There’s enough evidence to demonstrate Australia needs much more social and affordable housing but insufficient to convince the state and commonwealth governments to fund the numbers to make an inroad into the massive shortfall.
This month Ilan Wiesel and colleagues took a look at how the Australian housing boom had impacted on inequality. In their article they built on the recent Productivity Commission research into inequality to also consider housing costs. Once mortgage and rent costs are considered the increases in household’s disposable incomes between 1988 and 2015 is ‘30% in the lowest decile compared with 81% in the highest decile’. This is explained by housing costs accounting for a greater proportion of lower income households’ spending also exacerbated by disproportionate increases in rents at the lower end of the market. Higher income households – often home buyers, have at the same time benefited from lower interest rates and hence cheaper mortgages.
Housing has also contributed to rising wealth inequality with lower income households seeing ‘little or no wealth gains from housing’ in contrast to the upper deciles who experienced annual rises of circa 3% in their wealth.
There is a general acceptance that too much inequality is bad news – both for individuals but countries as a whole. As the not exactly radical OECD said in its report on inequality “econometric analysis suggests that income inequality has a sizeable and statistically significant negative impact on growth.”
So it makes big sense to do something about housing not just to ease the passage into home ownership but also to ensure a good supply of affordable rental homes for the many households who are unable to purchase in the near future.
While we look to the state and commonwealth government to do the heavy lifting, this month saw some Councils taking the initiative including City of Sydney, where Council are proposing to extend the current affordable housing contribution schemes operating to other land including Central Sydney – see here.
On the Central Coast the Council has just put its affordable housing strategy on exhibition. Amongst its 28 recommendations are the following:
- Using Council land for social and affordable housing in partnership with registered community housing providers
- Actively promote new generation boarding housing in appropriate locations
- Developing a voluntary planning agreement policy
And we should also acknowledge the latest Communities Plus opportunity released in early September to provide circa 60 social, affordable and market homes on Crown Street, Wollongong – see here.
Industry Development Powering On
There are several industry development projects underway at CHIA NSW. These projects are funded by FACS under the NSW Community Housing Industry Development Strategy (IDS) and focus on building the capacity of both community housing providers and also the infrastructure needed to support the community housing system in NSW.
The Working with Perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit has been finalised and we are hoping to launch it to coincide with the White Ribbon 16 Days of Activism. We know that a number of our members have either received accreditation from White Ribbon or are in the process of doing so and we really want to continue to help the industry to tackle this incredibly important issue.
The Financial Inclusion: effectively preventing and managing rent arrears project will soon come to an end with the final report and resources due for publication in the next couple of months. Thanks to all of the providers that opened their doors to me to talk all things rent – I found it riveting and as always to hear what providers are doing and whilst there is a lot of great practice out there the report will throw down the gauntlet to our members to have a rethink about how they are managing the issue of rent and debt, particularly as our sector grows and costs for tenants keep rising.
Tom Kehoe has started the Improving Responses to Antisocial Behaviour Project. On 27 September, Tom is hosting a consultation workshop with community housing providers to capture issues, challenges and solutions. What we hear at this workshop will help shape a toolkit which will give practical resources to community housing providers managing antisocial behaviour. The project will be completed in December 2018.
We also have been approved for five new projects in 2018/19 including one designed to give our members guidance and resources to help address the growing issues associated with managing a tenant population that is ageing, and one that will trial improving housing pathways for people leaving prison in two regional Social Housing management Transfer locations.
Adam West will be leading Stage 2 of the Technology Mapping Project, on making even more industry information available to members through the development of a data dashboard, and on developing value for money indicators – critical to ensure we can continue to argue about the effectiveness of our industry. Wendy will lead on designing a framework for revitalising the National Community Housing Standards, our way of demonstrating the commitment the sector will make to achieving high service and property standards in return for the investment made in social and affordable housing.
If you want to know more about any of these projects or want to see how you could be involved please get in touch with us and we look forward to keeping you updated.
CHPs, Landcom and NHFIC – cooking up affordable housing?
Early one cold bright morning in late August, NSW community housing non- executive directors, Landcom luminaries and one notable NHFIC representative gathered for breakfast in Martin Place to cook up some ideas for an affordable housing feast.
