Housing Matters Summer Edition 2024

Welcome to the 2024 summer edition of Housing Matters.

We begin the year with the long-anticipated opening of applications for the first round of the Housing Australia Future Fund Facility (HAFFF) and the National Housing Accord Facility (NHAF). While 40,000 new social and affordable homes across Australia over five years is not nearly enough to address the rental housing crisis, it is a significant step in the right direction, and I sincerely hope these initiatives can build further political momentum for a sustainable pipeline of social and affordable housing across the nation.

CHIA NSW’s members stand ready to deliver the high-quality social and affordable homes and innovative services that our community so desperately needs. We know that homes that delivered and managed by not-for-profit community housing providers will ensure that more individuals and families on low to moderate incomes can find a safe, secure, and affordable place to call home.

Closer to home, we continue to call on the NSW Government to bring its own funding and land to the table, so we can create real change for the 57,000 households on the social housing waiting list. Next month, CHIA NSW will launch our 2024-25 Pre-Budget submission, No Hope Without Housing, at Parliament House. Our submission emphasises the evidence-based solutions that our industry can deliver for governments, tenants, and the broader community, through the creation of new homes, reducing homelessness, preparing for the net zero transition, and a streamlined planning system. 

As January draws to a close, we’ve recently marked a significant new chapter for our peak body and industry. On behalf of CHIA NSW’s team and members, I’d like to congratulate Rebecca Pinkstone, CEO Bridge Housing, and Chair CHIA NSW, on her appointment as the inaugural Chief Executive of Homes NSW. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Rebecca, who has generously contributed her time, leadership, and expertise to the success of CHIA NSW as a Board member and Chair over the last three years. Whilst Rebecca will be greatly missed by her industry colleagues, we look forward to working with her in her new role.

The creation of Homes NSW presents a critical opportunity to redesign the social and affordable housing system in NSW, by prioritising the delivery of better social and affordable housing outcomes for applicants and tenants, creating new social and affordable housing supply, and breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Whilst there are no silver bullets or shortcuts for addressing the shortfall of social and affordable housing supply, the not-for-profit community housing industry has much to offer Homes NSW, through our proven partnerships with government and shared objectives to deliver a stronger, fairer, and more innovative social and affordable housing system.

As we look to the future, I’m pleased to announce that Charles Northcote and Maree McKenzie have been elected as Chair and Vice Chair of CHIA NSW. Charles and Maree bring considerable leadership experience and commitment to our peak body, and I Iook forward to working with Charles, Maree and the CHIA NSW Board in 2024.

Please enjoy this edition of Housing Matters.

Mark Degotardi

Housing Australia Future Fund: Funding Round One now open

Eligible community housing providers can now apply for first round funding under the Housing Australia Future Fund Facility (HAFFF) and National Housing Accord Facility (NHAF), administered by Housing Australia.

The Housing Australia Future Fund and the National Housing Accord are Federal Government initiatives to improve housing outcomes for Australians. They will collectively support the delivery of 20,000 new social and 20,000 new affordable homes across Australia over five years.  

These programs are administered by Housing Australia. 

Community housing providers that are registered under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing and are registered charities are eligible to apply for funding under the HAFFF and NHAF. 

It is anticipated there will be multiple HAFFF and NHAF funding rounds over the five-year program rollout.  

Applications close at 2pm (AEDT) on March 22, 2024.

More information is available via the Housing Australia website.

Homes NSW appoints Rebecca Pinkstone as inaugural Chief Executive

Bridge Housing CEO and Chair of CHIA NSW Rebecca Pinkstone has been appointed to the position of inaugural Chief Executive of Homes NSW.

Rebecca has almost two decades of experience in the housing sector. Prior to joining Bridge Housing, Rebecca held senior policy, strategy and program roles in the NSW Government.

Homes NSW will consolidate the housing and homelessness functions of the Department of Communities and Justice, the NSW Land and Housing Corporation and the Aboriginal Housing Office.

The industry's own benchmarking platform: House Keys 2.0 is now live!

CHIA NSW is pleased to announce that its new and improved community housing benchmarking service, House Keys 2.0, is now live and fully operational.

