Housing Matters May 2020

Message from the CEO

Welcome to the May 2020 edition of Housing Matters.

This month has been all about partnership.

For CHIA NSW, our partnership with the NSW Council of Social Service, Homelessness NSW, Shelter NSW, and the Tenants’ Union of NSW, has been active in calling for social and affordable housing stimulus to be central in Government considerations for supporting economic recovery from COVID-19. Together, we commissioned new modelling from Equity Economics, which highlighted the social and economic benefits of social housing stimulus.

The report showed that rising unemployment will have increased pressure on the housing system, which could result in up to 16,000 people becoming homeless as a result of COVID-19. A social housing stimulus package of $500 million could recharge the economy, create up to 4,200 construction jobs, and reduce the impact of homelessness.

Links to the full report are in this edition.

Partnership is also crucial for our members. In this edition of Housing Matters, you’ll see some of the programs and developments that our members are delivering in partnership with others, including their tenant communities. Whether it’s in holistic tenant care or new housing developments, community housing providers are pioneering new and innovative ways to support their communities.

Also important for our sector’s growth has been our work with the National Finance Housing and Investment Corporation (NHFIC). In this edition we hear from Nathan Dal Bon, CEO of NHFIC, about current and forthcoming initiatives which will help our members to deliver new housing.

You’ll be able to see more about those stories below.

Finally, I want to acknowledge CHIA NSW’s partnerships with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. During Reconciliation Week, CHIA NSW is taking time as an organisation on Friday 29 May to reflect on this year’s theme – In this Together – and what this means for all Australians. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many Aboriginal organisations and communities that work with CHIA NSW and our members to deliver better housing outcomes for Aboriginal people. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with the Aboriginal community housing sector to create a fairer and more equitable Australia.

We hope you enjoy this edition.

Mark Degotardi


Report from NSW peak bodies shows impacts of COVID-19 and ways to economic recovery

In May 2020, CHIA NSW co-commissioned research with the NSW Council of Social Service, Homelessness NSW, Shelter NSW, and the Tenants’ Union NSW on the impacts of COVID-19 on the NSW economy.

The research was developed by Equity Economics and showed that up to 16,000 individuals could be made homeless by the impacts of COVID-19. In response the report modelled that a targeted social housing stimulus package could secure more homes to reduce the impact of homelessness, and support the construction sector through the creation of new jobs.

You can view the Equity Economics report in full along with the media release, by clicking on the image above and following the links.

CHIA National calls for 30,000 social housing units through a coordinated program

Earlier this month our national body, CHIA National, launched the Social Housing Acceleration & Renovation Program (SHARP).

The program was launched in partnership between CHIA National, Homelessness Australia, National Shelter, and the Everybody’s Home campaign.

The program called for National and State Governments to work together to leverage historically low bond borrowing rates, to fund the creation of 30,000 social housing units to create jobs and new homes.

You can read the report by clicking on the report image above or read the full media release through the link here.

Pacific Link Housing launches Pacific Gateway at Glendale

Pacific Link Housing has formally opened the Pacific Gateway mixed housing community. In partnership with the NSW Land and Housing Corporation and with assistance from Kingston Building Australia, Pacific Link was able to deliver the new site through the Communities Plus program.

With social, affordable, and private housing properties all on site, the 21 unit development will support a diverse community.
The project has been welcomed by both NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey as well as Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser.

You can read more about the project at Pacific Link Housing’s website here and you can see photos of the development above.

Well done to Pacific Link Housing and everyone involved in making this project a success.

FREE online training program for CHPs implementing the Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy

CHIA NSW is excited to share a new event designed specifically for CHPs looking to develop Aboriginal cultural competence and implement the Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy (AOS).

Through June and July 2020, facilitator and trainer Flic Ryan will be running training to help CHPs take their capacity to assist Aboriginal communities to the next level.

Practical and interactive by design, these sessions will provide CHPs with tools and measures to best utilise the Aboriginal Cultural Competency Standards to create better outcomes for Aboriginal tenants.

The training will unpack two Standards and show how this can help CHPs deliver on their AOS commitments.

The two Standards are:

Standard 2: Historical and Social Factors Inform Practice
Standard 4: Service Access and Support

More details including available training times and registration processes are available by clicking the button below.

The program is offered free of charge for CHPs thanks to the support of the Department of Communities and Justice.  However, you must book to reserve your place through registration.  We will contact you to confirm your place and provide joining details and session requirements.

CHIA Exchanges postponed until further notice

With the current restrictions around COVID-19 impacting indoor gatherings, CHIA NSW will be postponing the planned CHIA Exchange for June 2020 until further notice.

Further CHIA Exchanges will be dependent on these restrictions being lifted.

In the place of the postponed CHIA Exchanges, CHIA NSW will remain committed to providing forums that will benefit the community housing sector.

Members interested in joining our COVID-19 Community Development Forum and our COVID-19 Operations Forum are encouraged to contact Caitlin McDowell, at [email protected].

