Welcome to another edition of Housing Matters covering February 2022.
As I write, communities across NSW and QLD are being devastated by unprecedented flooding. The CHIA NSW team sends our best wishes to those communities impacted by the floods, including our members and partners across the industry.
These communities need support and they need it now and over the longer term. The Government must respond quickly and at scale. Temporary accommodation and services are desperately needed, and the process of rebuilding must also begin as soon as possible.
CHIA NSW and the community housing sector are ready to support the NSW Government and other industry members to deliver a housing recovery package to those who need access to safe and secure housing, now more than ever in those flood-affected regions. More on the housing recovery package we’ve called for with other peak bodies appears later in this edition.
In other news, the NSW Government announced a $30 million Regional Housing Fund grant program in February. While the motive behind this investment is welcomed, we’ve called for an expansion of the Fund to deliver desperately needed social housing to our regions. More on that in this edition.
We’re proud to share that once again, all positions in our Cadetship Program will be filled for a second consecutive year.
The program has provided young people and those living in social housing the opportunity to study and find employment with community housing providers, not only developing their skills but strengthening our workforce.
After seeing some incredible people come through the program in 2021, we can’t wait to see these new cadets from across regional and metropolitan NSW seize the opportunity head on.
As well in this edition, we’ve launched our Antisocial Behaviour Toolkit, announced projects in the works with our Business Development team, shared some professional development courses being offered this year, and heard from our partners at the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.
We hope you enjoy this edition of Housing Matters.
CEO, CHIA NSW
Joint Media Release: Housing For Those On Low-Incomes Must Be Top Priority In Flood Recovery
A coalition of peak bodies is urging the NSW Government to invest in an immediate housing recovery package to support communities affected by the NSW flood emergency.
NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS), Community Housing Industry Association NSW (CHIA NSW), Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association NSW (ACHIA NSW) and Homelessness NSW are calling for:
- immediate temporary housing options for people on low incomes;
- the rebuilding of existing social housing affected by the floods;
- a major construction program to build social and affordable housing and address the critical shortage of housing in the flood impacted areas;
- and recovery grants to be made immediately available to local community housing providers, Aboriginal community-controlled organisations and homelessness services to assist people made homeless as a result of the floods.
The peaks have released a joint statement detailing the immediate steps needed to address the housing and homelessness crisis which will be significantly exacerbated by widespread flooding events.
The organisations said the scale of the disaster in northern NSW deserved an urgent and proportionate response.
“We are seeing devastation throughout northern NSW, and we need an immediate response to support those now without a roof over their head,” NCOSS CEO Joanna Quilty said.
“We welcome the Premier’s acknowledgment that housing will be a priority in the recovery effort. We look forward to working with him to urgently support communities in need, including those who were already experiencing disadvantage and who can be hardest hit when disaster strikes.”
The North Coast of NSW was already at the forefront of the housing crisis – with 250 people on the priority housing waiting list at June 2021 and a private rental market vacancy rate of 0.5%.
The 2021 Tweed, Byron Bay and Lismore homelessness street counts identified over 300 people sleeping rough.
“Before the floods of recent days, North Coast families were already being forced to live in tents, cars, and other makeshift arrangements because they couldn’t afford a home,” Homelessness NSW CEO, Katherine McKernan said.
“The devastating floods in regional areas like the NSW North Coast have turned a difficult housing market into an impossible one. A massive and speedy response is required to help these communities,” CHIA NSW CEO, Mark Degotardi said.
“Community housing providers are ready to support the NSW Government and industry partners in getting communities struck by flooding on the road to recovery, starting with making sure people have a safe and secure roof over their head,” Mr. Degotardi said.
NSW had a housing and homelessness crisis before the floods with 50,000 applicants on the social housing waiting list and a private rental market that is unaffordable, particularly in regional NSW.
More than 30% of all clients of homelessness services are Aboriginal. Homelessness services are supporting 25% more clients than funded for and are turning away more clients than they can accommodate due to high demand that has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
“For many Aboriginal communities, the problems of overcrowding in substandard housing and the detrimental impacts of this on health and well-being have been longstanding. The situation will now be so much worse – this catastrophe will widen the gap in life outcomes even further,” ACHIA NSW CEO, Lisa Sampson said.
