Housing Matters July 2019

CEO Report

Community housing providers have been in the news this month with Hume Community Housing signing a MOU with the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation and Tharawal Aboriginal Housing Corporation to work together to improve housing and social outcomes across South West Sydney.  I was fortunate to be able to attend the ceremony and it was a great celebration of community and the culmination of an enormous amount of hard work.  More details on the partnership are below – congratulations to all.

Congratulations also to the team at St George Community Housing for winning the Affordable Housing Award at the Urban Taskforce Development Excellence Awards – another example of quality and sustainable housing development being undertaken by the community housing sector.  Well done SGCH!

The RBA Board’s 2 July decision to further lower interest rates points to continued concerns about domestic economic performance with the Board pointing to continued low growth in consumption and demand and low wages growth as ongoing issues.  With the cash rate at 1.00%, debate will likely increase about whether further rate decreases will be effective in stimulating growth and demand.  It was interesting to see the article in the Sydney Morning Herald from the Grattan Institute following the RBA decision on rates around the most effective ways of boosting the economy.

As the article points out, “The best fiscal stimulus policies are temporary, fast to roll out and involve “no regrets” – in other words, spending with a solid policy rationale.”  The Grattan Institute’s view?  That the construction of social housing should be the number one priority for any Government considering fiscal stimulus.

Of course, there are a range of actions that could be considered to boost the supply of social and affordable housing to meet the significant unmet demand in the community.  Land, planning instruments and incentives, partnerships and financing support and innovation are all important factors and the community housing sector will continue to work with government and other stakeholders on solutions to improve the lives of individuals and families in housing stress in the community.

NHFIC’s Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator (AHBA)

To help provide better solutions for registered community housing providers, the National Housing Finance & Investment Corporation (NHFIC) operates an Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator (AHBA). The AHBA provides low cost, long-term finance to registered community housing providers (CHPs) to support the provision of more affordable and social housing.

NHFIC have issued a new factsheet for AHBA loans, to explain the application process and outline key areas such as eligibility and what the loans can be used for. The factsheet is available for download here.

On July 1st NHFIC’s Capacity Building Program opened which is administered by CHIA. This program, which will run until September 2020, is aimed at Tier 2 and 3 CHPs. It provides a grant for professional advisory services to assist in applying for NHFIC finance. More info can be found here.

Partnership to deliver Aboriginal-led community housing announced

NAIDOC Week celebrations saw the signing of a unique agreement between Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation and Hume Community Housing at Tharawal’s centre in Airds. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)  between the  two organisations  cements a new partnership to improve housing and social outcomes for Aboriginal people and  communities  across South West Sydney.

Tharawal CEO Darryl Wright and Hume CEO Nicola Lemon signed the agreement, witnessed by representatives from Family and Community Services and the Aboriginal Housing Office.

Under the agreement, Hume, a veteran community housing provider with more than 30 years’ experience, committed to supporting Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation in their goal of achieving Community Housing Provider status. In return, Tharawal promised to develop Aboriginal Cultural Competency Training to build capability and awareness across Hume’s workforce.

On 14 June 2019, registration under the National Regulatory System Community Housing (NRSCH) was achieved with Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation approved to operate as a Tier 3 provider, delivering housing solutions for their Indigenous customers. “Today is the result of genuine commitment, trust, respect, and shared values between us. This is true reconciliation in action. With Hume’s support we’ve combined our joint resources, knowledge, and experience to achieve important, long-reaching objectives for both organisations,” said Mr. Wright. He cited the work of his team, including Alison Croall and Karen Fischer, in supporting Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation to be recognised as the first NRSCH approved provider in the Sydney South Western district for the Aboriginal Housing Office.

“Our long-term goal of better supporting and improving Aboriginal people’s health is driven by a holistic approach which acknowledges the critical role good quality housing plays in a person’s well-being. Knowing we can not only provide healthcare but also return people home to a better standard of living will significantly improve their quality of life and in turn their health outcomes,” said Mr. Wright.

Ms. Lemon told those at the signing that the opportunity to support Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation in their endeavours was a natural step for  Hume.  “Our organisation provides opportunities for our customers to prosper. We want everyone to have access to safe, secure housing and we are advocates for  Aboriginal  controlled service provision. Combining housing with health and well-being is revolutionary and we expect to see long-term benefits for generations to come. I’m pleased we can play a role in achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal people.”

Under the agreement, Hume will also provide support to ensure Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation’s new housing customers receive reliable, high-quality repair and maintenance services. “We know the importance of having a home that is well maintained and Hume have the expertise and capacity to assist Tharawal. However, this is a mutually beneficial partnership and with Tharawal’s expertise and support, Hume have an Aboriginal Cultural Competency plan and training program that Tharawal will deliver, to build capability across Hume’s workforce,” said Ms. Lemon.

Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation is currently in discussions with the Aboriginal Housing Office and hopes to be managing their first properties by the end of the year.