House Keys 2.0 enables better comparison of data sources between community housing providers (CHPs), informing organisations of their performance and revealing areas for improvement. 

The wide array of data sources used in House Keys 2.0 means more detailed analyses are possible, with greater granularity available in both reporting and visualisations. 

CHIA NSW is developing additional dashboards for the service so users can get as much out of their data as possible. 

There are 33 CHPs across the country already participating in the new House Keys, but it’s not too late for other CHPs to get involved. 

If you are interested in signing up for House Keys 2.0 or receiving a demonstration of the service, please contact Adam West, Head of Business Services, at [email protected]

CHIA NSW releases 2023 Annual Report

CHIA NSW has released its annual report for the 2022/23 financial year. The publication showcases CHIA NSW’s achievements and how they align with the organisation’s strategic goals. 

Highlights for CHIA NSW during the 2022/23 financial year included: 

  • the Confront the Crisis NSW state election campaign, 
  • staging our Community Housing 2023 conference, 
  • national expansion of our leading tenant satisfaction survey service, 
  • the piloting of an MoU between community housing providers and Aboriginal services in the southern region of NSW, 
  • launching the Community Housing Workforce Capability Framework, and 
  • celebrating the graduation of the first round of community housing Cadets from the Cadetship Program. 

CHIA NSW’s Annual Report 2023 is available here.

The good - and not so good - news on climate change and what CHPs can do about it

Under current policy settings, the world is on track to warm by 2.8°C by the end of this century.

While this may not seem like a significant increase, the reality is that this level of warming will significantly shift weather patterns, resulting in many more extreme heat days and more frequent and severe storms and bushfires.

Vulnerable communities, including those living in community housing, will be hardest hit. Recent news headlines tell the story of how these households are already being impacted by climate change – including health impacts from heat waves, affordability impacts from rising energy bills and displacement of entire communities due to flooding. 

Community housing providers (CHPs) will also be directly impacted by rising maintenance, repair and insurance costs. The industry will also need to respond to and prepare for a range of state and national government policy responses to climate change. These include higher building standards, minimum energy efficiency standards for existing homes, and disclosure requirements for rental properties. 

The good news is that the worst impacts of climate change can be avoided if global warming is kept to as close to 1.5°C as possible. There is still time to achieve this. However, it will require decisive and increased action across all sectors of the economy. This includes our homes, which are responsible for over 10% of total emissions and more than 25% of electricity consumption. 

In further good news for housing, many of the solutions to decarbonise homes already exist. 

To help CHPs navigate and plan for climate change, CHIA NSW has released two reports: 

  • Community Housing Industry Climate Risk Readiness Report. This report examines the specific climate risks that will impact the industry and outlines actions CHPs can begin taking to better position themselves and their tenants. 
  • Decarbonisation Guidelines for Community Housing. This report provides advice to CHPs on improving the energy performance of housing and reducing emissions. It includes a timeline of suggested actions for CHPs to help them start planning decarbonisation activities, and outlines sources of available funding to assist with this. 

The reports highlight some immediate actions for CHPs in the short-term. These include mapping climate risks at a property level to identify the risks to a particular portfolio and potential stranded assets. CHPs should also begin to baseline the performance of their properties to understand the scale and types of interventions that may be needed. 

As the experience of the Northern Rivers floods demonstrated, CHPs are often amongst the first responders for tenants during natural disasters. It is therefore necessary for CHPs to review their emergency response and business continuity plans to ensure they are able to provide the right support to tenants and staff during flooding, bushfires, and extreme heat events. 

CHPs can better position themselves to address climate risks by adopting an ESG framework. The ESG Reporting Standard developed by the Community Housing Industry Association with industry partners provides a good starting point. It includes several criteria focused on climate action which will assist CHPs to embed consideration of climate risks in decision making and governance, and to monitor their progress. Alongside an ESG framework, CHPs should set a net-zero commitment and timeframe by putting in place a decarbonisation strategy.  

Adapting to climate change and reducing emissions will likely require CHPs to access new types of expertise. This includes understanding of new technologies, energy performance rating of homes, and designing upgrades. In the short-term, CHPs should begin to consider the expertise they may require – whether on staff or through consultants. Programs like Sustainability Advantage may assist CHPs with this. 

