Housing Matters July 2020

Welcome to July 2020 edition of Housing Matters.

Inside this issue you will find updates on the work of CHIA NSW, our members, and news from around the NSW community housing sector.

We hope you enjoy this edition.

The CHIA NSW team

CHIA NSW Housing Strategy submission update

CHIA NSW recently submitted our response to the NSW Government’s Discussion Paper, A Housing Strategy for NSW.

CHIA NSW’s response is based on extensive consultation with community housing providers, housing and homelessness peak bodies, academics and other parties. CHIA NSW would like to pass on our thanks for the time and knowledge that all consulted stakeholders shared through this process.

The final response is a comprehensive document that highlights the value of the community housing sector as a key partner for delivering the social and affordable housing that NSW urgently needs over the next 20 years.

CHIA NSW’s full response to the paper can be viewed here.

Evolve Housing creates new jobs with Productivity Force partnership

Evolve Housing has partnered with Productivity Force to help youth, and those in need, get a pathway to a trade.

Productivity Force has been providing contract and labour solutions to the construction industry since 2015. They are heavily invested in ensuring ample opportunities for the next generation to gain meaningful roles, get their trade qualification and succeed in the industry.

One of the ways they achieve this is through their sister company, Productivity Bootcamp. Based in Western Sydney, Productivity Bootcamp provides an 8-week intensive program arming young people with the skills and attitude they need to be a productive worker. The aim is to have young people complete the program and be supported to gain full-time employment, particularly in apprenticeships and traineeships. Productivity Force sources all their apprentices and trainees from the program and supports other companies to do the same.

Evolve Housing is proud to have partnered with Productivity Force to create real employment opportunities for these young people completing maintenance works on residential properties.

Micheal Gherm, Property Services Manager for Evolve Housing, was proud to be involved in providing such a valuable opportunity for more young people to get into apprenticeships:

‘As a provider that puts social good at the heart of what we do, we’re glad to be able to give young people a helping hand to employment in construction and property maintenance’

Productivity Force’s General Manager, Kieran Duffy, believes that partnerships like these will be the solution to combatting the rising rates of youth unemployment:

‘As leaders in the industry, it is our responsibility to invest in the next generation of workers to ensure that our industry not only survives but thrives in the future and remains one of the key pillars in Australia’s healthy economic ecosystem”.

The partnership also provides work experience opportunities to participants of the Productivity Bootcamp program, giving them much needed exposure to real construction work. Participants that engaged in work experience on Evolve Housing projects rated the experience as one of the highlights of the program.’

The most recent intake of the Productivity Bootcamp program will support 25 new participants to gain the skills and opportunities they need to secure meaningful employment. With the economic impact of COVID-19 affecting construction, it is great to see this initiative supporting employment in Western Sydney.

CHIA NSW congratulates Evolve Housing and Productivity Force on this important partnership.

You can see photos of the apprentices at work in the photos above, you can read more about Evolve’s work here, and Productivity Force’s program here

Older Tenants toolkit released

In partnership with Uniting, CHIA NSW recently released the Older Tenants toolkit. Aimed at providers of accommodation for tenants ageing in place, the toolkit will support aged care and community housing providers seeking to implement best practice for older tenants.With Australia experiencing a demographic shift towards a long-term ageing population, the need for providers to understand this cohort will only increase.

You can access the toolkit at the CHIA NSW website (click here)Pacific Link Housing seek Non-Executive Director

Pacific Link Housing are currently seeking Expressions of Interest for a Non-Executive Director to join their organisation. You can find more information about the role, including application details, below.

The Organisation
Pacific Link Housing is a not-for-profit for purpose Central Coast based company; providing affordable, community-based, rental housing for people with limited access to traditional and mainstream housing in the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley and Port Stephens areas.  The organisation manages over 1,000 properties.
The Company’s on-going registration as a Community Housing Provider requires constant Board and management attention.  Pacific Link is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.

The Role
As a Tier 1 Community Housing Provider, Pacific Link Housing must operate under the expert guidance of a skilled Board of Directors.  Due to impending Board vacancies (based on rotational requirements outlined in our Constitution), we are currently seeking expressions of interest from a range of skilled candidates with extensive professional experience and expertise in one or more of the following areas:

community housing
strategic and financial management
housing development, procurement and construction
real estate services
strategic asset management
social policy development, and
experience in advocacy and government procurement.

To be successfully appointed as a Director on the Board of Pacific Link Housing, each candidate must also demonstrate that they possess the time and commitment necessary to perform their duties as a Director, commensurate with the size, nature and strategic intent of Pacific Link Housing. Directors must also be eligible to work in Australia on a permanent basis.

Given Pacific Link Housing’s charitable status, Directors are remunerated at a level that is benchmarked to similar organisations. Nominations for the position of Director are subject to the endorsement and approval by members in accordance with Pacific Link Housing’s constituent rules. Further information will be made available to persons who are offered an interview.

NB: The role will require a background check prior to an offer of appointment.

Application Process
EOI Applications should include your resume and covering letter, identifying your areas of relevant expertise and experience. Please email your EOI to: [email protected]

Closing date for applications is 5pm Friday 7th August 2020
EOI enquiries, please contact the Company Secretary at [email protected]

No agencies please.

