCLUSION

This interview with Gudrun demonstrates the advantages of seeking ideas and policies to manage social issues from across the globe. Unfortunately, as Australia’s homelessness and housing crisis deepens it is also possible the effects to overcome domestic violence will be significantly impacted. From an Australian perspective, our decision makers need to look more closely at the overseas experiences in taking an integrated whole-of-life solution to domestic violence and indeed many other social problems.

 

The Centre for Training in Social Housing has released its new accredited program

The Centre for Training in Social Housing has just released its new accredited program commencing October 2018. We are still providing training in the Certificate IV Social Housing and Diploma of Community Service with an emphasis on training in areas of high demand.  Our course, content centres on social services and community-based work that addresses a wide range of issues including mental health, domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drugs work and suicide prevention. Models of practice in case management, recovery orientated practice and strengths based approaches are demonstrated throughout all units of study.

We have expanded training options in the Diploma of Community Services to include specialisations in Case Management or Social Housing or elective units of study in Leadership and Management. We will be introducing further electives in Asset Management in 2019.

We offer professional development and contextualised training to community organisations, and we specialise in Cultural Awareness, Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs, and Strengthening Practice in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence have been in demand across the sector.

Our training is delivered by industry and training experts with specialist knowledge and skills in the community housing industry. Our trainers are all currently working in the industry, have all obtained a diploma or higher qualification in their relevant field, and have obtained a TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, or higher.

We provide trainers to work one-on-one with participants who require extra assistance to ensure they understand the concepts and knowledge required. High levels of satisfaction for training and professional development are recorded below:

Figure 1: Student satisfaction with our delivery of the CHC42215 Certificate IV in Social Housing and the CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services

 

 

If you would like further information on our courses, would like to discuss a contextualised course design relevant to your staff or to chat about future possibilities please contact us on trainingenquiries@communityhousing.org.au

 

AHURI National Housing Conference 2019

The biennial National Housing Conference is the single largest cross-sectoral event in Australasia for the social and affordable housing sectors.

AHURI will be convening the 2019 National Housing Conference in Darwin from 28-30 August 2019—the first time the conference has been held in the Northern Territory. More information about NHC 2019 will be released in the second half of 2018.

Watch this space for more information as it comes: https://www.ahuri.edu.au/events/national-housing-conference-2019

 

Bonnie Women’s Support Services FREE Publication

Bonnie Women’s Support Services has developed this excellent resource which features stories about a diversity of women making choices for change, and includes some helpful domestic violence support service numbers. This is a great resource for CHPs to have in their reception areas for people to pick up and read whilst they are waiting.  It would also be a good resource for CHP staff to read, if they were interested.

We highly recommend visiting the website and requesting some copies.

 

‘No Place Like Home’ Exhibition

Link Housing is hosting a very special Community Art Exhibition ‘No Place Like Home’ from Thursday 27 September – 26 October 2018

It is the third year of this exhibition, showcasing the talents of the most creative in our community and bringing awareness to the need for safe and affordable housing.

You can find the exhibition opening times here.

 

Anti-Poverty Week – 14-20 October 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link Housing: new offices open for business

Link Housing has moved, with two new offices open for business as of September. Link Housing’s Social Housing Management Transfer is set to go live in December and the new offices are located in the heart of the FACS Northern Sydney District, providing good access for tenants and plenty of space for new staff.

New office details:

Level 10, 67 Albert Avenue, Chatswood 2067 – Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm

3-5 Anthony Rd, West Ryde NSW 2114 – Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm

New Staff Announcement

Hi, I’m Chad the new Coordinator for ACHIA, the new peak body for Aboriginal Community Housing. I have spent the last 10 years working in the community services sector working with Aboriginal families and youth.

I have experience in program development and management and worked at Muru Nanga Mai as a youth worker then went to Kari Limited where I worked in the community programs team. Then I moved to Youth Off the Streets, where my roles were Cultural Coordinator/Manager/Director Aboriginal Services for over 5 years. In that role, I worked all over NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.

Some highlights in this time were establishing outreaches in Maroubra, Logan and Bourke and developing a mobile semi-trailer project through a partnership with Linfox that has the capacity to travel to remote places and set up as a portable Youth Centre with staff working from the trailer. I was also awarded 2017 Employee of the Year with Youth Off the Streets.

I’ll now be supporting the ACHIA interim committee with their work.  It’s an exciting time for the sector and we’ll be consulting widely with Aboriginal Community Housing Providers about their priorities and supporting a membership drive leading into committee elections in December.

I will be visiting different communities in the next few months to discuss the membership drive and how ACHPs can become members to show their support and to be a part of the vision ACHIA has moving forward.

If you would like to get in touch, please email me at chadr@communityhousing.org.au or call 0438 038 269

Housing Matters – August 2018

CEO Report

I have just spent a few weeks in the UK and Sweden and in both countries there was plenty of discussion and debate about social and affordable housing. I’ve penned a few thoughts on Sweden in the article below and already mentioned Scotland and its five year strategies many times before. So to England, where the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower has led to signs of a renewed focus on ways to improve landlord’s accountability to their tenants. And so it should, but as this article last week illustrates, there is a lot to do to reassure tenants that their health and safety is paramount.

Here at CHIA NSW, the Board has been debating its vision for the community housing industry. We clearly want both the Commonwealth and State governments to do more and invest big time in social and affordable housing to reduce housing stress experienced by growing numbers of Australian households – see Compass Housing’s  ‘The Affordable Housing Income Gap’ for an accessible summary of the current state of the nation.

Understandably here at CHIA NSW we believe that community housing is a big part of the solution and our aim is to see the sector grow. But equally clearly this has to be ‘good’ growth, for a clear purpose and with strong community outcomes.

Last week I read a fine piece of writing by Prof Mark Stephens  Professor of Public Policy at Heriot University riffing off the English Social Housing Green Paper  to cover in one concise article the challenges facing all providers of social and affordable housing and that paramount need to keep tenants at the heart of what we do. I recommend it to everyone.

CHIA NSW Exchange

The CHIA NSW Exchange is coming up on the 12th and 13th of September! The CHIA NSW Exchange is a sector wide opportunity that allows members from across the state to hear from industry leaders regarding sector innovation and policy updates, as well as ideas sharing and networking opportunities.  The CHIA NSW Exchange is free to any Full Member of CHIA NSW, including staff and Directors. You can register here.

National Homelessness Conference

The National Homelessness Conference, held in Melbourne, attracted more than 800 delegates from across Australia and beyond for two full days of the very latest developments and innovations to end homelessness.

Key note presentations from high profile international speakers included Professor Marah Curtis of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) on the intersection between housing stability and wellbeing, Juha Kaakinen of Y-Foundation (Finland) on the housing first approach and Finland’s success in reducing homelessness, and Professor Nicholas Pleace of the University of York (UK) with a comparative analysis of housing first approaches in different jurisdictions.

A standout contribution came from our very own Aboriginal Specialist, Paula Coghill, who joined the opening plenary session to speak to the topic Redressing Aboriginal Homelessness. Homelessness did not exist in Australia before the invasion, so the fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remain massively overrepresented in homelessness counts is nothing short of a national travesty.

‘As First Nations people, we were the first to be homeless in this country’ said Paula  ‘and 239 years later, we’re still homeless’.

Highlighting the ongoing impact of dispossession, colonisation, displacement and violence, Paula called for self-determination and autonomy for Aboriginal communities working to address homelessness and the widespread shortage of affordable housing. Aboriginal communities face unique challenges – from overcrowding to high rates of incarceration and the ongoing removal of children from their families. But of course, it is these communities who are best placed to implement strategies to address these challenges. And it is the responsibility of the mainstream service sector to support this self-determination.

In NSW, the homelessness service sector has formalised its commitment to reconciliation and working collaboratively and respectfully with Aboriginal people and communities through the Redressing Aboriginal Homelessness Accord.

With the elections for the first Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association (ACHIA) board coming up in November, we look forward to seeing more innovative policies, programs and initiatives by Aboriginal organisations, for Aboriginal people and communities.

The Australian Conference of Economists

Supply, Supply, Supply – and other stories about Australia’s housing affordability problem – a slightly irreverent synopsis of my day with the economists – Deborah Georgiou Head of Policy and Communications, CHIA NSW.

It’s always good to get out of your own bubble and listen to the views of economists! That’s what I was lucky enough to do when attending the Australian Conference of Economists in July. The issues of housing affordability were high on the agenda with speakers including the eminent Professor Rachel Ong from Curtin University, the newish kid on the block Brendan Coates from the Grattan Institute and Peter Abelson from Applied Economics Pty who has a long and distinguished career advising successive governments.

The panel in the Great Debate on Housing Affordability was firmly split between those that thought that supply would fix housing affordability problems for all but the most marginalised households, and Rachel, whose early research on new supply price inelasticities indicates that we can’t just build our way out of unaffordability. She commented that there was actually enough supply and that this hadn’t improved affordability.

Brendan thought that if we had kept up with increasing demand from un-forecast higher levels of immigration house prices would have been kept in check and was firmly of the view that we needed to concentrate on increasing supply.

Peter said house prices had risen evenly across capital cities in Australia and that therefore prices were increasing as a result of national drivers. He stated there has been no increase in unaffordability as housing costs as a percentage of income have been around 20% for the last 10 years  – in his view the problem is all about the cost of a deposit and he supported first home owner grants.

In the midst of all of this my favourite session of the day was about the impact of playgrounds on property prices: evidence from Australia presented by Dr Syed Hasan, Massey University – apparently if you build homes within 300-500 metres from a pocket park it will add more than 5% to their value – economics at its best!

Cities for Us Summit

On 25 July, SSROC and Shelter NSW hosted a summit on density, local infrastructure and liveability.

The summit focused on the challenges ahead for Sydney and how, in the context of higher density living how we can think about the concepts of fairness, equity and inclusiveness.

The summit featured a wide range of speakers, and looked three key themes:

  • Implementing the GSC Plans, looking at integration, collaboration and governance
  • Funding the delivery of local infrastructure and affordable rental housing
  • Engaging with communities to help them have a say as their built environment changes

Highlights of the summit included Dr Marcus spiller talking about what could change to better fund local infrastructure and affordable housing (read more about this here) and Monica Barone talking about engaging communities in the City of Sydney.

The outcome of the summit will be a communique for the Planning Minister so watch this space.

Retiring into Poverty – A National Plan For Change: Increasing Housing Security For Older Women Report Launched

On 23 August 2018, the National Older Women’s Housing and Homelessness Working Group delivered a paper, Retiring into Poverty – A National Plan For Change: Increasing Housing Security For Older Women.

The paper identifies the systemic and compounding causes of older women’s homelessness, examines the devastating impact of gendered economic inequality and the key policy areas that require attention. It outlines a national agenda to address this issue, including additional permanent social and affordable housing options for women and special measures to assist women at retirement age who have not accumulated adequate superannuation. Action is urgently needed to address the alarming 31% rise in homelessness amongst older women between the 2011 and 2016 censuses.

The report goes on to call for the establishment of a Seniors Housing Gateway Program, as well as expansion of the Assistance with Care and Housing (ACH) Program and better consideration of housing adequacy in national aged care policy and programs.

Women’s Housing Company CEO and National Older Women’s Housing and Homelessness Working Group member, Debbie Georgopoulos, said “housing is amongst the most basic of needs; it’s essential that a national housing strategy provides the affordable, permanent housing that is essential to ageing well.”

Cracks emerging in the Scandinavian housing model

– Wendy Hayhurst, CEO , CHIA NSW.

Being a housing tragic wherever I go on holiday there’s an irresistible temptation to learn how different places tackle affordable housing. This year it was tropical Stockholm, a city that was experiencing its hottest-ever weather. This explains why we ended up passing one of the city’s municipal housing estates on the way to joining the locals at the nearest beach.  Although, like other estates we saw, it was large and rather functional-looking, it seemed well kept and was flanked by an impressive series of sports and play facilities all well-used by a multicultural crowd.  So far so Scandinavian as I had assumed the region’s long-standing reputation for decent social benefits and its relative egalitarianism would translate into an enviable affordable housing system.

So it was a bit of a shock to find stories such as the one from the BBC suggesting that Stockholm was one place ‘you would never find a home’ and another article explaining that the waiting list for apartments in the city had risen to 580,000 in July 2017 – more than doubling since 2007. Wait times averaged nearly 11 years – well over 20 in central areas. So what was the story?