Members interested in joining our COVID-19 Asset Managers Forum are encouraged to contact Adam West, at [email protected]

If you have any general questions regarding CHIA Exchanges or any of the Forums please email [email protected]

Link Housing develops art therapy program for tenants

Community housing providers are known for their holistic care of tenants, so it’s great to see innovations that build the lives of tenants from CHIA NSW members.
Encouraged by the success of its annual community art exhibition, ‘No Place Like Home’ and feedback from tenants, Link Housing started running art classes for residents over a year ago.

Before COVID-19, one of the classes in Ryde was run by Romanian artist and Link Housing resident, Dorina Petre. Passionate about the benefits of art therapy, Dorina was recently featured in local and online media to help launch Link Housing’s ‘No Place Like Home’ 2020 art exhibition.
This year’s exhibition was again set to be even bigger than last years. However, to keep staff, residents and the community safe, Link Housing, like many others, has had to move its community programs and events, including the art exhibition, online.

The organisation has also engaged the help of the exhibition’s curator, and artists Rachel Carroll to run virtual art classes for Link Housing residents leading up to the exhibition application deadline of end June 2020.

Link Housing hopes that in continuing the art program online, it will build both skills for tenants and provide a way to ease some of the anxieties associated with COVID-19.

You can view some of the photos of Dorina teaching residents above, and you can read more about the classes by clicking on this link.

The ‘No Place Like Home’ exhibition highlights the importance of affordable, safe and secure housing, and through art, shows how a home can transform lives. Residents and non-residents can submit an artwork for free. All exhibiting participants and the general public are invited to visit the online gallery from 1 September to 30 September, on Link Housing’s website – click here to view more.

Congratulations to all of the team at Link Housing on this great program.

Hume Housing’s ‘Phone a Buddy Program’ addresses isolation by connecting tenants

Hume Community Housing is challenging social isolation and feelings of loneliness among their senior customers through an innovative matchmaking initiative called Phone a Buddy Program. With more than 35% of customers aged over 55 years, Hume identified that the COVID-19 lockdown was proving to be a significant risk to their older customers.

The Phone a Buddy Program pairs and connects senior customers based on shared interests and their preferences regarding gender, age and location. New ‘buddies’ are introduced to each other via a 3-way call, including one of Hume’s Seniors Program Officers, then the pair can get to know each other through regular phone conversations. Sharing personal histories, interests, adventures and even tales of love and loss has forged new friendships between 34 customers enrolled in the program.

Originally from Sydney, Stephanie moved to Maitland a few years ago and found it hard to make connections in a new place. She has enjoyed conversing with her phone buddy, talking about the places they’ve travelled to and navigating the complexities of an over-the-phone friendship.

“I don’t know a lot of people in this area because I didn’t grow up here so it’s wonderful to have somebody to talk to. As seniors, we’ve got all the time in the world to enjoy a conversation. My buddy is a friendly person and we enjoy talking about all the places we’ve visited. It’s not like a face-to-face conversation where you can see their body language and expression, it’s something new and that makes it all the more exciting,” said Stephanie.

According to Senior Projects Officer, Marnie Fitzpatrick, helping older customers maintain social connections has never been more important.

“At any age, maintaining social connection is important for health and wellbeing, yet studies show that for older adults, social isolation negatively correlates with health and mortality. The age-related risk from COVID-19 makes it increasingly difficult for seniors to maintain social connections. When social isolation is accompanied by subjective feelings of loneliness, the detriment to health increases,” said Marnie.

The capacity of regular, social phone calls to reduce feelings of loneliness and depression in isolated seniors was demonstrated by a 2018 Australian study. Participants were provided with weekly phone calls for 3 months following their discharge from hospital. 68% of study participants experienced a reduction in symptoms of depression, with 53% reporting reduced feelings of loneliness.

The program is gaining momentum and is likely to be an ongoing one as there is always a need to provide options for people to connect.  Hume will be surveying customers to see how the program translates and will adapt once social restrictions ease.

National Housing Finance and Investment (NHFIC) Update from NHFIC CEO, Nathan Dal Bon

The NHFIC team have been in regular contact with our community housing provider clients over the past weeks to offer support and gather feedback on strategies being adopted to address COVID-19 related circumstances. We appreciate the challenges that many of you are facing in ensuring continued provision of services and support to tenants, ongoing business functions and protecting the health and wellbeing of your staff.

It has been encouraging to hear in these discussions that the reduced financing risks and costs provided by NHFIC funding has been beneficial for weathering the impact of COVID-19. I’m pleased to advise we’re currently working towards the issuance of our third bond in the coming months, which will support more low cost, long term loans to CHPs.

Our team have also been engaging with state registrars to coordinate communications with CHPs. We will continue to communicate with registrars on a regular basis to ensure the community housing sector continues to be supported during this time.

The National Housing Infrastructure Facility (NHIF) is another way we can support CHPs as the need for more social and affordable housing increases. The NHIF is a $1 billion facility that provides finance for eligible infrastructure projects that will unlock new housing supply. The NHIF offers concessional loans, grants and equity finance to help support critical housing-enabling infrastructure, including electricity and gas; water, sewerage and stormwater; transportation (including roads) and telecommunications.

If you’d like to speak with our team, contact us on 1800 549 767 or via email [email protected].