Housing Matters – December 2018

CEO Report

Last week we held our AGM at which we launched our election platform and also published the ‘State of the Community Housing Industry 2018’, a comprehensive set of facts and figures about the community housing industry in NSW which adds to our earlier report about the sector’s development achievements, Delivering New Housing Supply. See below for more information about this new report.

CHIA NSW is committed to supporting the sector’s growth, that is its good growth. Our members strive to provide good quality homes and excellent services to their tenants.  We recognise the need to share information about the sector and to demonstrate how we respond to what our tenants need. This year has seen a raft of tools enthusiastically taken up by our members that aim to set high standards for responding to people experiencing domestic and family violence and those with complex needs. We are just starting on other projects looking at how we better meet older people’s needs and also how we can assist members to meet the Community Housing Aboriginal Competency Standards.

On Sunday 16 December the Federal Labor Party has just announced that it will support construction of 250,000 new affordable rental properties over the next ten years if elected to government – see below. On Monday 17 December the NSW Government launched its $50 million in the Community Housing Innovation Fund (CHIF) – three year grant program operated to support development of around 150 new homes by community housing providers.

Safe secure affordable housing is the great enabler – to getting a job, to a comfortable retirement, to succeeding at school – all of which feed into a stronger economy.  We hope all parties will use the opportunity of the 2019 Federal and NSW State election to make strong commitments to meet the shortfall of social and affordable housing in NSW.

CHIA NSW want the not for profit community housing sector to be the landlord (and developer) of choice for these initiatives. Ensuring that we stay connected to tenants as well as funders requirements is critical.

During 2018 CHIA NSW has worked with many organisations – our members, the NSW and Federal Government, the finance and property sectors and academia. Too many to mention but I would like to acknowledge our not for profit colleagues working hard on the Everybody’s Home Campaign. It has been a good year and in Kate Colvin we have had an inspiring spokesperson. I’d also like to acknowledge Link Housing who responded to our calls for assistance and seconded a member of staff to help organise our activity.

Thanks too to the hard working, enthusiastic and talented staff it is such a pleasure to have worked with over the year and a very supportive board. 

Have a lovely festive break. 

Guest speaker Susan Ryan AO 

Susan is the former Age Discrimination Commissioner and the first female Federal Labor minister. Susan has continued to take a keen interest in housing – particularly the plight of older women and her talk at the CHIA NSW post AGM lunch was very informative.  


Our State Election Platform – Housing Our Community – and some other thoughts

On 13 December 2018 we launched CHIA NSW’s state election platform Housing our Community – an eight point plan outlining what the political parties in NSW could do to meet the state’s affordable housing challenge. The numbers are big; a recent AHURI report ‘Social Housing as Infrastructure: An investment pathway’ estimates that in NSW we need 140,000 more social rental homes now and around another 76,000 to keep up with growing demand over the next 20 years,[1] so the solutions need to be bold. It is no surprise that many people worry about population growth when the benefits for some seem to have been translated into higher housing costs for others.

The state government can’t do it alone, but it holds significant policy levers and is certainly not bereft of resources.  One recommendation is to treat housing as essential infrastructure and invest where the market can’t provide what’s needed. The NSW Government already has a track record of investing in infrastructure- S87.2B over four years to 2022. Why not make sub-market rental housing the next priority as part of realising good growth.

What’s the alternative? Redefine the problem and revive some 19th century type remedies? In their recent reportDying with Their Rights On: The myths and realities of ending homelessness in Australia’ the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) argues that we have essentially become too liberal in our definitions of homelessness and housing stress. True, the ABS accepts severe crowding (being four or more bedrooms short) as equivalent to homelessness rather than a cultural choice – but wouldn’t any reasonable person? 

But even focusing on the street homeless, as the CIS would prefer, still leaves a big problem.  The numbers are going up at a greater rate than overall homelessness, in Australia by 20% in the 5 years to 2016, well above the 14% ‘overall homelessness increase. And the population is not static – people move on and others fall into homelessness.  In statistics published by the AIHW last week, 288,975 people were assisted by specialist homelessness projects in 2017-18. Unfortunately many would not have found secure, safe affordable homes as an outcome of that assistance, and thus remain at risk of further periods of homelessness. 

