Housing Matters – March 2019

NSW Liberals on the cusp of majority government

The Liberal Party were successful at the recent NSW Election and are set for another four years government in NSW. So what does their re-election mean for housing and homelessness in NSW?  

While much is still up in the air, the one certainty is that there will be a new Minister covering the social housing portfolio in light of former Minister Pru Goward’s retirement from politics. Although any major changes in the current policy direction are unlikely, a new minister will come with a new approach and potentially new priorities for us as a sector to respond to. 

In terms of policy, the Liberal Party has reaffirmed its commitment to delivering the housing targets in Future Directions – 24,000 properties of which 7,000 are new social housing properties  as well as the two rounds of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund. Whilst this is a welcome contribution, the current shortfall of social and affordable housing in NSW, as calculated recently by UNSW, is 316,766. 

In 2017 the Government announced its Housing Affordability Strategy with their priorities being to increase the supply of housing and the introduction of a first home owners grant. CHIA NSW supports young people being able to enter the home ownership market affordably, but we have also consistently argued that whilst housing supply has been at record levels in NSW over the past few years this has not led to increased rental affordability for many families. 

In relation to homelessness just prior to the election the NSW Government committed to reducing rough sleeping across NSW by 50% by 2025. This is to be done through the ‘A Place to Call Home’ initiative founded by the Institute of Global Homelessness. There is no additional funding for housing associated with this initiative which aims to support homelessness services in Sydney to set goals and strategies to reduce rough sleeping numbers and to measure and track their progress. 

 So we have to keep up our advocacy for more subsidised affordable rental housing in NSW – speaking to local members about what it means for the communities they represent and working with councils and the NSW Government on affordable housing strategies and contribution schemes that deliver local housing outcomes.  

Filling the Gap: Australia needs 1 million social and affordable homes

CHIA NSW published a UNSW report jointly commissioned with Homelessness NSW looking at how much it would cost to meet the shortfall in social and affordable housing over the next 20 years.  

This research shows that Australia needs 728,600 social housing properties and 295,000 affordable rental homes by 2036 – of which 316,766 are needed in NSW.  

The cost of meeting the shortfall has been assessed in the report as being $8.6 billion a year – $5.3 billion per year for social housing and $3.3 billion per year for affordable rental housing. To put that into perspective Australia currently spends $11.8 billion on negative gearing and capital gains tax subsidies. With a third of the shortfall NSW would need to see at least an investment of around $3b and probably more given the higher cost of delivering new homes in this State. 

The project costed the delivery of new supply of social and affordable housing based on needs estimates developed by earlier AHURI research for social housing extended to estimate the need for affordable housing. This research focused on an assessment of housing needs, rather than who strictly qualifies for housing assistance, or is on a formal wait list for social housing.  

The analysis centres on two sets of people. The first is households deemed to be in need of ‘social housing’ and includes only those households in the bottom income quintile (Q1) for Australia and who are in private rental stress, and including homelessness figures. The second category is households in need of ‘affordable housing’, which includes those assessed as being in housing stress who are in the second income quintile (Q2) for Australia. 

The report also looked at what the relative benefits of funding that additional supply – comparing the cost to government of using different financing mechanisms such as capital grants, financing through the NHFIC, an annual service subsidy etc. 

The main findings of the report are: 

  • Australia needs 1,023,888 social and affordable homes by 2036 – that equates to 36,400 social housing properties a year and 14,800 affordable rental homes a year. Read the media release for a detailed breakdown of housing need by location.
  • The Government will save $3.2 billion a year delivering the affordable housing through the not for profit sector ($1.1 billion) than the for profit sector ($4.5 billion) – because it removes investor return and equity
  • The cheapest way to deliver the housing we need is through a combination of capital grants and financing through the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC), which would reduce the money CHPs need to borrow and provide access to cheaper financing 

Check out In The Media below for more articles about the report. 

2000 people pack Sydney Town Hall

Almost 2000 people from all walks of life packed Sydney Town Hall in March to call for change on housing and energy policy from NSW state and federal politicians. The Assembly, convened by Everybody’s Home, Sydney Alliance and Vinnies NSW, put the spotlight on decision-makers, calling for public commitments ahead of the NSW and federal elections. 

