Housing Matters March 2023

Welcome to the March 2023 edition of Housing Matters.

Following the recent state election, the NSW Labor Party, led by Premier Chris Minns, has formed a minority government in NSW. We welcome the Premier’s announcement of his first Ministry, which includes an equal representation of males and females in Cabinet for the first time in NSW’s history.

I’d like to congratulate the Hon. Rose Jackson MLC on her appointment as Housing and Homelessness Minister, and the Hon. Paul Scully MP on his appointment of Planning and Public Spaces Minister.

The community housing sector has a long-standing and successful partnership with the NSW Government to deliver new homes where they’re needed most, and we look forward to working with the incoming Premier and his Cabinet team to confront the housing crisis, end homelessness, and create a world-class planning system over the next four years of government.

We know that the challenge of confronting the housing crisis is immense. The social housing wait list grew by 15 per cent to 58,000 households in 2022, whilst interest rate rises and surging rental prices have created significant financial hardship for hundreds of thousands of individuals and families across the housing continuum.

Our industry’s priorities are simple:

  • Partnering with the NSW Government to deliver more social and affordable homes, including by maximising the opportunities presented by the Housing Australia Future Fund and the Housing Accord;
  • Helping to end homelessness by establishing permanent Housing First programs coupled with permanent housing solutions, and
  • Working with the NSW Government to establish a planning system that prioritises social and affordable housing in areas of need on both Government and non-Government land subject to rezoning.

At a Federal level, CHIA NSW supports the call of our Federal housing and homelessness peak body colleagues for the Senate to pass the package of legislation that will begin tackling the housing crisis when Parliament resumes in May. Whilst we know that the Housing Australia Future Fund won’t fix the housing crisis on its own, it provides a welcome start and much needed leadership to deliver social and affordable housing that our communities so desperately need.

Meanwhile, the Australia Bureau of Statistics recently published its estimates of homelessness data from the 2021 Census. In NSW, the Census reported a 7 per cent decrease in homelessness, including a marked reduction in the number of people sleeping rough. Whilst greater investment in housing and homelessness services remains critical, the results highlight the importance of the Together Home program to provide life-changing housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness.

You can read more in this edition about our recently published report on Together Home, which outlines how the NSW Government can make this program a permanent solution in our collective efforts to end homelessness.

We’ve got plenty more in this edition of Housing Matters which I hope you enjoy.

Please enjoy this edition of Housing Matters.

Mark Degotardi

A recap of NSW Labor's election commitments

The NSW Labor Government made the following housing announcements during the election campaign:

  • Establish two Build-to-Rent pilot programs (Northern Rivers and South Coast) to deliver new rental housing over two years. The total commitment for these programs is $60 million.
  • Introduce a mandatory requirement for 30% of all homes built on surplus government land to be set aside for social and affordable housing.
  • Merge three government agencies – LAHC, Aboriginal Housing Office, and Department of Communities and Justice (Housing) – to create Homes NSW, which will bring construction, maintenance, and tenancy management under the same umbrella.
  • Establish a Rental Commissioner to deliver the following reforms and initiatives:
    • Lead consultation and drafting on legislation to introduce reasons for eviction;
    • Implement Labor’s portable bonds scheme;
    • Oversee a ban on secret rent bidding;
    • Identify barriers to increasing housing supply for renting;
    • Identify practices and gaps that erode the rights of renters;
    • Identify options for longer term agreements
    • Develop initiatives, including educational resources for renters and owners, to increase knowledge of their rights
    • Collect data on renting and survey renters to help inform future policymaking; and
    • Identify opportunities for renters to access energy efficiency initiatives more easily.

Community Housing 2023 - one month to go!

CHIA NSW is excited to welcome our delegates, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors to Community Housing 2023.

Held at the Sydney Masonic Centre on Wednesday 10 May and Thursday 11 MayCommunity Housing 2023 will showcase the latest evidence, policy debates and best practice examples underpinning the delivery of social and affordable housing solutions led by the community housing industry and our dedicated partners.

