Housing Matters October 2019

CEO’s Report

Welcome to the October edition of Housing Matters.

CHIA NSW and its members are working hard with partners in Government and the private sector to reduce the number of NSW low-income families in housing stress.  The challenge is a big one – with considerable unmet demand for low-income housing in communities across the State.  The community housing sector will continue to use all the resources it can to meet this challenge, because whilst we build, own and manage houses, what we are most focused on is providing homes to people.  Community housing providers own or manage more than 50,000 homes across NSW, and we are proud of the work we do in helping low-income families to find secure and affordable housing.

November will see strong engagement with Government through the Good Growth Summit hosted by Minister Stokes and the Good Growth Alliance, and the Social Housing roundtable hosted by Minister Pavey.  The community housing sector looks forward to developing immediate and longer terms solutions to housing need through these forums.

In keeping with our focus on helping people, I am delighted to recognise the recent launch of Bridge Housing’s Northern Beaches Housing Hub in partnership with the Women’s Housing Company.  A great initiative to provide more support to social housing tenants and applicants seeking assistance.  Congratulations to all.

In this edition, there is news from NHFIC, the Department of Communities and Justice review of Anti-Social Behaviour, a new information service from People with Disabilities Australia and some new training opportunities with CHIA’s own Centre for Training in Social Housing.

There is also news from CHIA NSW’s House Keys: Workforce survey which will shortly be released.  Once again, the House Keys data illustrates the diversity and skills of the community housing industry’s workforce.

I hope you enjoy this edition

Mark Degotardi


Insights from House Keys: Workforce

House Keys aims to assist community housing providers to make continual improvements, drive efficiency and value for money, and give governments and developers confidence to invest in community housing.  House Keys Workforce will be released imminently, and this article summarises some key insights from the exercise.

This round 21 CHPs participated in House Keys: Workforce, including 17 providers from NSW, and 1 each from WA, SA, QLD, and ACT.

Based on participants’ responses, the average Community Housing Provider employs 49 Full Time Equivalent staff members and manages 32 properties per employee, with an average staff turnover of 22.9% per year.

The House Keys exercise also illustrates the diversity and skills of the community housing industry’s workforce:

• 34% have a tertiary education, 50% have a VET qualification, and 24% have Year 12 or equivalent as their highest level of qualification;
• 3% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander;
• 10% are from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds;
• 72% of the general workforce and 38% of CEOs are female;
• Over three quarters (77%) are in the ‘prime working age’ group (25 to 54 years);
• 64% of the workforce are service staff, while 31% are corporate activities staff.

We also collected information about the board of directors, and found:

• 95% of providers have a skills-based or partial skills-based board;
• the top skill categories are Financial Management and Strategic Management;
• 52% of board members have completed the AICD Company Directors’ Course;
• 55% of board members have served for over three years;
• More than 40% of Board members are female.

Workforce also includes detailed, community housing specific information about CHP salaries and board renumeration.

House Keys: Workforce is due to launch shortly.  This release will be followed shortly by the latest round of House Keys: Operations.

New social housing hub launched on Northern Beaches

Bridge Housing has launched its new Northern Beaches Housing Hub, a community space for social housing applicants, tenants and support partners to access housing assistance.

The Housing Hub sits within Bridge Housing’s newly-refurbished Brookvale office and was formally opened by Mr James Griffin, the State MP for Manly.  The office has been operating under Bridge’s management since August 5 as part of the Social Housing Management Transfer program, in partnership with the Women’s Housing Company.

The Housing Hub is a space where support partner organisations can regularly meet our residents and applicants to discuss their support needs and connect them to relevant services. Bridge Housing has begun working with local services in the area including Mission Australia, Catholic Care, Community Care Northern Beaches, Community Northern Beaches, Brookvale Community Health Centre.

Bridge Housing CEO John Nicolades said: “The Housing Hub is an exciting initiative for building our capacity to connect residents with the support services they need in order to lead happy, secure lives in their communities.”

“We are delighted to be part of this, the biggest social housing management transfer ever, in managing some 1,200 tenancies on the Northern Beaches and thank the local Member for Manly, James Griffin MP, for his support.”

Become a Value for Money champion with this one-day masterclass – Value for Money Masterclass 7th November 2019

This is the masterclass that can save you money and improve services at the same time.   Margins are tightening for CHPs in NSW and beyond and the industry is keen to achieve an increased focus on Value for Money (VfM) whilst improving services for tenants.

This masterclass is a unique opportunity to learn from one of the UK’s leading proponents of VfM and hear in detail about the benefits experienced by the UK Housing Association sector from their work on VfM over the last decade.

We are very fortunate that Lydia Dlaboha, Deputy Chief Executive of the Housing Quality Network is currently in Australia and available to lead this interactive, practical masterclass which will widen your understanding of this vital topic and help you develop an approach to implement back in your work place.

