Housing Matters Autumn Edition 2024

Welcome to the 2024 autumn edition of Housing Matters.

In less than two months, the NSW Government will hand down its next State Budget where we hope to see significant direct investment in social and affordable housing that enables NSW to begin turning the corner on the housing crisis.

CHIA NSW presented its pre-Budget submission, No Hope Without Housing, to the NSW Government, which included a launch event at NSW Parliament House in February. Since our event, we’ve had a busy two months of meetings with NSW Parliament Ministers, MPs and MLCs, with more to come. We've been encouraged by the response so far, including the recognition of not-for-profit community housing providers as a key delivery partner to the NSW Government. Our pre-Budget submission puts forward practical and achievable actions that the State Government can take in the short to medium term to deliver more homes where they’re needed most and make headway in confronting the housing crisis.

To keep the conversation going about the opportunities available to deliver social and affordable housing at scale, we recently partnered with Link Wentworth to deliver the Big Housing Debate. Approximately 250 people attended the event online or in person to hear from experts across government, community housing, academia, and urban policy to discuss the opportunities and challenges for social and affordable housing delivery in Greater Sydney and beyond, and the role governments, community housing providers and private partners can play in creating liveable, sustainable, and affordable communities.

After much anticipation, applications for funding from the first round of the Federal Government’s Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) Facility and National Housing Accord Facility (NHAF) have recently closed. Whilst not every project will be successful in this first round, the number of projects put forward by community housing providers is a testament to the capability and commitment of our industry to deliver much-needed social and affordable housing in partnership with governments at all levels. We look forward to seeing the outcomes arising from the first round in due course.

Closer to home, CHIA NSW was delighted to celebrate the graduation of the next inspiring cohort of cadets from the Cadetship Program. Delivered in partnership with Homes NSW, the program is a life-changing experience for the graduates who then enrich the community housing industry with their fresh ideas and lived experiences. All of us at CHIA NSW wish them every continued success.  

Please enjoy this edition of Housing Matters.

Mark Degotardi

The Big Housing Debate: Investing in our Social and Affordable Housing Future

Australia is in the midst of a housing crisis. High rents and low supply are pushing more Australians into housing stress and homelessness. In NSW, there are over 57,000 households on the social housing waitlist, and Sydney is at risk of losing its next generation of bright minds due to being priced out of the market.

These were just some of the themes underpinning the Big Housing Debate, held on Friday 19 April at Lachlan’s Line Auditorium in North Ryde.

Co-hosted by Link Wentworth and CHIA NSW, The Big Housing Debate: Investing in our Social and Affordable Housing Future, continued the conversation started by Link Wentworth in April 2022.

The debate brought together experts from government, community housing, academia and urban policy to explore how the housing landscape has changed over the last two years, the policy and planning opportunities available to governments to facilitate greater delivery of social and affordable housing, and the considerations that must be addressed to successfully create inclusive and equitable communities.

Event speakers included:

  • Mike Allen PSM, Chair, Link Wentworth
  • Uncle Michael West, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council
  • Marie Chase Sillars, Link Wentworth resident and housing advocate
  • Mark Degotardi, CEO, CHIA NSW
  • Rebecca Pinkstone, Chief Executive, Homes NSW
  • Andrew McAnulty, CEO, Link Wentworth
  • Nicky Morrison, Professor of Planning, Western Sydney University
  • Jeremy Gill, Head of Policy, Committee for Sydney
  • Jerome Laxale MP, Federal Member for Bennelong

Facilitated by CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi, the panel discussion focused on planning and project viability, affordability, as well as the key government opportunities, objectives and motivations for social and affordable housing delivery.

Panellists agreed that there was an urgent need for more social and affordable housing investment, and that societies, not statistics, should be at the heart of any conversation around funding, design, and supply.

Attendees also heard from Federal Member for Bennelong, Jerome Laxale, who reiterated his support for the industry and noted that the broad community consensus for affordable housing action presented governments at all levels with an opportunity for ambitious planning and policy reform.

The event also included an opportunity for in-person attendees to connect with speakers and peers over refreshments.

Link Wentworth and CHIA NSW were pleased to welcome approximately 250 people, both in person and online, to the event, and thank all attendees and speakers for their time, valued perspectives, and support for the community housing industry and the people at the centre of this crisis. If you were unable to join us on the day or would like to rewatch the event, you can view the recorded livestream here.

No Hope Without Housing

CHIA NSW launched its 2024-25 Pre-Budget Submission, No Hope Without Housing, at an event at NSW Parliament House in February 2024.

In attendance were NSW Ministers, MPs and MLCs, and representatives from the community housing industry.

Attendees heard from Minister for Housing and Homelessness, The Hon. Rose Jackson MLC, CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi, SGCH CEO Scott Langford, and Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair. Christy, a Link Wentworth community housing resident, shared a moving account on how community housing has changed her life.