Many existing policy commitments – including Labor’s plan to deliver 250K additional affordable homes were reaffirmed on the night  but there were a few new announcements, including a commitment from both the major parties in NSW to conduct and energy efficiency audit of NSW social housing properties. Sydney Alliance has published a summary of commitments 

The success of the event and policy commitments achieved on the night were based on the power of community represented in the audience. Among housing, homelessness and community organisations, the community housing sector was well represented on the night, with staff and tenant delegations from Uniting, Compass, Link, Bridge, SGCH, Women’s Housing Company and more in the audience. There were also large delegations from Filipino, Jewish, Muslim, South Asian, Vietnamese and Pacific Islander communities, as well as unions and church-based delegations. 

It was a fantastic evening – the energy in the room was palpable as a truly diverse community of people and organisations joined forces to collectively demand action in two of the most pressing policy areas. The networks and relationships formed through the process of bringing everyone together under one roof will serve us well as we continue to push for change on energy and housing policy in the lead up to the Federal election in May. 

Delivering effective regulation for a diverse and dynamic industry – what we want from the Review of the Regulatory System for Community Housing

CHIA NSW has submitted its response to the Review of the National Regulatory System for Community Housing Discussion Paper. We support regulation for our industry, but we want it to be proportionate to reflect the diversity of the industry and to represent a reasonable regulatory burden. We want it to be sophisticated enough to regulate the growing complexity of our industry, but also to drive performance improvement through a transparent approach to the provision of information.  

We particularly want to see the system integrated across Australia with a nationally consistent approach. We want it to be culturally competent in responding to the registration of Aboriginal community housing providers, as well as in the regulation of mainstream providers providing housing for Aboriginal people. We want it to take a more risk based approach to regulation and to rethink the current tier classification, and we really want there to be a reasonable allocation of compliance burden between contracting arrangements and regulatory requirements. 

In order to do this, Registrars’ offices need to be resourced effectively and have the right mix of staff capabilities to undertake consumer assurance activity as well as the asset and prudential aspects of regulation.   

The main principles underpinning our submission are:  

  • the NRSCH should operate independently of the government agency the commissions/funds community housing organisations and have new governance arrangements that reflect and reinforce that independence
  • there should be an integrated and consistent national approach to regulation of the community housing industry  
  • there should be adequate resourcing of regulation and registrars’ offices assisted by the redirection of resources from the rationalisation of other regulatory functions such as contractual compliance
  • any reform to the system should look to reduce the regulatory burden and to redistribute resources currently used 
  • the classification of community housing providers under any new arrangements reflect a more nuanced approach to risk
  • the system should deliver improved information about the role and performance of the community housing industry in meeting regulatory and community expectations 

FACS is holding a stakeholder consultation on 28 March and the deadline for submissions has recently been extended to 5 April if you still want to send in comments. 

The CHIA NSW submission can be found here. 

Making sure that all growth is good growth: the Good Growth Housing Conference 2019

It’s just over three weeks until the CHIA NSW Good Growth Conference on April 15The theme of the conference is ‘Planning for our Future’: how do we plan, fund and build our cities and regional centres? 

We are looking forward to bringing you a fantastic day of panels and debate, rounded off with our Networking drinks. We’ve had a very positive response to the news that we’ve re-opened our special early bird registration rate for bookings of 5 or more! To take advantage of this offer, contact us at conference@communityhousing.org.au for group bookings.  

Program update: What is Good Growth? Our last session of the day, What is Good Growth? is shaping up to be really inspiring. The Good Growth Housing Conference will close with a panel discussion about what we mean by Good Growth. The Good Growth Alliance is working with Urbis and Landcom to design a hypothetical Good Growth development. Based on a real site in Macarthur, the Urbis design will bring to life the principles of Good Growth. 

To introduce the final session, Urbis will present the design and describe its features and benefits as well as what has been traded-off to deliver on what the Alliance sees as Good Growth. The panel discussion will reflect on the development of the design and the broader ideas that have featured in the other conference sessions. This session will include facilitator Councillor Jess Scully (City of Sydney), Tasha Burrell (Landcom) William Power (Property Council), Karen Walsh (Shelter NSW) and is sponsored by Landcom.  