First to the table was Landcom’s CEO John Brogden with his ingredients outlined in their Strategic Directions. These include targets for affordable housing on government land, some special projects, and a commitment to reduce wastage through smart commissioning. He brought out an example he had prepared earlier; one along the North West Sydney metro line at Tallawong. While the community housing industry would have preferred more affordable housing and a sell by date beyond ten years, it’s a good start.
Next up was CHIA NSW to demonstrate the not for profit community housing industry credentials as affordable housing cooks. Since 2012 providers have delivered over 1250 new homes and have at least 1500 more in the pipeline; with a total investment of circa $1 billion. They build well, involve their local communities and aim to cut the energy bills for the consumers according to our Industry Snapshot. For the industry, Landcom is a vital ingredient – just look at what happens when they share a kitchen. Evolve Housing’s Harts Landing is proof of the pudding.
Last but not least to step up was the NHFIC’s David Crawford who spoke about how his outfit could oil the wheels by offering bulk deals to reduce the costs. Low interest, long term inputs and a cast iron guarantee. They’re even offering a capacity building service for new entrants. It’s all modelled on The Housing Finance Corporation in the UK , which has been baking social and affordable housing for 30 plus years without any needing to be thrown away.
To repeat it’s a good start but we do need a bit more fat to bulk it up. A capital growth fund, tax incentives, input of government land at scale – all will help. Let’s get cooking.
CHIA NSW Exchange a Success!
Thank you to all of our members and guests who attended the September CHIA NSW Exchange. We hope you both enjoyed and took away useful information from the sessions you attended. If you would like to give feedback on event, please email email@example.com for a link to the feedback form.
Speaker slides from the Exchange are available here: https://goo.gl/SXCi8R
Our next CHIA exchange will be in June 2019 but there will be plenty of events in between. Watch this space.
The Connection between Domestic Violence and Homelessness
AN INTERVIEW WITH GUDRUN BURNET by Sue Cripps
In August 2018, the National Homelessness Conference in Melbourne heard that the homelessness and affordable housing crisis is getting worse with nothing to indicate this trend will be significantly reversed. At the same time, efforts to reduce the unacceptable level of domestic violence are also struggling to have an impact. Yet as this interview with an acknowledged expert demonstrates, housing availability is a, probably the, key to reducing the ongoing exposure to abuse by victims of domestic violence.
This interview was conducted by Sue Cripps in London with Gudrun Burnet of the Peabody Trust, a large housing association in the UK, and looks at what social housing landlords can do to help reduce the impacts of domestic and family violence.
Could you tell me a little about your background and what led to your current role?
I started my career on the National Domestic Violence Helpline 15 years ago and then got a job as a domestic abuse support worker in South London where I qualified as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) which in the UK means you are qualified to work with families experiencing domestic abuse who are at significant risk of harm or death. I was then promoted to floating support coordinator across South London.
In this role it became apparent to me that housing was fundamental in all the work I was doing with families. However, I found the response I got was limited or non-existent. So, nine years ago I started working with Peabody and have supported them over the years to improve their response and identification of domestic abuse.
Peabody has been creating opportunities for Londoners since 1862, when it was established by the American banker and philanthropist, George Peabody. The housing charity owns and manages more than 55,000 homes, providing affordable housing for around 111,000 people. Domestic and family violence (DFV) is a major issue in Australia, which I know having recently visited as part of a Churchill Fellowship and this trip taught me that there is an amazing opportunity to share best practice across the world.
We are very interested in the innovative approach Peabody Trust has taken to help the victims and their families. Can you tell us more about the work you are doing and why it is so important?
As well as bricks and mortar, Peabody provides a wide range of community programmes in their neighbourhoods, including help with employment and training, health and wellbeing projects, family support programmes and a dedicated care and support scheme.
Peabody has shown the vital role Housing Providers can play in identifying and supporting families affected by domestic abuse. Housing providers have unique access to the ‘hidden’ spaces occupied by perpetrators and individuals experiencing abuse, through regular contact with residents carrying out services such as repairs and community development activities. Housing provider employees are trusted and accessible and are considered by many more approachable than the police or other statutory agencies.
