Housing Matters January 2023

Welcome to the first edition of Housing Matters for 2023.

We enter the new year with ambitious demands of our political leaders. In just a couple of short months, the people of this state will head to the polls. There are many issues they deserve assurances on, not least the security of having a roof over their heads. CHIA NSW and the Confront the Crisis campaign continues to advocate loudly for meaningful investment in social and affordable housing so the most vulnerable in our communities are not left behind.

Evidence pointing to the need for swift action can be found in the recently released NSW social housing waitlist data. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the number of households on the list has increased to over 57,000. The private rental market is failing to offer affordable housing to communities across our state, resulting in many families facing rental stress and financial hardship, and at increased risk of homelessness. Investment in social and affordable housing to be delivered by community housing providers is the key to getting people off that waiting list and into the homes they have a right to live in.

The UNSW City Futures Research Centre has also released additional data regarding Australia’s unmet housing needs. Of significant concern, there are more than 220,000 households across NSW whose housing needs are not being met, as a result of rental stress or homelessness. More than one in ten households in Western Sydney alone are experiencing unmet housing needs. It is critical that the incoming NSW Government commits to addressing the housing crisis as a top priority for this state. Left unaddressed, the data shows that the number of households with unmet housing need will increase to almost one million nationally by 2041.

The Confront the Crisis campaign will be holding a number of town hall events across February. The Wollongong, Sydney, and Western Sydney events will bring together members of industry, government, academia, and community organisations to discuss to the housing challenges being faced across NSW and what can be done to address the growing housing emergency. More on those events, and how you can register to attend, in this newsletter.

We also have updates from members regarding a multidisciplinary design guide for emergency accommodation construction, a new mixed-tenure development for Rockdale, and a poignant story of vulnerable renters battling a tough market.

Please enjoy.

Mark Degotardi

Social housing waitlist numbers released by NSW Government

The latest data from the NSW Housing Register was recently released by the NSW Government and shows an alarming rise in households seeking social and affordable housing.

The overall number of households on the social housing waiting list in NSW grew to 57,550 households in 2022, up 13% since 2021.

More than 6,500 of those are priority households experiencing extreme vulnerability or are at imminent risk of homelessness, an increase of 12% since 2021.

Many households across NSW are waiting up to a decade to access suitable properties.

“When the social housing waiting list for more than 57,000 households is this long, it is no longer a ‘queue’, it is a catastrophe”, said CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi.

“In one of the richest countries in the world, housing insecurity is a policy choice and a policy failure.”

In another blow to vulnerable and low-income families, this year NSW is set to lose over 600 properties from the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), a national initiative that was introduced by the former Rudd Government in 2008.

The NRAS offered investors annual financial incentives when renting out their property for at least 20% below market rate to eligible tenants, whose rental costs were largely capped at 30% of their income.

The NRAS is due to be phased out completely by 2026, leaving thousands more people across Australia, including NSW residents, at risk of homelessness.

Research released by CHIA NSW in 2021 analysed the impact of the NRAS’ conclusion and recommended strategies and actions governments and affordable housing providers could take to mitigate the effect of dwellings exiting the scheme.

The Federal Government has not committed to reinstating the scheme, with its Housing Australia Future Fund and Housing Accord, both concentrating on providing additional social and affordable housing supply, setting the tone for future investment and policy.

“It is time for NSW to invest boldly in developing affordable community housing across the state”, says Mr Degotardi.

Confront the Crisis campaign activities intensify in the lead up to the NSW State Election

Online Petition

The Confront the Crisis campaign has launched its petition calling on NSW politicians from across all parties to commit to addressing the housing crisis by urgently investing in community housing supply.

With rising interest rates, rental costs, lack of rental supply and cost-of-living pressures being endured by families right around the state, more families are struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

The petition comes as the NSW State Election is due to be held in just over seven weeks’ time.

“Decades of underinvestment in social and affordable housing has led to the situation NSW is facing today”, says Mark Degotardi, CEO of CHIA NSW.

“There is no more time to wait; whichever party forms government after the March election must act swiftly and decisively to address this crisis.”

Supporters are encouraged to sign and share the petition.

Town Hall Events

The Confront the Crisis campaign is partnering with members and other peak bodies to host several town hall forums throughout February. This is an opportunity for the public to engage with experts in business, government, housing, and not-for-profit industries as they discuss the latest research and solutions to the NSW housing crisis.