The Good Growth Housing Conference is of interest to people working in all tiers of Government, the not for profit sector, private industry and communities who want to work together to create a city based on equitable, sustainable, and liveable growth.  

You can register yourself and/or staff from your organisation here and each ticket includes networking drinks from 5.30-7.30pm 

For all program and registration information, please visit www.goodgrowth2019.com 

ACHIA Aboriginal Caucus Day and Breakfast: April 16

Join us after the Good Growth Housing Conference for the ACHIA Aboriginal Caucus Day and Breakfast. The NSW Aboriginal Community Housing sector is undergoing a period of rapid change and the Aboriginal Caucus day will give the sector an opportunity to discuss and workshop three key elements designed to strengthen the sector and develop stronger ties with non-Aboriginal partners.

These are: • The development of a new Aboriginal peak organisation- the Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association (ACHIA) to provide an independent voice for the sector, • Work with Aboriginal community housing providers to strengthen their organisations to prepare for registration • And a focused approach to support non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal housing organisations to further develop mutually respectful partnerships. The Caucus day will also include national and international speakers on First Nations housing and sector development.

The ACHIA Caucus day will include:

* An Aboriginal Women’s Leadership Breakfast and

* A Brothers in Housing Breakfast (Note: this will be held at Australian Hall 150 Elizabeth Street, Sydney)

This event is open to all ACHPs and Aboriginal staff members from the sector.

COST: Free, thanks to sponsorship from the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office Register here:


Training: new short courses coming up

Centre for Training in Social Housing is launching a new course in Mental Health First Aid. Many members have asked for this course and we will be running our inaugural course on the 1st – 2nd May 2019 with our experience and qualified trainer Chris Wilson. Please register your interest on the website or through enrolments@communityhousing.org.au. 

Mental Health First Aid 1st May- 2nd May 9am-4pm, Centre for Training in Social Housing, 619 Elizabeth St Redfern NSW 2016. Booklet & Lunch provided. $270 per participant. 



De-escalation in the work place and in the field has become an issue of concern for many staff. This short course will discuss and role model how to identify behaviours of concern, what to do to de-escalate a situation and how to ensure you are in a safe environment.  An important part of this course is how to debrief after an event and how to support your staff.  The course cost is an amazingly low $250. Please register your interest on the website or through enrolments@communityhousing.org.au. 

Work safely: de-escalation in the workplace and in the field. 2nd May 9am-4pm, Centre for Training in Social Housing, 619 Elizabeth St Redfern NSW 2016. $250 per participant. 

We come to you: CTSH has expanded its course offerings. We come to you if you have more than 7-8 students. Call and discuss your training needs on 02 9690 2447 ext 215 and speak with Catherine Tracey Head of Learning and Development or go to our website at www.ctsh.org.au. 

Everybody’s Home gears up for the federal election

With the Federal election tipped for May, Everybody’s Home is ramping up activities as housing shapes up to be a key issue on the campaign trail. Organisations that are yet to join as campaign supporters can do so on the sign up page – we want to have as many NSW community housing providers on board as possible! 

To boost the profile of the community housing sector and the role we have to play in delivering the social and affordable housing that Australian communities need, Providers are encouraged to invite local candidates to visit their offices. This is great way to show the work that we do and build support for policies that will enable us to expand our work within the grass roots of political parties. 

Another campaign strategy is hosting housing and homelessness community forums in key marginal electorates, with candidates from all sides invited to spruik their party’s position on the five Everybody’s Home asks.  

In regional NSW, key electorates include Page (Lismore), Richmond (Tweed Heads), Lyne (Forster), Gilmore (Nowra), and Robertson (Gosford), while in Sydney key electorates include McMahon (Fairfield), Bennelong (Ryde), Reid (Canada Bay) and Lindsay (Penrith). 

