Housing Matters October 2022

Welcome to the October 2022 edition of Housing Matters.

This month, we’re delighted to be announcing details about CHIA NSW’s forthcoming conference, Community Housing 2023, which will be held on 10-11 May 2023 in Sydney. In the weeks following the state election, Community Housing 2023 will provide a valuable opportunity for industry experts and delegates to reflect on the emerging opportunities, challenges, and solutions for the community housing industry to deliver more social and affordable housing for people in greatest need. There will be more announcements to come, but we are already looking forward to hosting the event and hope to see many of you there.

In other big news, we are launching our Confront the Crisis campaign in two weeks time. It is no secret that NSW is in the midst of a housing crisis. Too many people are desperately struggling to find a home in a broken housing market or to simply keep their own. Confront the Crisis calls on each and every NSW MP to commit to solving the housing crisis by making a real, long-term investment in community housing. Our elected representatives must recognise that now is the time to act. We encourage anyone and everyone to attend the launch event so we can form a strong and unified voice.

I write to you just after the release of the Federal Budget, a document which promises much and demands plenty. The commitments made by the Federal Government in the Budget are a good start – the challenge is now to turn those commitments to actual homes on the ground. Urgency is required and community housing providers in NSW are ready to deliver.

The community housing sector is eager to work with the NSW Government to maximise the potential of the Housing Australia Future Fund and the National Housing Accord, and contribute their expertise to the development of a meaningful and effective National Housing and Homelessness Plan.

NCOSS has recently released its report into housing security, which shows a concerning exacerbation of homelessness and housing vulnerability since the start of the pandemic. Commissioned by NCOSS, Homelessness NSW, ACHIA, CHIA NSW, and other peak bodies, the report underscores the need for governments to swiftly enact reforms that address this crisis.

Further evidence of a worsening housing market has been published by Domain, with data showing Sydney is now on par with Canberra as the most expensive city in Australia for unit rentals. With continuing rental cost increases, and a record low vacancy rate, families across NSW are currently under immense financial pressure.

We also have updates about our NSW Community Housing Data Dashboard, significant land investment by one of our members, the restoration of a community centre for residents, a tenants’ gardening competition, and exciting award wins.

Please enjoy this edition of Housing Matters.

Mark Degotardi

Community Housing 2023 announcement, submissions now open for speaking opportunities

CHIA NSW is excited to announce the dates for Community Housing 2023. The conference will be held on 10-11 May 2023 at the Sydney Masonic Centre.

Community Housing 2023 will showcase the latest evidence, policy debates, and best practice examples underpinning the delivery of social and affordable housing solutions by the community housing industry and our dedicated partners.

CHIA NSW is looking for expressions of interest from speakers and panellists to present on best practice and innovation across the industry on a range of topics.

CHIA NSW would love to hear from you if your organisation has developed new practices or has changed operations to deliver better outcomes for tenants in any of the following areas:

- Ageing in place – supporting older tenants

- Community Development – tenant engagement and involvement

- Homelessness

- Customer service and digital transformation

- Asset Management.

Proposals which include hearing from tenants with lived experience in community housing will be favourably considered.

Submissions should be made to [email protected] by 2 December 2022 using the template provided.

For further information about speaking opportunities, and sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, please visit communityhousing2023.com.au.

Details including how to register, and speaker line-up will be announced over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, if you would like to receive email updates about Community Housing 2023, you can subscribe to the conference mailing list via the website.

If you have any questions about Community Housing 2023, please contact our conference secretariat at [email protected].

Launch date for CHIA NSW's Confront the Crisis campaign

CHIA NSW is kicking off their Confront the Crisis campaign with a virtual launch event hosted by journalist, Sarah Harris.

With interest rates and rental prices soaring, vacancy rates plummeting, and over 50,000 families on the social housing waitlist across the state, the NSW housing market is broken.

The campaign calls on each and every NSW MP across all parties to Confront the Crisis and commit to long-term investment in community housing ahead of the State Election in March 2023.

Launch attendees will hear from:

- A panel of people with first-hand experience of the housing crisis who are on the social housing waitlist, or now living in community housing

- Mark Degotardi, CEO of Community Housing Industry Association NSW (CHIA NSW)

- Michele Adair, CEO of Housing Trust and Chair of CHIA NSW

- Trina Jones, CEO of Homelessness NSW.

The launch will take place online on Wednesday 16 November (time of the event will be confirmed in the coming days when formal invites are distributed).

To express your interest in attending the virtual event, send an email to [email protected] and we’ll make sure you get an invite.