Photo: L-R Rodrigo Gutierrez, Nicola Lemon, Darryl Wright, Jody Broun, Alison Croall

SGCH: Westmead development wins Affordable Housing Award

St George Community Housing were a winner at the Urban Taskforce Development Excellence Awards on 24 July.

Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson, said “SGCH won the Affordable Housing Award with their 67 unit affordable housing apartment building on the Great Western Highway at Westmead that sets new design standards for affordable housing.”

This development at Westmead provides social and affordable housing and demonstrates quality urban development. SGCH has transformed a former petrol station site to deliver a 4-star Green Star standard against the Green Building Council of Australia’s rating system for buildings which also achieves a 6.8 star rating under the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS).

SGCH Group CEO, Scott Langford said “We are proud that the efforts of our team and partners have been recognised by the judges and Urban Taskforce in respect of the quality of the building and the outcomes we are delivering for social and affordable housing tenants.”

Completed in October 2018, the 67-unit development provides social and affordable housing. The Westmead project demonstrates quality urban development that has contributed to improved economic, social and environmental outcomes in Westmead.

City Futures research: Build-to-Rent

City Futures has published research into Build-to-Rent that it undertook in collaboration with Landcom.

Build-to-rent schemes are apartment blocks built to be rented, usually at market rates, usually owned by an institutional investor providing an ongoing revenue stream.  Build-to-rent is an established asset class in other parts of the world but is very much in its infancy in Australia.

The City Futures research looks at how build-to-rent could work in Australia and considers if there is any potential for build-to-rent developments to boost affordable housing supply.

Analysis in the research report compares the costs of developing affordable housing for profit developers and not-for-profit community housing developers demonstrating the advantages community housing providers have.

The report also considers the public policy objectives that can be achieved by supporting the build-to-rent sector, including creating stability in the construction industry and property markets and boosting rental security.

Ultimately, the report suggests that significant changes are needed to tax settings to support the growth of a build-to-rent sector in Australia.  It also highlights how governments can use its own resources to support affordable housing in build-to-rent schemes.

Read more about this report here and download the report here

Affordable Housing Infrastructure Booster

CHIA NSW, BlueCHP Ltd, Evolve Housing and National Affordable Housing Providers Ltd commissioned Urban Transitions, Swinburne University of Technology to develop a policy blueprint for creating investment in affordable housing.

The Affordable Housing Infrastructure Booster aims to increase the supply of affordable rental properties by providing a tax credit that affordable housing developers can use to raise capital from investors and form equity partnerships.

To read more about this policy proposal, please click here.

Local strategic planning statements

Sydney councils have started consulting on their draft Local Strategic Planning Statements which will set out land use priorities over the next 20 years.

Local Strategic Planning Statements are significant for the community housing industry because councils will use them to indicate how they intend to prioritise the issue of housing affordability and whether they will use their powers to deliver affordable rental housing for their communities.

Over the next several months, all Sydney councils will need to exhibit their draft Local Strategic Planning Statements publicly to seek their community’s views.  These consultation processes are an opportunity for our industry to highlight the importance of affordable rental housing to local communities and to stress the need for councils to make it a planning priority.

We are expecting the draft Local Strategic Planning Statements to range in their support for affordable housing.  We think it is important to advocate where councils are largely silent on the issue but we also know that it is important for councils to hear that organisations like yours are supportive when they do propose to develop evidence-based local affordable housing strategies or affordable housing schemes to implement inclusionary zoning.

Our priorities for the draft Local Strategic Planning Statements are that they:

• Explicitly identify affordable rental housing as a strategic priority for the community
• Acknowledge the economic and social benefits of affordable rental housing and the role it plays in supporting job growth and economic prosperity for local communities
• Acknowledge the directions established by the Greater Sydney Commission Plan and the affordable housing targets it proposes
• Commit to developing an local housing strategy which quantifies housing need now and into the future and includes a focus on the need for affordable rental housing
• Identify mechanisms for delivering affordable rental housing through the planning system and/or by leveraging other opportunities available to the council such partnering with registered community housing to redevelop council owned land
• Identify how the council will work in partnership with community housing providers and the NSW and federal governments to deliver affordable rental housing in their communities

CHIA NSW has already made submissions to Campbelltown and Canada Bay councils and we are urging community housing providers to make submissions to all the local councils they operate in to advocate and show support for providing more affordable rental housing supply through the planning system.

See our submissions here

AHO IT Grants Program Round 2 extension

We have extended the submission deadline for Round 2 until Weds 14 August . If you would like to submit a late application to the AHO IT Grants program please do so using this link or call Joanna on 9690 2447 for more details.

In the Media

Poor housing leaves its mark on our mental health for years to come

‘Real outcomes’: Super fund invests in affordable housing for ambos, nurses, police

Australia lost 20,000 public housing units in a decade, study finds

GROWING THE SOUTH-WEST | NHFIC announces first construction loan with community-housing provider

NHFIC in social housing financing spree includes first construction loans

Community housing providers can grow build-to-rent sector

Call that a housing slump? As prices rise again, many will be stuck renting

NSW government commits $5 million to housing in Dubbo to address ‘social outcomes’