Our program features more than 60 expert speakers representing the community housing industry, government, the private sector, the not-for-profit sector, and academia.

Tickets are selling fast, with 300 people already registered to attend the two-day event, whilst the conference dinner on Wednesday 10 May is almost sold out.

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to attend Community Housing 2023. For more information, please visit our website here.

Community housing providers hold Confront the Crisis staff events

The Confront the Crisis campaign has shone a spotlight on the critical need for the NSW Government to address the state’s housing emergency.

In the lead up to the state election, several community housing providers hosted staff events supporting the Confront the Crisis campaign message.

It was a chance for staff to discuss the housing and homelessness crisis in NSW and the vital role their organisation can play in addressing it by providing safe, secure and affordable housing to the people of NSW.

The events were also an opportunity for staff to consider and discuss the commitments and attitudes they would like to see from governments in order to enact meaningful change.

CHIA NSW and the Confront the Crisis team would like to thank everyone – peak bodies, industry experts, community housing providers, staff, tenants, and members of the public – for their support.

ABS Homelessness Census data released, hundreds at risk of becoming homeless as successful programs draw to a close

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently released the estimates of homelessness from the 2021 Census.

The data shows that on the night of the Census, 35,011 people in NSW were experiencing homelessness, representing a decrease of 2,704 people since 2016. Of these, 963 people were sleeping rough (i.e. in improvised swellings, tents, or sleeping out), a decrease of 1,625 people since 2016.

The proportion of people sleeping rough declined from 7% of NSW’s homeless population in 2016 to 2.75% in 2021, while the number of people staying in temporary lodgings (e.g. hotel and motel accommodation) increased from 222 people in 2016 to 1,427 people in 2021. This represents a 543% increase.

It is important to note that the Census was held on 10 August 2021, during which time Greater Sydney and other parts of NSW were affected by COVID-19 lockdowns.

NSW Government policies implemented during this period included homelessness prevention and reduction measures such as:

  • the Residential Tenancy Support package, which placed a moratorium on eviction of tenants who could not pay their rent, and
  • the Together Home program, first established in 2020 to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 was minimised as Public Health Order restrictions were implemented across NSW, which provided rough sleepers with affordable, sustainable, and supported accommodation.

Since July 2020, the life-changing Together Home program has provided stable housing and wrap-around support services to over 1,000 people. However, most participants are set to exit the program by the end of 2023.

The Census results show that the Together Home program is effective in reducing homelessness by ensuring people sleeping rough have safe and secure housing and much-needed support.

CHIA NSW is urging the NSW State Government to commit to a Housing First policy across NSW by making the Together Home program permanent through sustained investment of $25 million per year, as well as building an additional 200 social housing properties every year for people exiting from the Together Home program.

CEO of CHIA NSW, Mark Degotardi, said funding of $25 million per year would provide 250 new Together Home packages each year as well as ongoing support for people with high and complex needs.

“Together Home has supported over 1,000 people in NSW to get off the streets and into a safe home with wrap-around support. This has allowed them to sustain their tenancies and to enter education and training and to secure jobs. It’s a life-changing program,” said Mr Degotardi.

“The Census results are encouraging but we can’t stop now. The Census data is more than a year old, during which time rents have increased by over 20% while inflation has neared 8%, putting more people at risk of homelessness than ever before. All the progress will be lost if the Government doesn’t keep funding this highly effective program.”

You can read CHIA NSW’s Addressing rough sleeping and changing lives: the case to make Together Home a permanent Housing First response in NSW report here.

CHIA National launches ESG Reporting Standard for Australian community housing sector

Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) National has launched the first edition of its Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) Reporting Standard.

Commissioned in 2022, the industry-specific framework enables the community housing sector to measure, manage, report, and interpret their community impact.