Media contact: Josh Appleton (CHIA NSW): [email protected]
Pre-Budget submission spotlight: Regional Housing Fund
In our last edition, we discussed our Pre-Budget Submission’s priorities, one of them calling for the establishment of a $500 million Regional Housing Fund to alleviate housing stress in regional areas.
Since then, the NSW Government has announced a $30 million Regional Housing Fund grant program which will provide funding for regional councils to support the delivery of new housing supply.
The Regional Housing Taskforce Recommendations report (released late last year) recommended that the NSW Government commit to the establishment of an ongoing program to deliver new and renewed social and affordable housing in regional NSW. Unfortunately, this recent announcement by the NSW Government falls short of addressing that recommendation.
While the intent behind this $30 million investment is welcomed, the availability and affordability of housing in regional NSW are hitting unprecedented highs, which is why we’ve called for an expanded $500 million Regional Housing Fund to deliver new and renewed social housing properties, affordable housing properties, and key worker homes over two years in the regions.
Read more in our 2022-23 Pre-Budget Submission.
Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy
CHIA NSW has finalised its submission to the NSW Government on the draft Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy (DP SEPP).
The DP SEPP is a major new policy framework which will establish new design requirements for new development across NSW and apply to a range of new development types including apartments, townhouses, boarding houses and seniors housing. The new requirements are expected to commence in late 2022.
Key aspects of the proposals include:
- New design principles and considerations that development proposals will be assessed against
- Increased Building Sustainability Index energy efficiency targets for residential development
- Updated design requirements for new apartments in the form of a revised Apartment Design Guide
- New urban design requirements for sites over 1ha in the form of a new Urban Design Guide
- New design review procedures for development applications.
While the standardisation of good design practice is welcomed, CHIA NSW’s submission raises concern with several aspects of the proposals which, if implemented rigidly, would impose additional barriers on community housing development. The submission recommends a series of changes to the DP SEPP and supporting documents to better balance good design with other important outcomes, including the delivery of more social and affordable housing. Recommendations include:
- Requiring the consideration of affordable housing needs as part of achieving good design outcomes.
- Providing increased flexibility to ensure the feasibility of development by community housing providers is not impacted and to enable schemes to be tailored to the specific needs of residents intended to be housed.
- Delivering an early and ongoing program of training and capacity building for industry and consent authorities to ensure that the new policy framework is implemented consistently and as intended.
For more information on CHIA NSW’s submission, please contact Senior Policy Officer, Michael Carnuccio at [email protected].
Release of Antisocial Behaviour Toolkit
CHIA NSW has launched its Approaches to Managing Antisocial Behaviour Toolkit.
The Toolkit aims to assist and support the community housing industry to respond fairly and effectively to all forms of antisocial behaviour, in order to:
- Increase the proportion of complaints resolved without the need to escalate to enforcement action
- Reduce the number of tenancies terminated on the grounds of antisocial behaviour
- Increase tenant satisfaction with community housing providers’ handling of antisocial behaviour complaints.
The Toolkit was recently launched at an online event attended by CHIA NSW members, where speakers from CHIA NSW and SC Consulting provided an introductory overview to the toolkit and practitioner resources, as well as information about the latest learning and development opportunities available to industry to support the management of best practice responses to antisocial behaviour.
CHIA NSW would like to acknowledge the funding provided by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) to support the development of this toolkit under the NSW Community Housing Industry Development Strategy, a partnership between CHIA NSW and DCJ.
Commonwealth Rent Assistance Rent Calculator – Maintaining and Developing an Essential Tool for the community housing industry
Over the next 12 months, CHIA NSW will be updating its Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) rent calculator and developing an innovative online rent calculator (ORC).
CHIA NSW has maintained an Excel based Commonwealth Rent Assistance rent calculator on behalf of the community housing industry for over six years. It is an essential piece of infrastructure for community housing providers and is used by well over 100 organisations.