In the UK, on average two women a week are murdered by a current or former partner. Each year around 2.1m people suffer some form of domestic abuse: 1.4 million women (8.5% of the population) and 700,000 men (4.5% of the population). In 2008, Peabody changed our approach to domestic abuse including training, updated policies and procedures and proactively publishing our work externally and internally.
Do you have any statistics or other information about the effectiveness of the approach/model you are developing?
That is why over 3 years ago Gentoo, Peabody and Standing Together Against Domestic Violence created the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA). It brings together their combined best practice and is the UK benchmark on how the housing sector can improve their response to domestic abuse. It is underpinned by 8 priorities including policy & procedure, case management, risk management, partnership working, equality & diversity, staff training and publicity for customers in the support a housing provider can offer. We were also funded in 2017 by the Home Office to create a free online toolkit which any housing provider can access here.
In addition to the toolkit we are running free workshops all over the UK to increase awareness and cover the 8 priority areas in more depth to support housing providers to attain accreditation.
At Peabody and Gentoo (two of the founding partners of DAHA), this approach has had a significant impact on reporting rates and understanding of domestic abuse and its dynamics. At Peabody, over 9 years, there has been an increase in reporting of 1,425% and we get a new case reported to us on average every 3 days. In research undertaken by Safelives, Gentoo tenants accessed support from Gentoo’s specialist team one year earlier than the national dataset (made up of specialist domestic abuse services) demonstrating the unique role that housing providers can have with their customers.
Recently we launched in partnership with Alison Inman, the President of the Chartered Institute of Housing and Women’s Aid the Make a Stand campaign to ask housing providers in the UK to make a pledge to implement four key activities that would make a difference to their tenants and staff which include:
- Put in place a policy on domestic abuse for your residents
- Put in place a policy on domestic abuse for your staff
- Publish information on local and national domestic abuse services
- Appoint someone in your organisation at a senior level to lead this.
The momentum of this now is incredible.
As with many complex issues, one of the key solutions is always collaborating effectively with support services and other partners to ensure that everyone is speaking the same language. What thoughts do you have on how this can be progressed?
The key to this is raising awareness across the world and understanding that housing providers do and can play a vital role in responding to families experiencing domestic abuse. I have trained over 50 Housing Provider’s globally and am the housing representative for the national Violence Against Women’s and Girls (VAWG) stakeholder panel hosted by the Home Office.
I am also involved in a European Project called ‘Safe At Home’ which is about disseminating training across the EU and in particular the UK and the Netherlands.
As part of my Winston Churchill Fellowship I visited Australia and was asked to be part of your launch of the toolkit via Skype which was a first for me. It is astounding the cross over and partnership work we can do across the globe and I could not be more excited that some of the tools we use here are being used in Australia.
I have also had the opportunity to speak at international conferences in Canada, USA, Czechoslovakia, Brighton, Belfast, Brussels, and The Hague about my work in housing and domestic abuse. I am a trustee of Against Violence and Abuse (AVA) and was shortlisted for Red Magazine’s Pioneering Woman of the Year Award 2016.
Can you tell us what approach is being taken to support housing workers as they engage with perpetrators of DFV?
Housing providers are in a unique position to identify and respond to domestic abuse in their communities. Furthermore, through publicity and campaigns they can raise awareness of the issue to ensure communities show zero tolerance to perpetrators of domestic abuse and support and help those that need it. Housing Providers are also able to make domestic abuse a breach of tenancy to hold perpetrators to account for this heinous crime.
This interview with Gudrun demonstrates the advantages of seeking ideas and policies to manage social issues from across the globe. Unfortunately, as Australia’s homelessness and housing crisis deepens it is also possible the effects to overcome domestic violence will be significantly impacted. From an Australian perspective, our decision makers need to look more closely at the overseas experiences in taking an integrated whole-of-life solution to domestic violence and indeed many other social problems.