Federal Budget released, signalling the start of time for action

The Commonwealth Government has just handed down its Budget for 2022-23, promising much and demanding plenty.

The most significant element of the Budget is the new National Housing Accord which intends to accelerate the impact of the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund by capitalising the full fund immediately, rather than over three years.

It will provide an additional $350 million to build 10,000 extra affordable homes over five years from 2024, with matching funding from states and territories to deliver an additional extra 10,000 homes.

When combined with existing commitments under the Housing Australia Future Fund and the National Housing Infrastructure Facility, the Accord is slated to deliver 55,500 new social and affordable housing properties over five years.

In response to the Budget, CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi welcomed the commitments made but urged that now is not the time for complacency.

“The commitments made by the Federal Government in the Budget are a good start – the challenge is now to turn those commitments to actual homes on the ground. Urgency is required and community housing providers in NSW are ready to deliver,” said CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi.

“The community housing sector is eager to work with the NSW Government to maximise the potential of schemes like the Housing Australia Future Fund and the National Housing Accord, and to develop a meaningful and effective National Housing and Homelessness Plan.”

“Smart investment in social and community housing where it’s needed will change the course of this crisis, but that can’t happen unless we work together.”

NCOSS report reveals NSW housing and homelessness crisis to cost the state economy billions

The NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) has released the third chapter of its Aftershock series, which explores the economic and social impacts of the pandemic and natural disasters.

Its report, commissioned by NCOSS, Homelessness NSW, ACHIA, CHIA NSW and other peak bodies, focuses on housing security and highlights the growing homelessness and affordability crisis across the state.

Some of the findings in the report include:

- 3,700 additional people have become homeless in NSW since 2020, estimated to cost the state economy $524.5 million - $2.5 billion over six years

- Homelessness has increased by around 10% in NSW since the start of the pandemic

- 54,000 households have entered or are experiencing worsening housing stress since the pandemic began, which is expected to cost the NSW economy $322 million every year in lost productivity

- The number of low-income households in regional NSW in extreme housing stress has increased by 52% since the start of 2020

- Rental vacancy rates have fallen dramatically in the 18 months to June 2022; and

- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are overrepresented when it comes to experiencing homelessness or seeking housing assistance.

The report recommends a suite of urgent reforms be implemented by the NSW Government, including:

- Additional annual construction of 5,000 social housing dwellings

- Tenancy reform, providing greater protections and security to renters

- Stamp duty reform, improving housing market efficiency; and

- Ensuring the National Housing and Homelessness Plan commits to an increase in rental assistance and a social housing pipeline.

"The time for action is now", said CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi. "Community housing providers have an important role in increasing affordable rental housing supply, but we need to NSW Government to step up with us and confront the housing crisis."

You can find more information at the NCOSS website and read the full report here.

Domain rental data highlights urgent need for investment in affordable housing options

Record high rents and record low vacancy rates in Sydney, as shown in recently published data by Domain, highlight the desperate need for urgent investment in community housing from the NSW Government.

In the latest quarter, house rental prices have skyrocketed by $30 per week on average. Units have not fared much better, with rental prices on average up by $25 per week representing a 5% increase since June. House rental prices are up 14% year-on-year, while unit prices have had the steepest annual rise on record, up by 14.6%.

Sydney is now tied with Canberra as the most expensive city in Australia to rent a unit and is the second most expensive city to rent a house. Making matters worse, Sydney’s rental vacancy rate is currently sitting at 1.1%, indicating an incredibly challenging market for renters seeking affordable homes.

“There is a rental housing emergency. It needs an urgent response and families across NSW are wondering when the NSW Government will confront this crisis”, said Mark Degotardi, CEO of CHIA NSW.

Urgent investment in community housing, built and managed by not-for-profit providers, is critical if the NSW Government wants to address the worsening conditions.

“Decades of severe under-investment in social and affordable rental housing by successive governments is one of the key causes of this housing crisis.

“The problem is huge, but we can begin to make a difference. By investing in community housing, creating a planning system that supports affordable rental housing and facilitating strategic partnerships to leverage government investment, we can turn this crisis around,” said Mr Degotardi.

Ending Homelessness Together: Homelessness NSW launches campaign to end homelessness in the state

Homelessness NSW has launched their Ending Homelessness Together 2022 campaign, which seeks a commitment from the NSW Government to tackle the growing crisis unfolding in the state.

As the state election nears, the Ending Homelessness Together campaign aims to raise the profile of the issue and hold whichever party leads the state beyond March 2023 to account on enacting policies that reduce and prevent homelessness.