Read our Pre-Budget Submission, No Hope Without Housing, here.

The submission outlines four priorities for the NSW Budget: 

  • Contribute significant investment to address the shortfall in social and affordable housing by:
    • investing $10.3 billion over five years to support delivery of 25,000 social and affordable homes, with half of the homes to be delivered through community housing providers. 
    • increasing funding for the Community Housing Leasing program to $112 million per year to keep pace with rising rent costs, to be annually indexed in line with changes in market rents. 
  • Deliver on NSW’s climate ambition to improve the lives of the lowest income households by:
    • investing $200 million over three years to upgrade ageing social housing properties, including those managed by CHPs, and assist providers to prepare for climate change. This funding will supplement recently announced the Federal Government funding for energy efficiency upgrades. 
  • Reduce homelessness and build stronger communities by:
    • investing $60 million over three years to create 400 new Together Home packages. 
    • investing $25 million in partnership with CHPs to deliver 400 social housing properties for people exiting the program. 
  • Invest in a planning system that delivers on NSW’s housing ambitions by:
    • establishing an Affordable Housing Delivery Unit within the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure to fast-track social and affordable housing developments through the planning system. 
    • providing $10 million in funding to assist councils with implementation of affordable housing initiatives.

The submission is underpinned by modelling by SGS Economics and Planning, commissioned by CHIA NSW. The modelling considered the nature of NSW Government investment that would be required to support a significant increase in social and affordable housing delivery over the next five years, taking into account funding available through Federal Government initiatives such as the Housing Australia Future Fund. The model has been informed by engagement with several community housing providers, which has tested and refined the underlying assumptions.

To support our pre-Budget submission, CHIA NSW and member organisations have commenced an extensive schedule of meetings with political decision-makers to advocate for the solutions outlined in our pre-Budget submission. Over the last two and a half months, we've met with 25 key MPs and MLCs from across the NSW Parliament, with more meetings scheduled. 

'The worst it has ever been': Anglicare Australia's Rental Affordability Snapshot for 2024 shows housing crisis deepening

Anglicare Australia has released its Rental Affordability Snapshot for 2024.

Surveying over 45,000 March rental listings across the country, the Snapshot revealed that Australia’s rental markets have never been less affordable.

No property was affordable for a single person on Youth Allowance anywhere in the country, and just 3 homes were affordable for a person receiving JobSeeker. A family of four, where both parents earn the minimum wage, would find only 13.4% of all available properties affordable.

As stated in the report, the situation is likely even worse, with the Snapshot only measuring affordability based on the full-time minimum wage rate, or 38 hours a week, and as a result doesn’t account for the millions working casual or part-time minimum wage jobs.

The Snapshot notes that as more people are faced with the prospect of a lifetime of renting, it is unacceptable to expect Australians to tolerate severe rental stress in perpetuity.

Anglicare Australia’s Executive Director Kasy Chambers said Government needed to step up and deliver housing instead of relying on a private market that isn’t in the business of delivering affordable supply.

“Instead of spending billions on tax breaks for investors, the Government should be building the housing we need. If the Government doesn’t take action in the next budget, this crisis will only get worse.” Ms Chambers said.

CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi said the findings in this year’s report were “unacceptable”, calling on the NSW Government to invest significantly in social and affordable housing as a priority response.

“The fact that young people on Youth Allowance can’t find a single affordable property is an indictment of just how bad this housing crisis has become.”

Read the latest Rental Affordability Snapshot here.

Housing Australia updates

First funding round for HAFF and NHAF closes 

The Call for Applications for funding from the Federal Government’s Housing Australia Future Fund Facility (HAFFF) and National Housing Accord Facility (NHAF) for eligible social and affordable housing projects closed on 22 March 2024.

The Evaluation of applications is underway and expected to take around 12 weeks, with applicants notified of the outcome in the third quarter of 2024.

The first Call for Applications for funding from the HAFFF and NHAF to support the delivery of eligible social and affordable housing projects was open for a 10-week period.

Over a five-year period, the program will support delivery of 40,000 new social and affordable homes across the country. The program has been designed to be nation-wide including regional, rural and remote areas as well as urban areas.

For more information about the HAFFF and NHAF, visit the Housing Australia website.

First tenants move into Midtown MacPark

A key milestone has been reached in Homes NSW’s Midtown MacPark project, with tenants beginning to move into 130 new affordable units in Macquarie Park.

Housing Australia provided a $67.9 million Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator (AHBA) loan to community housing provider Mission Australia to purchase the 130-unit residential tower completed in Stage 1 of the redevelopment.

In addition to the AHBA funding, Housing Australia also provided $42 million in loans and grants through the National Housing Infrastructure Facility (NHIF) for roads, service infrastructure and civil works. The infrastructure works include a bridge over Shrimpton's Creek to connect the new community to the Macquarie Business Park.