BaptistCare NSW/ACT CEO Ross Low retires, welcomes new CEO Charles Moore

CHIA NSW thanks retiring BaptistCare NSW/ACT Chief Executive Officer Ross Low, who retired from BaptistCare NSW/ACT earlier in July.

Ross Low was instrumental in overseeing BaptistCare’s community housing strategy. We thank Ross for his service and contribution to both BaptistCare and the community housing sector.

CHIA NSW would also like to extend our congratulations to incoming BaptistCare NSW/ACT CEO, Charles Moore who joins from the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.

You can read coverage of the announcement from BaptistCare NSW/ACT here.

Community Housing Limited’s Together Home update

The NSW Government’s recently announced Together Home package is now being rolled out.

CHIA NSW member Community Housing Limited (CHL) is one of the providers to receive a share of $36 million to combat homelessness in NSW.

Through $1.6m in funding, CHL will transition 24 rough sleepers on NSW Mid-North Coast to long-term social housing. Managing Director of CHL Steve Bevington said the importance of the NSW Government’s Together Home package could not be underestimated:

‘It is encouraging to see the NSW Government consistently prioritizing funding in this area where it’s so desperately needed, providing a new lease of life to those who have fallen into difficulties…This funding will allow CHL to prioritise housing and support to those at the hardest end of the homelessness cycle back into housing and community life.’

CHIA NSW congratulates the NSW Government for their continued partnership with providers like CHL on the Together Home program.

You can read CHL’s media release on their participation in the program here.

NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal training – open for enrolments

Developing an understanding of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) is fast becoming an important part of ensuring CHPs are ready to effectively address issues.
Centre for Training in Social Housing is offering an online NCAT training package that is supported through two video conferencing sessions and online modules. Participants will develop:

• Fundamental skills in navigating NCAT, including record management, NCAT procedure and case preparation.
• Practical case knowledge through engaging, hands-on activities and quizzes throughout the program.
• Opportunities to network, workshop and collaborate with industry peers.

The NCAT training course will start on August 19th and is currently open for enrolments. If this is of interest to you or your organization, you can register or seek further details by contacting our training representative, Sadhona, at [email protected].

New digital platform WelcomeMat to ease search for affordable rental housing

WelcomeMat, a new digital platform that matches affordable rental housing providers with eligible applicants, has been created to make it easier for people seeking affordable rental housing.

The platform has been designed to create efficiencies and cost savings for housing providers, as well as a more accessible and equitable system for those seeking tenancy. WelcomeMat will prequalify applicants based on their profile, which will streamline the application process.

Co-founder and CEO of WelcomeMat, Mark Khoo, who is a property lawyer and Churches Housing Board Member, saw the challenges that affordable rental housing providers and applicants face in the leasing process.

“We all know that there is low awareness and confusion amongst the public about what affordable rental housing is, and where to find it. This leads to many eligible Australians missing out, as well as a high volume of ineligible applications.

“Based on CHIA NSW’s own research, up to 60% of affordable rental housing applicants are ineligible, yet each application can take hours to process. This is putting incredible administrative pressure on housing providers to avoid vacancies despite the high demand,” said Khoo.

Brian Murnane, CEO of Vinnies’ Amelie Housing, said “Searching for an affordable rental home can be confusing, frustrating and time consuming. We are looking forward to WelcomeMat providing one central and easy-to-use resource that will alleviate this stress to help housing providers and applicants manage the process.”

CHIA NSW is pleased to support WelcomeMat as it seeks to fill a vital role in the affordable rental housing industry. The public support from other peak bodies including Churches Housing and many CHPs, demonstrates that WelcomeMat will be providing a much-needed service.”

WelcomeMat also plans to collect and analyse data on supply and demand to assist with advocacy and town planning and help increase the supply of community housing.

Upon launch, WelcomeMat will focus on the Sydney Metro, Central Coast and Hunter regions, with a view to expand to the rest of NSW and then nationally.

A soft launch of the portal will take place in early September 2020. To list your property, please visit www.welcomemat.com.au and send an email to [email protected]

An update from NHFIC CEO Nathan Dal Bon

On 22 July, I participated in the CHIA Strategic Chairs Network videoconference, where I gave an update on NHFIC’s progress across all areas of our business. I was pleased to advise that we now have over $1.5b in AHBA loans approved by our Board, supporting thousands of new and existing dwellings across the country. Additionally, 11 grant applications have been supported through our Capacity Building Program, which provides eligible CHPs with tailored assistance from a panel of approved professional advisory service providers to help with applications for NHFIC finance. To apply for a grant, visit CHIA’s website for more information. 

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been meeting with the CEOs and CFOs of community housing providers involved in NHFIC’s third bond issuance last month to gain feedback and insights into their experiences across the entire AHBA loan process. The feedback has been valuable for our team to understand what worked well and where improvements could be made. We’ve also been having more informal discussions with some of the CEOs to develop case studies for our website.

Our newly formed research unit is working on a number of short papers to be released in the coming months. Here’s a link to the first research report, Building Jobs: How residential construction drives the economy, if you haven’t yet read it. Understanding the extent to which residential construction activity (including social and affordable housing) affects output and jobs across the broader economy is important, given the impact of COVID-19 and general market uncertainty. Our analysis confirms that, relative to other industries, residential construction activity has strong economic spillovers in terms of economic output and jobs, particularly when there is spare capacity.

Please connect with us on social media (Twitter and LinkedIn) to stay up to date with the latest news from NHFIC.