Message from the CEO
Welcome to the April 2020 edition of Housing Matters.
As the spread of COVID-19 appears to be abating, we are witnessing a shift from how governments and organisations are approaching policy problems.
As Australia makes significant progress in ‘flattening the curve’, policy considerations are increasingly shifting from public health to the broader economic impacts of and recovery from COVID-19.
The decisions of both State and Federal Governments about how they approach economic recovery will be critical in determining how deeply the economic impacts will be felt and how soon the economy will begin to grow again. In this stimulus debate, there is an opportunity for the Government to make short to medium-term decisions about stimulus investment that grow jobs and economic activity whilst providing long-term social benefits to the community.
For this reason, CHIA NSW, Homelessness NSW and the NSW Council of Social Service together called for greater support for housing and social services earlier this week, following the publication of an NCOSS report highlighting the significant cost of living pressures in NSW.
CHIA NSW also joined with the Committee for Sydney and Shelter NSW in writing to the Premier outlining an economic recovery plan and calling for investment in social and affordable housing as a great opportunity to provide stimulus to the economy and grow the supply of much needed rental housing for low-income families across NSW.
CHIA NSW is continuing to work with the NSW Government and its agencies to ensure our members – and their tenants – are heard.
It is worth recognising the decisions already taken by the NSW Government and the leadership of Minister Melinda Pavey, Minister Gareth Ward, and Minister Rob Stokes in providing support for people who desperately need permanent social and affordable housing.
The announcement of 20-year lease extensions for community housing providers on LAHC leased properties (more on that below) will provide a welcome boost to our members’ capacity to plan ahead and invest in new housing supply, and deliver better outcomes for tenants.
In the planning portfolio, the NSW Government has established the Planning System Acceleration Program. This program will fast-track the assessment of development applications and rezonings, in accordance with existing planning rules and policies.
Finally, recent media reports that the NSW Government is considering opportunities to increase social housing supply, as part of an economic recovery plan, are very welcome and reaffirm the importance of housing as essential infrastructure. CHIA NSW urges the Government to make the right decision and support investment in stimulus in this important sector.
Such initiatives provide hope that as a sector we can continue to work with stakeholders through COVID-19 to create a more prosperous and equitable housing system in NSW beyond this crisis.
CHIA NSW is committed to doing our part through policy, communications, advocacy, training, and business development to help realise this goal.
CEO, CHIA NSW
CHIA NSW welcomes NSW Government lease extension innovation
Last week the NSW Government announced that contractual changes with the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) will allow for CHPs to transition from existing three year leases to 20 year leases on LAHC owned properties.
This initiative will initially focus on transitioning 14,000 properties with Tier One providers to 20 year leases. Stage two of the initiative will focus on 1,400 properties managed by Tier Two and Tier Three providers.
CHIA NSW would like to congratulate Minister Melinda Pavey and Minister Gareth Ward for their leadership in making this significant initiative a reality. CHIA NSW believes the positive impact of this change will enable the community housing sector to raise additional finance that will allow investment in new housing, upgrading of assets, building new investor partnerships, and helping portfolio management in a post-coronavirus recovery.
Responding to the announcement, CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi said the initiative would be welcome news for the sector:
‘This initiative gives our members more certainty over time and will allow us to access finance and investment for more social and affordable housing. This is a very good and very welcome announcement from the NSW Government. It demonstrates a model of partnership which delivers excellent outcomes for Government, community housing providers and most importantly, our tenants.’
ACHIA, AHO and NSWALC establish partnership ahead of new funding model
Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association (ACHIA) along with The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) and New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) will work in partnership to codesign a new funding model for the Aboriginal housing sector over a transition year ending June 2021.
Through the partnership ACHIA will ensure that Aboriginal community housing providers, housing owners, and communities it represents will have a say by providing feedback and input into the new proposed model through a round of consultations.
ACHIA is pleased to support the announcement and welcomes the opportunity for strong collaboration in designing the new model with direct input from the sector through the peak.