Putting the numbers aside what policy does the research offer? Somewhat surprisingly in a report from the CIS with a mission of ‘Defending Liberty in Australia’, the solutions revolve around a mix of adopting ‘benign and enlightened paternalism’ and more coercive measures such as mandatory pyscho-social support and the reinstatement of long term institutional care.

Street homelessness is the ‘pointy’ end of a much bigger problem in the housing system. Solving it can’t happen in isolation. Last week also saw Mariana Mazzucato deliver the Centre for Policy Development’s John Menadue Oration. Her talk ‘Can the state deliver’ could not have been more timely or apt. The housing challenge is one governments need to accept and lead. Her recent focus on reorientating government to solving the big problems by becoming ‘mission-oriented’, sounds exactly what’s needed, and is indeed more likely to retain the best and attract the brightest strategists to the task.

[1] The need for social housing is calculated by identifying households in the bottom income quintile – differentiating also by household type to recognise that larger households require a more expensive home – and counting those who are in rental stress

Labor’s Election Promise – 250,000 new affordable rental homes in the next 10 years

At the Labor Party Conference in Adelaide on 16 December Bill Shorten, Federal Opposition Leader announced plans for what he said was the most significant investment in delivering affordable rental housing in Australia since the post second world war era. He quoted the recent AHURI report Social housing as infrastructure an investment pathway  to highlight the massive social housing shortfall across Australia (727,000 homes needed by 2036) as evidence that all governments need to do more.

Over $6.6b would be invested over the ten years under the Labor proposal. The funds are expected to produce 250,000 new homes for low to moderate renters across Australia, with 20,000 being delivered in the ‘first term of a Labor government’.

Some of the key components of the proposal are:

  • incentives of $8,500 (index linked) per year for 15 years for newly constructed properties that are owned or managed by a registered community housing provider
  • rents set at a max of 80% to market rates
  • the new housing would need to meet energy efficiency and Universal design standards
  • properties would be located based on advice from a new National Housing Supply Council

The incentive is not large enough on its own to ‘produce’ social housing.  However, if combined with other forms of subsidy that states and territories (and some Councils) could offer such as capital grant, land, and planning concessions the potential to deliver social housing too could be realised

This subsidy could also be the ‘gap filler’ the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC) needs to get lending big time. The NFIC was established earlier this year by the Australian Government to provide lower cost and long term finance to registered community housing providers.

More detail about the proposal is available in the ALP Affordable Housing for Renters Fact Sheet is here.

Full Steam Ahead for the CHIA NSW Aboriginal Team!

CHIA NSW now has a team of three specialist Aboriginal development workers and they are flat out working with both the Aboriginal and the mainstream community housing sectors to collectively deliver effective representation and services for Aboriginal tenants and communities.

Aboriginal Outcomes Project

Work is well underway in the Aboriginal Outcomes project which focuses on supporting mainstream community housing providers to implement the Aboriginal Outcomes Strategy. This work is led by Adam Hansen, Aboriginal Partnerships Specialist and as well as a series of introductory meetings with interested community housing providers, Adam held an Aboriginal Outcomes planning workshop in November where sector representatives and stakeholders, including FACS and the AHO, endorsed the project workplan.   

CHIA NSW has had many requests from community housing providers who want advice on how to implement the Aboriginal Outcomes strategy, including for support on the Aboriginal Cultural Competency Standards. Adam will be delivering a program of regional workshops on a range of issues, including partnership building, cultural safety and employment. 

The workshops will also identify providers interested in regional connection working groups to facilitate better working between mainstream and Aboriginal community housing providers. This could include opportunities to second staff between organisations and formal or informal learning opportunities and partnerships. Adam is also reconvening the Aboriginal staff network and has scheduled a network event for mid-January. 