While many CHPs are committed to acting on climate change, transforming social and affordable housing to become highly efficient and zero carbon will not be without challenges. Most social housing was built over 40 years ago, before minimum building and energy standards existed. The cost of decarbonising these homes will be beyond the capacity of the highly constrained budgets of CHPs, particularly at a time when the industry is focused on investing in the supply of more social and affordable housing to address the growing housing crisis in NSW. A lack of ownership of many of the homes CHPs manage further complicates the ability of CHPs to significantly invest in decarbonisation.  

The Decarbonisation Guidelines provide advice on cost-effective ways CHPs could decarbonise through maintenance activity. CHIA NSW intends to develop further guidance for CHPs as part of stage 2 of our climate change project. This work will also focus on developing solutions to the funding and financing challenges the industry faces in delivering decarbonisation at-scale. This will support CHIA NSW’s ongoing advocacy for effective policy and funding measures. 

The Community Housing Industry Climate Risk Readiness Report is available to members through the CHIA NSW Member Portal.

The Decarbonisation Guidelines for Community Housing are available from the CHIA NSW website.

CHIA NSW releases Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan

CHIA NSW is delighted to confirm that our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia.

Our two-year Innovate RAP builds upon the commitments in our Reflect RAP, where we began our formal Reconciliation journey. The Innovate RAP outlines CHIA NSW’s strategic approach to contributing to reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the wider community. 

CHIA NSW is strongly committed to fostering strong and respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities to deliver excellent housing outcomes and services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in community housing and Aboriginal community housing. 

To view our Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan, please head here

NSW Government launches Community Housing Concierge service

The Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure has launched a new Community Housing Concierge initiative to assist community housing providers to navigate the planning system and advance community housing projects.

CHPs with current or upcoming projects may benefit from the Concierge’s end-to-end planning support service.

An Expression of Interest is now open for registered CHPs with an active development portfolio in New South Wales wishing to participate in the Concierge service.

More information is available here, including eligibility requirements. For any additional enquiries, please contact [email protected].

The EOI closes Tuesday 20 February 2023 at 5pm.

CHIA National releases Social and Green Benefits calculator

A new tool, developed by Swinburne University for the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA), estimates the wider social, economic, and environmental benefits of investing in social and affordable housing.

The SIGMAH (Social Infrastructure and Green Measures for Affordable Housing) calculator will enable governments, CHPs and other stakeholders to understand how greater delivery of social and affordable housing will reduce required public expenditure in areas such as health, policing and community services.

The tool also estimates the benefits at the individual level, including more disposable income and increased educational and professional opportunities.

SIGMAH reveals that the federal government’s 40,000 social and affordable homes, slated for delivery as part of its National Housing Accord and Housing Australia Future Fund over a five-year period, will create an additional $4.4 billion in net societal benefit over the next 40 years.

Once delivered, these homes will also reduce rent and energy costs for their tenants, generating $16.2 billion in combined cost of living relief for households.

Community Housing Industry Association hopes the tool will strengthen the business case for new social and affordable housing developments.

“For the first time, we can quantify the transformative impact social and affordable housing has, not just for the individual but for society more broadly,” CHIA CEO Wendy Hayhurst said.

Read CHIA’s short report on SIGMAH and register for the tool here.

New book celebrating 20th anniversary of SEARMS explores the Aboriginal voices in housing

Written by historian, affordable housing researcher and consultant Dr Tony Gilmour, together with respected Elder and powerful advocate for Aboriginal housing Uncle Tom Slockee, An Aboriginal Voice in Housing tells the proud story of housing provider SEARMS.

From the impact of colonialisation, to land rights, to the formation of SEARMS and the risks and rewards of growth, this book covers the history of community-controlled Aboriginal housing in southeast NSW and how SEARMS navigated Australia’s political and economic landscape to become a strong voice for Aboriginal housing.

SEARMS 20th Anniversary Book – An Aboriginal Voice in Housing ($34.99)

Available for purchase here, with all proceeds going back to SEARMS.