The Excel calculator now needs an update to incorporate recent changes to the community housing rent policy rent assessment rules that state that the assessment rate may be between 25-30% of assessable income.
After receiving funding support from the NSW Department of Communities and Justice (subject to meeting technical requirements and demand from the sector), CHIA NSW will be – as requested by CHPs – developing an ORC to:
- Streamline the calculation process.
- Provide a more user-friendly interface.
- Allow for greater checking of calculations.
- Increase accuracy by using coding rather than Excel formulas.
- And most importantly, allow bulk rent assessments to save significant staff time.
For more information, please contact Business Development Manager, Adam West at [email protected].
Strengthening Cyber Security Defences in the Community Housing Industry
CHIA NSW is working with the community housing sector to collectively raise its cyber security posture by developing tailored training opportunities and manuals.
Community housing providers manage highly sensitive personal information about their tenants, making the strength of their cyber security defences critical to securing their operations.
The project entered planning after consultation with the CHIA NSW Digital Network (made up of CHIA NSW members working in digital-based roles) found there was a consensus about the need for a collegiate approach to cyber security which could be led by CHIA NSW as the peak body.
The project will:
- develop a community housing specific guide for CHPs to follow to raise their cyber security maturity levels;
- deliver practical cyber security education – board and staff; and
- develop a cyber incident response plan.
For more information, please contact Business Development Manager, Adam West at [email protected].
Upcoming Professional Development Courses
19 April 2022 | APPLY
21 June 2022 | APPLY
19 April 2022 | APPLY
3 May 2022 | APPLY
8 March 2022 | APPLY (only 3 places left)
10 May 2022 | APPLY
10 March 2022 | APPLY
1 June 2022 | APPLY
5 April 2022 | APPLY
If you’re interested in a course not listed here or you’d like to make a separate group booking, please contact [email protected].
A closer look at Professional Development Course: Hoarding and Squalor
Did you know that around 2.6% of the population suffer from a hoarding disorder? And for those who are renting, the consequences can be harder if the possibility of eviction and homelessness loom.
Hoarding and squalor is a complex mental health condition with widespread impacts that can affect the person, their family, and neighbours. In some situations, it can have serious effects on quality of life and pose great health and safety risks.
To learn about the issues behind this condition, strategies for how to effectively manage situations and the relevant legal and regulatory requirements, join us for our next session on Tuesday 29 March. The session costs $200 per person and is delivered online via Zoom over 4 hours from 9am-1pm AEDT.
You can apply to enrol here or to make a separate group booking, please contact [email protected].
National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) – February 2022 Update
The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) recently released its flagship ‘State of the Nation’s Housing 2021–22’ research report.
First introduced in 2020, the State of the Nation’s Housing is NHFIC’s flagship research report. It provides analysis into housing demand and supply across Australia, as well as long-term projections, with a view to identifying potential drivers of, and challenges to, housing affordability.
NHFIC CEO Nathan Dal Bon said: “Our second flagship ‘State of the Nation’s Housing’ research report provides a comprehensive overview of key housing data and projections. It has been a remarkable past 18 months for Australia’s housing markets, with the largest population shock in a century, unprecedented government stimulus, a widespread flight to the regions, and accelerating house price growth and tightening rental markets impacting housing affordability. This research has been informed by extensive consultation with stakeholders including industry and provides on-the-ground insights to understand Australia’s housing supply and affordability trends in the coming decade.”
The latest State of the Nation’s Housing 2021–22 research report includes new chapters on housing markets in Australian states and territories which provides detail on recent supply constraints in the development industry, as well as detail on recent housing prices and vacancy rate trends. There is also has a new chapter on regions and cities highlighting the impacts of the pandemic. The 2021–22 report features 10-year projections (increased from 5-years) to better align to housing development cycles.
State of the Nation’s Housing is complemented by NHFIC’s core ongoing research program, which aims to contribute applied and practically-focused research.
You can view the report’s key findings and find more information about the research here.