Housing Matters- April 2019

Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot – A Shocking Picture of Unaffordability

The annual Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot has revealed an alarming picture of Australia’s private rental market, and the results for people on low incomes and income support are dire.

Contrary to what some commentators have been expressing the recent downturn in house prices, particularly in major metropolitan areas of NSW, has not led to an increase in the amount of affordable rental housing available.

Some of the more concerning findings in the snapshot this year are that of the 69,485 properties available to rent on the day of the snapshot (23 March 2019):

  • Only 2 properties in NSW were affordable for a single person on Newstart – these 2 properties were in Orange and the Riverina
  • Only 4% of all properties state-wide were affordable for households on government income support
  • Only a quarter of all properties were affordable for households on a minimum wage
  • Only one property was affordable for someone receiving Youth Allowance
  • Only 554 properties were affordable for someone on the Aged Pension and only 337 for someone on the Disability Support Pension

It isn’t hard to see why social housing waiting lists and homelessness are growing in Australia when the private rental market, traditionally a place where people on lower incomes could secure accommodation, can no longer respond to their needs, as a result of the worst period of underinvestment in social housing.

Sign up for the Everybody’s Home campaign and support the fight to fix our broken housing system in the lead up to the federal election.

Homes in Western Sydney: report launch

On Tuesday 23 April Wentworth Community Housing and Western Sydney Community Forum launched the comprehensive Home in Western Sydney report to highlight the increasing levels of homelessness and housing stress experienced in the region.

Key findings in the report are:

  • homelessness in Western Sydney increased by 58% between 2011 and 2016, at a far greater rate than state and national increases
  • more than 110,000 households are in housing stress
  • 32.8 percent of renting households are in rental stress
  • about 6,500 additional social and affordable housing dwellings are needed each year to meet forecast demand in 2036

The report covers 13 local government areas (LGAs) and provides detailed profiles for each LGA as well as a comparative analysis across LGAs and with Greater Sydney on a range of key indicators. The launch event was held in conjunction with Western Sydney University at their Parramatta city campus.

A range of high profile speakers and panellists including Professor Peter Shergold, Chancellor of Western Sydney University and Doug Cameron, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness discussed the implications of the report and potential policy responses.

Media interest has been very strong and effective in raising the profile of housing affordability and homelessness in the run up to the Federal election. Excellent TV coverage was provided by ABC News and 7 News and there has also been good radio, print media and on-line coverage.

At the conclusion of the event and in response to the report Wentworth Community Housing and the University of Western Sydney signed a Strategic Alliance to work in partnership to research and address housing related issues in Western Sydney.

Mental Health and Housing Agreement under review

Community housing providers know that supporting people with mental health issues is critically important in sustaining their tenancies. So any move supporting a more joined up approach to linking housing and mental health is a good thing!

The Housing and Mental Health Agreement (HMHA) signed in 2011 between NSW Health and FACS is a framework for planning, coordinating and delivering mental health, accommodation support and social housing services for clients with mental health problems living in social housing, homeless or at risk of homelessness.

This Agreement is now being reviewed by FACS in partnership with the Mental Health Branch, NSW Health and they are seeking community housing provider input into the review.

It would be fair to say that the original HMHA was developed pretty much without community housing input and is very focused on the relationship between government agencies. This review gives us an opportunity to think about what community housing providers need in order to be able to support better mental health and housing outcomes. What are the structures, practices and relationships that will improve our capacity to sustain tenancies, particularly in an environment where 35% of social housing will be being managed by the non-government sector?

Catherine Stuart from Lee Road Consulting is undertaking the review which will focus on the purpose and scope of the HMHA, implementation, the policy, funding and strategic environment, and governance and outcomes monitoring.  There are a number of ways that community housing providers can have input, and CHA NSW will also look to represent its member s in the consultation process.

Community housing providers can participate through:

  1. Practitioner survey – If you are a service provider or practitioner in housing, homelessness, or mental health, please complete this online survey by 6 pm Friday, 3 May 2019. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HMHAreview
  2. Teleconferences – there is a specific teleconference on 1 May from 11am to 12am for community housing providers and one from 3 May from 2pm to 3pm for Specialist Homelessness Services – please rsvp to SHSProgram@facs.nsw.gov.au by 29 April 2019. In person attendance at the teleconferences (all held in Ashfield) is also available.
  3. Direct feedback – Contact catherine@leeroadconsulting.com.au by Friday 17th May 2019 if you would like to provide feedback directly.

Please contact Ellis Blaikie at CHIA NSW if you would like to input into CHIA NSW’s feedback to the review.