For a start Stockholm needs a lot of housing to keep pace with its growing population. It is the fastest growing capital in Europe with proportionally high rates of immigration and one of the highest birth rates too. Housing supply simply hasn’t kept up but that isn’t by any means the whole story. In a fascinating article[1] Brett Christophers from Uppsala University clearly explains the post-war evolution of the Swedish housing system including the “Million Program” – the 1960s Social Democrat government housing scheme to build 100,000 new homes each year for 10 years. An extraordinary 40% of these were built by the state. Dr Christophers’s title ‘A Monstrous Hybrid’ encapsulates his theory well. In a nutshell he argues that relatively recent shifts in policy to marketise housing combined with retention of key regulatory features have served to reduce opportunities for lower income households to find good quality, stable affordable housing.  How so?

First it is important to understand a bit about Sweden’s housing tenure mix and key features. Until the 1990s the country’s housing policy was internationally renowned for its active support for ‘tenure-neutrality’ – promoting equal standards, costs, and occupier rights for renters and owners that aimed to equalize their tax benefits and social status. This started to change in 1991 when the new centre-right government began dismantling this policy and brought in market reforms triggering public housing privatisation, and privileging home ownership.

While traditional homeownership which is mainly confined to houses rather than multi-unit blocks – has remained relatively stable at circa 41% of all housing; there has been a sharp rise in tenant owned apartments – or bostadsrätt a form of coop housing since 1990 from 15% to 23% in 2016. Tenants pay a basic fee or down payment (financed via a mortgage) and an annual fee to the co-op for the right to occupy a unit indefinitely. Tenants can transfer (sell) the ‘occupancy right’ or share, via an open bid auction style sale. This tenure type benefits from same tax relief granted to owner-occupiers and increasingly involves higher income households.

Public housing has fallen back from 25% of all housing to 16% in the last 25 years.  Although owned and controlled by municipalities (Councils) it is operated by arms length public shareholder companies. Theoretically it remains available ‘for everyone’ regardless of income or other circumstance. The companies constructed homes using state loans, and received tax advantages, government guarantees and large interest subsidies.

Private rental housing – 18% in 2016 – mainly offers secure tenancies and is remains generally rent-controlled atlevels historically pegged to those charged by the municipal housing companies. Recent changes mean that rent setting is now increasingly influenced also by the general level of private sector rents – over time this may mean more a divergence in rents between the two sectors.

So what has changed? First, municipal housing company privileges  have been substantially reduced and MHCs now have to compete on a roughly equal footing with private landlords. Portfolio ageing and declining public subsidy have generated cost pressures leading to sell-offs (especially of more attractive stock) to both the co-op sector and to sitting tenants at heavily discounted prices.

Secondly, home ownership – including the co-op version – has become more financially attractive. In the 1990s access to mortgages was made easier and a credit guarantee for first-time homebuyers was introduced in 2008. Other incentives include mortgage interest tax deduction, a low ceiling on property tax, and deferred capital gains tax on primary residence.

Thirdly, housing allowances for low income households have been ‘slashed’ with a 70% reduction in households entitled and claiming these between 1995 and 2009.

A key features of the Swedish regulatory system which exacerbates problems for lower income households needing to access a tenancyis the operation of the bostadsformedlingar – the rental queuing system administered via housing exchanges (see here for an example ). This covers both the public and most of the private sectors. Length of time in the queue is a key criterion along with applicant preferences on location and size, and the maximum rent they are willing to pay; and an assessment of priority ‘needs’. The latter can take precedence over time in the queue with Councils setting the attributes for their areas.

However, landlords’ discretion is considerable and can, reportedly, override stated allocation principles. Equally, vacancy advertising is not universal , partly because of the healthy black market that has developed given high demand for properties and the opportunity for landlords to charge rather more than the regulated rent level. Another factor is that tenants have ‘considerable rights to transfer their rental contract or privately organise a direct swap of flats’. Both tend to work against lower income households.

So what options do lower income households have? The most common alternative is to rely on a series of short-term, second-hand contracts increasingly widespread in both the private rental and co-op sectors. Tenants have considerable rights to sub-let entire homes, though sub-tenants lack full protection on rent levels or security.

The shortage of affordable housing is predictably leading to rapidly rising rates of housing stress and deprivation.  While in the past mental illness and social issues like abuse tended to be key factors, there are now more people becoming homeless because they have a low income – young people, immigrants and older people on pensions.

There is currently little sign of any national strategy and into the vacuum are piecemeal short term (temporary housing) or ‘boutique’ initiatives such as a crowd funded scheme for co-op housing neither likely to do much for the many households missing out on decent homes.  Maybe Sweden needs its own ‘alla hemma’ (Everybody’s – or All at – Home) campaign.

I would like to thank Annika Wahlberg, Secretary General at the International Union of Tenants for kindly reviewing the article and advising on obvious errors. The opinions are my own.

[1] Brett Christophers (2013) A Monstrous Hybrid: The Political Economy of Housing in Early Twenty-first Century Sweden, New Political Economy, 18:6, 885-911, DOI: 10.1080/13563467.2012.753521

A Focus on Older People: Ageing on the Edge – Let’s Change This

At the National Housing Conference on the 28th November 2017 we launched the NSW Ageing on the Edge reportThe Older I Get the Scarier It Becomes’ to a packed hall who listened to a stellar line up including the wonderful Susan Ryan and the indefatigable Jeff Fielder talk about the many, many older people who are reaching retirement without a safe secure and affordable place to call home. We heard from two older women too who after a lifetime of hard work were being forced to eat into their super capital to fund the rent or facing the prospect of successive short term rentals.

This was a report that could not sit on a shelf and gather dust. The 2016 census data released after the conference only reinforced the need for action. There were 6411 homeless older people on census night a mind blogging 43% increase since the last census. Across Australia older people (aged 55plus) now make up 16% of the total homeless population.

Which is why the groups who worked with the report authors HAAG and University of Adelaide as advisors agreed to continue to work together on practical projects that will make a difference not just by reducing homelessness and rental stress but also promote better more responsive housing services for older people. Our membership is drawn from the older persons’ sector, NSW government, housing providers, homelessness services and even, believe or not, older people themselves….

And we won’t just talk. The group have already started to put together some concrete projects for our first year including:

  • Filling the data and information gaps that were identified in the development of the report (e.g. information on Aboriginal older persons housing and support needs, CALD older people)
  • Bringing the aged care and community housing sectors together in a project that will help older people in social housing age in place
  • Working together to share data and collectively routinely produce indicators around older peoples housing/ homelessness
  • Continue to advocate and promote a service that will help older people at risk of homelessness find suitable accommodation. Victoria has its Home at Last, so why can’t NSW?

If you want to join us or find out more then get in touch via info@communityhousing.org.au

Energy Training

CHIA NSW has announced another round of free energy training for Community Housing staff and tenants. The training was designed by The Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON), The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and CHIA SNW to respond to rises in energy prices in recent years.

The training is designed to help reduce energy costs and promote energy efficiency. Topics covered include:

  • understanding the energy sector
  • how to choose an energy contract
  • energy use in the home
  • accessing energy hardship programs

The next training dates are:

  • Liverpool: 3rd October 2018
  • Sydney CBD: 30th October 2018
  • Dubbo: 6th December 2018

More sessions are planned throughout 2019 and will be announced in the New Year.

To apply for a free place or for information click see: Energy training flyer with application form.

Housing and support help turn lives around: Heading Home evaluation

Wentworth CEO, Stephen McIntyre; Susan Templeman MP, Federal Member for
Macquarie; Mayor of Hawkesbury, Marry Lyons-Buckett; and Melissa Grah-McIntosh from Wentworth

During this year’s Homelessness Week, multi-awarded Heading Home project, led by Wentworth Community Housing, launched today an independent evaluation of the impact its activities have had in the Nepean district and on the lives of people rehoused during Registry Week. The report brings information on remaining challenges and points to local housing solutions.

As a result of Registry Week, held in November 2016, 26 people and nine families were rehoused in Penrith, the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury. This is in addition to existing housing and supporting services in the area. At follow up after six months, the study found 24 people and eight families remained housed and over 92% reported improved wellbeing.

Once housed, 71% of people had more support to call on in time of a crisis and 50% had started using a new health or community service.

“The people who participated in the study said that having a safe place to live has been most helpful for them to get their life sorted,” Wentworth Chief Executive Officer, Stephen McIntyre, said.

At a community level, the report shows that the people in the Nepean region, including influencers such as MPs, Councillors, community, and business leaders are now more informed about local homelessness.

On the challenging side, the report revealed a shortage of affordable local rental properties for permanent housing.

“The main focus of our project group now is to find local low-cost housing solutions, especially for people looking for a smaller place to live that they can afford.”

“We want to build on the strong community momentum achieved to tackle the shortage of affordable permanent housing.”

At the launch of the report, Wentworth will also announce plans for a Garden Flat EXPO to encourage local home owners to invest in garden flats.

“We think this is a win-win, where homeowners can secure a regular income and local people seeking a smaller home can stay in our communities.”

Link Housing is Moving

Local community housing provider, Link Housing, has recently opened a new office in West Ryde and will soon unveil new larger office facilities in Chatswood on 17th September 2018.

The new offices will give the not-for-profit organisation the space to continue to provide quality, client-focused and comprehensive service to their growing community of housing applicants and residents within Northern Sydney and beyond.

Link Housing CEO, Andrew McAnulty, who has been at Link Housing for five years now, has led the organisation through a period of significant growth. Last year the organisation won tenders to manage 235 specialist disability accommodation tenancies and almost 1900 social housing tenancies, previously managed by the NSW Government.

The new Link Housing West Ryde office is located minutes from West Ryde train station and in the same building as the FACS Northern district office, allowing Link Housing to work closely with FACS in the lead up to the SHMT “go live” in December this year.

In the Media

www.foreground.com.au/public-domain/development-challenge-sydney-olympic-park

www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2018/07/housing-stress-increases-social-housing-renters

Housing Matters – July 2018

CEO Conference Overview

A month on from the 2018 Affordable Housing Conference – Everybody’s Home – we extend our sincere thanks to the sponsors, speakers, facilitators and delegates who made it such a success and a conference worth tweeting about.  In 2016 we said we were ready to meet the challenge of delivering the additional social and affordable homes needed to tackle homelessness and housing stress. Since then it has been a case of holding steady as – despite progress on social housing management transfers, announcements on the Social and Affordable Housing Fund and Communities Plus and most recently the NHFIC’s establishment – we are all still waiting for Governments to launch some big time programs to fund serious numbers of new homes.

However, when I say holding steady there was little evidence that the nearly 600 delegates and well over 100 speakers were any less enthused and full of ideas than two years ago.  Over the two days we heard from expert speakers from across the globe talk about clear directions ahead for the housing industry and calls to action. There were too many good things to mention them all but I will highlight a few, either because they are going to stick in my memory or because I learnt something new.

So here is my list – in no particular order.  It goes without saying, but I will anyway, that any conference needs politicians to demo its relevance and we were lucky to have two – the Hon Pru Goward, MP  (Minister for Family and Community Services, Minister for Social Housing, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault) and  Michael Daley, MP (Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure) explaining what the Government is doing and what the Opposition would suggest as alternatives.

Barb Shaw the inaugural Co-Chair of Aboriginal Housing NT explained in clear, compelling language why investment in remote Indigenous housing so badly needs restoring. Richard Eccleston from the Institute for the Study of Social Change at the University of Tasmania did the seemingly impossible – made tax policy (relatively) easy to grasp and reform politically possible. And while David Orr was personally inspiring he was trumped by that video – the best promotional pitch for the NFP housing sector ever – and John Murray from the Community Housing Tenants Network and Link Housing gave him a run for his money in the panel discussion.

Rosanna McGregor from the Cariboo Friendship Society and Aboriginal Housing Management Association in Canada urged policy-makers to include Indigenous leaders in solving Indigenous challenges and spoke movingly about managed alcohol programs in her hometown, William’s Lake BC. Emily Cadik from the US Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition told us we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just leverage off the initiative that’s delivered three million homes for seven million people in the States and Stephen Anthony at Industry Super explained how we might…

Then there was Brendan Coates from the Grattan Institute who did his renaissance man act by popping up to talk about the economy, housing supply, inclusionary zoning and tax reform, and Marcus Spiller from SGS who suggested that the 500K new homes the Everybody’s Home argues  for may be a shade too few. Saul Eslake reminded us that supply might be the answer – if the State got back into the business of investing as it did in the 1950s.

