Category Archives: What’s New

TOOLKIT: Building Community Support for Community Housing

The Federation is delighted to share its toolkit to support organisations to develop affordable housing for communities, supported by communities.
The web-based toolkit includes video case studies of developments in Eveleigh, Summer Hill, Wollstonecraft and Worrigee highlighting the value of affordable housing for communities.
The toolkit has been developed by Dr Judy Stubbs in conjunction with FACS and Landcom.

TOOLKIT: 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.

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.

MEDIA RELEASE: New polling shows 2 in 3 Australians want action on housing

Federal and state governments are failing the test of providing secure, affordable housing with two in three Australians saying all political parties must do more to address housing affordability. The polling has been released to coincide with the housing, homelessness and community sectors uniting in Canberra today to launch a new national campaign aimed at rebalancing the housing system for ordinary Australians. Key points from poll: • 62% of Australians think the Federal Government is not doing enough about housing affordability • 60% think the Opposition needs to do more • 49% of Coalition voters believe the Federal Government is not doing enough, and • 57% of Labor voters believe the Opposition should do more.

Everybody’s Home campaign Spokesperson, Kate Colvin said housing affordability is clearly a critical issue that all parties were failing to address. “Making sure everyone has a home is a top order priority for Australians but it is not matched by action from our political leaders. That needs to change,” Ms Colvin said. “Genuine home buyers are missing out to people building investment portfolios. Growing competition for rental properties is driving up prices and rental insecurity. “There’s a chronic shortage of social and affordable rental options, and it’s causing record levels of homelessness. “Both the major parties have a very poor report card when it comes to housing. The Everybody’s Home campaign will make sure they have no choice but to start taking genuine action instead of more thought bubbles and piecemeal measures.

“We need to address the entire housing system to make sure every Australian has a safe, secure roof over their head whether they’re buying, renting or at risk of homelessness.” Everybody’s Home will launch at the National Press Club in Canberra today. It aims to unite Australians behind a real focus on solutions that will ensure everybody has the security of a home. In the lead up to the Federal Election the campaign will roll out a roadmap for how we can fix every part of our housing system – from redressing the balance for home homeowners to triggering large scale investment from superannuation funds in affordable rental homes.

Media enquiries: Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280