Housing Matters – October 2018

CEO Report

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Going Out West – Murdi Paaki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Royal Commission into Aged Care: ageing without a home

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

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

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

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

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

Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs Toolkit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Affordable Living in Sustainable Cities Congress event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Evolve Housing appoints John Nesbitt to its Board of Directors

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

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

2018 NSW Business Chamber State Business Awards Finalists Announced

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

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

CHP nominees are as follows:

Outstanding Business Leader: Charles Northcote, BlueCHP,

Excellence in Innovation: Compass Housing Services, BlueCHP

Excellence in Sustainability: Evolve Housing

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

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

OTCP and TSA now trading as Momentum Collective

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

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

New Staff Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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