It was also lovely to catch up again with David Condliffe, Executive Director at the Center for Community Alternatives that promotes reducing reliance on incarceration and supports individuals who have been, to reintegrate into their communities.  I met David last year and was very impressed with his work and its relevance to a project we were kicking off to look at housing pathways for people leaving prison.

We were sent on our way by a nearly all women panel of Rebecca Huntley, Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore,  Susan Ryan AO, Tania Mihailuk MP, Jenny Leong MP and our anything but ‘token male’ Paul Green MLC who all seemed to be in furious agreement that “everybody deserves to have safe secure shelter, and that’s what housing is”. It’s a right, not a privilege. Let’s hope the start button is pressed soon.

CHIA NSW and Homelessness NSW also want to thank all the sponsors for AHC 2018. It would not have happened without them: www.ahc2018.com.au/sponsors-exhibitors/

Link to David Orr’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv8PSlby0Qc

CHIA NSW Exchange

The next CHIA NSW Exchange will take place on Wednesday 12th and Thursday 13th of September at the Mercure Sydney.  Already confirmed across two days are meetings for CEOs, Finance Officers, Middle Managers, Community Development, Asset Network, NDIS Network, Planning & Development, and Performance/Outcomes.  More details and ticket information will be posted as it becomes available.

National Homelessness Conference 2018

Last chance to register!

The National Homelessness Conference 2018 will be held next month in Melbourne on August 6-7 and tickets are selling fast!

Key highlights of the program include:

  • Five keynote speakers – Professor Marah Curtis (US), Professor Nicholas Pleace (UK), Juha Kaakinen (Finland), Martin Foley (Vic Minister for Housing and Homelessness) and Sally Capp (Lord Mayor of Melbourne)
  • Three major plenary panel sessions examining national priority responses to homelessness; responding to the criminalisation of inner-city homelessness, and media reporting on homelessness
  • 12 concurrent sessions examining best practice responses from across Australia.

View the full program and register now at www.ahuri.edu.au/events/homelessness2018

NSW Boarding Houses – A welcome ‘no change’ to homes delivered by not for profit community housing providers

On 29 March 2018 the Hon Anthony Roberts MP the Planning  and Housing Minister announced  that in response to community concerns new boarding houses would be required to provide 0.5 car parking spaces per room instead of the current 0.2,  where the buildings are located near to public transport. While CHIA NSW appreciated that residents might be concerned about any negative effects from new development in their localities, we also knew that many other residents in the same areas were in need of just the sort of homes these new boarding houses could provide. Moreover, the evidence from our members – not for profit community housing providers (CHPs) – was that boarding housing residents rarely owned cars. In some cases car spaces provided were even lying empty. When every space provided costs dollars that could go towards more affordable housing, we need to be sure resources aren’t being wasted.

CHPs who had built these homes also provided evidence that the increase in car parking spaces envisaged would have threatened the viability of many genuinely affordable schemes.

Happily this was no tokenistic consultation process. The Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) listened and heard. They also watched. CHIA NSW and its members want to work with local communities to build homes that fit in and meet needs. Spare the time and watch these short videos that tell the story of two boarding houses in Summer Hill (managed by Hume Housing) and Wollstonecraft (managed by Link Housing).

And last week DPE announced that while car parking standards for boarding houses delivered under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (ARHSEPP) has been amended to 0.5 car parking spaces per boarding house room, an exception has been made where a not for profit ‘Social Housing Provider’ provides the accommodation. For the latter, existing standards remain in place. This exception is based “on feedback that Social Housing Providers play a unique role in providing boarding houses for lower income earners and other groups”.

The amended ARHSEPP is here.

Landcom Affordable Housing Prequalification Scheme

Landcom’s Affordable Housing Prequalification Scheme is an online tool that connects developers with nationally registered Community Housing Providers.

You can find the tool and more information at www.ProcurePoint.nsw.gov.au/scm4421 – see tab ‘Information for buyers’, then click on ‘How to buy from this scheme’.

Information about the scheme will be included in member newsletters for:

    • Property Council
    • Urban Taskforce
    • UDIA
    • Western Sydney Business Connection
    • Sydney Business Chamber

 

New World Wide Study shows what Australia can learn from the rest of the world about fixing the housing crisis with co-operative housing

Common Equity (NSW) is pleased to announce a new world-wide study to identify the extent and value of housing co-operatives around the world.

The research, commissioned by Australia’s Peak Co-op Housing Bodies; ‘ Articulating Value in Co-operative Housing’ was undertaken by researchers from Western Sydney University and the University of Newcastle. It analysed existing research in a dozen countries. The findings point to the significant benefits of Co-operative Housing Models.

  • Cost Savings: up to 14% lower capital and operating costs under the co-operative model
  • Social Capital: Stronger social networks and sense of community – higher than any other form of housing
  • Health & Wellbeing: Widespread reports that living in a housing co-operative provides a greater sense of physical, emotional, mental health and well-being
  • Resident Satisfaction: Widespread reports of lower costs, high quality homes with better security and housing stability

“The existing research indicates numerous potential benefits created by cooperative housing in many countries. This gives us a solid starting point for identifying the extent and nature of the value created by Australia’s housing co-operatives, including the value generated by the people who live in co-operatives” says Louise Crabtree, Senior Researcher, from Western Sydney University.

The researchers found widespread report of stronger social networks and support, and better relationships with neighbours, with higher reported levels of social capital than any other forms of social housing. Housing co-operative residents reported a strong sense of community and of ‘home’ and ‘safety’, with Canadians feeling that their neighbourhood is improved by the presence of housing co-operatives.

Based on the evidence from housing co-operatives in Canada it is clear that “social capital” even among poor resident populations, adds value to public investments in housing.

The research found that the economic benefits of co-operative housing are clear. Canada demonstrated that the co-operative housing sector cost 14% less in capital and operating costs than any other affordable housing model. And evidence in the United Kingdom suggests lower rates of arrears, faster re-letting and lower vacancy rates. Additionally, inference from Germany suggested that living in a co-operative might lead to reduced health care needs and costs too.

Common Equity CEO, James Brown says; ‘With the extent of housing co-operatives overseas, the evidence is clear that co-operative housing should be a more significant part of the housing mix in Australia to deliver more diversity and choice in affordable housing and to enhance the broader economic, social and community benefits. Especially at a time when in Australia, with one of the most diverse populations in the world, in which many are facing a housing crisis, this research provides valuable information to support the case for change’.

The full Research Report for Stage One will be released in mid-late August 2018. To find out more about Co-operative housing; www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpkzUVlaANk

A second stage of the Research is expected to commence by the end of 2018 and will quantify the extent to which co-operative housing delivers value in the Australian context.

For media enquiries and to contact researchers please contact:

Hayley Peacock-Gower
Common Equity
m: + 61 435 875 609 e: hayley@commonequity.com.au w: commonequity.com.au

Welcome Catherine Tracey and Brigitte Garozzo

Catherine is our new Head of Learning and Development in CHIA NSW’s Centre for Training in Social Housing.


Catherine Tracey has worked as a senior executive and senior manager in vocational education in both the public and private sectors. As the recently appointed Head of Learning and Development at CHIA NSW, Catherine’s passion and experience in vocational education, her desire to foster learning practices which engages the student and lead learning innovation will complement the work of the Centre for Training in Social Housing.

Catherine’s work in education is supported by her extensive experience within the social housing sector with over twenty years’ experience in the delivery of social housing in not for profit, state government and affordable housing. The challenges facing the sector and expected growth in innovative housing practices will be supported with appropriate, engaging and innovative educational programs.

Brigitte is our new Project Coordinator

Brigitte is an organiser and activist who has worked for various political organisations including as an Office Manager for Greens NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon and an organiser for the National Tertiary Education Union. She is passionate about a variety of social justice issues including; worker’s rights, women’s and LGBTIQ rights, Palestinian justice, and universal housing for all. She is also a fully qualified florist and in her spare time loves to cook, garden, attend protests, and play with her ginger cat ‘Melon’. She is a member of the ASU.

Farewell and thank you from Lyndall Katz

It is with a mix of both excitement and sadness that I have resigned from CHIA NSW (the Federation). I am moving on to pursue other passions more fully and to be with family and friends.

I have been working at the Federation for 19 years, and was involved since its beginnings. I have been with CHIA NSW for one month – since its beginning! I was at North Coast Community Housing for 13 years. That’s 32 years – more than half my life (just) with you! And that’s not including the time I was working in women’s refuges at the start of my working life.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to know you and to work with you over the years. It’s a marvelous thing to be connected with other humans, righting wrongs to make the world a better place. That is what we attempt to do in our work together.

From an eager 19 year old feminist being excited to volunteer at the first women’s refuge in the 1970s; to moving to the north coast and randomly getting a job with North Coast Community Housing Co in 1987; to moving back to Sydney to work at the Federation in 2000, I have seen many changes.

We started with passion, activism, caring and “chutzpah.” Now we have a vibrant, growing, professional, well-respected community housing sector and that makes me proud. That’s not to say we haven’t had big losses, and faced big challenges, but as a sector we have hung in there, and continued to move forward. Our continued determination to keep the community focus in the work is one of the things that has kept me here in the face of such great change. I’m pleased to have been part of all that, and done my part towards all that.

Through the Federation I moved from providing service, to training and resourcing others to provide service. I liked that move – being part of the professionalisation of the sector from the start. Thanks for that chance. At NCCHC I was a student in the first ever-training program – HATPIN (Housing Associations Training Program In NSW). The Federation provided that training. All I remember is being at a resort once a month in Coffs Harbour with my colleagues from all over northern NSW sitting in the spa. I have a certificate to prove it! Ah times have changed!
I have loved working at the Federation training and resourcing the sector. It gives me so much pleasure to be with you in that environment. I got to know some of you well over many years and many roles, some from the start of your careers. That’s exciting. And I am pleased to have added my knowledge, skill and humour to that work.

The Federation has been a brilliant workplace for me. I won’t mention all the names – there are too many – but I do want to thank Jen Crowe for seconding me to the then Good Practice Unit in 1999, which brought about the change in focus of my career. There have been many changes in staff and structure since that time, but one constant is, and has been, a fabulous workplace – respectful, connected and, above all, hilarious.

I have had wonderful managers with different perspectives; been inspired by exciting and vibrant trainers; supported by excellent and patient administrative teams; partnered with policy and business development teams to resource the sector in good practice. I have made some good friends. And the “couch” sessions are always fun.

Thank you to all who have worked with me, for giving me a home in my workplace, in this important industry, and for caring with me about the work we do. Without all this I could not have stayed for so long. And it has been so long! So long!

With appreciation,
Lyndall

Senior Training and Project Officer, Centre for Training in Social Housing

In the media

https://www.domain.com.au/news/city-of-sydney-could-add-up-to-3600-affordable-homes-by-2030-if-extended-housing-levy-approved-20180625-h11tls-441522/

https://www.domain.com.au/news/if-scotland-can-do-it-australia-can-do-it-too-experts-push-for-affordable-housing-strategy-20180627-h11y44-442085/

https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/innovation/residential-2/another-wake-up-call-on-australias-homelessness-and-affordable-housing-crisis

https://www.domain.com.au/news/nsw-government-to-donate-one-hectare-of-land-in-redfern-to-developers-for-first-buildtorent-program-in-australia-20180706-h12c0x-751259/

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/social-housing-tenants-and-renters-to-share-australias-first-buildtorent-building/news-story/d7d4e5ee6a7c9aea12d45b9aa53980a9?csp=3793afbab89ea1b10b4c8e4b670cd4b2 –

https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/news/nsw-launches-its-very-own-build-to-rent-scheme-in

https://theurbandeveloper.com/articles/nsw-pioneers-build-to-rent-in-redfern-

Conference media
https://www.afr.com/real-estate/establishing-buildtorent-in-australia-is-a-chickenandegg-game-20180628-h11z6x

https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/5495217/saul-eslake-reveals-tasmanias-decades-of-weak-housing-growth/

Housing Matters – June 2018

 

CEO Introduction

June has been a busy month for us; the NSW Federation of Housing Associations moved office, launched its new website and started trading under a new name – CHIA NSW. At the same time we have been finalising arrangements for the NSW 2018 Affordable Housing Conference ‘Everybody’s Home’.  With the support of our sponsors – large and small – we have been able to assemble a great program with excellent speakers. We’ve had a few last minute additions and adjustments. A particular thanks to the Hon Paul Green MLC for joining the final panel session with the Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore, Tania Mihailuk MP and Jenny Leong MP.