Changing the deckchairs: Administrative and Ministerial changes following the NSW Election

The NSW Election has seen a big shake up of responsibilities for social housing with Melinda Pavey becoming the new Minister for Water, Property and Housing, which includes responsibility for the AHO and LAHC who will become part of the new Planning and Industry cluster. The senior Minister for this cluster will be Robert Stokes and the Secretary will be Jim Betts, previously Chief Executive of Infrastructure NSW. The new arrangements will come into force on 1 July 2019.

Social housing will continue to be a FACS Ministerial responsibility under Minister Gareth Ward who will be Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services. FACS will sit in the ‘Stronger Communities’ cluster alongside Justice and be led by Michael Coutts-Trotter as Secretary. Mark Speakman, the Attorney General will be the senior Minister for the cluster.

It is unclear how these arrangements will work with the transfer of the social housing assets to another department. For those of us who have experienced the transfer of government owned housing assets to another department before this has a strong sense of déjà vu. LAHC was moved out of the Department of Housing to be part of the Department of Finance and Services in 2011, which lasted for around three years. Following significant delays in the title transfer vesting program as well as the demise of the Estates Strategy, the government realised that separating the assets from the entity managing the tenancies was really challenging.

But there may also be some good opportunities from the move – the recognition of housing as essential infrastructure and part of infrastructure development, joining the planning and housing dots, and for the Aboriginal community housing sector a more enabling environment for use of Aboriginal land.

Michael Coutts-Trotter has stated that the creation of the Stronger Communities cluster will give ‘particular attention to helping families and communities build on their strengths to reduce law breaking, incarceration, recidivism and homelessness’. Congratulations to CHL and SCCH for being so prescient in developing local Housing Options for People Leaving Custody Projects. Hopefully this will support your efforts to work collaboratively with Corrective Services locally.

CHIA NSW believes that given the numbers of departments now having an interest in housing outcomes that NSW needs a comprehensive, evidence-based housing strategy – something that provides guidance across government clusters and agencies about what we collectively need to do to develop a growing and robust housing system. We will be looking to meet with the relevant Ministers and new Department heads as soon as possible to clarify how the new arrangements will work and to press this case.

Building Support for Housing Growth: Good Growth Housing Conference

The Good Growth Housing Conference held in April was an opportunity to what highlight what makes development work for communities and what we need to do to ensure that housing supply growth is seen as ‘good’ for communities. Photos and presentations are available online.

Two keynote speakers talked about their Californian experience. Gabriel Metcalf, now CEO, of the Committee for Sydney and previously head of a leading civic planning organisation in the San Francisco Bay Area, compared the housing environment of Sydney with San Francisco. His key advice was ‘don’t do what we did’ which resulted in a housing market that delivered sky rocketing rents and a massive spike in homelessness. Many of us would argue that we have been experiencing those conditions for a while now.

Robert Weiner, Executive Director of the California Coalition for Rural Housing (CCRH) continued the California theme and outlined his organisations role in advocating for affordable housing in rural areas of the State. He talked about the issues associated with housing migrant and itinerant farm workers, the long history of activism of his organisation, and the breadth of housing options that they support in order to be able to get any new housing into small rural communities.

Other key messages from the day were the need to engage tenants and communities early and often in renewal and redevelopment. The importance of thinking about growth in a regional context in NSW and what this looks like for Aboriginal communities was also highlighted. Concerns were raised about the lack of affordable housing currently being delivered through urban regeneration programs such as the renewal strategy being managed by the Hunter and Central Coast Development Corporation which has delivered 30 affordable homes to date.

The last session of the conference illustrated what good growth could look like on a real site in South West Sydney – a detailed account is available below.

A huge thank you to our sponsors, partners, speakers and delegates for making the Good Growth Housing Conference a resounding success!

What is good growth? A view from a range of stakeholders

Development is a vital component of the social and economic growth of cities and regional areas across NSW and Australia. CHIA NSW has been partnering with organisations to change the conversation about development in our communities.

Development doesn’t need to be a negative, good growth can be delivered in a way that adds to the diversity, strength and character of neighbourhoods.  Good growth can also help to create more equitable communities with more affordable housing.

One of the highlights of the Good Growth Housing Conference was the final session which brought the concept of good growth to life with a (sort of) real life development.

Landcom, sponsors of this session, volunteered a site it owns at Macarthur in Campbelltown to the Good Growth Alliance to develop a hypothetical design exploring the good growth concept.