Housing for All NSW Pre-Election Town Hall Event

An event jointly hosted by CHIA NSW and Homelessness NSW, Housing for All will be hosted by Joe Hildebrand and bring together political leaders, sector experts and the community to discuss how we move towards a better future for NSW.

When: 1pm – 3pm Thursday 16 February 2023
Where: Sydney Town Hall

Register to attend here

Confront the Crisis in the Illawarra Summit

The summit, led by local community housing provider The Housing Trust and Business Illawarra, will be hosted by ABC Illawarra’s Mel James and focus on the housing challenges impacting the Illawarra-Shoalhaven district.

When: 10am – 11:30am Tuesday 7 February 2023
Where: City Beach Function Centre, Wollongong
Register to attend here.

Confront the Crisis Western Sydney Event

The Western Sydney event will bring together industry, government, and community groups to discuss the impact the housing crisis is having on households and the economy of Western Sydney and consider solutions for the region.

When: Tuesday 21 February 2023
Register your interest to attend by emailing Josh Appleton at [email protected]

Western Sydney in crisis as housing needs go unmet

Following on from their earlier publication in November, the UNSW City Futures Research Centre has released more detailed data on Australia's unmet housing needs.

Those with “unmet housing need” refers to anyone who is homeless, living in overcrowded housing, or spending more than 30% of their income on rent.

The data has revealed that one in ten households across ten suburbs throughout Western Sydney are experiencing housing stress.

The situation is particularly acute in Southwestern Sydney, where 18,600 (12.7%) families and individuals are suffering from inadequate housing conditions.

South Western Sydney housing crisis on the front page of The Daily Telegraph

Areas traditionally known for more affordable housing options also saw a jump in households experiencing unmet housing need.

NSW State ElectoratePercentage of all households with unmet housing needNumber of households with unmet housing need

“This data reveals the social fragmentation of Sydney. Your postcode should not determine whether you live in housing crisis”, says Mark Degotardi, CEO of CHIA NSW.

“This is a wakeup call to the incoming NSW Government – you cannot continue to sit idly by while tens of thousands of everyday families and individuals struggle to find or keep their home.”

You can access the UNSW City Futures Research Centre reports, along with an interactive dashboard, here.

Good Growth Alliance releases updated policy platform

The Good Growth Alliance has recently announced its updated policy platform, outlining six key proposals for the NSW Government and Opposition to create a better Sydney and a stronger NSW.

Established in 2018, the Good Growth Alliance is a partnership of housing, property, and business peak organisations with a shared vision of creating more sustainable and liveable cities and regional areas.

Throughout 2022 CHIA NSW was actively engaged in the refresh of the Good Growth Alliance’s shared policy platform to support advocacy efforts in the lead up to the 2023 NSW State election.

CHIA NSW, Homelessness NSW, Shelter NSW and the Property Council of Australia have all signed up to the updated platform, which was launched on 14 December 2022.

The Good Growth Alliance’s six key proposals are to:

• Increase housing supply

• Increase social and affordable housing

• Maximise government investment in infrastructure

• Leverage government-owned land for better community outcomes

• Ensure the planning system encourages ‘good growth’

• Build community resilience and improve the quality of existing homes

The Good Growth Alliance’s proposals centre on increasing the stock of good quality, affordable homes and creating climate-resilient and liveable communities close to jobs, transport, and infrastructure. The outcomes would improve community health and wellbeing and enable people to fully participate in local and state-based social, cultural, and economic opportunities.

Some of the key social and affordable housing policies proposed by the Good Growth Alliance include:

• Increasing social housing to 10% of the total housing stock by 2050

• Establishing a 4-year $3 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund to supplement funding from the Housing Australia Future Fund

• Implementing incentives for private developers to create more affordable rental housing units across all parts of NSW, including density bonuses

• Making it a condition of rezoning or when disposing of government-owned land that at least 30% of any residential component in the development is designated social and affordable housing

A greater focus on social and affordable housing is especially welcomed. The platform mirrors several of the policy positions in CHIA NSW’s own platform, including a target for 10% of all housing stock to be social housing by 2050, and the establishment of a Social and Affordable Housing Fund.

The targets in the platform are significant shifts for the Good Growth Alliance and it is notable that the Property Council has mirrored the target in its own election platform.

You can read the full proposal document here.

Registration still open for Community Housing 2023 conference

CHIA NSW's Community Housing 2023 conference will be held on Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 May in Sydney.

The conference program, to be released in February 2023, will feature leading experts from the community housing sector, government, industry, and academia.