To find out more or to register click here.

Centre for Training in Social Housing (CTSH)

CHIA NSW’s CTSH continues to deliver short courses and accredited training across NSW and have been particularly busy in regional areas in recent months. CTSH has conducted training on the North Coast, mid North Coast, the Shoalhaven, South Coast and Riverina of NSW and will soon be training further afield in the Riverina, New England and Western Districts.

Some upcoming courses include:

NCAT Training 12-13 November 2019

CHIA NSW Training Room | 619 Elizabeth Street Redfern | 9am-4pm | $350 per participant

It takes time to carefully prepare the evidence before representing your organisation at the NCAT. Using case studies, this unit will take you through the process of preparing this evidence. You will examine examples of good evidence, discuss why cases may be dismissed, and explore alternative dispute referral options.

Please note we are limited to a maximum of 15 participants.

Community Housing CRA Rent Calculator Training – 14 November 2019

CHIA NSW Training Room  |  619 Elizabeth Street Redfern  |  10am-4pm | $250 per participant |

CTSH is offering training on the Community Housing CRA Rent Calculator, which is designed to assess CRA-based rent in community housing. The training is recommended for all community housing staff who conduct rent assessments and/or rent reviews.

The training guides you through the various worksheets used in the Calculator, gives you tips on data entry and analysis, explores how to conduct rent calculations manually, and provides an opportunity to practice using the Calculator. This practical application will give you an opportunity to explore problem solving techniques when undertaking CRA based rent calculations.

Places for both courses are very limited – please contact Sadhona at CTSH on 02 9690 2447 to enrol.

Statutory review of antisocial behaviour sections of RTA announced

The Department of Communities and Justice is undertaking a statutory review of section 154D and section 154G of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

As part of this review, a discussion paper has been published on the DCJ website and is open to public submissions. DCJ is also directly seeking feedback from key stakeholders to determine whether the policy objectives of the sections remain valid and whether the terms of the sections remain appropriate for securing those objectives.

CHPs and other stakeholders are invited to make a submission in relation to this review. Please find details of the statutory review at (DCJ website) which includes the discussion paper that will inform your submission. CHIA NSW will be making a submission to the review on behalf of members.

NHFIC Annual Report 2018-19

Earlier this month NHFIC released its inaugural Annual Report.  The report notes that during 2018-19, NHFIC provided more than $450 million in loans to CHPs through the Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator, funding more than 800 new dwellings and supporting the ongoing operations of CHPs.

In March 2019, NHFIC issued its first social bond of $315 million with the funds raised lent to CHPs for social and affordable housing. Strong investor demand for the bond enabled NHFIC to provide a fixed rate of under 3 per cent for 10-year, interest only loans to CHPs involved in the first round of funding.

At the start of this financial year, NHFIC launched and is now rolling out the Capacity Building Program. This $1.5 million grant program assists tier 2 and 3 CHPs with the upfront finance and business planning work required to support a NHFIC loan application. This will broaden the range of CHPs successfully accessing NHFIC finance.

Click here to read the NHFIC’s 2018-2019 Annual Report.

People with Disability Australia: now providing free information, advice and advocacy for people with disability who live in Specialist Disability Accommodation

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a leading disability rights, advocacy and representative organisation of and for all people with disability.

PWDA have recently commenced a 12-month pilot project called the Disability Housing Advocacy Service (DHAS). The project is funded through the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and intends to provide advocacy support to people with disability living in Specialist Disability Accommodations (SDA*). The overall aim is to ensure that people with disability are aware of their rights and have somebody externally to contact if they have an issue or concern with an accommodation provider.

The service offers two types of support. The first is the Disability Housing Information Line, which people with disability and their supporters can call for free housing related information and advice. Secondly, the Disability Housing Advocacy Service provides people with disability in SDA with a professional advocate, who will help them resolve their housing concerns and enforce their rights.

The project staff have been reaching out to people with disability and service providers, spreading awareness of the service and building connections with people with disability, SDA providers, their peak bodies, and relevant service providers.

If you have any further questions about this service or would like to get in contact, please feel free to call the Disability Housing Information Line on 1800 843 929. Alternatively, you can email your enquiries to [email protected].

How to access the service? Directly contact the information line or ask your accommodation provider to make a referral. The number is 1800 843 929.

Who can use the service? People with disability in any type of SDA in NSW.

*SDA: For some NDIS participants, the NDIA will fund Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA). SDA refers to accommodation for people who require specialist housing solutions, including to assist with the delivery of supports that cater for their extreme functional impairment or very high support needs. Funding is only provided to a small proportion of NDIS participants with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs who meet specific eligibility criteria. (National Disability Insurance Scheme (Specialist Disability Accommodation) Rules 2016)