Developed in partnership with a range of organisations from the public and private sector, including several community housing providers (CHPs), this ESG Reporting Standard now positions Australia as an international leader in impact reporting for the community housing sector.

Sector-wide adoption and sustained implementation of CHIA National’s ESG framework and reporting standard by community housing organisations will help to:

  • demonstrate the improved economic and social outcomes generated by community housing,
  • facilitate diversification and expansion of funding sources available to the sector,
  • assist with credible social impact reporting,
  • enable access to lower borrowing costs and other financial benefits, and
  • support social and affordable housing to grow as an investment asset class.

The newly available resources can be accessed by filling in the form available on CHIA National’s website here.

Council to Homeless Persons' journal Parity calling for article contributions for their May 2023 edition

Council to Homeless Persons, the peak body representing organisations and individuals in Victoria, is calling for contributions for the May 2023 edition of their journal, Parity.

The May 2023 edition, is titled ‘Beyond the Capitals: The Role of Community Housing in Responding to Homelessness and Housing Stress in Regional, Rural and Remote Australia’ and is sponsored by Community Housing Limited (CHL), Beyond Housing, Haven Home Safe, and Housing Choices Tasmania.

The edition is dedicated to the diverse housing and homelessness issues affecting communities across Australia, and the critical work of community housing providers in response. It will also discuss the obstacles and constraints community housing providers face in meeting the demands and requirements of different locations and their distinct communities.

‘Beyond the Capitals: The Role of Community Housing in Responding to Homelessness and Housing Stress in Regional, Rural and Remote Australia’ will be segmented into five chapters:

  • Part 1: Homelessness and housing stress in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia
    • Identifying and discussing the different and distinct issues of homelessness and housing stress in regional, rural, and remote areas.
  • Part 2: Responding to homelessness and housing stress in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia
    • Regional, rural, and remote community housing providers are invited to describe, discuss, and explain the policies, procedures and initiatives community housing providers have put in place in regional, rural, and remote areas to attempt to meet the housing requirements of those experiencing homelessness and housing stress.
  • Part 3: Constraints in Meeting Housing Needs Regional, Rural and Remote Australia
    • Regional, rural, and remote community housing providers are invited to examine and discuss the difficulties, constraints and obstacles community housing providers face and experience in meeting the housing needs of those experiencing homelessness and housing stress in regional, rural, and remote areas.
  • Part 4: Responding to Disaster
    • Discussing the role and work of CHPs in responding to the housing need resulting from the many and various “natural” disasters that have disproportionally impacted on regional, rural, and remote locations.
  • Part 5: Opinions
    • Offers leaders in community housing providers the opportunity to advocate for the government policies that will best support their work and enable the provision of housing to those experiencing housing stress or homelessness in regional, rural, and remote areas.

The deadline for submissions for this edition of Parity is COB Friday 12 May 2023.

Please submit your contribution to [email protected]. Articles should be no longer than 1,600 words.

For further information, head here, or you can contact Parity Editor Noel Murray at [email protected].

2022 Cadets wrap up their studies

CHIA NSW is thrilled to see another round of students complete their cadetships, with the 2022 cohort wrapping up their final week of study at the Redfern Community Centre earlier this month.

The Cadetship Program is a four-year partnership between CHIA NSW and the NSW Government to provide Certificate IV in Housing training and paid employment with a designated community housing provider to up to 25 cadets per year.

21 students began the journey at the start of last year, and at least 75% are on track to graduate from the program.

Amongst the cadets, 10 are Aboriginal and 12 currently live in social housing.

In fantastic news, 11 students have so far secured ongoing jobs with community housing providers and three students are now employed in the community services industry.

CHIA NSW is extremely proud of all cadets completing the program and looks forward to witnessing their ongoing success as they forge ahead with their careers in community housing and community services.