Capacity Building for Aboriginal Community Housing Providers

Paula Coghill, Aboriginal Specialist, leads this work which aims to support Aboriginal community housing providers to build the capacity they need to go through the process of registration under the National Regulatory System.

Many workshops have been held for Aboriginal providers across NSW with a focus on asset management, governance and financial management and we will be working with AHO to discuss the ACHP’s future sector capacity building needs.  Capacity building is the third of four pillars of the AHO’s new strategy Strong family, Strong Communities and will be of critical importance for the sector and AHO’s goal of supporting the Aboriginal community housing sector to transition into the NRSCH. 

Supporting the Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association (ACHIA)

Chad Ritchie, the ACHIA Co-ordinator leads this work and he has been developing relationships with the Aboriginal community housing sector and has spoken to many providers at different events and by visiting them in response to requests for face to face meetings.  The ACHIA elections will now be held in March 2019 with nominations open until February. 

State of the Industry 2018 – a compendium of facts and figures about community housing in NSW

At the AGM on the 13 December, CHIA NSW launched its State of the Industry Report for 2018. This is the first comprehensive statement about the performance and activities of our industry and is designed as a resource for community housing providers to use with government and non-government stakeholders, tenants and private sector partners, to support their understanding of what we do and how we do it.

Sections of the report include:

  • Housing assets managed by community housing providers in NSW
  • People living in community housing
  • Performance data
  • What do tenants say?
  • What are we developing?The community housing workforce and directors

CHIA NSW will be updating the report regularly and has a new project underway to turn more of the content into a data dashboard that will give providers a more interactive experience.

Murdi Paaki Social Housing Agreement Signing Monday 10 December 2018

CHIA NSW was pleased to attend the signing ceremony of the Agreement negotiated between the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly and the NSW Government to improve Aboriginal social housing outcomes in the Murdi Paaki region.

The Agreement was signed at a ceremony in Dubbo by Des Jones, Chair of the Murdi Paaki Regional Assembly, on behalf of the Assembly and the Hon. Sarah Mitchell MLC, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, on behalf of the NSW Government.

The Agreement marks the first real attempt under Local Decision Making to co-design and jointly manage an area of policy in NSW. The Regional Aboriginal Housing Leadership Assembly (RAHLA) will be responsible for driving the agreement’s objectives which are to:

  • support joint decision making on the delivery of social housing outcomes
  • advise government and the Assembly on ways to direct social housing programs
  • Develop and implement strategies to allocate and give effect to the $15M funding
  • Commence the co-design of an Aboriginal social housing plan.

In a recent article in the Conversation examining the challenges of building in remote Australia the authors offered four recommendations one of which is to  ‘amend legislation to devolve decision-making to Indigenous people at a local regional level’. Sounds as if  this initiative is right on track.

 ACHIA and CHIA NSW will give this initiative their full support.



Community housing providers and Western Sydney Councils talk about the need for affordable rental housing

On 26 November, members of an Alliance of community housing providers operating in Western Sydney hosted a breakfast roundtable with Western Sydney councils.  The event was an opportunity for community housing providers to talk about how they could work in partnership with councils to deliver affordable rental housing to support the growth of Western Sydney. 

The event, also attended by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) and Landcom, allowed the members of the Alliance to promote the industry to local councils and highlight some of the housing challenges and opportunities for the region. 

The Alliance launched a report commissioned from SGS Economics and Planning, forecasting social and affordable housing need across the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly.  The headline finding of this report was that at least 1 in 3 of the 184,500 new homes targeted in the GSC’s Western City District Plan needs to be affordable to lower income households.

David Borger, Director Evolve Housing, and Western Sydney Director, Sydney Business Chamber speaking at the Breakfast Roundtable

CHIA NSW also promoted two Industry Development Strategy projects that support the development of affordable rental housing – the building community support for community housing toolkit and the best practice report on multi tenure developments.

The SGS Report and resources available to assist councils in supporting affordable rental housing development were well received and there was significant discussion about how to support further engagement of the Alliance in planning conversations in 2019.

Anyone wanting more information about the Western Sydney Strategic Alliance should contact Deborah Georgiou deborahg@communityhousing.org.au.