Members with more queries regarding the process of co-designing the new model can contact ACHIA Coordinator Chad Ritchie at [email protected].
NCOSS Cost of Living Report shows social services and housing crisis imminent
The New South Wales Council of Social Service (NCOSS) has released new research highlighting the impact cost of living pressures on NSW residents, prior to COVID-19.
The report reveals:
• ‘More than one-third (38%) of respondents reported paying over a third of their income on housing costs, and 20% reported paying over 40% of their income on housing.
• Almost one fifth (19%) reported being unable to make mortgage or rent payments on time, and 21% reported not making minimum payments on credit card bills.
• Single parents and couples with children were the household types who reported the highest rates of housing stress (68% and 45% respectively); while private renters and those paying off a mortgage were the household tenures most likely to report being in housing stress.
• Social housing tenants and those renting privately were more likely to have experienced financial hardship during the previous 12 months.
• Over a quarter (26%) reported having been unable to pay utility bills on time.’
The report’s recommendations call for:
• ‘Boosting social and affordable housing through the delivery of 5,000 additional social housing units per annum, and similar for affordable housing;
• Establishing a $30 million Resilient Communities – Support and Connect fund to supplement existing programs and enable small to medium-sized organisations, like neighbourhood centres, domestic violence services and others, embedded in their local communities, to meet rising demand; and
• Establishing a NSW Institute for the Social Services Industry (NISSI) as a partnership between the NSW Government, NCOSS and an academic institution, and involving NSW TAFE, regional universities and the community sector to develop the industry, grow the workforce and meet current and future demand.’
NCOSS, Homelessness NSW, CHIA NSW call for 5,000 homes per annum through Social and Affordable Housing Capital Fund
Following the release of NCOSS’ Cost of Living Report, NCOSS, Homelessness NSW, and CHIA NSW held a joint press conference at Parliament House NSW on 27 April 2020.
The peak bodies called on the NSW Government to establish a Social and Affordable Housing Capital Fund to grow social housing supply by 5,000 properties per annum.
Such a fund would be a step toward beginning to address the current shortfall of 200,000 social and affordable homes in NSW.
This demand pre-exists COVID-19, but CHIA NSW notes will likely exacerbate strongly because of the pandemic.
CHIA NSW believes that only with a dedicated funding stream from government for social and affordable housing investment can we being to meet the increased demand for social housing from COVID-19.
On the report’s release CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi stated the report provided ‘a stark illustration that NSW cannot continue a business as usual approach to housing’, and called for rising government investment to ensure the growth of social and affordable housing to meet the rising demand.
City West Housing opens The Blackwattle Apartments, providing 99 affordable homes
CHIA NSW would like to congratulate our member, City West Housing, on the opening of The Blackwattle Apartments in Glebe which finished construction in March 2020.
The building has:
• 565m2 of ground floor retail
• 99 affordable rental apartments for people on very low, low, and moderate household incomes
• Recently been shortlisted for the NSW 2020 Architecture Awards in the Multiple Housing category, one of 10 shortlisted projects and the only affordable housing project in that category.
The land for The Blackwattle Apartments was vested by the NSW Government to City West Housing. Construction commenced in 2018 and was largely funded through City of Sydney affordable housing contributions. This development is the final stage of a larger precinct renewal kickstarted by the NSW Government a number of years ago which has delivered 153 brand new social housing apartments, 99 affordable apartments and 232 private market apartments.
The City West Housing team managed resident sign-ups, move-ins and a number of apartment viewings all whilst adhering to extra restrictions and precautions due to COVID-19 – including staggering sign-ups/move-ins and additional cleaning of common areas.
City West Housing has recently entered into a number of partnerships to support its newest residents and its broader resident community, including a partnership with a styling company who donated furniture to fit out four apartments, a partnership with a car share company to provide free membership for CWH residents and a partnership with an internet provider who provided discounted connection fees.