Our partners at the Property Council recruited Urbis to get involved to work with the Alliance on the design. Over a series of workshops, the Alliance developed design principles and agreed assumptions to feed into a concept design and a financial feasibility analysis.

The result of this work, ‘Converge at Macarthur’, was presented to the conference by Rachel Trigg and Carlos Frias from Urbis.

Artist’s impression of Converge at Macarthur

The hypothetical design for Converge at Macarthur is tenure blind, incorporating 1,600 homes, including 20% social housing and 10% affordable rental housing.  It also features a diversity of housing types, including apartments, terraced houses and specialist disability accommodation.

The design creates a new neighbourhood linking Macarthur station and shopping centre with the TAFE and Western Sydney University sites.  There is well designed and active public realm, pedestrian areas, and parklands for the community to share and explore.

A core principle that the Alliance established for the design was that it must be financially feasible.  The feasibility model had to account for the geographical challenges of the site, the potential market value of homes in the Campbelltown area and the costs of construction.  The feasibility model documents the assumptions the Alliance made, including the contributions by developers, community housing providers, state and local government.

Councillor Jess Scully, City of Sydney facilitated a panel discussion to follow the presentation.   Panel members Karen Walsh (CEO, Shelter NSW); William Power (Acting Executive Director, Property Council NSW); Tasha Burrell (Western Sydney Program Manager, Landcom); and Rachel Trigg (Director, Community Planning, Urbis) explored the challenges and trade-offs required to deliver a project based on the principles of good growth, and discussed the lessons learned through the process.

There was broad agreement from the panel that good growth requires a different way of working than the status quo.  This new way of working needs to cover all elements of development, from how developers engage with communities, to how different levels of government use their powers and levers to support good growth outcomes.

The exercise put one issue in stark relief, making sure that social housing is included in new growth and development requires capital investment from government.

Following on from the session at the conference, CHIA NSW is working with our other partners in the Good Growth Alliance to explore opportunities to use the design to influence policy makers.  Watch this space.

Aboriginal Caucus: strengthening the Aboriginal housing sector

The second annual Aboriginal Caucus – Strengthening the Aboriginal housing sector – held in April by ACHIA and CHIA NSW was a resounding success. We had a great turn out of over 80 people from across the state with our new interim ACHIA chair, Charlie Trindall, welcoming all.

 To start the day off a ‘Brother’s in Housing’ and a ‘Women in Leadership Breakfast’ were held to discuss men’s and women’s business in housing.

We then came together to hear from Jody Broun, Chief Executive of the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO), about the ‘Listen and Yarn’ initiative that was workshopped around the state of NSW. We talked about the ideas that came out of those workshops, and the strategic initiatives that the AHO will be moving forward to support the sector.

Following on from Jody we had some great presentations and learnings from around Australia and California on Indigenous Housing initiatives:

Suzi Hullick, National Manager of Indigenous Business, Westpac

Suzi talked about property development and home ownership in the Indigenous housing sector.

Dr Rob Weiner, Chief Executive of the California Coalition for Rural Housing

Rob talked about their Tribal Housing Capacity Development Project designed to support the American First Nations housing sector to plan and implement housing projects.

Chad Ritchie, ACHIA Future Directions

Chad and the new ACHIA Committee consulted members on the direction and priorities for the sector peak.

To close out the day, the AHO talked about some of their existing initiatives – the Strong Family, Strong Communities approach and guiding principles including necessary sector investment, and the Sector Collaboration initiative which puts culture at the centre.

 We would like to thank AHO for their sponsorship and staff and commitment and hope to see everyone next year.

Free Community Garden Program for social housing tenants

Community Greening offers outreach education sessions and community garden programs free of charge for social housing tenants. They have a commitment to taking their expertise ‘beyond the garden walls’ of the Botanic Garden, with over 600 garden projects in metro and regional areas including Sydney, Bourke, Broken hill, Kempsey, Illawarra, Taree, Albury, Lismore and Moree.

Sponsored by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS), and Bloomberg, Community Greening programs empower vulnerable communities while providing a broad range of health, training, economic and social benefits, with activities focused on gardening. The demand for Community Greening continues to grow, and the aim is to deliver 850 gardens and engage 150,000 participants by 2021.

Get in touch with Community Greenings’ Community Greening Team Leader, Phil Pettitt to organise a session for your tenants and communities. Phil is part educator, part horticultural advisor, but principally a community development worker and problem solver. He has over 20 experience in the horticulture sector, having spent the last 6 years working to inspire and educate social housing residents in community gardening.