Homelessness NSW calls on the NSW Government to invest an additional $11.79b per year by working with partners to co-fund and implement sustainable solutions. Ending Homelessness Together’s three-part strategy includes:

- Investing in increased and sustained supply of social housing

- Funding support services to meet current and future demands; and

- Coordinating across all levels of government and community for collective impact to end homelessness.

Homelessness NSW has called for commitments to:

- Increasing the stock of social housing from the current 4.7% of occupied dwellings in NSW to 10% by 2050

- Provide an initial investment of $2 billion per year (shared 50/50 with the Commonwealth Government) over 10 years to build 5,000 new social housing dwellings per year over the 10 years; and

- Increasing funding for specialist homelessness services, which are currently struggling with record demand due to a lack of resources. This would involve:

- Injecting an additional $152 million per annum into the sector

- Expanding Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations; and

- Commissioning 5-year contracts to enable certainty of delivery.

Homelessness NSW stresses that a comprehensive and collaborative approach from government is required if the state wants to improve homelessness program outcomes, recommending:

- Committing to a ‘Housing First’ Policy and sustain the investment made in the Together Home program

- Appointing a Homelessness Commissioner to ensure a coordinated approach

- Establishing transparent key performance indicators; and

- Reforming rental legislation to make renting fairer in NSW.

The Ending Homelessness Together campaign also invites members of the community to write to both the Premier Dominic Perrottet and Opposition Leader Chris Minns urging them to make ending homelessness a priority. Find out more about Homelessness NSW’s campaign and read the proposal here.

Inquiry into homelessness amongst older people aged over 55 in NSW: report released

The Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues (the Committee) has released its report following the Inquiry into Homelessness amongst older people aged over 55 in New South Wales.

Many of the Committee’s recommendations align with those made by CHIA NSW, community housing providers (CHPs) and peak bodies in submissions to the inquiry.

The Committee found that the shortfall in both social and affordable housing is the single greatest challenge for people who are at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness in NSW. To address this, the committee recommends the NSW Government consider additional funding for the Social and Affordable Housing Fund and the Community Housing Innovation Fund, and examine opportunities to expediate the development of social and affordable housing, including accelerated planning approval processes and improved funding mechanisms.

The Committee made recommendations aimed at increasing affordability and security in the private rental market and making it easier for older people to access housing and homelessness services. It also considered and recommended that the NSW Government consider broadening of the Together Home program, and its ongoing funding.

The report, submissions received and hearing transcripts are available here. CHIA NSW looks forward to the NSW Government’s response which is due within 3 months (by 20 January 2023).

Resilient Sydney hosts Affordable Housing Mayoral Forum

CHIA NSW has recently attended an Affordable Housing Mayoral Forum at Sydney’s Town Hall hosted by Resilient Sydney.

The purpose of the Summit, held on Thursday 27 October, was to encourage collaboration between councils and the community housing sector to deliver more affordable housing that is permanent and made available to eligible households at sub-market rents.

The forum included presentations from SGCH, Bridge Housing, and Link Wentworth Housing on partnership projects with councils, including highlighting opportunities for councils across Greater Sydney to progress new housing projects in their local communities.

CHIA NSW CEO Mark Degotardi spoke on a panel with mayors from Campbelltown, Cumberland, Northern Beaches, Randwick, Waverley, and Willoughby about the practical opportunities for progressing partnerships.

Mark highlighted findings from CHIA NSW’s forthcoming report on local council partnerships that showed community housing providers:

- deliver affordable housing at a lower cost, potentially saving councils as much as $60,000 per dwelling; and

- leverage up to 27% additional affordable housing supply if ownership of properties is transferred to community housing providers.

With new affordable housing opportunities on the horizon, CHIA NSW continues to work with local councils to promote and implement policies for development and supply of affordable housing that make delivery quicker and more efficient in their local area.

NHFIC: Regional FHBG places released and review into loan facility financing documents

Australian Government Home Guarantee Scheme: 10,000 regional places available

On 1 October 2022, 10,000 places became available under the Australian Government’s Home Guarantee Scheme (HGS), helping thousands more Australians living in regional areas to enter the housing market sooner.

The new Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee (RFHBG) supports eligible first home buyers living in regional areas to purchase a modest home in a regional area with a deposit of as little as five per cent.

For more information - Learn about the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee (nhfic.gov.au).

Review into loan facility financing documents completed by NHFIC

NHFIC has recently completed a review of some of the financing documents they use when providing certain loan facilities for CHPs.

The review was undertaken in response to feedback received from CHPs. NHFIC has updated these documents with input from several stakeholders and the documents have also been peer reviewed by lawyers with extensive experience acting for CHPs and lenders.