CHL secures $7.6m funding for West Kempsey housing revitalisation project

Content supplied by Community Housing Limited

Community Housing Limited (CHL) is thrilled to receive $7.6 million in funding from the New South Wales State Government as part of the Together Home Transition Program (THTP), which is earmarked for the development of 32 much-needed social housing dwellings on 6 vacant lots in West Kempsey. 

The initiative comes as a response to the challenges faced by the Kempsey community, including concerns about abandoned or dilapidated properties in the area impacting people’s mental wellbeing. CHL’s revitalisation project aims to address community concerns and foster positive change. 

Working in close partnership with the Kempsey Aboriginal community, an Aboriginal Housing Strategy is being developed for the estate, which will provide community voice on designs, allocation of tenants, services for the community, future development requirements, and ‘Closing the Gap’ initiatives. 

Read more about the project here.

Home in Place staff gain skills in supporting hoarders

Content supplied by Home in Place

Home in Place staff, and some of its tenants on the NSW Mid North Coast, will receive special training to better understand and support people with hoarding and domestic squalor disorders, thanks to funding from the Foundation for Rural Regional Recovery (FRRR).

Taree-based Community Participation Officer Michelle Palmer is one Home in Place staff member who will receive training. She said Home in Place is working with partners in the region – Community Housing Limited (CHL) and Mission Australia Housing (MAH) – as well as Aboriginal Community Housing Ltd to run the Treasured Insights (Mental Health – Inside Out Recovery) project.

Michelle said the project will build the capacity of community housing staff and tenants to understand the disorders and assist people on their journey to change behaviours and declutter their environment.

She said the training will start in February 2024. Twenty staff from the three community housing organisations will attend a two-day workshop.  There will also be one day workshops for tenants experiencing hoarding and domestic squalor disorders to attend, followed by a 15-week online course. The tenant program will be run twice in different parts of the region to maximise people’s ability to participate.

The in-person tenant workshop gives those attending an opportunity to form a network to support one another in their journey of recovery. The trained staff from the community housing organisations will support tenants as they undertake the online program.

“Hoarding and domestic squalor disorders are complex mental health conditions and carry a lot of stigma,” Michelle said.

“This project is designed to establish a sustainable network to give tenants insights that can lead to behavioural changes, now and in the future,” she said.

“It will be co-led by tenants who will have direct input into their own recovery. Our staff will be better able to assess and work with tenants experiencing hoarding and domestic squalor disorders on their individual recovery plan.”

A 2016 report by The Australian National University (ANU) Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Psychology estimated the disorder affects between two to six per cent of Australians. The report said the mental health condition affects people’s quality of life and is associated with unnecessary deaths. It said 25 per cent of deaths from fires in homes occur in homes of people with a hoarding problem.

CHL, Mission Australia and Home in Place signed a Memorandum of Understanding in March 2023 to boost community engagement support for their respective tenants. The three organisations collaborate and share resources to help build more resilient and connected communities in Port Macquarie, Taree, Bulahdelah, Forster, Tuncurry, Wingham, Kempsey, South West Rocks, Macksville, Nambucca Heads, Bellingen and Coffs Harbour.

“The Treasured Insights project is another example of how our partnership with CHL and Mission Australia is helping us to work together to benefit our communities. On this project, CHL is the lead grant applicant and Home in Place is supporting its administration.”

The FRRR funding came from its In a Good Place (IAGP) program. In partnership with CCI Giving, the IAGP program awarded $250,000 in grants to 17 projects across remote, rural and regional Australia that support and promote the mental health and wellbeing of local people.

Home in Place manages more than 700 social housing properties in the NSW Mid Coast Local Government Area. Its regional office is in Taree, on Biripi Country.

Pictured: Home in Place, Mission Australia and CHL

CHIA NSW Cadet Kiara destined for success

Content supplied by Hume Community Housing

Hume Community Housing was delighted to welcome 23-year-old Kiara Saunders as our first cadet under the CHIA NSW Cadetship Program. Backed by NSW LAHC, Kiara’s program includes enrolment in a nationally recognised Certificate IV in Housing qualification and a paid placement covering application/allocation, tenancy management and property management.