Registration for the conference is currently open, with an early bird rate available until Friday 10 March.

A group discount is also offered to delegates in selected categories if registering as a group of five or more.

Registration entitles attendees to exhibition access, all plenary and breakout sessions over the two days (excluding Single Day Registrations), and daily morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea.

Queries regarding registration should be directed to the Conference Secretariat.

CHIA NSW Learning and Development courses for 2023

CHIA NSW's Learning and Development team are excited to be running a range of Professional Development courses throughout 2023 and have now released the dates for available sessions up to June.

Alongside popular mainstays like NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) training and Housing Pathways, the Learning and Development team run courses that help frontline and management professionals in the social housing sector build the industry knowledge and skills required to respond to social, cultural, and logistical challenges they may face while working.

A new accredited qualification, Certificate IV in Housing - Tenancy Managers is being offered in 2023.

Aimed at people wanting to work in the social housing sector, this course reflects the role of individuals delivering housing support services and support to tenants, applicants and the community in the social housing and homelessness sector.

The course runs for 1 year full-time and includes a placement with a community housing provider.

To find out more about the Certificate IV in Housing – Tenancy Managers, please email Elisa McLeod at [email protected]

To view all courses, and to enrol, you can head to https://communityhousing.org.au/qualifications/course-dates/

NHFIC Update: NHFIC partners with investors and CHPs; regional Australia rental growth slowing

Housing for key workers in Western Sydney

In November, NHFIC along with investment managers AXA IM Alts and community housing provider SGCH, have announced an institutional partnership for affordable housing at Westmead, NSW. The agreement is expected to deliver approximately 350 homes for key workers, located in the new Westmead Health and Innovation Precinct. Read more here.

Specialist Disability Accommodation partnership across four NSW LGAs

In December, NHFIC CEO, Nathan Dal Bon attended the announcement of the GuideYouHome disability housing project partnership with BlueCHP and For Purpose Investment Partners. This is a $20 million investment in Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) projects across four Local Government Areas (LGAs) in NSW. Read more here.

NHFIC also hosted an investor boardroom lunch to discuss the impact that our investors have had on improving housing outcomes for social and affordable housing tenants.

Annual rental growth now slowing in regional areas across Australia

NHFIC last month released analysis on Australia’s rental market that showed annual rental growth in regional Australia has peaked and is slowing – rapidly in some areas, suggesting that the flow of people between the cities and regions triggered by the pandemic is unwinding. Read more here.

Federal Government expansion of National Housing Infrastructure Facility sees first Build-to-Rent social and affordable housing project announced for South Australia

This month, NHFIC announced the first Build-to-Rent social and affordable project to be delivered in partnership with the SA Government under the Federal Government’s widening of the NHIF to include funding the provision of new social and affordable housing. Read more here.

Bridge Housing to deliver social and affordable housing in Redfern

Bridge Housing has been awarded the $230 million development of the Elizabeth Street, Redfern project.

The vacant crown land will be transformed into a mixed-used site, providing approximately 300 apartments including over 100 social housing dwellings, and a 3,500 square metre community centre.

In partnership with infrastructure developer Capella Capital, and builder Hickory, Bridge Housing aims to maximise social and affordable housing for the local Redfern-Waterloo community.

“With thirty years’ experience in the delivery of quality housing and services, Bridge Housing is uniquely positioned to deliver affordable housing designed for the local community. The development will provide a template for how large-scale development can be undertaken to support a diverse and vibrant city”, said Bridge Housing CEO Rebecca Pinkstone.

The Elizabeth Street, Redfern project will be the largest mixed-use development to be led by a community housing provider in NSW and is expected to commence construction in 2025.

Design guide for Specialist Domestic Violence accommodation

Content supplied by Housing Plus

Housing Plus, with support from Custance Architects have developed a design guide to support the community housing, homelessness and Domestic and Family Violance (DFV) sectors in collaborating on the provision of emergency accommodation for victims of domestic abuse.

This comes at a time of landmark investment by the NSW Government in core and cluster designed emergency accommodation, an approach piloted by Housing Plus in NSW.

The Design Guide for Specialist Domestic Violence Accommodation explores how informed, high-quality design can meet the need for dignity, independence, safety and connection.

The design guide has been developed to inform and raise standards for organisations and individuals involved in developing new or refurbished specialist DFV accommodation in Australia.

It is proposed that this guide will be used by community housing providers, government agencies, specialist DFV and homelessness providers, private developers, architects, planners and other development professionals.

