Welcome to the August edition of Housing Matters.
Beginning with some sad news, we bid farewell to John McKenna, CEO of North Coast Community Housing (NCCH) and former Chair (and dear friend) of CHIA NSW. After 13 years of committed leadership and housing advocacy, John leaves a legacy as large as his character and I thank him for his significant contributions to the sector and the work of CHIA NSW.
I also acknowledge the challenging circumstances which have set the scene for his last few months at NCCH amidst the flood emergency and recovery efforts. He has led a dedicated team who have been critical to ensuring that devastated and displaced flood victims have found a place to call home while getting their lives back on track.
On behalf of CHIA NSW and our members, we wish John the very best in his retirement and his new life in sunny Fiji.
I’d like to welcome the release of a report from a NSW Parliament Inquiry examining how the current shortage of social and affordable housing can be addressed through diverse housing options and exploring what barriers and opportunities exist for boosting supply.
Community housing providers are a crucial element in the solution to the housing vulnerability crisis we face, and I’m encouraged that this is recognised in the report. We can now keenly await the NSW Government’s response to the report in early 2023.
In mixed news, the NSW Government has responded to the Independent Flood Inquiry which made 28 recommendations aimed at protecting and boosting the resilience of flood-prone regions of NSW. Just six of those were supported, while the remaining 22 were supported “in principle”.
Most pertinent to us were the recommendations around social housing, many calling for diverse temporary housing options, relocating most vulnerable residents to safer land through various schemes, and state investment in new social and affordable housing.
The State Government has indicated that they intend to leverage the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation and the Federal Government’s Housing Australia Future Fund to deliver new homes in Northern NSW. With Northern NSW already facing a shortage of social and affordable housing properties, it’s clear that Federal Government assistance alone will not go far enough to fix the local housing vulnerability crisis, particularly when those solutions are needed now. Community housing providers are ready and willing to assist, but we need the State Government to invest in a long-term social housing recovery plan to get people’s lives back on track.
CHIA NSW has also recently responded to the ambitious plans to redevelop Sydney’s Central Station precinct. We commend the NSW Government on creating an opportunity to boost affordable housing in the Sydney CBD, but urge the government to secure the best possible housing outcomes by increasing the current 15% affordable and diverse housing targets to address current housing demand.
Onto more good news, we’re celebrating several new housing developments announced by our members, a Workforce Capability Framework tool developed by CHIA NSW, and a special relationship shared between a CHP and an Aboriginal community housing provider recently securing registration in South-West Sydney.
Please enjoy this edition of Housing Matters.
CEO, CHIA NSW
CHIA NSW responds to NSW Govt’s Tech Central plans
Transport for NSW has released a masterplan for a new technology and innovation precinct by redeveloping land over and alongside the railway lines as Sydney’s Central Station.
The plans present an ambitious vision for this part of Sydney, and could see 16,000 new jobs delivered across 40 hectares of commercial floorspace. Under the plans, approximately 850 new homes will also be delivered in the precinct, with a minimum 15% proposed to be affordable housing.
In The Guardian, CHIA NSW and other industry voices have questioned why the NSW Government isn’t setting more ambitious targets for social, affordable and diverse housing. Higher targets are arguably needed given the 893 families on the social housing waitlist in the Inner City, with many waiting more than 10 years for a home. Further to that, in February 2022, there were 225 people sleeping rough in Sydney, while 269 people were occupying crisis and temporary accommodation beds.
Read the story in The Guardian here.
The plans are on public exhibition until 19 September. Further information and the submissions portal are available from the project website.
Flood inquiry recommendations leave little hope for flood victims
CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi spoke to SBS News about the crisis that Northern Rivers residents are still facing and how the NSW Government must step up and invest in building more social and affordable housing in the region.
Two inquiries into to the recent devastating NSW floods have recently released their findings and recommendations:
- A Parliamentary Inquiry, led by a Legislative Council Select Committee, examined the government response to the floods. This Inquiry released its report on 9 August.
- The Independent Flood Inquiry, established by the NSW Government, released its report on 17 August. This Inquiry had a broad remit that included the causes of the floods, the recovery efforts and long-term planning for future natural disasters.