A career in housing is a launch pad to a wide range of opportunities, from working directly with tenants and applicants to understand their needs, to assessing and overseeing property management, to helping customers sustain their tenancies or delivering community cohesion programs, right through to administrative functions in finance or marketing.

Importantly, it can open doors to a job as a specialised caseworker in areas like homelessness or domestic violence assistance, community support work, the NDIS and specialist housing. Knowing how the housing system works is invaluable in supporting people and communities to thrive.

Kiara has worked in multiple teams at Hume, building a comprehensive 360-degree view of the programs and services offered while learning what it takes to deliver high-quality customer service.

“I was over the moon when I found out I had been chosen as Hume’s cadet. I was at a point in my life where I felt a bit directionless following a family tragedy and had retreated into my shell,” said Kiara.

All that has now changed for the young Aboriginal and Cook Islander.

“I want to do well in life and love learning, Hume welcomed me so genuinely and warmly that I felt part of the team immediately. I love seeing how we help change customers lives,” Kiara said.

Kiara wants to work with children in the future and her prospects look incredibly bright as she builds a solid grounding and qualifications in housing.

In October, Kiara was offered a permanent role with Hume as a Customer Service Officer and is thrilled to be joining Hume as an employee. Kiara has made quite an impact on the Hume team, and on our customers, and we are delighted we can support her career development.

Kiara completed her cadetship in January 2024 and secured her Certificate IV in Housing.

Pictured: Round 3 CHIA NSW Cadet Kiara

Housing Trust families get online

Content supplied by Housing Trust

The School Student Broadband Initiative is a pilot project aiming to bridge the digital divide in households for school-aged children without access to the NBN.

Access to broadband is vital for students in achieving their educational goals, providing access to essential resources, information, and other opportunities.

Housing Trust’s team participated in the project, successfully identifying over 30 eligible families and providing additional support with laptops generously donated by the community team at South 32, a local mining company.

This initiative provides families with an NBN connection, a 12-month NBN subscription, along with a Wi-Fi router all free of charge. The program’s primary objective is to ensure that school-aged children are not disadvantaged digitally no matter what their family income or circumstances.

Beyond improving internet access, the program also promoted digital literacy and helps the entire household by facilitating remote work, online learning, and family connectivity. Following the success of the pilot program there are plans to expand the program in 2024.

Pictured: The South 32 team with donated laptops

Wesley Community Housing put their green thumbs to work

Content supplied by Wesley Community Housing

Six Wesley Community Housing (part of Wesley Mission) tenants and Darren from the Botanic Gardens of Sydney’s Community Greening program teamed up with MetLife as part of their volunteering initiative to plant 250 trees at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan.

Located south-west of Sydney, this initiative is part of the NSW Government’s Greening Our Cities project, which involves planting Cumberland Plain Woodland vegetation in identified threatened vegetation areas.

Along with planting trees, the tenants put their green thumbs to work and added weed mat and wire cages to protect the trees, under the guidance of the Australian Botanic Garden’s horticultural team.

“It was wonderful to get back out and work in the soil planting trees,” said a Wesley Community Housing tenant.

Another tenant added, “Everyone felt that they had achieved something.”

The Botanic Gardens of Sydney’s Community Greening program has been working with Wesley Community Housing tenants for several years now, helping them to grow their horticultural skills. Wesley Community Housing tenants are passionate about climate change and immediately jumped at this volunteering opportunity.

This was a special corporate volunteering event for MetLife, the principal partner of Botanic Gardens of Sydney. All the groups came together on the morning to share morning tea/coffee and doughnuts to fuel them for the day.

Both Darren and the tenants agreed they felt honoured to be invited to take part in this volunteering opportunity knowing the long-term impact it will have. Some of the tenants said they look forward to bringing their families back in the future to show them the trees they planted.

“Opportunities like this don’t happen very often, and it is an honour,” Darren said.

If you’d like to partner with the Botanic Gardens of Sydney, email Phil Pettitt at [email protected], or [email protected]

To find out more about the work and impact of Wesley Community Housing, email [email protected] or call 1800 770 602.

Pictured: Wesley Community Housing tenants with the Australian Botanic Gardens team

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