Category Archives: Housing Matters

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.

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 

IWC 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.

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.

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