“Words can’t describe how blessed and how grateful I am, and how proud of myself I feel for all that I have achieved.” – Round 2 cadet

“If you want to really challenge yourself, then apply for the Cadetship Program – if you’re determined and committed, you won’t regret it.” – Round 2 cadet

NHFIC Update: Analysis on international finance and institutional investment to fund the delivery of social and affordable housing

The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) has released two reports, one shedding light on funding models of social and affordable housing around the world, the other on the expected upward trajectory of Australia’s housing demand.

NHFIC’s Analysis on international finance and institutional investment to fund the delivery of social and affordable housing report examines the level of private and institutional capital investment going towards the delivery of social and affordable housing projects in select international markets.

The report concluded that markets with prominent and increasing levels of private and institutional financing, such as the UK and the US, are supported by long-term government policies. Tax incentives and subsidies, risk diversification and cash flow stability, as well as regulatory reforms and greater funding transparency were cited as key enablers that provide investment certainty to private and institutional investors.

This research will inform NHFIC’s approach to maximising the implementation of the Housing Australia Future Fund going forward. You can read NHFIC’s media release, including the full report here.

New modelling has suggested that Australia's rental housing woes will continue for years to come as new housing supply lags behind demand amidst construction constraints and soaring interest rates.

Meanwhile, NHFIC's State of the Nation's Housing 2022-23 report has suggested that Australia's rental housing woes will continue for years to come as new housing supply lags behind demand amidst construction constraints and soaring interest rates.

Some other of the report’s findings include:

  • Nationally, the number of new households expected to be formed is projected to outrun new housing supply between 2022 and 2027 by a staggering 106,300, while that difference is slightly smaller at around 79,300 dwellings over the next 10 years to 2023.
  • New supply of apartments and medium-density dwellings (e.g. town houses) across Australia is expected to be around 40% less than the rates seen in the late 2010s. A shortage of these types of dwellings for rent is expected over the medium-term.
  • As a percentage of population, NSW has the second-highest levels of housing need, representing 4.6% of households or 132,600 households.
  • Rental growth in Sydney is outpacing growth in regional NSW, which may suggest people are returning to the major city after the pandemic brought about a mass exodus to the regions.

The report is presented pragmatically and impartially but its observations only crystallise the rental housing crisis which Australia is set to continue weathering for years to come.

You can read the report here.

CHIA NSW Certificate IV in Housing - Tenancy Managers: applications open for May intake

CHIA NSW’s Learning and Development team are excited to be running a brand-new course this year, the Certificate IV in Housing – Tenancy Managers.

The one-year, full-time course focuses on developing the knowledge and skills required to deliver housing support services to tenants, applicants and the community in the social housing and homelessness sector.

To gain hands-on experience, students will also undertake a 7-week placement with a community housing provider in the final term of the course.

Graduates can go on to become social housing specialist staff who work with people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

The Certificate IV in Housing - Tenancy Managers is completely free, with the next intake beginning Wednesday 3 May.

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

City West Housing launches education support initiative to help residents invest in their children's future

City West Housing has launched the Aspire Education Fund to support their high school-aged residents to stay in school.

This is the first time City West Housing has offered such a program, which aims to enhance young residents’ future education, employment and life prospects.

The fund, to initially run for two years, will help City West Housing residents to invest in the education of the children in their care attending Years 7-10.

CEO Leonie King said, “We know that young people did it really tough during the COVID pandemic, and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds more than most. Recent research also shows that Year 12 completion rates, a key predictor of life outcomes, have fallen in NSW.

“This project aligns with our objective to support our tenants and their households to participate socially and economically.”

Initially being co-funded with SR Construction Pty Ltd, City West Housing’s maintenance contractors, as part of their contractual agreement with the community housing provider, the Aspire Education Fund will offer financial support for a wide range of educational activities and resources, such as tutors, sporting equipment, school excursions, approved textbooks and stationery, and extra-curricular activities.

Learn more about the Aspire Education Fund.

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