Leonie King, CEO of City West Housing, says:
“As a provider of community housing, our developments provide an opportunity to create a real sense of home and stability, and to make a difference in people’s lives. We truly believe that stable homes provide stable lives and open up new possibilities for everyone. Our commitment to providing stable and affordable homes is demonstrated through both City West Housing’s operating model and the design of the development, creating a community where residents can feel proud of where they live”.
You can view some photos of The Blackwattle Apartments development below. CHIA NSW would again like to congratulate the entire City West Housing team on this fantastic achievement.
Insurance market conditions are tightening – here’s how to get best outcome insurance renewals
With bushfires, floods, droughts and coronavirus impacting Australia’s landscape and infrastructure, it’s important that Community Housing Providers are prepared for a challenging insurance renewal process.
CHIA NSW is aware that market conditions for insurers are tough and CHIA NSW members should be prepared for a range of challenges, including the potential for significant premium increases, deductible or excess increases and restrictions in policy coverage.
There are a number of actions CHIA NSW members can take to minimise these negative impacts:
• Start the conversation about insurance renewal early with your broker early, encourage them to make an early submission and provide expectations on cost, policy cover changes and the availability of insurer capacity to cover risks.
• Spend time on making sure the quality of information you’ve prepared for insurers is of a high standard (e.g. maintenance track record, risk assessments, capital expenditure, and level of claims). Crucially, noting any actions that have been taken to slow claims in light of incidents that have triggered claims will assist your submission.
• Give your organisation time to shop around for the best deal possible. As with many sectors, delays are being experienced across the insurance sector so engaging early will be vital to ensuring you have the time to assess the best deals available on the market.
If members have any queries about the best methods to engage insurers or insurance brokers at this time, please contact CHIA NSW Manager, Business Development, Adam West at [email protected]
Centre for Training in Social Housing hosts FREE online sessions
With the onset of COVID-19, it’s never been more important for providers to understand the workings of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
Over two online zoom sessions The Centre for Training in Social Housing will offer members NCAT Training at a reduced fee of $220 per person.
This is a tough time for community housing providers and their teams as we move to the ‘new normal’ of working remotely.
To address this change the Centre Training in Social Housing is now offering 4 FREE online workshops to help bring teams in community housing providers up to speed how to best utilise the remote, online workplace.
Throughout May the Centre will focus on learning and development for:
• Working Remotely – 2 hour Zoom session, exploring basics of how to best work remotely – 5th May 12:00pm-2:00pm
• Changing Times – 2 hour Zoom session, identifying COVID-19 change stressors and creating positive change environments – 12th May 12:00pm-2:00pm
• Personal Stress Management – 2 hour Zoom session, insights on how to manage stress for Team Managers – 19th May 12:00pm-2:00pm
• Time Management – 2 hour Zoom session, time management strategies for remote working – 26th May 12:00pm-2:00pm
To sign up for these sessions please visit www.ctsh.org.au to register or click on the links in the article.
NHFIC April update
NHFIC continues to monitor the ongoing COVID-19 situation and would like to reiterate that the wellbeing of our people, partners and their communities remains our priority.
We aim to continue providing a seamless level of service and support to our community housing providers, so their efforts in providing secure and stable housing to thousands of Australians around the country can continue in these challenging times.
NHFIC staff are working remotely and are available via email or phone. You can contact us on 1800 549 767 or via email [email protected].
NHFIC’s Financial Model
A new financial model is now available on the NHFIC website.
The financial model was developed in consultation with CHPs to provide a uniform framework that can be used to deliver historical and forecast financial information to NHFIC during the loan origination and management processes.
The Microsoft Excel-based tool has been designed to accommodate common activities undertaken by the CHP sector and can accommodate an actual/forecast period of up to 30 years.
Any feedback you have on the new financial model can be sent to [email protected].
First Home Loan Deposit Scheme
The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme continues and there are still places available with non-major lenders for this financial year. Frequently asked questions have been updated on the NHFIC website to support first home buyers during this time.