Affordable Housing Town Hall Assembly – 14 March 2019

The Everybody’s Home campaign is partnering with the Sydney Alliance and Vinnies NSW to hold an Affordable Housing Town Hall Assembly on the evening of 14 March 2019. You can be part of the movement by registering your attendance online.

The Assembly will bring together a diverse range of leaders, citizens and community groups to stand together for the common good. With state and federal politicians joining the assembly, the goal is to seek clear, concrete commitments on affordable housing.

This Assembly is a fantastic opportunity for the community housing sector to come together with our tenants and the broader community and put the pressure on politicians to deliver housing that people can afford.

If you are interested in being more involved in the Assembly, get in touch with Robin at Link Housing who is the key point of contact for the sector. We are looking for turn out coordinators, who will be responsible for coordinating staff and tenants at their organisation to attend the Assembly. Free training is provided to all turn out coordinators and it is a fantastic professional and personal development opportunity.

CHIA NSW Submissions on Proposed Planning Amendments

In December, CHIA NSW made submissions on behalf of its members to the NSW Government on proposed changes to planning policies.

Amendments to State Environmental Planning Policy Affordable Rental Housing (2009) have proposed that a cap of 12 boarding rooms be applied to boarding houses developed on sites zoned as R2.  CHIA NSW has advocated for a higher cap for registered community housing providers, set at 20 boarding rooms to facilitate viable developments. 

The CHIA NSW Board provided direct feedback about the boarding house proposal to representatives from the Department of Planning and Environment who attended their meeting on 14 December.

Changes to State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70 – Affordable Housing (revised schemes) propose extending the SEPP to all councils; establishing a separate household income level outside of the Sydney region; and clarifying that affordable housing is to be made available to very low, low and moderate income households, and any combination of these households.  

CHIA NSW is supportive of the proposed changes which will make it easier for councils to require development contributions for affordable rental housing.  CHIA NSW is also supportive of the intent to make registered community housing providers the preferred manager of affordable rental housing delivered under this program.  In our submission we have also advocated for support for local councils to develop schemes which will maximise affordable rental housing outcomes for their communities.

Both submissions will be available on our website.

House Keys Operations

House Keys Operations (Round 4) was successfully launched earlier this month.

House Keys is an online tool developed for the community housing industry which allows providers to see how they compare with peers across NSW and Australia. House Keys Operations compares your organisation’s performance against a suite of 100 key indicators grouped in areas such as finance and asset management.

With the support of the Registrars of Community Housing, the NRSCH Secretariat and NSW FACS, House Keys Operations includes the latest data that CHPs have submitted to the NRSCH. 

This round of House Keys Operations had 36 participating CHPs from 3 jurisdictions, including 25 from NSW.

We will start the sign up process for the next round of House Keys Operations in January 2019.

For enquiries or further information contact Leoni Lynch leonil@communityhousing.org.au

Carers NSW – Young Carer Program

The Carer Achievement Pathway is an innovative project that Carers NSW has been funded to deliver under the Try, Test and Learn fund, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Social Services. The Carer Achievement Pathway will work with young carers to increase their readiness to participate in employment or education and support them in their caring role.

Young carers aged 16-25 living in Western Sydney (including the Inner West) are eligible to apply. For more information or to make a referral please contact trytestlearn@carersnsw.org.au, call 9280 4744 or visit www.ycachieve.org.au.

Happy festive cheer from all at CHIA NSW!

The staff and Board of CHIA NSW wish all of our members and friends a very happy festive season – we look forward to working with you and making sure we house more people in 2019.

Media Mentions 

‘Sydney’s not full’: Alliance formed to combat anti-population pushSydney Morning Herald 25 November 2018

Property Council Illawarra on the newly formed ‘Good Growth Alliance’ – Illawarra Mercury 26 November 2018

Inner West Council ushers in new Multicultural Policy – Il Globo 26 November 2018

NSW offers $50 million to fund private social and affordable housing projects – Australian Financial Review 16 December 2018