Call and text Phil on 0447 420 173 or email Philip.pettitt@bgcp.nsw.gov.au to see what Community Greening has to offer your tenants.

CHIA NSW tenant satisfaction survey update

The CHIA NSW tenant satisfaction survey (TSS) continues to be a vital service for housing providers to better understand their tenants’ satisfaction with services and ways to improve service delivery.

Since its 2014 inception, over 37 housing providers nationally have joined the TSS membership.

The methodology for the TSS was developed following extensive consultation with the NSW community housing industry, including tenants. The core survey questions also drew upon UK best practice contained in House Mark’s STAR tenant satisfaction survey. Housing providers can choose from over 100 questions developed from industry consultation or add their own to meet their individual strategic and operational needs.

The tenant satisfaction survey includes the following services:

  • a high quality, professional and independent satisfaction survey and benchmarking service that meets all the regulatory (NRSCH) requirements
  • a range of best practice approaches
  • a number of industry solutions to support a higher response rate, including targeted SMS reminders and survey translations
  • surveys are uniquely identified and made available in multiple formats including paper, online, tablet and smartphone
  • comprehensive reports include comparisons with CHIA NSW’s benchmark group, the NRSCH thresholds and any previous surveys
  • CHIA NSW project manages the whole survey process from question development through to the final report

Members can participate in the TSS annually and are provided with in-depth analysis of the following:

  • Key drivers of satisfaction – find out what services drive your tenant satisfaction and how well you are performing by comparing levels of dissatisfaction against how important tenants think different elements of your service are. This insight supports strategic decisions about priorities for service improvement
  • Word clouds – the report includes a word clouds and comments toolkit, which allows housing providers to sort comments by different demographics and content.
  • Statistical analysis – reports highlight any findings that are statistically significant. We supply full data tables that analyse each question by region and program.
  • Detailed and comprehensive report – A detailed and comprehensive independent report is provided to individual services – the report includes recommendations based on performance outcomes, comparisons with CHIA NSW benchamek group, NRSCH thresholds and any previous surveys.
  • Benchmarking reports – CHIA NSW produces a confidential updated benchmarking report twice per year from the core questions in the tenant satisfaction survey template. Participants are provided with a ‘key’ that enables them to identify their individual information from the data contained in the report.

The TSS service can be tailored to meet most budgets. CHIA NSW’s will save your organisation valuable time and will assist housing providers through all stages of the process including follow up work or additional analysis.

For any further information and questions about the Tenant Satisfaction Survey, please contact Zed Tintor: Service Delivery Coordinator (02) 9690 2447 Ext 203 or zedt@communityhousing.org.au

CHIA NSW Staffing: Farewell Deborah!

Deborah Georgiou will be leaving us shortly to pursue a life of singing, protesting, sitting for portraits and of course loads of travel. While we may look at this decision with sadness at the loss of her expertise and wise counsel at CHIA NSW we will also look at Deborah’s decision with envy, jealously and joy.

Deborah has been Head of Policy and Communication at CHIA NSW for over two years. In that time she has built a quality and highly skilled policy team which has secured project funding to enhance the work of CHIA NSW. Most significantly she has managed major practice development projects including the highly valued toolkits in areas of Sustainable Tenancies and Domestic and Family Violence.

She has raised the profile of the sector through policy development, submissions and advocacy, always with the best interests of people in need of housing front and centre, including extensive strategic work pushing for the policy changes needed to support the expansion of community housing in NSW and nationally. And never forgetting the often-neglected needs of regional communities, Western Sydney, and particularly marginalised groups including people who have been incarcerated.

Of course Deborah is well known in the housing industry having been appointed to significant roles within the Community Housing Sector having being CEO of Women’s Housing Company and Director Policy and Planning Community Housing (FACS). Her experience, knowledge and her passion for the sector will be greatly missed.

Event: NCOSS Investing for Good Conference 2019

Coming up on 9 May, I4G 2019 has a practical focus and provides the opportunity to learn from organisations who have successfully gone down the impact investing pathway. You will hear from disability organisations who have leveraged the flexibility of the NDIS to finance and develop new products, and housing providers who have come up with blended finance models to grow their businesses. The day also includes panel discussions looking at data and measurement, and what investors look for to ensure investment readiness.

The day will close with a thought-provoking debate about whether impact investing is the way of the future, or simply a means for governments to abrogate responsibility and for corporates to repair tarnished reputations. And plenty of opportunity to network and catch up with colleagues over drinks.

For registrations and more information contact info@ncoss.org.au or visit http://www.investingforgood.sydney/