One of our international speakers known to many of you, Craig Sanderson, CEO at Link Group in Scotland, has had to pull out after suffering a heart attack last week. Thankfully, the good news is that he’s recovering well and we look forward to seeing him out here another time. Craig’s place is being taken by Professor Kenneth Gibb, director of the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence and based at the University of Glasgow . Ken is preparing a video for us about ‘The challenges for a National Housing Strategy – the Scottish Experience’.

Ken’s session also features contributions from Scott Figenshow (NZ), Rosanna Mcgregor (Canada) and Hal Pawson. Brett Wake (National Manager Operations, CHL) will be facilitating a lively debate -with we hope plenty of audience participation -about what we all need to do to get Australia the national housing strategy it so badly needs.

CHIA NSW is pleased to see the National Housing and Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC) appoint its first chair, Brendan Crotty. We’ve long advocated for a bond aggregator  with Piers Williamson CEO at The Housing Finance Corporation our key note conference speaker back in 2016. Like the Australian Treasury led Affordable Housing Working Group we believe that the bond aggregator on its own isn’t sufficient to make much difference to the social and affordable housing numbers. Governments at both the Federal and State levels need to invest – through any combination of land, capital grant and tax incentive. Until they do the numbers of homeless people, households living in rental stress or those unable to leave substandard or overcrowded accommodation will continue to rise.

The NSW Government brought down its 2018 Budget on 19 June. The budget contained some additional resources for housing – circa $15m per annum over four years to assist responses to homelessness and a total of circa $33M over the same period for Aboriginal housing. Existing programs Communities Plus and the Social and Affordable Housing Fund are welcome but add only a small proportion of the new additional social and affordable homes needed across NSW. We can also anticipate more affordable housing via development contributions in coming years. But a lot more is going to be needed if the cost of living for many in the State is to be really addressed.  

ACHIA – NSW Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association

The ACHIA Interim Committee have much to celebrate this month. After their considerable hard work over the last 12 months, June has brought two pieces of excellent news. The Aboriginal Housing Office and NSW Depart of Family and Community Services have demonstrated their ongoing support by providing grant funding for another two years. We would like to acknowledge the many Government staff who have worked with to help establish ACHIA and give a special mention to Sally Kubiak and Nick Sabel at the AHO. The grant allows us to appoint additional staff to help co-ordinate ACHIA’s work and ensure the Aboriginal Community Housing Providers are well represented.

At the same time as the financial support came through the CHIA NSW Board approved a key foundational document – the Charter which describes how ACHIA will work and be governed.

A draft has been out for feedback and consultation with the sector and the final version is ACHIA Charter.

The ACHIA Committee believes that it is too early to aim for full independence and to set ACHIA up as separate legal entity. So at this early stage in ACHIA’s development CHIA NSW has offered to continue to provide the auspices for the establishment of ACHIA.   The CHIA NSW Board wishes to make it clear that the CHIA NSW does not have any interest of its own in retaining this role in the long-term and believes fully in self-determination.  CHIA NSW will support moves to further promote the independence of ACHIA (for example, by establishing ACHIA as a separate legal entity) whenever this is desired by ACHIA.

ACHIA’s Purpose

The purpose of ACHIA is to be the industry body for Aboriginal Community Housing Providers in NSW and in doing so:

  • promote the human rights of all Aboriginal people in NSW to decent, affordable and secure housing;
  • promote the right of all Aboriginal people to self-determination, including the right to choose a culturally appropriate social landlord;
  • develop and support public policy which promotes a more just housing system for Aboriginal people in NSW;
  • in partnership with counterpart organisations across Australia, develop and promote policy at a national level for housing justice and self-determination for Aboriginal people;
  • support the development of best practice in the provision of housing for Aboriginal people by encouraging networking and collaboration between Aboriginal Community Housing Providers; and
  • support the provision of culturally appropriate housing by mainstream community housing providers.

ACHIA will formally launch its Charter at the Aboriginal Caucus Day on 26th June.  We are planning to hold ACHIA elections before the end of 2018.

NSW Homelessness Strategy

In last month’s issue we highlighted the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2018 funded by Launch Housing and researched and written by UNSW’s City Futures  and Social Policy Research Centre, and University of Queensland’s  Institute for Social Science Research. It showed not just Sydney but also NSW experiencing increasingly high rates of homelessness. In five years homelessness in Sydney had jumped 48% in Sydney and 37% in NSW; far greater than elsewhere in Australia.

So the publication of the NSW Homelessness Strategy on June 10 setting out the Government’s five year plan to tackle homelessness is very welcome. Its focus is on preventing people slipping into homelessness, intervening early and providing better support services.

It does not shy away from the numbers and paints a picture of what lies behind those headline figures. In 2016/17, 36,000 young people, aged 24 or younger used specialist homelessness services – an increase of 37% from 2013/14. The report goes on to say ‘90% of young people experiencing homelessness have witnessed violence in their home, 60 per cent have been in OOHC, and 50 per cent have a reported mental health issue’.’’ Talking about domestic and family violence the report notes ‘Despite only making up 3.3 per cent of the national population, one quarter of people in Australia accessing SHS due to DFV identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.’ Older people make up an increasing proportion of homeless people. ‘More than 15 per cent of people experiencing homelessness are over the age of 55 and this figure is increasing. Between 2013/14 and 2016/17, NSW saw 88 per cent growth in the number of women over the age of 55 years accessing homelessness services.’

On top of the existing funding, an additional $15M per annum over four years is allocated to social impact investment to prevent homelessness, to expand sustaining tenancy supports and add to the transitional accommodation numbers.

Amongst the new initiatives is one to expand the use of universal screening tools for homelessness and risk of homelessness in schools so services can intervene early. The initiative is based on the Geelong Model that demonstrated that young people referred for assistance were able to maintain school attendance and did not slip into homelessness. At the other end of the age spectrum the intention is to ‘deliver targeted social housing options for older women in four to five locations, to be evaluated for expansion. Positively this includes reference to the model developed for the Sydney Women’s Homeless Alliance.

Also to be applauded is the focus on a whole of government approach exemplified by the development of the Human Services Outcomes Framework and its application for homelessness, including ‘introducing cross-agency requirements for reporting on homelessness outcomes’. Justice, Education and Health will also be involved. As referred to in last month’s Housing Matters but worth repeating is the whole of Government cost of keeping someone homelessness rather than providing them with a home and where necessary supports. A whole of Government approach allows a whole of government approach to counting the cost. See the evidence.

In one area the strategy possibly does not go far enough by including the role social landlords can play in sustaining tenancies. For example FACS has supported and continues to support projects that build on CHP’s existing practice to enhance responses to (for example) people experiencing domestic and family violence or who have complex needs. See an example here.

The strategy does not address the overwhelming shortage of social and affordable housing that is driving the rises in homelessness. It acknowledges the issue and references two existing initiatives that between them will add an extra 10,000 to 12,000 social and affordable homes over the next 10-15 years. As welcome as those these schemes are, this amount of new additional construction does not keep pace with population growth and means the existing shortfalls will increase. Tackling homelessness without more housing isn’t going to be easy.

Housing, Homelessness and Mental Health

The focus on a need for additional affordable housing supply is capturing some in the health professions. As the Homelessness Monitor mentioned above noted in its report, AIHW data collected from specialist homelessness services in 2016/17 indicates that over a quarter of people accessing services reported mental ill health as an issue associated with their homelessness.

Last year the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) held a national consultation to build a better understanding of the connection between housing, homelessness and mental health. They held workshops, carried out a survey and spoke to stakeholders about the key issues and gaps for people with lived experience of mental illness when they attempt to secure housing. The reports from the sessions and the overall paper can be accessed here.

While the service integration issue is recognised as important  as are more responsive and understanding tenancy management services, the sheer lack of secure affordable housing is the overwhelming gap preventing both recovery and contributing to worsening conditions. Traditionally the focus in the mental health profession has been on the clinical and therapeutic responses – and it will remain but instances of individuals being discharged from programs and / or institutions into insecure housing and even homelessness is shifting their focus.

The Commission has appointed AHURI to conduct more in-depth research to inform its policy advice to government. The research is composed of a literature review and policy analysis, investigative panels and workshops. CHIA NSW is one of the ‘housing’ panel members along with CHIA, National Shelter, Housing Choices and the National Affordable Housing Consortium. The other participants were mental health professionals from across the country.

Amongst the lively debate was the suggestion that perhaps in some cases the best health intervention might be housing. Not too farfetched as this example  from NY state indicates. The State calculated that ‘New York Medicaid payments for nursing-facility stays are $217 per day, as compared with costs of $50 to $70 per day for supportive housing. Furthermore, preventing even a few inpatient hospitalizations, at $2,219 per day, could pay for many days of supportive housing. Hence a pilot to examine the outcomes. It will be interesting to see if the NMHC work helps promote similar trials here.

AHURI conference on Affordable Housing Supply Solutions

On 29 May, AHURI hosted Ready for Growth a national conference focusing on Affordable Housing Supply Solutions.

The conference was an opportunity to hear from the major parties on their support for affordable housing. The Hon Michael Sukkar MP, Assistant Minister to the Federal Treasurer spoke about the new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation and the negotiations with States and Territories over the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement with its requirement that they produce credible housing strategies.

Senator Hon Doug Cameron, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness highlighted data which shows the extent of affordability challenges for many Australians and teased some of the solutions Labor is considering including in its manifesto for the forthcoming Federal election.

The conference also saw the launch of new AHURI research on affordable housing. The inquiry into increasing affordable housing supply: Evidence-based principles and strategies for Australian policy and practice includes three strands of research:

  1. Supporting affordable housing supply: inclusionary planning in new and renewing communities
  2. Government led innovations in affordable housing delivery
  3. Paying for affordable housing in different market contexts

Conference sessions linked to these strands of the research:

Professor Nicole Gurran, University of Sydney, spoke about the research team’s analysis of the contributions to affordable housing made by different planning systems. The research suggests that while the planning system can play a role, it is most effective when working to support other initiatives.

Professor Steven Rowley, Curtin University, spoke about government led innovations and facilitated a panel discussion. This session highlighted the need for government leadership and meaningful long term commitments to delivering affordable housing outcomes.

Professor Bill Randolph, University of NSW gave a presentation on paying for affordable housing, showing his team’s model on the impacts of different market contexts. This session highlighted something that Senator Cameron had highlighted in his opening address – the need for government to support affordable housing delivery by addressing the yield gap.

SDA Pricing and Payments Framework Review

The Department of Social Security (DSS) has commissioned KPMG to carry out a review of the SDA Pricing and Payments Framework. The review was scheduled to take place three years into the operation of the Framework which commenced in 2015 and covers the period to June 2021.

The SDA Pricing and Payments Framework provides guidance to people managing or owning existing disability accommodation, and to investors looking to develop new SDA accommodation. This guidance includes areas such as benchmark pricing, dwelling price calculations, participant eligibility, dwelling eligibility and registration, and quality and safeguards.

A national group of community housing peaks has agreed to work together to provide input to the review and has engaged Joseph Connellan to draft the joint response. Joseph has consulted with a couple of providers in most jurisdictions, including NSW, as the basis for preparing a draft submission which was then sent to all CHIA NSW members for comment. NSW was also represented at the roundtable held in Sydney for SDA providers by the CEO of BlueCHP, Charles Northcote.

One change CHIA NSW members want to see is the introduction of an SDA pre-approval process so that new developments an be let ‘off plan’.  This would ensure that not for profit providers on tight margins do not lose much needed income.

Providers also raised concerns about the lack of demand data currently available to guide investment decisions, and that the introduction of negotiated SDA prices delivered a level of uncertainty that could drive away investors.

The review is scheduled to be completed by August 2018 and will be considered by the COAG Disability Reform Council at its meeting in September 2018.

Lessons we can learn from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Many in the community housing industry will have been following the Grenfell Tower Inquiry. No one can forget the horrific scenes just over a year ago on 14 June 2017 when a fire in one flat spread rapidly through the whole building leaving 72 people dead. While the immediate focus was on the cladding used in the tower’s renovation, other issues around the management of the building, fire prevention and safety and regulation also emerged. The Inquiry’s terms of reference reflect these broader concerns.

Grenfell Tower is owned by the Royal London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. At the time of the fire, management was carried out under contract by a large Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) Kensington and Chelsea TMO. The TMO had been operating for many years, managed all the Council’s social housing and reported to a Board.