The guide has been developed in such a way that development professionals can apply the design standards and features to different state planning policies across Australia.

Housing Plus is grateful for the support of NHFIC, CHIA NSW and all the providers who gave their time and insight and hopes that the design guide will assist collaboration and raise standards for DFV victims across Australia.

Against the Odds: housemates living with disability secure rental home in Sydney's West

Content supplied by Hume Housing

Late last year, long-term friends and housemates from Penrith, Jason, Brett, Scott, Thaison, and David, were facing a dire 2023 with the prospect of homelessness.

The five friends, ranging in ages from early thirties to their fifties, have lived together in supported living group homes since they were teens.

In August, the housemates’ Supported Independent Living provider received notice that the home the group had been living in for the past 10 years was on the market for sale.

They were given just 90 days to vacate, with their landlord declining an extension to their lease, and with no option of negotiating a new lease with a prospective buyer.

Rather than preparing for the holiday season festivities, the housemates were coming to terms with the prospect of being split up, and if respite or emergency housing could not be found, potential homelessness.

According to Rachael Parker, Supported Housing Co-ordinator at Hume Community Housing, the news came as a harsh blow in the lead up to end of year.

“Hume has a number of Supported Independent Living organisations we partner with to provide Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) for customers under their NDIS plans. Normally, we have time to plan a home search for an individual customer to make sure it will meet their needs. Here we were, faced with housing five men in one of the tightest rental markets on record.”

While the property search swung into action, the housemates’ Independent Living provider was hastily working on contingency plans including emergency respite. Having provided daily support to the group of housemates for over 20 years, the prospect of separating them was a last resort. Placing the housemates into respite care, a short-term option, would’ve meant other families who had booked respite care over the holiday season would miss out. With a shortage of suitable respite in the area, there was also no guarantee the housemates would be suitably accommodated.

The team from Hume worked around the clock hunting for a suitable rental property in the Penrith LGA hoping the friends could stay in a familiar area and continue to access local services. According to Parker, “finding a five-bedroom, two-bathroom home that was accessible and affordable was like searching for a needle in a haystack.” In Sydney, the lowest vacancy rates are in the middle and outer areas like Penrith which have all seen a steep rise in demand as renters move outwards looking for more affordable housing. The current rental vacancy rate for rental accommodation in Penrith sits at 0.5 per cent.

“There were only eight homes matching our requirements and we applied for all, receiving two rejections, and the other applications received no response at all. Hume manages close to 150 group homes on behalf of the NSW government; we take over the lease of a property and guarantee rent and manage all maintenance and property upkeep. We really are a safe pair of hands for property owners – unfortunately in such a competitive market those who are most vulnerable are easily overlooked.”

Hume is one of NSW’s largest SDA property managers with homes located across metropolitan and regional NSW. Hume provides safe, comfortable, and age-appropriate housing to more than 500 customers living in Hume group homes. Hume also develops and builds SDA housing and has ambitions to build more homes, particularly larger 5-bedroom homes.

With only three days out from their lease end, Hume secured a property in St Clair.

“It felt like a miracle. We were just so relieved,” says Parker.

Hume signed a two-year lease enabling the housemates to rest easy knowing they have a secure home for the time being.

Hume supports customers to successfully maintain their tenancies, build resilience, participate in life, and to reach their full potential in collaboration with an extensive partner network. “We still have is a fair bit of work to do to improve liveability of the home, but we are so thankful the guys will remain together,” says Parker with a smile.

City West Housing's Tallowwood Apartments to deliver affordable homes to Rockdale

Content supplied by City West Housing

City West Housing has secured the development application (DA) for its first mixed tenure, build-to-rent development outside the City of Sydney.

Tallowwood Apartments at 427-429 Princes Highway, Rockdale will deliver 80 much-needed apartments in the Bayside LGA, with construction expected to be completed by 2025.

The development will be a mix of integrated affordable (80%) and market (20%) rental housing owned and operated by City West Housing. The site is in the heart of Rockdale Town Centre and is close to essential services and Rockdale train station.

Leonie King, CEO of City West Housing, said: “While we remain committed to our roots in the City of Sydney, this expansion is in line with City West Housing’s growth strategy.”

“For many workers on lower incomes, the Sydney area is an increasingly difficult place to live and raise a family because of rapidly rising rents. City West Housing is always looking for opportunities to develop multi-tenure affordable housing developments that allow lower income workers to live near their jobs.”

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