Midtown MacPark is the first project to be delivered through a $250 million funding agreement between Housing Australia and Homes NSW, which will transform an 8.2-hectare social housing estate into a vibrant integrated community with a mix of social, affordable and private homes, as well as shops, cafes, a primary school, childcare centres, skate park and playground.

The project, part of the NSW Government's former Communities Plus program and being developed by Fraser Property Australia, will deliver a total of 3,300 new homes over 10-12 years, including 954 new social and 130 affordable homes.

CHIA NSW's Cadetship Program celebrates another graduation

CHIA NSW was thrilled to celebrate the graduation of the Round 3 cohort of cadets from the Cadetship Program in early April.

Held at NSW Parliament House, the event brought together friends, families, mentors, and trainers to congratulate the graduates on their outstanding achievements.

The ceremony included a moving address from three of the students who thanked their trainers, mentors and loved ones for their encouragement and support. They also spoke of the life-long bonds the cadets forged between each other, and their future aspirations.

CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi commended the resilience and determination of the cadets, saying their own lived experiences will inform their practice and lead to better outcomes for the tenants and organisations they serve.

Homes NSW’s Acting Head of Housing Portfolio, Michael Wheatley, shared his enthusiasm for the program, and thanked the cadets for becoming part of a system that works to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities.

Several of the cadets have secured permanent employment in the community housing industry, while others are using the skills and confidence that they’ve gained from the program to pursue further tertiary study.

Former Cadet shares her story on ABC Radio's Life Matters

The Cadetship Program has been a life-changing experience for many graduates.

Offering a ‘learn and earn’ opportunity to people who have traditionally faced barriers accessing employment and education, cadets gain a Certificate IV in Housing qualification while engaging in 12 months of paid, practical work experience with a registered NSW community housing provider.

Iesha Simon, one of the first cadets to graduate from the program in 2021, appeared on ABC Radio’s Life Matters alongside CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi to talk about her journey.

Iesha completed her 12-month placement with SEARMS Community Housing Aboriginal Corporation, and since graduating has been promoted to Housing Manager and then Team Leader at SEARMS.

She shared how her lived experience has been an asset to the organisation.

“Coming from [social] housing myself, I know how overwhelming, anxiety-inducing and confusing the forms are,” said Iesha.

“My main goal is to help those who come through, because if I’m not part of the system helping out, it could just get worse. I’d rather be a part of the solution”.

Mark Degotardi also shared impressive statistics on the completions rates achieved by the program and acknowledged the important role of workplace mentors in guiding and supporting students during their placements.

Listen to Iesha’s story and learn more about the Cadetship Program here.

The Value of Co-operative Housing in Australia report

A brand-new report, authored by housing policy and urban planning experts at Western Sydney University in partnership with the Australian Co-operative Housing Alliance, offers the first data set on the affordable rental co-operative housing sector.

Looking at co-operatives across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, The Value of Housing Co-operatives in Australia highlights the role of co-operativism and participation in delivering positive housing outcomes and the value of a diverse co-operative housing sector.

The report also demonstrates the contributions made by tenant-members and the benefits experienced by tenant-members.

A launch event for the report, held in March, took attendees through the findings. A recording of the event is available to view here.

You can read the final report here, with the technical report here.

Poll reveals broad support for social and affordable housing delivered by not-for-profit CHPs

Nearly two thirds of respondents surveyed in a recent poll identified investment in social and affordable housing built by not-for-profit community housing providers (CHPs) as a key measure to address the housing crisis in NSW.

The poll, conducted by Essential, asked survey participants for their perspectives on the NSW Government’s housing response and the measures they would prefer to see implemented to help solve the housing crisis. The poll also asked respondents to estimate the current social housing waiting list numbers and to compare the performance of the current NSW Labor Government to the previous NSW Liberal Government.

The results showed that there was strong support in NSW for:

  • rapid investment in social housing (65% strongly or somewhat support),
  • increasing the supply of private housing (65%), and
  • providing government land to not-for-profit community housing providers to develop social housing (64%).

Opposition to the suggested measures was low (15% or less) across the board.

Only 16% of respondents correctly estimated the current length of NSW’s social housing waiting list, with participants more likely to underestimate the queue (62%).

Ranking the NSW Government’s performance on affordable housing creation, respondents gave a bruising assessment, with 49% indicating they saw no difference between the current NSW Labor Government and the previous NSW Coalition Government.

There was also a majority view that the NSW Government isn’t doing enough to:

  • reduce homelessness (69%),
  • ensure adequate housing supply (69%), and
  • moderate rental prices (68%).

Essential’s executive director, Peter Lewis, contributed a piece for The Guardian which analyses some of the poll’s findings. You can read it here.