While there are differences between the UK and Australia, the principles and standards around asset and tenancy management services, design and construction, strong governance and external regulation should be the same. Its timely then to consider the lessons when the community housing industry looks to expand and the National Regulatory System for Community Housing is about to be reviewed.

With permission from Housing Quality Network a not for profit organisation based in the UK Housing Matters is reprinting a recent blog from their CEO Alistair McIntosh who spent time in NSW working with CHIA NSW on scenario planning with CHP boards. The article pulls no punches about what in the UK needs to change and should get us thinking here too.

Grenfell Inquiry – Why expert evidence is terrifying for boards

Grenfell must change the way we do things for ever. We are starting to see the experts’ reports to the Inquiry. If they are right, we have a long road to travel on safety. This is a big deal for your board.

Let’s get one thing clear. For a lot of its history the board of the Kensington TMO was just like any other housing board. It had a very similar mix of the great and the good. And at times it had industry heavyweights round the table. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are better than them. It is for the Inquiry and the courts to say what the TMO got right and wrong. Time will tell. But we can learn a lot now from the submissions to the Inquiry.

Let’s see how sharp you are. This is a minute from a TMO board meeting.

“Grenfell Tower Refurbishment – close liaison with London Fire Brigade and Fire Risk Assessor throughout the duration of the project. At the conclusion of the work some of the operational firefighters from the local Fire Station attended an onsite briefing where the contractor demonstrated the fire safety features of the building.”

Yep that’s what they were told. What questions would you have asked? Would you have asked any? Everything looks fine doesn’t it? It wasn’t.

What does a real expert make of it? Here’s what Professor Torero says in his evidence. The language is hard going. But the verdict is lacerating for all of us. So, read it.

“The regulatory framework relies very heavily on competent professionals to provide the necessary interpretation that will bridge the gaps and resolve the ambiguities left by functional requirements, guidelines and standardized tests. Nevertheless, a competent engineer should be capable of interpreting the requirement to ‘adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls…having regard to the height, use and position of the building’ within the context of the needs of the fire safety strategy in the case of a specific tall building. In the case of the fire safety strategy of Grenfell Tower, ‘adequately resist’ should have been interpreted as being ‘no’ external fire spread.

“There is currently no definition of what is the competency required from these professionals, or skill verification approaches that should be used, so as to guarantee that those involved in the design … implementation, acceptance and maintenance of these systems can deliver societally acceptable … levels of safety. There is a need to shift from a culture that inappropriately trivializes ‘compliance’ to a culture that recognizes complexity in ‘compliance’ and therefore values ‘competency,’ ‘performance’ and ‘quality.’ Otherwise, the increasing complexity of building systems will drive society in unidentified paths towards irresponsible deregulation by incompetency.” [My emphasis]

If he is correct we are not good enough. And we need better advisors too. Note the use of the term engineer. That is someone who knows what they are doing and can prove it. The professor is setting the bar high and no wonder.

I was appalled by the reaction to the Hackitt report. She suggested that we need to take a systematic approach to safety. What did a lot of the sector say? No, we want to go back to ticking boxes. Get someone to tell us that such and such a component is safe, and we will use it thus washing our hands of all responsibility. Hackitt and Torero give that idea short shrift. It never was that easy and it never will be that easy. When is there ever one single solution to a problem?

Where does this leave boards? On one level it is terrifying. Mistakes can have fatal consequences. And the assurances you thought you had turn to dust. No one will want to be on a board, will they? Then things will grind to a halt.

There is a way to sort this out. It is time for the assurance industry to step up. Let us have no more tick box internal audit reports. Please stop asking consultants to churn out pointless governance reviews. I call them Feng Shui reports because they drone on about the layout of the room. Who cares? It doesn’t matter a jot. Then there are the drive by stock surveys that miss the bleedin’ obvious.

It seems to me that lots of money is wasted on phoney assurance. Stop that and spend the money instead on the sorts of experts that Torero talks about. They will really help boards to sleep at night.

But boards will need to work harder and smarter. There is no way round that. I was flabbergasted when I read that new councillors in a borough that also had fire safety issues were complaining about 600-page long planning papers. Don’t forget these are key to safety, you must start from the right point. Their answer was to ask for speed reading courses. It might be better to go for training by experts. Then you can ask for sharper reports that get to the nub of the matter a lot quicker.

As you read what the experts have to say about Grenfell you quickly realise that regulation can’t stay as it is. We are going to have to bring back inspection or something like it. The IDAs these days look mainly at the money. Yes, that is a big deal. But it is not as important as safety. You’ve got to say that our current system of regulation is not fit for purpose to put it mildly. It was set up with the wrong priorities. The RSH (or someone) will be asked to get a grip on safety by the government. That is certain. You can expect to be inspected on how you keep tenants safe. And you must show that you listen to their concerns and act on them. But this time there will be no one size fits all official guidance (like the old Audit Commission KLOEs) or tick boxes to help you. Hackitt and Torero are right to put an end to spoon feeding. That’s when good people switch off and things go badly wrong.

By Alistair McIntosh, HQN Chief Executive

Farewell to Kevin Saide, Training Manager CTS

As many of you may know by now I am leaving the position of Training Manager on the 29th June 2018 to move to Victoria whilst continuing to do some training delivery online.

I started at The Federation as a Trainer nearly 10 years ago having come from 30 years working in and later managing housing / homelessness services in Queensland.

Having heard Sydney was in trouble I came down here to see what I could do (despite all my cousins pleading for me to stay in Queensland) and landed a job at Sterling College as an Assessor. Well, my good intentions of saving Sydney didn’t work as Sterling College was closed within 3 months of my arriving due to many compliance issues.

A couple of temporary jobs later I landed in the office of Laurel Draffen at The Federation who obviously saw some good in this smartass Queenslander (aren’t we all) and offered me a position as Trainer and Assessor (temporary until proven) which I am pleased to say I did some 6 months later.

I must say having been a sole Manager of organisations with whom the buck stopped I wondered how I might go working for two Managers, Laurel and Adam the CEO. Well two CEOs later I am still here and have thoroughly enjoyed working for Adam, Lucy and Wendy. Former and current staff are incredibly committed to the Federation (now of course CHIA NSW) and I will miss the daily contact.

I have been more than impressed and humbled by the number of dedicated, compassionate and devoted people I have met who work in the housing and homelessness sectors from CEOs to administrative staff who are often the frontline people for all organisations.

So now to Victoria a State also in trouble to see if I can be of some service.

City West Housing welcome new Head of Development

City West have announced that Lisa Sorrentino is joining their team as Head of Development this week to help make affordable housing for people on very low to moderate incomes a reality in Sydney.  Prior to joining City West Housing Lisa worked on urban renewal projects at Urban Growth NSW and also previously worked at Stockland in apartment delivery and business development.

Lisa is an experienced residential development executive with over 15 years of end to end development experience in urban renewal, mixed use, retirement living, and build to rent sectors within Australia and the United States.

As Head of Development Lisa will be responsible for all aspects of project development from acquisitions to handover to the tenancy team.

Lisa will help to ensure a strong pipeline of affordable housing developments will continue whilst leading the ongoing development of our five upcoming projects currently under construction or in planning.

Lisa said, “I am enthusiastic to join the team at City West Housing and looking forward to working closely with a range of stakeholders in the future to ensure we continue to contribute to the increase of the Affordable Housing supply in Sydney.”

Leonie King, CEO of City West Housing said “We are excited to have a developer of Lisa’s calibre joining our team. Like City West Housing, she is passionate about providing housing which is affordable for people on lower incomes. With ambitious plans for future developments underway in Sydney we look forward to working together to make living and working locally a reality for more people.”

Media mentions

Over the past month CHIA NSW and CEO Wendy Hayhurst have been mentioned in the following news articles:

To kick off build-to-rent housing, taxes may have to be less progressive (30/05/2018)

NSW budget spends on transport, families (20/06/2018)

CHIA Exchange (formerly Fed Ex)Save the Date: 12 & 13 September 2018

Please save the date for the next CHIA Exchange.  We will hold the next FedEx over 2 days on the 12 and 13 September 2018 at a new, more convenient venue – the Mercure Grand Central.  The new venue is a few minutes’ walk from Central Station in Sydney.  More information surrounding the event will be sent in the coming weeks.

Housing Matters – May 18

CEO’s Report

Over the last few days I have been digesting the Australian Homelessness Monitor 2018 funded by Launch Housing and researched and written by UNSW’s City Futures and Social Policy Research Centre, and University of Queensland’s Institute for Social Science Research. Its publication was hard to miss, as it was splashed across the media up, down and around the country. The headlines told a heartbreaking story in numbers – a 14% jump in nationwide homelessness in just five years, and a massive 48% in Sydney. Rough sleeping also rocketed with 8,200 people recorded on census night – a 20% increase nationwide. Severe overcrowding (where households are at least four bedrooms short of what they need) perhaps inevitably given that sharing is probably the only feasible option for some people to keep a roof over their head has also risen dramatically, by 23% nationwide.

We are all time poor and the report is long but it cries out to be read attentively by policy makers and politicians across the country. It is well evidenced, measured and surprisingly positive. Solutions that work exist including the Housing First, Street to Home supportive housing models that were first introduced in Australia to tackle chronic rough sleeping in the wake of the 2008 Australia Government White Paper The Road Home. There are also plenty of examples where policy changes are likely to exacerbate homelessness. Changes to benefit entitlements and increases in sanctioning have reduced incomes and inevitably what households have to pay housing costs.

And then there are the policies and initiatives such as the NSW Social and Affordable Housing Fund we need more of. Investment in more social and affordable housing is after all the only real game changer. The report concisely explains how the rental market has changed. While rents may not have jumped as high as house prices, the competition for cheaper homes means that households traditionally able to access the private rental market are pushed out by higher income households who can’t afford the deposit on a house. It will cost but as one of the Monitor’s authors Cameron Parsell has demonstrated previously it cost Governments circa $13,000 p.a. more to keep someone homeless than provide them with a home and support services.

The report makes clear in stark terms the far greater risk there is of Aboriginal people experiencing homelessness – ten times more likely than non-Aboriginal Australians. The Closing the Gap refresh (see article below) must include a target to reduce Aboriginal homelessness.

There will be an excellent opportunity to dive into the Monitor detail at the EveryBody’s Home Affordable Housing Conference on 27-28 June 2018. Prof. Hal Pawson will be presenting and discussing the content with Katherine McKernan CEO at Homelessness NSW and Jeff Fiedler from the Housing Aged Action Group. We hope that the Monitor which will be repeated on a regular basis does stimulate Governments to take an alternative approach to ‘reactive incrementalism’ and make the ‘significant investment in longer term housing solutions’ so badly needed.

As community housing providers we also recognise that the industry has a role to play in all this. At a time when finding a home is so difficult landlords need to adopt practice that prevents wherever possible negative exits from a tenancy. Over the last year and going forward the Federation, with support from the NSW Government, Family and Community Services and the enthusiastic participation of providers, are producing and implementing a suite of practical tools to help front line staff respond to tenants in a way results in a sustained tenancy rather than eviction or abandonment. The first cab off the rank was the DFV toolkit, and not a moment too soon given that domestic and family violence is the single most commonly cited ‘main’ reason for homelessness. On 25 May we launched the creating sustainable tenancies toolkit for tenants with complex needs produced by Sue Cripps, a project in which we collaborated with Queensland Shelter. In the coming months there will be guidance on financial inclusion, ASB practice and responding to DFV perpetrators. These will be living documents with implementation supported by training options.

Register now for the pre-conference Caucuses!

Registrations are now open for the Caucuses which will complement the Affordable Housing Conference. There are strictly limited places are available for the Caucuses, which will be held on the afternoon of the 26 June. The three Caucus sessions are:

Emerging Leaders Caucus: the Emerging Leaders Caucus is for young housing and homelessness professionals who seek to play a leading role in the future of the social and affordable housing sector. The Caucus will provide an opportunity to step away from everyday business and join your peers to debate, discuss and learn about key skills that are essential to lead a successful organisation with a social purpose. The caucus will focus on the skills you need to shine as a leader as well as equipping you with the tools to excel at the art of verbal communication.
You will hear from experts in the field such as Rebecca Oelkers, Alex Notay and Jenny Stokes, and also get the opportunity to contribute your own ideas

Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda: Implications for Housing in Australia: the United Nations has achieved three groundbreaking agreements in recent years which, if implemented, will move the world to greater environmental sustainability and greater social justice. The 2014 Paris Agreement, the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2016 New Urban Agenda (NUA) agreements have major implications for urban life and particularly how access to housing contributes to quality of life, social justice and sustainability.