Both Inquiries recognised the underlying housing supply and affordability issues in the areas impacted by floods, which hampered the response and recovery efforts. Recommendations made related to providing a broader range of temporary housing options following floods, additional government investment in new social and affordable housing, relocating people in highest-risk areas to safer land through land swaps and buy-backs, preparation of disaster adaptation plans for flood-prone towns, and the establishment of a permanent NSW Reconstruction Authority.
The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Independent Flood Inquiry. However, many of the recommendations are only accepted “in-principle” and the Government has not committed to detailed implementation actions until it undertakes further work and consultation.
A particularly disappointing response made by the NSW Government to recommendations of investing in new social and affordable housing supply was:
“The NSW Government will explore financing options to support the delivery of increased social and affordable housing across the State. This includes the ability to leverage the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation and the Housing Australia Future Fund.”
CHIA NSW has since publicly called for the state government to step up and invest its own funds in building more social and affordable housing in the region.
Final Report: Options to improve access to existing and alternate accommodation to address the social housing shortage
On 18 August, the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Assembly Committee on Community Services released the Final Report from the inquiry into Options to improve access to existing and alternate accommodation to address the social housing shortage.
The inquiry focused on five key areas, including temporary housing options (‘meanwhile use’), options to improve access to existing accommodation to provide community housing; crisis housing, key worker housing, and short-term accommodation models; barriers to additional housing supply; and support for, and accountability of registered community housing providers.
Key recommendations from the report included:
- The NSW Government should continue to increase investment in the provision and maintenance of public and social housing to address the critical shortage of social housing options.
- That the Department of Planning and Environment work with community housing providers and local councils to address policy barriers that hinder the use of government land for social and affordable housing.
- That the Department of Planning and Environment consider ways to increase the supply of social and affordable housing in regional areas, including through inclusionary zoning targets and mixed tenure development.
CHIA NSW welcomes the release of the Committee’s report, including the recognition of the community housing sector’s capacity to provide cost-effective social housing and wrap-around support, particularly through co-contribution programs such as the Community Housing Innovation Fund.
We acknowledge the work of the Committee, and particularly, the Committee’s Chair, Melinda Pavey MP. We look forward to seeing the NSW Government’s response to the Committee’s report, which is due on 18 February 2023.
CHIA NSW attends 2022 National Homelessness Conference
CHIA NSW, along with many of its CHP members and other state peak bodies, recently attended the National Homelessness Conference in Canberra.
The conference opened with The Hon Julie Collins MP, Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness who stressed the need for collaboration across all levels of government to tackle housing and homelessness, with strong leadership from the Federal Government.
Across the three days, several highlights were sessions on ending homelessness for First Nations peoples, the challenges of homelessness in regional Australia, the impact of climate change on homelessness and its increasing pressure on already scarce housing, and hearing about initiatives aimed at supporting the increasing numbers of women experiencing homelessness.
NSW Government releases Regional Housing Taskforce response
The NSW Government has announced it has adopted all of the Taskforce’s main recommendations. However, the commitments outlined in the response largely repeat initiatives already announced by the Government, including those that formed part of the 2022 NSW Budget package. This includes:
- A regional Urban Development Program aimed at better coordinating infrastructure delivery with growth and facilitate the supply of development ready land.
- $120 million to accelerate the delivery of enabling infrastructure to unlock development sites.
- Grants of up to $350,000 for local councils to help accelerate planning approvals.
- Funding of 271 homes for key workers in regional areas.
- Various Aboriginal housing measures
Additional commitments the Government has made in response to the Taskforce’s recommendations include:
- Crown Lands has been tasked with identifying government owned land that could be used to develop social and affordable housing.
- The Department of Planning and Environment will investigate ways the planning system can better support meanwhile use of underused land and buildings for temporary housing.
- The Government will establish housing supply benchmarks for high growth areas, including targets for diverse and affordable housing. This will be complimented by an online Regional Housing Dashboard and supply monitor.
- Details of a new Regional Housing Strategic Planning Fund have also been released offering grants of up to $250,000 to support regional councils to undertake strategic planning work that will unlock housing development.
The Government’s full response to the Regional Housing Taskforce can be accessed here.