For organisations interested in hosting or supporting a community forum or arranging a candidate visit, Everybody’s Home has some materials available including electorate level housing data, branded doormats for photo opportunities and more. For information please contact Robin Fletcher at Link Housing Robin.Fletcher@linkhousing.org.au or everybodyshome@communityhousing.org.au 

Community Housing Innovation Fund (CHIF)

Information and Design Workshop Rydges World Square

FACS recently held a very well received information and co-design workshop on the new Community Housing Innovation Fund (CHIF). The CHIF is a NSW Government program that is offering $50 million in grants over three years to Community Housing Providers (CHPs) to boost the supply of social and affordable housing.

The CHIF is open to all registered CHPs and aims to encourage regional and smaller providers, who may not have had the opportunity or capacity to participate in large-scale tenders.

The workshop demonstrated a strong commitment to co-design – participants were able to make recommendations about program design, minimum and maximum bid sizes, evaluation criteria and the procurement methodology to be adopted amongst other issues. The workshop demonstrated that FACS has adopted a new and very welcome approach to commissioning this program. Participants agreed that procurement design should be as simple as possible whilst still meeting all probity and value for money requirements.

Value for Money – CHIA NSW welcomes Societel to the project

CHIA NSW is delighted to announce that consultants Societel have joined the project team for the Value for Money (VfM) Industry Development Strategy project.

VfM is important in the light of the need to demonstrate both efficiency and effectiveness and is an essential element in making the case for the industry’s future growth. The project will develop a set of VfM indicators and definitions that measure the sector’s efficiency and effectiveness that have been agreed with CHPs. The project will also include a pilot first data collection round.

Societel have recently completed the NSW Registrar of Community Housing’s review of community housing sectoral viability and offer the skills and proven experience necessary to deliver this important project. Societel will be running a series of consultation events to develop an industry definition of VfM, to identify a wide range of possible VfM indicators and to develop an industry led VfM prioritisation process.

CHIA NSW will be reconvening the project reference group shortly and we will be back in touch with further information on the project stages. If you would like to register your interest in the project or have any questions, please contact adamw@communityhousing.org.au

Staffing changes at CHIA NSW

There are some changes at CHIA NSW as we say goodbye to some long standing staff – even if temporarily – and welcome new people.

Leoni Lynch, our stalwart survey manager, hotline guru and asset and community development network facilitator is having a baby (yay) and will be leaving us in mid-April. She will be returning after 12 months maternity leave and to cover her role, at least partially, Zed Tintor will be joining us for three days a week – big shoes to fill!

Lacy Barron has joined us for two days a week until June just to help tide us over whilst the search for a new CEO continues. Lacy was most recently a senior director with FACS and has significant understanding of the community housing industry having been Manager of the Affordable Housing Unit for many years.

Jane Worrall has resigned to go travelling and return to her home in Queensland – we wish her well! Sally Dumbrell has been engaged to provide high level support in the development of training resources for the next 3 months. Sally comes to us with a wealth of experience from vocational education and housing.

In the Media

It’s been a big month of media with the release of two major landmark UNSW studies and the announcement of the first round of National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) finance for community housing providers.

Australia will need 1 million more social, affordable homes by 2036 – Australian Financial Review 

Sydney faces shortfall of more than 200,000 homes for low to moderate-income earners, report shows – Domain 

Build social and affordable housing to get us off the boom-and-bust roller coaster – The Conversation 

Illawarra will need thousands of new social and affordable rental homes by 2036: report – Illawarra Mercury 

One Million Social and Affordable Homes Needed to Combat Rental Stress – Pro Bono 

1 million affordable homes needed by 2036 – Architecture & Design 

Australia needs one million new affordable and social homes, researchers say – The Mandarin 

Affordable housing bond four times oversubscribed – Australian Financial Review 

Affordable housing body offers first loans – Blue Mountains Gazette 

Australia’s largest social bond tackles affordable housing shortage – Pro Bono  

Affordable Housing Close to City Brings Billions in Economic Benefits – Sourceable 

Upcoming events

All upcoming events are listed on our calendar here

April 9 Energy Training, Penrith. Info here

April 15 Good Growth Housing Conference. Info here

April 16 ACHIA Aboriginal Caucus Day and Breakfast. Info here