Life in Sydney report: Housing the most important challenge facing Sydney

Housing has come out as the top issue for Sydneysiders in this year’s Life in Sydney report.

The Committee for Sydney’s Life in Sydney report, delivered in partnership with Ipsos Australia, collated 1000+ survey responses from people across Greater Sydney who were asked about how they work, live, and play in their city, and what challenges they face.

Some of the key findings from the report are:

  • More people are dissatisfied with life in Sydney compared to last year.
  • More people are renting compared to last year’s survey results.
  • Support for higher density development around train stations has increased since last year, as has support for building more homes and apartments generally.
  • Many Generation Zs consider an apartment an appropriate place to raise a family.

Unsurprisingly, the survey revealed that renters, workers and younger generations were more likely to consider moving away from Sydney due to cost-of-living and housing pressures.

Over two-thirds of respondents also said they were very concerned or somewhat concerned about their ability to keep their home at a comfortable temperature as the climate changes.

According to respondents, the two most significant government policies that could be implemented to improve housing affordability are:

  • Funding more affordable housing and social housing, and
  • Placing caps on rent increases.

You can read the Life in Sydney report here.

New affordable housing to help ease rental crisis in Rockdale

Content supplied by City West Housing

Leading affordable housing provider and developer City West Housing is expanding its geographic reach beyond the City of Sydney to develop much-needed build-to-rent affordable housing in Rockdale.

The Tallowwood Apartments on Princes Highway, Rockdale, in the Bayside Local Government Area (LGA), will provide rental homes for 80 low-to-moderate income households, including people working locally, on completion in 2026.

It will be the first time City West Housing has developed outside the City of Sydney, where it owns and manages 20 apartment buildings housing more than 1,600 residents on subsidised rents. Tallowwood residents will pay no more than 30% of their household income in rent and rents will be capped at 74.9 per cent of market rent.

With a pipeline of more than 400 affordable apartments over the next five years, City West Housing’s capacity to compete for funding and development opportunities has been greatly enhanced by two recent events:

  • A change to the corporate structure last month, ending 30 years of NSW Government and local community shareholdings in City West Housing, and a new fit-for-purpose structure as an independent community housing organisation.
  • The lifting of the government restriction on City West Housing raising debt in late 2020.

A ground-breaking ceremony held on Friday 12 April marked the start of construction on the site and was attended by the NSW Minister for Housing, Homelessness, Mental Health, Youth and the North Coast the Hon. Rose Jackson, Bayside Deputy Mayor Councillor Joe Awada, newly appointed builders Versatile Construction and other dignitaries.

Minister Jackson said, “The cost of living has never been so high in Sydney and surrounds and so it’s great to see affordable housing providers such as City West Housing expand out of Sydney so more people can benefit. It’s clear that we need real solutions that and we need them now and this project is one of those solutions that will benefit those who need it most.”

Councillor Awada said, “I congratulate City West Housing on this exciting project. I am pleased that their first project outside of the City of Sydney is here in the heart of Rockdale. This apartment development will provide affordable housing to low-income residents and workers enabling them to live close to where they work.”

CEO Leonie King said, “We are delighted to get this project underway as the housing crisis is disproportionately impacting people on lower incomes, as they face both severe supply and affordability issues in finding a home. For many, the prospect of homelessness is very real. We thank the NSW Government and Bayside Council for their support.”

Managing Director of the Versatile Group Fabrizio Perilli said, “I’m extremely passionate about delivering critical housing supply to NSW, so I’m pleased that Versatile is partnering with City West Housing to deliver building certainty for this much-needed development in Rockdale.”

Tallowwood Apartments is a quality building with a strong sustainability focus to improve resident comfort and reduce energy costs. Designed by AJC architects, it will be all electric with no natural gas, have a 7 Star NaTHERS rating, solar PV panels, dedicated car share parking, and rainwater harvesting reuse. The landscaping by Nguluway Design Inc. will acknowledge the traditional Gadigal and Bidjigal owners. It is well located to the Rockdale city centre and public transport.

Homeless hub "Our Place" wins Community Group of the Year award in Port Macquarie

Content supplied by Community Housing Limited

Community Housing Ltd (CHL) is excited to share that the Homeless Hub Our Place has been recognised with the prestigious Community Group of the Year award for its efforts in supporting individuals and families facing hardship within the Port Macquarie community.

Our Place is a collaborative initiative led by local service providers including CHL, Neami National, New Horizons, and YP Space.

The collaborative is dedicated to assisting community members in need by providing essential services such as free food, clothing, toiletries, health checks, showers, and laundry facilities and a soft entry point to connect with local services in the area.

Our Place operates every second Thursday from 8 am to 1 pm at St Agnes Parish Youth Hub, located at 140 Horton St, Port Macquarie. Anyone doing it tough in the community is welcome to walk in and talk to service providers.

Learn more about this story here.

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