The supply of affordable housing is the life blood of any city or human settlement and social and affordable housing providers can play a key role in determining the future of urban living. With presentations from Greg Budworth, Vice Chair UN Habitat, General Assembly of Partners and Sonja Duncan, Director, SD Environmental Management and Consultant to NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage Sustainability Advantage Program, this Caucus is an unmissable opportunity for those wishing to progress the right to adequate housing in Australia leveraging the community housing sector.

Aboriginal Caucus: the Aboriginal Caucus is an essential opportunity for people working in the Aboriginal community housing sector, in particular CEOs and managers working in the sector. International speaker Rosanna McGregor Cariboo, Friendship Society, British Columbia, Canada will speak about the Canadian Indigenous Housing sector, drawing comparisons to the Australian experience and providing practice advice on how those in the sector can maximise their impact and be agents for change. The Caucus will feature a workshop session with the Aboriginal Housing Office, outlining the sector’s view on housing and homelessness priorities and making detailed recommendations to feed in to Aboriginal Housing Organisation’s strategy.

The Caucus will also serve as the platform to launch the next phase of the sector’s industry body – the Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association or ACHIA for short – providing an overview of activities to date, accountability within the sector and the plans and priorities for ACHIA moving forward. Finally, Charles Northcote will provide experiences from New Zealand and Blue Community Housing Providers in making property development work for Aboriginal communities using examples and exploring the pitfalls.
Registrations are now open! Click here for more information.

2018 Affordable Housing Conference update

With less than a month to go, now is the time to register for the 2018 Affordable Housing Conference!  We are delighted to announce Wentworth Community Housing as our official App Sponsor!  Download the app to design your personalised program, review sessions and read more about our fantastic speaker line up!  To access the app, click here and search ‘Affordable Housing 2018’.

Masterclass on developing housing for communities, supported by communities

To coincide with the launch of two research projects exploring the latest evidence on affordable housing development, the Federation ran a masterclass based on the research. Dr Judy Stubbs, an internationally recognised expert in affordable housing research, policy, economics and strategy lead the masterclass on behalf of the Federation.

30 people from 15 different organisations attended the masterclass, including our members, local government and state government agencies. Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive with one person saying that what they learned would be, “A huge help in my role, I have all the information I need to understand what best practice is”.

The first half of the masterclass focussed on the Building Community Support for Community Housing research.  Participants learned about community attitudes to affordable housing and how to engage with different parts of the community to gain acceptance for developments.  Participants were also given access to a web-based toolkit to support them through the development approvals process.

The second half focussed on Multi-Tenure Developments: Best Practice Approaches to Design, Development and Management. This session brought together Australian and international research about successful development projects that support diverse communities.
Given the success of the event, the Federation is considering running further masterclasses later in the year. If you are interested, please contact Tom Kehoe, Senior Project Officer (tomk@communityhousing.org.au)

Ground-breaking research on affordable housing development

In May, the Federation launched two ground breaking research projects designed to help our members develop affordable rental housing for communities, which is supported by communities.

  • Building Community Support for Community Housing delivers a web-based toolkit and video case studies of developments in Eveleigh, Summer Hill, Wollstonecraft and Worrigee highlighting the value of affordable housing for communities.
  • Multi-Tenure Developments: Best Practice Approaches to Design, Development and Management reports on Australian and international case studies and identifies contemporary best practice to help our members shape vibrant communities that work well for different people.

Both projects explore the most up-to-date Australian and international evidence, turning the findings into practical resources which help our members engage with their communities to design housing solutions that work for everyone.

The projects have been undertaken on the Federation’s behalf by Dr Judy Stubbs and were delivered in conjunction with the Department of Family and Community Services and Landcom.
For more information about either project, please contact Tom Kehoe, Senior Project Officer (tomk@communityhousing.org.au)

National Homelessness Conference 2018

We’re now less than three months away from the National Homelessness Conference. This newsletter includes a massive program update with more than 40 speakers now confirmed including our 3rd International keynote presenter.   AHURI, in partnership with Homelessness Australia will convene the National Homelessness Conference 2018—Ending Homelessness Together, in Melbourne on Mon 6 and Tue 7 August 2018 as part of Homelessness Week 2018. The release of 2016 Census reveals a 13.7 per cent increase of people experiencing homelessness over the five year period. Against the backdrop of these latest figures, and with the Australian Government developing the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, it is an appropriate time to revive this critical national event after a four year hiatus.

The Conference will bring together policy makers and practitioners from across Australia to learn, engage and network. We are delighted to invite you to join us at this major national event and be part of the conversation aimed at ending homelessness in Australia.

Read our comprehensive update, download our brand new program booklet and make sure you register before the end of the month to secure the special Early Bird rate.  Book before Friday 1 June to secure an Early Bird rate and save over $100 on registration. Read more here.

Federation Exchange Save the Date

Please save the date for the next Federation Exchange.  We will hold the next FedEx over 2 days on the 12 and 13 September 2018 at a new, more convenient venue – the Mercure Grand Central.  The new venue is a few minutes’ walk from Central Station in Sydney.  More information surrounding the event will be sent in the coming weeks.

Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs

With social housing only available to those who need it most, tenants have increasingly complex needs that community housing providers need to respond to. To support community housing providers to manage the tenancies of vulnerable people with more complex needs, the Federation has partnered with Q Shelter to develop the Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs Toolkit.

The Toolkit was officially launched at an event last week, with Sue Cripps (lead author of the resource), Barb McKenna (General Manager, Customers & Communities, SGCH) and Tracy Wright (CEO, NSW Council for Intellectual Disability) joining the Federation’s CEO Wendy Hayhurst for a panel discussion.   You can watch a discussion on producing the toolkit between Federation CEO Wendy Hayhurst and Q Shelter CEO Leone Crayden here.

The sector is clearly highly motivated and committed to further embedding a sustainable tenancies approach in practice and the Federation is pleased to provide the practical resources and tools needed to make this a reality for CHPs of all sizes.

You can download the toolkit and supporting resources on our website. The Federation can support providers to implement the Toolkit through workshops or training for staff. If you would like to discuss this with us please contact Deborah Georgiou on 92181 7144 (ext.204) or by email – deborahg@communityhousing.org.au.

ACHIA Update – Refresh of the Closing the Gap Strategy

ACHIAACHIA and the Federation support the Refresh of the Closing the Gap Strategy and jointly submitted a response  to the consultation. We have argued that a refreshed strategy should recognise safe, secure and adequate housing as essential and a prerequisite for achieving improved social and economic outcomes. The Homelessness Monitor mentioned earlier provided further evidence (if it was needed) for including housing related targets. As the Monitor notes that although Aboriginal people make up only 2.8% of the population they ‘represent 22% of Australia’s homeless population.
In work done by Homelessness NSW and cited in our submission 25% of service users were reported by NSW specialist homeless services to be Aboriginal people. This report also vividly illustrates the other disadvantages homeless Aboriginal people experience with high levels of interaction with the criminal justice service and poor physical and mental health.

We have recommended that targets should be set to address the following:
•             the levels of crowding amongst Aboriginal households
•             levels of Aboriginal homelessness
•             Aboriginal home ownership rates.

The Commonwealth State and Territory governments must also demonstrate commitment to achieving progress and the National Housing and Homeless Agreement should be used to set out explicit strategies and associated actions to meet the targets.
And all organisations should make a renewed commitment to supporting Aboriginal run service models and mainstream services and housing providers should strengthen their own cultural competency, adapt their own services to meet Aboriginal people’s needs and work respectfully with Aboriginal organisations.

Penrith Council commits to action on affordable housing

On Saturday 26 May 2018the Sydney Alliance held a public forum on how to ‘create more affordable and secure housing for people on lower incomes, especially in Western Sydney’.  A good crowd was attracted by a stellar panel including politicians from the three levels of government:   Federal Senator Doug Cameron (Lab) taking a break from estimates hearings, NSW MP Penny Leong (Greens) and the Mayor of Penrith, Cr John Thain.

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Above: NSW MP Penny Leong (Greens), Federal Senator Doug Cameron (Lab) taking a break from estimates hearings, and the Mayor of Penrith, Cr John Thain.

First up though was Magnus Linder, Chair of the Sydney Alliance Housing Team to set the scene and remind us that ‘The GSC’s own modelling shows that Sydney needs at least 8,000 units of affordable housing per year just to keep pace with the growth of the city and unfortunately these (the site targets in the District Plans) will not come anywhere close to delivering these numbers’. Magnus was followed by ex-Committee for Sydney CEO Dr Tim Williams taking us on a whirlwind tour of housing statistics and finishing with the observation that housing supply goes up when prices rise and falls when prices fall – unless of course the Government takes a role and invests.

We heard from a working young mother, Bec Reidy living in the grey housing market, not enough income to afford her own home but lucky to have in laws to help out.
Then came the politicians and they were in furious agreement about the need for a plan, mandatory inclusionary zoning, rental security – particularly removing ‘no grounds’ notices and tax reform that discourages over investment in housing. While we did not get a dollar commitment or target, a Housing Minister to be arguing the case for a slice of the investment pie for housing against transport was promised / supported. Not to be outdone the Penrith Mayor Cr Thain made a strong commitment to using the Council’s own resources and working with local community housing providers like Wentworth to deliver affordable housing.

The forum was held at Penrith Uniting Church, and organized by Sydney Alliance – a coalition of faith, union and community groups.

Proposed Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 to Benefit Victims of Domestic and Family Violence

On 20 May the Minster for Better Regulation, Matt Kean, announced  that the Residential Tenancies Act in NSW would be amended to better protect the victims of domestic and family violence.

The Federation supported the push for these changes being made by DVNSW and the Women’s Legal Service following input from our Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit Reference Group. The amendments will mean that tenants can terminate their tenancy immediately and without penalty by providing evidence of domestic violence through a provisional, interim or final AVO, certificate of conviction, family law injunction or a statutory declaration made by a medical professional.

Whilst the Federation really welcomes this proposed change to the Act, we had supported the push for evidentiary requirements to be broadened to include statements by support agencies and to mirror the requirements used to support a transfer for DFV reasons in Housing Pathways. It will be interesting to see what the detail is about this in the Exposure Bill due out ‘in the coming months’.

The Minster also announced that there will also be protection for victims from being listed on a tenancy database by an agent or landlord where a debt or property damage arose because of a violent partner.

House Keys update

House Key: Workforce

We are pleased to announce that the sign-up period for House Key: Workforce Round Three will start in June 2018 and this will allow us to make the data available early next financial year.

Our top priority for future rounds of House Keys is to make sure that the most up to date information as possible is available. To achieve this we’ve decided to move straight onto capturing data for this financial year (2017-18) and skip financial year 2016-17. We’ve also made a number of changes to our methodology which will significantly reduce the turnaround time. Two areas where we plan to reduce the turnaround time significantly are the sign up process and the data submission window.

We wish to set up a regular annual cycle so that House Key: Workforce data is released around the end of September every year based on Workforce data from the previous financial year.

  • June 2018 – CHPs invited to sign up
  • July/August 2018 – Data submission
  • End September 2018 – Launch Round Three

We will be in touch in June to let you know how you can be part of the next stage for House Keys: Workforce.

House Key: Operations

The Federation can announce that 36 CHPs will be participating in House Key: Operations Round 4. We are currently compiling the data from the Registrar and FACS, and also the Quantifying and Benchmarking Social Housing Management Expenditure workbooks submitted by 20 CHPs.
To make the release of the data as timely as possible there will be a 3 week validation window and your data strips will be emailed to you in the next 1 -2 weeks for validation.

We are aiming to release Round 4 in July 2018 and our timetable for the work is as follows:

  • Data export – April and May 2018
  • Data validation by Federation and CHPs – June 2018
  • Platform set up and testing until July 2018

Find out more:
http://www.communityhousing.org.au/housekeys/HouseKeys.pdf  Watch our House Keys video to find out how to get the most out of it and read our House Keys user manual.  Or email Leoni Lynch leonil@communityhousing.org.au

Social Housing Priority Outcome Indicators

The Outcomes Network has been working to develop a list of priority outcome indicators to measure the impact of community housing providers on tenant outcomes. The Centre for Social Impact provided an extensive list of possible indicators, which have been refined down based feedback from the Outcomes Network.