The Centre for Training in Social Housing has released its new accredited program
The Centre for Training in Social Housing has just released its new accredited program commencing October 2018. We are still providing training in the Certificate IV Social Housing and Diploma of Community Service with an emphasis on training in areas of high demand. Our course, content centres on social services and community-based work that addresses a wide range of issues including mental health, domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drugs work and suicide prevention. Models of practice in case management, recovery orientated practice and strengths based approaches are demonstrated throughout all units of study.
We have expanded training options in the Diploma of Community Services to include specialisations in Case Management or Social Housing or elective units of study in Leadership and Management. We will be introducing further electives in Asset Management in 2019.
We offer professional development and contextualised training to community organisations, and we specialise in Cultural Awareness, Creating Sustainable Tenancies for Tenants with Complex Needs, and Strengthening Practice in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence have been in demand across the sector.
Our training is delivered by industry and training experts with specialist knowledge and skills in the community housing industry. Our trainers are all currently working in the industry, have all obtained a diploma or higher qualification in their relevant field, and have obtained a TAE40110 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, or higher.
We provide trainers to work one-on-one with participants who require extra assistance to ensure they understand the concepts and knowledge required. High levels of satisfaction for training and professional development are recorded below:
Figure 1: Student satisfaction with our delivery of the CHC42215 Certificate IV in Social Housing and the CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services
If you would like further information on our courses, would like to discuss a contextualised course design relevant to your staff or to chat about future possibilities please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
AHURI National Housing Conference 2019
The biennial National Housing Conference is the single largest cross-sectoral event in Australasia for the social and affordable housing sectors.
AHURI will be convening the 2019 National Housing Conference in Darwin from 28-30 August 2019—the first time the conference has been held in the Northern Territory. More information about NHC 2019 will be released in the second half of 2018.
Watch this space for more information as it comes: https://www.ahuri.edu.au/events/national-housing-conference-2019
Bonnie Women’s Support Services FREE Publication
Bonnie Women’s Support Services has developed this excellent resource which features stories about a diversity of women making choices for change, and includes some helpful domestic violence support service numbers. This is a great resource for CHPs to have in their reception areas for people to pick up and read whilst they are waiting. It would also be a good resource for CHP staff to read, if they were interested.
We highly recommend visiting the website and requesting some copies.
‘No Place Like Home’ Exhibition
Link Housing is hosting a very special Community Art Exhibition ‘No Place Like Home’ from Thursday 27 September – 26 October 2018
It is the third year of this exhibition, showcasing the talents of the most creative in our community and bringing awareness to the need for safe and affordable housing.
You can find the exhibition opening times here.
Anti-Poverty Week – 14-20 October 2018
Link Housing: new offices open for business
Link Housing has moved, with two new offices open for business as of September. Link Housing’s Social Housing Management Transfer is set to go live in December and the new offices are located in the heart of the FACS Northern Sydney District, providing good access for tenants and plenty of space for new staff.
New office details:
Level 10, 67 Albert Avenue, Chatswood 2067 – Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm
New Staff Announcement
Hi, I’m Chad the new Coordinator for ACHIA, the new peak body for Aboriginal Community Housing. I have spent the last 10 years working in the community services sector working with Aboriginal families and youth.
I have experience in program development and management and worked at Muru Nanga Mai as a youth worker then went to Kari Limited where I worked in the community programs team. Then I moved to Youth Off the Streets, where my roles were Cultural Coordinator/Manager/Director Aboriginal Services for over 5 years. In that role, I worked all over NSW, Queensland, and Victoria.
Some highlights in this time were establishing outreaches in Maroubra, Logan and Bourke and developing a mobile semi-trailer project through a partnership with Linfox that has the capacity to travel to remote places and set up as a portable Youth Centre with staff working from the trailer. I was also awarded 2017 Employee of the Year with Youth Off the Streets.
I’ll now be supporting the ACHIA interim committee with their work. It’s an exciting time for the sector and we’ll be consulting widely with Aboriginal Community Housing Providers about their priorities and supporting a membership drive leading into committee elections in December.
I will be visiting different communities in the next few months to discuss the membership drive and how ACHPs can become members to show their support and to be a part of the vision ACHIA has moving forward.
If you would like to get in touch, please email me at email@example.com or call 0438 038 269