NHFIC can provide information sessions to CHPs on these documents. These sessions will include a background to the review, guidance on when the documents will be used and the benefits of using them. There will also be opportunities for Q&As and to meet NHFIC’s in-house legal team and some of the external lawyers who assist NHFIC with CHP lending transactions.

Further details of the information sessions will be provided once the dates are finalised.

Updates coming soon to CHIA NSW's data dashboard

CHIA NSW has been working on updated data and supporting visualisations for the NSW Community Housing Data Dashboard, available on the CHIA NSW website.

The existing dashboard iteration uses DCJ’s 2020 data for community housing dwellings under management and offers information regarding:

- Properties under management, including the number of community housing dwellings per Local Government Area, which organisations provide those properties, and how many are NRAS properties

- The construction, planning and completion profile of housing supply, including the types of properties that have been or will be built, and the location of these homes; and

- Tenancy satisfaction, outstanding rent, and occupancy rates.

Using the latest available data, some of the upgrades to the dashboard will include:

- Refreshed visualisations and colour schemes delivering an enhanced user experience

- The latest data from the CHIA NSW Development Survey

- Updated community housing information and improved sorting functionalities

- Separate planning and building tabs, providing more detailed investment data; and

- A brand-new affordable housing tab, offering greater insights into the ownership profile of affordable properties.

It is anticipated that both the refreshed and additional data sets will assist CHIA NSW and CHPs with their advocacy efforts, negotiations with council and government bodies, and better inform organisational strategies. The updated dashboard is in its final stages of development and is expected to be available soon.

If you have any questions regarding the NSW Community Housing Data Dashboard, please contact Head of Business Development Adam West at [email protected].

Hume Housing's blooming good way to grow vibrant communities

Hume Community Housing has announced the Hume in Bloom Gardening Competition which is officially open to Hume's 4,000-plus Hunter Region customers.

According to Richard Hershman, Hume’s Community Cohesion Officer, Hunter customers are embracing home and community gardening as a way of tackling cost of living challenges, while at the same time reaping the social and recreational benefits.

“We’ve been focused on building vibrant connected communities and know that a love of gardening is a great way to bring people together,” said Hershman.

Over the past year Hume has been working on an initiative led by the Department of Communities and Justice Social Sector Support Fund Edible Gardens Competition. With funding and volunteer support from the Botanic Gardens’ Community Greening Team, Hume secured 14 Vegepods for the Hunter. Vegepods retail for close to $500 each and are state of the art, elevated, free standing plant beds.

“We ran a competition among customers to win their own Vegepod and seed kits, and we also established community gardens in several of our housing complexes. Hume team members delivered the Vegepods to the winners and we have since helped families set up their gardens in readiness for Spring.”

Hume’s senior customers living in the Alexandra Avenue complex in Rutherford are further testimony to how community gardens connect people.

Despite lockdowns and the challenges of sourcing materials their community garden has been lovingly tended over the past year, thanks to a group of customers and volunteers from Slow Food Hunter Valley.

Their garden is now bursting with produce, from silver beet and spring onions to lettuces, broccoli, herbs and more. The garden provides much needed opportunities for the complex’s senior customers to socially connect as well as encouraging physical activity.

“It’s been wonderful to see people sharing healthy seasonal fresh vegetables and with the cost of food on the rise, it’s been a welcome addition to managing the weekly food budget for many,” said Hershman.

Hume has since established four regional Shared Edible Gardens at their community housing complexes in East Maitland, and Salamander Bay and Raymond Terrace complexes.

Hume is encouraging all Hume Community Housing customers to celebrate their gardens, whether it is a little balcony garden, a sprawling backyard garden or an edible garden, by entering the inaugural Hume in Bloom Gardening Competition (open to Hume customers only) which closes 4 November 2022.

Prizes include Vegebags, Diggers Club membership and Bunnings vouchers. Entries into the competition can be made here.

Pictured: Hume Housing customers and volunteers participating in the Hume in Bloom competition at Alexandra Avenue Complex in Rutherford

Awards all round for Housing Trust staff

Housing Trust’s CEO and Marketing Executive have recently gone home with awards for their incredible work in the sector.

Housing Trust’s CEO and CHIA NSW’s Chair, Michele Adair has been awarded the UDIA NSW Women in Leadership Award for Excellence.

This came as no surprise to the CHIA NSW team who have witnessed first-hand the passion and generosity of Michele as Chair. She deserves every bit of prestige and recognition that comes with this award.