FACS have provided advice about the indicators that will be collected for public housing and these have been incorporated into the final list of indicators to ensure alignment. Future alignment with the Department of Social Services Data Exchange (DEX) has also been considered.

An outcomes survey, which includes the priority indicators has been circulated to the Outcomes Network. Please contact the Outcomes Network representative in your organisation for a copy of the survey. If you have any questions about the project, please contact Ellis (ellisb@communityhousing.org.au).

Hume flagship community housing project opens in Fairfield

Hume Community Housing has successfully delivered on its commitment to develop quality affordable and social housing in NSW with the official opening of Hamilton@Fairfield this month.  The 60 unit development includes 31 social housing units and 29 affordable housing units that are being rented to essential workers so they can live near work and reside in a vibrant neighbourhood.
Assistant Minister to the Treasurer the Hon Michael Sukkar MP launched Hamilton@Fairfield which includes 60 new units as well as a new purpose built office space so Hume can continue to provide services to its local customers.

Mr Sukkar said the Hamilton@Fairfield development was an excellent example of what can be achieved when governments work with the community housing sector. “I’m pleased to officially open Hume’s new development in Fairfield, which delivers homes and opportunities that will support our communities to prosper,” Mr Sukkar said.

Hamilton@Fairfield contains a mix of studio, one and two bedroom apartments and well-designed outdoor spaces. The rooftop BBQ areas with herb gardens have expansive views of Fairfield and provide practical outdoor living and excellent places to meet up and develop a sense of community.
Hume customers are extremely happy to be able to move into the centrally located and aesthetically appealing complex. Elina Khoshaba is one customer who has moved in the building with her daughter and husband. “We are so thankful for our new place. Everyone was so helpful with our move and made everything easy,” she said.

hamiltonLeft:  Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP opens the project with Hume CEO Nicola Lemon and Chairman Robert Vine

 

 

 

 

Grand Opening of Harts Landing

Evolve Housing officially opened its new multi tenure development in Thornton Estate Penrith on a perfect sunny Tuesday 29 May. A short stroll from Penrith rail station, Harts Landing is a partnership between Evolve Housing and PAYCE that has resulted in 268 apartments, with 134 of these being much needed social and affordable housing dwellings and 134 private market housing dwellings.

Built ahead of schedule the development was a true collaborative effort. Funding came via NRAS incentives from the Commonwealth Government, the NSW Government put in additional grant to help fund the social element and allow the purchase of the site at a discount via Landcom, and CBA provided the private finance. Penrith Council managed a smooth streamlined DA process and the AHO came along and purchased ten units for affordable Aboriginal housing.

A lovely ceremony opened with a beautiful welcome to Darug Country and a host of speakers followed all expertly mcc’d by Evolve Board member David Borger. In the line up were Evolve’s CEO Andrea Galloway, Payce’s Dominic Sullivan The Hon. Pru Goward, MP, Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Social Housing and the Hon. Stuart Ayres, MP, Minister for Western Sydney, Minister for WestConnex, and Minister for Sport.

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A great model everyone said they wanted to see replicated throughout the Western Sydney region.  An article on the development likened securing a spot in the Harts Landing development to ‘winning the lotto’.

Ecclesia Housing merges with Amélie Housing

From 18 May, Ecclesia Housing merged with Amélie Housing.  For the time being, Ecclesia Housing will continue to operate all its current programs and obligations. Brian Murnane will be the CEO of Ecclesia Housing as well as Amélie Housing and the Board of Amélie Housing will also be the Board of Ecclesia Housing.

The merger will mean that Ecclesia Housing will become a significant part of the Amélie Housing growth and be supported by the extensive resources of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.  It will result in improved outcomes for our tenants and our assets will be used for the development of more community housing.

Pacific Link Housing Appoints a New CEO

Local social and affordable housing provider Pacific Link Housing (PLH) has appointed a new
Chief Executive Officer. It has been announced that Craig Brennan will be joining the organisation, officially taking over from interim CEO, Daphne Wayland on Monday 4 June 2018.

Mr Brennan joins PLH with a wealth of experience in the community housing sector. His previous roles have included eight years as CEO of Community Housing Canberra (CHC), a Tier One community housing provider in the ACT. Prior to CHC, Craig spent three years in development roles with Defence Housing Australia and four years with Business ACT, an agency of the ACT Government. He also holds an MBA and has a degree in communications.

“The Board undertook an extensive recruitment process to carefully select the best candidate for this role,” said David Bacon, Chairman of Pacific Link Housing.

“Craig’s in-depth experience in the delivery of large-scale housing developments, particularly within the community housing sector, will ensure we continue to successfully deliver our pipeline of development projects,” said Mr Bacon

Ms Wayland now returns to her role in governance and compliance, staying within the organisation to allow for continuity and a smooth transition as Mr Brennan settles into his new role.

“I am excited to be joining Pacific Link Housing to further improve the supply of affordable housing to the Central Coast and Hunter communities,” says Mr Brennan.

“Pacific Link’s mission to provide the best possible outcomes and support programs for their tenants is inspiring, and I look forward to taking an innovative approach to continuing this work to make a difference in the sector,” continued Mr Brennan.

PLH’s strong tenant focus has assisted more than 600 residents through the organisation’s self-funded tenant support programs, which provide opportunities for tenants to improve their situation and, where possible, transition back to private housing.

“We are looking forward to this next phase in the organisation’s growth and continuing to deliver on Pacific Link’s track record of high rates of tenant satisfaction for our 2,000 residents,” said Mr Bacon

For more information about Pacific Link Housing visit pacificlink.org.au or phone
(02) 4324 7617.

In the Media

Over the past month the Federation and CEO Wendy Hayhurst have been mentioned in the following news article:

Rental Stress Across NSW Calls For More Community Housing (01/05/2018)
Rental stress is growing across NSW, highlighting the urgent need for government action to create more social and affordable housing for local communities from the Tweed to the Riverina.
NSW Federation of Housing Associations CEO, Wendy Hayhurst, said chronic rental stress has been shown through Anglicare’s 2018 Rental Affordability Snapshot. “It’s no surprise that yet again there is not a single property affordable for a young family on a minimum wage or government support to rent within 20km of Sydney’s CBD,” Ms Hayhurst said.

Housing affordability an issue in Wagga too, says Federation (02/05/2018)
The NSW Federation of Housing Associations says growing rental stress across NSW highlights the urgent need for action from all levels of government, to create more social and affordable housing for communities like those here in the Riverina.

Four demo sites in NSW will test innovative housing models to tackle affordability (03/05/2018)
Micro lots, vertical villages, compact apartments and alternative financial models will be trialled at four demo sites across NSW in a housing affordability experiment by the state government’s land and property agency, Landcom.  NSW Federation of Housing Associations chief executive Wendy Hayhurst,

For every public housing property sold in NSW, just two are built (06/05/2018)
The NSW government has sold off half as much public housing as it has built over the last three years, new figures show, adding to concerns that its marquee social housing supply programs will have little impact on the decade-long waitlist.  Wendy Hayhurst, the chief executive NSW Federation of Housing Associations, said only a significant shift in government policy, such as treating housing as essential infrastructure, would reduce the social housing waiting list.
who was consulted earlier in the year at a conference with other not-for-profit groups, has welcomed the initiative.

Experts disappointed in federal budget’s lack of focus on affordable housing (09/05/2018)
Housing providers and experts have slammed the federal government for failing to deliver a missing puzzle piece to boost housing supply for low and moderate-income earners in this week’s budget.  Though lower income earners were dubbed budget winners thanks to personal tax cuts, they would be better off if the government focused on increasing affordable housing, according to the NSW Federation of Housing Associations.

Ivanhoe redevelopment criticised for lack of affordable housing (12/05/2018)
The NSW government promises its redevelopment of a public housing estate in Sydney’s north will provide up to 1000 dwellings for social housing as well as community facilities and services.  Wendy Hayhurst, the chief executive of the NSW Federation of Housing Associations, said the concept design for Ivanhoe Estate included more social and affordable housing than the minimum required.

Housing matters – March 2018

CEO’s Report

Why aren’t governments investing more in social and affordable housing? It’s not as if we all can’t see the results, indeed, a growing number of us are feeling the consequences.  A recent AHURI reportestimated that over the last 20 years social housing numbers increased by 4%, far outstripped by household numbers which grew by 30% over the same period. Combine this with house prices rocketing upwards and incomes for most people just stuttering forwards and it looks very like a car crash waiting to happen.

The 2016 census data released a couple of weeks ago shows that one consequence of this under investment is the rise in homelessness across Australia and in NSW particularly, where the numbers of homeless people jumped to almost 38,000, an increase of 37% on the 2011 figures.  In NSW the main explanation seems to be the severe overcrowding many people face in exchange for getting an affordable roof over their heads.

It isn’t just people on the lowest incomes feeling the pinch, as demonstrated by research from the University of Sydney’s Urban Housing Lab for the Teachers Mutual Bank, Firefighters Mutual Bank and Police Bank. This shows that nurses, teachers and police are being driven to the outer reaches of the city (and beyond) as high house prices price them out of communities close to jobs.

So again, why aren’t we seeing governments take up the infrastructure challenge and invest in a large scale social and affordable housing program? In the absence of robust housing needs assessments common in other jurisdictions the Federation asked Judith Yates, currently an Honorary Associate in the School of Economics at the University of Sydney, to prepare estimates of the need for additional social and affordable housing in NSW.  Her conservative estimates – based on getting back to the proportion of social housing we had in 1996, meeting the needs of households eligible for affordable housing who are currently in rental stress and responding to household growth over the next ten years – demonstrate the challenge – 12,500 additional social and affordable homes per annum. It will get larger the longer we wait to start.

So is the reason that it costs too much? Well it also costs not to invest, as Cameron Parsell at the University of Queensland explained in an article in which he showed that governments were spending on average $13,100 more each year to keep someone homeless than if they had provided them with a home and support services.

And governments do invest big dollars in improving Australia’s infrastructure. The Commonwealth 17/18 budget earmarked $75B over ten years for spending on ‘critical airport, road, and rail infrastructure projects’. While in NSW the state government increased its four year infrastructure spending to $80B on transport, as well as water, energy, education, justice and cultural projects

So perhaps we need to take a few lessons from the transport lobby and make an additional and compelling argument for social and affordable housing. It is the reason that the Federation, with support from the national industry body, CHIA, and nine community housing providers commissioned an investigation into the impact of the housing market’s performance on economic productivity from the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW. See Making Better economic cases for housing below.

Making Better economic cases for housing

The report was launched at a seminar in Sydney on 8 March, kindly sponsored by Payce , with the lead author, Professor Duncan MacLennan setting out a new ‘economic narrative’ for housing. Yes he said cities like Sydney have triumphed through economic benefits accruing from agglomeration, but failure to anticipate the congestion costs and / or a belief that markets would respond and sort them out has led to the sort of housing failures we now see.

In particular he sees the impact of housing on productivity go virtually unrecognised by finance ministries. He outlined two major risks this approach brings to Sydney (and other large cities):

  • ‘Constrained human capital’ – lower living standards, concentrations of disadvantage, long commutes and poor quality homes all reduce labour productivity.
  • Negative effects on savings and consumption – people spend less on goods and services, invest less in productive enterprises and are very exposed to economic downturns. As more people retire without owning their own home the impact on future health and pensions spend will be significant.

He dismissed the simple solution that looser planning controls and less regulation would solve the problems as recently argued in the RBA publication on the additional cost of a house which is attributable to zoning restrictions. Professor Maclennan also shared reservations expressed by a number of academics  that a sustained increase in new housing supply will solve affordability problems for most households. It’s an argument made most recently by the Grattan Institute in a report that also proposes changes to rebalance the tax system.

Professor Maclennan argues we need to treat housing as key economic infrastructure alongside transport and services and use both government resources such as land and contributions from well- designed inclusionary zoning to fund the affordable housing elements. He implied the Western Sydney City Deal provided an opportunity to do just this.

The evening concluded with a lively panel discussion involving Dr Jennifer Westacott, CEO of the Business Council of Australia, Dr Judith Yates, and Dr Marcus Spiller of SGS Economics and featuring some challenging questions from the audience.

Dr Westacott outlined the need to plan better, design programs that attracted institutional investors, get the right mix of tax and incentives (replacing stamp duty with a broad based land tax being one suggestion), include housing in infrastructure plans and sort out public housing. Dr Yates urged the audience not to abandon the social justice narrative in the pursuit of stronger economic arguments for government investment in housing. She also argued for a very long term view and questioned if we should be creating new urban centres to accommodate Australia’s growing population.