CHIA NSW releases Workforce Capability Framework
CHIA NSW has just released a Community Housing Workforce Capability (CHWC) Framework, a publicly available interactive online tool.
The CHWC Framework conveys the capabilities that are valued and commonly required for successful performance in key community housing roles, teams and organisations.
It uses an employee-centred approach to building capability. Data analysis and extensive workforce research forms the basis of its construct by acknowledging the attributes, skills and knowledge desired and required by the sector.
City West Housing announces new homes for people escaping domestic & family violence
City West Housing Pty Ltd's Boronia Apartments will deliver 74 new affordable rental homes in Waterloo, a third of which are dedicated for women and children at risk of homelessness due to domestic and family violence.
The development will also deliver crucially needed affordable housing for people on very low-to-moderate incomes, including essential workers living in the City of Sydney.
Community housing providers have the unique ability to partner with government and leverage every dollar invested through various funding mechanisms to deliver more housing. The Boronia Apartments is a prime example. The $55 million development is being financed through: developer levies from the City of Sydney, a loan from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation), the NSW Government’s Community Housing Innovation Fund – Domestic and Family Violence Program, and City West Housing cash reserves.
For more information about the development, visit: https://citywesthousing.com.au/development/boronia-apartments/
New report shows national housing crisis’ impact on skills shortage
The Everybody’s Home campaign has released a new report showing the impact of the Australian housing crisis on employment and skills shortages.
The report details how housing plays a crucial role in the efficient operation of the labour market, and how employers across Australia are finding it increasingly difficult to fill job vacancies, partially due to not enough housing opportunities for prospective workers.
Specific regions of Australia which are particularly devastated are examined. For NSW, the report looks at the Illawarra and South Coast region. It shows that since March 2020:
- rents have risen by $175 or 2%
- vacancy rate has dropped from 2.2% to 1%
- low income households experiencing severe housing stress (spending more than 50% of income on rent) increased from 26% to 46%
- job vacancies doubled from 1,333 to 2,848.
Award Winning Aboriginal Communities’ Partnership Acknowledged
Hume Community Housing was recently announced as a joint winner of a prestigious ZEST Award 2022 for Outstanding Project working with Aboriginal Communities in Greater Western Sydney in June this year.
The Zest Awards showcase the vital work of the Community Sector across greater Western Sydney, in this case, the close partnership between Hume and Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation which originally commenced with the signing of a MOU between the two organisations back in 2019.
The partnership aims to improve economic and social outcomes for Aboriginal people living in social housing. Under the MOU, Hume has supported Tharawal to secure registration as a Tier 3 community housing provider, making Tharawal the first National Regulatory System for Community Housing approved provider in South-Western Sydney.
The partnership delivers on the Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ).
Under the partnership, Hume also delivers repairs and maintenance services to Tharawal’s properties. Hume is actively assisting Tharawal to grow their housing portfolio with a specific focus on sharing their expertise in asset management.
The partnership ensures effective collaboration in service delivery, effective culturally appropriate response to housing people who were formerly sleeping rough, a direct link to Aboriginal health checks, and ongoing care through the Aboriginal Medical Service at Tharawal and the ability to access appropriate support to connect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customers with their communities.
In return, Tharawal has supported Hume to deliver culturally safe services to their customers and Cultural Awareness Training to Hume’s employees. The mutually respectful and beneficial partnership highlights the aligned values of both organisation and commitment to serving South-West Sydney.
Award for Redfern community housing development
SGCH’s Gibbons Street Redfern development has been announced the winner for Affordable Development category at the Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW Crown Group Awards for Excellence.
The award was presented by The Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones, Minister for Families and Communities and Minister for Disability Services.
Gibbons Street Redfern is an outstanding project and a clear winner in the Affordable Housing Category. The collaboration SGCH had with local and state government, NHFIC, consultants and builder enabled this high-quality project to be realised. It provides much-needed quality social and affordable housing. The design was a standout with an articulated masonry base, double height communal area with children’s playground and community hub at podium level. The public art work has been seamlessly integrated into the building in the entry terrazzo floor and lighting of the podium soffit. The environmental initiatives were imperative, it achieves 8 star NatHERS reducing ongoing operational costs for the residents with on-site programs supplying base building power.
- Event Judges