According to Housing Trust, Michele, as always, used the opportunity when accepting her award to advocate for the 50,000 households on the social housing waitlists in NSW, including the 8,000 women and children who are unable to leave unsafe homes tonight for fear of homelessness and the thousands of households living in housing stress across the country.

On behalf of the sector, CHIA NSW thanks and congratulates Michele.

Pictured: CHIA NSW Chair and Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair accepting UDIA NSW and Strata+ Women in Leadership Award for Excellence

Meanwhile, Marketing Executive, Rachel Foster has taken out the 2022 Third Sector Award for Campaign Executive of the Year. The awards celebrate social changemakers and highlight the innovative work they do in the for-purpose space.

In the three years Rachel has worked at Housing Trust, she has diligently worked towards reducing the stigma associated with community housing and put a new face to the people in housing crisis.

She has done this by leading initiatives like the #Homes4LocalHeroes campaign, a scorecard of local council's efforts towards addressing affordable housing, or generating 120 media stories in the past twelve months, deservedly establishing Housing Trust as a trusted voice for the region. 

Congratulations and well done Rachel.

Pictured: Rachel Foster accepting award for Third Sector's Campaign Executive of the Year 2022

SGCH unveils community centre for Cammeray social housing tenants

NSW's largest community housing provider, SGCH, has unveiled a newly renovated community centre attached to 33 social housing dwellings it owns and manages in Amherst Street, Cammeray.

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony held on 13 October, Federal Member for North Sydney Kylea Tink, MP, North Sydney Deputy Mayor William Bourke and Councillor Shannon Welch were present to meet residents and tour the revamped centre.

The community centre had been closed for ten years after the centre fell into disrepair prior to the acquisition of the housing complex by SGCH in 2019.  The centre will now provide a much-needed space for fitness, learning and socialising for the residents of the 33 single-bedroom social housing dwellings.

SGCH CEO Scott Langford said the pandemic was a catalyst for change with SGCH acting on feedback that showed the importance of a safe and secure community space for many of the elderly residents isolated by pandemic.

“When SGCH took over management of the building in 2019, our team worked closely with members of our Local Tenant Group and customers to devise ways to better service their needs and the revival of this safe, supportive, and welcoming space was important,” Mr Langford said.

“Designed for people to use and enjoy all year round, the room is going to be available for organised social events, health and wellbeing classes, activities, and information sessions.

“Importantly, it’s also a space for our customers to venture outside to gather, to meet, and to spend time with family and friends, rather than being confined to their small, one-bedroom units. They will also be able to book the space for their own celebrations,” he said.

The room will also be available to local community service partners, North Sydney Council and others who run programs and information sessions.

Pictured: Kylea Tink (Federal MP for North Sydney), William Bourke (North Sydney Deputy Mayor), Shannon Welch (North Sydney Councillor) and residents

City West Housing makes significant affordable housing land purchase in Botany Road precinct

City West Housing has taken advantage of the City of Sydney's new planning controls for the Botany Road precinct which encourages new commercial and affordable housing buildings.

City West Housing has purchased a 2,733m2 corner site at 216-220 Wyndham St, Alexandria to develop approximately 100* rental apartments that are affordable for people on very low to moderate incomes. Like the rest of City West Housing’s portfolio, these apartments will support people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents, to live and work locally.

This acquisition will increase City West Housing’s identified pipeline of affordable housing in the City of Sydney LGA to 4 projects providing 550* apartments over the next 5 years.

The $37.5 million purchase price reflects the market value of the site. After the City of Sydney identified parts of the precinct as suitable for affordable housing, City West Housing was keen to secure this well-located site for much-needed inner Sydney affordable housing.

To be known as Bangalay Apartments, the development aligns with the City of Sydney’s vision for the precinct “as an opportunity to increase the amount of affordable housing close to jobs, services and public transport”.

Named after the native Bangalay eucalypt indigenous to the area, Bangalay Apartments will be 500 metres from the Green Square and new Waterloo metro stations and close to Alexandria Park and the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre. The development is in a prime location at the southern end of the precinct on traditional Gadigal Country.

City West Housing CEO Leonie King said, “With high land prices and limited supply, the challenges for building affordable housing in inner Sydney are significant. We have managed to purchase this property from our own cash reserves with the help of City of Sydney affordable housing developer contributions. It is an investment that will pay dividends in the uplift in value delivered by the precinct revitalisation plan and in social outcomes transforming people’s lives”.

Construction is expected to commence in 2025, subject to DA approval.

*Subject to planning consent.

Aerial view of Botany Road precinct

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