Dr Spiller of SGS Economics reminded us that governments had once planned housing and jobs together – noting the number of public housing built alongside car factories.  He argued that since both Federal and State governments were failing to address the housing challenge, he proposed that a better way to transact housing policies would be to devolve authority for matters such as planning and taxes to the regional / metro level.  He also proposed the question about who owns the development rights to land – while ownership of the land is clear, surely the development rights belong to all of us. It is a concept he argues at greater length here.

While there was some differences in policy prescriptions the panellists seemed to be on the same page when it came to housing’s importance and the damaging effects of shortfalls in social and affordable housing. The Federation and its partners are aiming to do further work to press the case for more investment including modelling the financial costs to government of continuing business as usual.

The final words most surely go to Dr Westacott who posed three questions to the audience:

  • How much lower should home ownership rates get before it worries us
  • What level of housing stress are we prepared to accept
  • How many homeless households will we walk past

We need those national and state housing plans now.

 

Affordable Housing Conference 2018

Don’t forget to register for our upcoming Affordable Housing Conference!  The 2018 conference theme – Everybody’s Home – highlights the current and growing shortfall of accessible and affordable housing in Australia across the entire housing continuum.  Over two days, housing professionals from the private, not for profit, and government sectors will come together to share expertise and find out about the latest news in the industry.

Already announced to speak international and national affordable housing experts Emily CadikSaul EslakeAlex NotayDavid Orr and Craig Sanderson!

 

March Federation Exchange – our biggest yet!

Our March Federation Exchange was our biggest yet with over 200 guests attending from across the sector.  We hope that you found the Federation Exchange informative and worthwhile.  The primary goal of the Exchange was to bring together members from across the state to hear from industry leaders regarding sector innovation and policy updates, as well as sharing ideas and providing networking opportunities.  We thank you for making this goal possible.

We were lucky enough to have Day 2 of the Federation Exchange opened by Tania Mihailuk.  Day 2 also featured a successful CEOs Breakfast Session on Making Better Economic Cases for Housing.  International guest Professor Duncan Maclennan presented on his wide-ranging study on the economic implications of housing market performance and the case for treating housing as a form of productive infrastructure.  Stay tuned for the Federation Exchange Report and Presentations which will be released in the coming weeks.

 

Delivering new housing supply – NSW Community Housing Industry Snapshot

The NSW Federation of Housing Associations is delighted to be able to share its 2017 Development Snapshot.

Providing more affordable rental housing is one of the major challenges for NSW and Australia.  The community housing industry is uniquely placed to provide solutions. Registered community housing providers have a long term commitment to the communities they work in and they develop quality, well-designed housing that meets local needs.

This Snapshot is based on information provided by our members.  It is the first time the community housing industry in NSW has reported on the significant contribution that registered community housing providers make to social and affordable housing supply.
The Development Snapshot highlights the expertise that registered community housing providers now have.  By 2020, registered community housing providers will have:

  • Created almost $1billion in new investment in housing for local communities
  • Developed 2,700 new properties in addition to the 38,000 homes they currently own or manage
  • Delivered 8 out of 10 homes independently without partnerships with for-profit developers
  • Developed new housing in 34 of the 115 local government areas they currently operate in

To accompany the Snapshot, we have developed an infographic and maps which show where plannedcompleted and overall new social and affordable housing projects are being delivered.
Some select results are:

  • By 2020, a total of 503 affordable rental housing properties will be delivered in the City of Sydney – 192 between 2012 and 2017 and a further 311 by 2020.
  • In Greater Metropolitan Sydney between 2017 and 2020:
    • 317 new homes will be delivered in the City of Penrith
    • 185 will be delivered in the City of Liverpool
    • 127 will be delivered in Canterbury-Bankstown Council
  • Outside of Sydney between 2012 and 2017:
    • 73 new homes were delivered in Mid-Coast Council
    • 43 were delivered in the City of Shoalhaven
    • 23 were delivered in Wingecarribee Shire

See some of the media coverage the Snapshot received here

Using the planning system for delivering affordable housing

As we debate in Australia the best options to deliver affordable housing through the planning system there has been an interesting development in England. Sure there are many differences between the Australian and English policy and funding frameworks that influence for example the contributions that can reasonably be required. That said it is more than likely Australia would face similar issues to England in realising site targets. So to see the UK Government contemplating nationally set “non-negotiable” requirements for affordable housing contributions may be worth some consideration here.

In a consultation document to revise the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPR), published this month the Conservative Government considers ways to provide developers with certainty about future contributions. One option proposed is for contributions to affordable housing and infrastructure to be set nationally, and to be non-negotiable.

Also proposed are changes to viability assessments which allow developers to limit their contributions to affordable housing and other infrastructure if they can demonstrate it would reduce their profits to below 20%. Research by Shelter UK examines the use of viability assessments. Their work focusing on 11 Councils, found 79% fewer affordable homes than were required were built after the viability assessment process. Since this work the Campaign for the Protection for Rural England (CPRE) with Shelter has found similar problems in eight Councils where half the affordable homes were lost to the viability process. See the report Viable Villages here.

The changes mooted in the NPPR would make it more difficult for affordable housing contributions to be whittled away by:

  • Restricting viability testing to developments which do not comply councils’ local plan priorities – for example containing the required % of submarket housing
  • Making the viability assessment publically available
  • Setting a method for assessing development cost based on the existing use value of land, plus a landowner premium

 

Capacity building program for ACHPs underway

The Aboriginal Housing Office is working with the Federation to deliver information to assist ACHPs make an informed choice about registering through NRSCH or the NSW Local Scheme.  The program includes eight workshops around NSW about the NRSCH.  See here for more information.  Future events will include specialist two-day workshops on asset management, finance and NRSCH for boards.

The Federation will also be supporting the creation of Regional Connection Working Groups in three locations around the state.  These groups are designed to support mutually respectful and beneficial partnership working between ACHPs and CHPs.  We will send out more information about this shortly – but in the meantime please contact adamw@communityhousing.org.au if you think your organisation might be interested in participating.

 

Inner West Council – planning together for a better Sydney roundtable 7th March 2018

The newly amalgamated Inner West Council in Sydney brought together a range of stakeholders for a planning roundtable this week.  The Federation has worked with IWC over the course of several months to support and encourage Council in their development of a series of affordable housing initiatives.  IWC have taken commendable steps to promote affordable housing in their area, including developing an Affordable Housing Policy  and a paper on the issues around Value Capture Best Practice in Value Capture 

IWCOUNCILIWC have also applied for an extension to SEPP 70 to enable the levying of mandatory affordable housing contributions and set an affordable housing target of 15% for developments with a gross floor area of 1700 m2 or greater, and seek 30% affordable housing on their own land.
So it was with interest that the Federation and sector representatives attended IWC’s planning roundtable.  The conversation was very wide ranging and covered interests and priorities from the airport to the economic value of industrial land.  Key affordable housing points made were:
Sydney’s pace of growth – the city is expected to reach a population of 8 million by 2046 – 10 years earlier than previously projected.  Sydney is growing faster than any other top 10 global cities.
Gentrification in IWC is leading to less diversity and the exclusion of people on low incomes and those dependent on public and social housing, including Aboriginal people and the roundtable acknowledged the huge pressures on affordable housing in the area.

The roundtable returned frequently to a number of themes – the need for placed based planning, a community led bottom up approach and with calls for resistance to the silo led government agencies (with RMS getting a particular Guernsey in this context).  The silo based agencies fulfil their briefs but may not be aware of the evidence of different modes of working that take a community wide and city wide view (rather than thinking about the speed of traffic flow, for example).
Another are where Council was urged to push back was around Treasury’s insistence on highest and best value in its land dealings, as this leads to many lost opportunities.  Some advocated an approach which measures and prioritises wider benefits and included the value of open space and culture and argued that “Net Community Benefit” should be examined at the DA stage.

Rik Hart, IWC General Manager, included a call for practical suggestions about how IWC could deliver the ambitious and varied plans suggested by participants.  Two suggestions from the sector were to utilise value capture more effectively and to understand the development equation better – for example major developers will build with 35% inclusionary zoning when required – developers understand the process and factor the costs into a lower land price.

 

Meanwhile use housing

Meanwhile use housing is housing temporarily located on vacant or unused land.  The term can also apply to the short term use of existing buildings to provide housing.  Meanwhile use housing projects have begun to appear to provide short to medium term housing by taking advantage of points in the development cycle of land, where it may sit unused.  Notable examples are:

  • Launch Housing has partnered with VicRoads and the Department of Health and Human Services on a project which will deliver 57 prefabricated units for people at risk of homelessness across nine parcels of land in Melbourne’s inner west
  • The Place/Ladywell project in London which has used modular construction to create 24 two- bedroom units and commercial space on a vacant brownfield site

In February, the Federation hosted a workshop for its members to explore the potential for meanwhile use housing in NSW.  The workshop was also attended by independent experts (including Dr Heather Holst, Deputy CEO, Launch Housing) and representatives of several NSW Government agencies, including Treasury, Landcom, Urban Growth, Planning and Environment and FACS.

The workshop focussed on the opportunities and challenges for meanwhile use housing projects, including:

  • Identifying appropriate target groups
  • Engaging landowners, land costs and desirable features for sites
  • Planning system engagement, including zoning and community acceptance
  • Innovative financing approaches
  • Design and construction, including modular and prefabricated units
  • There needs to be a high level of understanding and trust between landowners and meanwhile use housing owners and operators.  This could mean a government landowner involving another government agency with direct experience of working with community housing providers, as in the Launch Housing experience where VicRoads brought the Department of Health and Human Services in to oversee the contractual relationship with Launch Housing.
  • A key issue for landowners will be ensuring that the site can be returned to them in a timely way after the agreed meanwhile use period.  Partners in a meanwhile use project will need to develop strategies and agreements to manage this issue.
  • Messaging and communication with local communities is very important because adverse reactions to planned developments can delay projects.  Using modern construction methods potentially adds to the complexity of winning community acceptance for social and affordable housing developments.
  • There may be housing models which are permissible in certain zones in the current planning system which could provide a template for meanwhile use housing – student housing being permitted on commercially zoned land.
  • Modular, prefabricated housing is well suited to the concept of meanwhile use given that it is designed to be transportable.
  • Prefabricated housing will need to be engineered so that it is robust enough to be transported to a new site at the end of each meanwhile use period.
  • The prefabricated housing will need to be designed so that it can be readily adapted for different sites, for example where the building may need to be oriented differently for solar access.
  • Different ownership and funding models will need to be explored because traditional mortgage finance is not an option where the borrower does not own the land, as in meanwhile use projects.
  • There is a need for parties to work together to negotiate an appropriate sharing of risk in meanwhile use projects. A key factor in this will be services to the site and the potential cost of this.
  • Government could take on a role supporting the growth of the meanwhile use housing concept, including developing a suitable policy framework, identifying potential government owned sites and to deliver social and economic benefits.

Opportunities and next steps

  • Several community housing providers are pursuing meanwhile use projects in existing buildings and are considering other innovative models.
  • Landcom identified a potential site that could be used for a desktop feasibility study of a meanwhile use housing project.  The Federation will meet with Landcom to scope this work out.
  • The Federation will continue discussions with its members on how it can support them to explore opportunities.  This will include a focus on how Aboriginal organisations can identify ways to apply aspects of this concept to Aboriginal land.

 

Everybody’s Home hits the ground running

With recent census figures revealing an alarming increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness, there was an appetite to shift the conversation to solutions at the launch of the Everybody’s Home campaign at the National Press Club in Canberra on 20 March. The audience included representatives from supporting organisations as well as journalists, union and private sector representatives and many people who are living at the coalface of Australia’s broken housing system.

http://everybodyshome.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/EH_fb_commit.pngProfessor Julian Disney and Kate Colvin, the spokesperson for the Everybody’s Home campaign, briefed the audience about the pressing need to boost the supply of affordable housing – the lack of which is a fundamental driver of homelessness.  .

With thousands of individual supporters and over 100 organisations behind it, the Everybody’s Home campaign is off to a flying start.

 

 

Watch the video and join us by signing up on the campaign website or contact everybodyshome@communityhousing.org.au for more information about how your organisation can support the push to ensure that everybody has a safe, secure and affordable place to call home.

Julain Disney’s full transcript is published here