Housing Matters September 2019

Housing Matters

CEO’s Report

Welcome to the September edition of Housing Matters – another busy month for the community housing sector.

Last week, we held a fantastic CHIA Exchange with more than 100 participants across the sector participating on the day across several separate work streams – more details are below.

In other sector news, Hume Housing has completed its Social Housing Management Transfer of 2,200 properties and officially opened its new regional office in Maitland earlier this month – congratulations to all the team at Hume for their fantastic work on the transfer.

Congratulations too to CHIA NSW Board member, Lucy Burgmann, on her new appointment in the new role as Country Manager for Community Housing Limited and to Ian Lynch for his appointment as CEO at Pacific Link Housing based in Gosford.

CHIA NSW is also pleased to announce the date of its 2020 Community Housing Conference.  The conference will be held in Sydney on 31 March and 1 April.  More details about the conference will be made available in the coming weeks and we are looking forward to another successful educational and networking event.

Hume Community Housing officially opens new office in Maitland

Melanie Gibbons MP, Maitland Mayor Loretta Baker, Hume CEO Nicola Lemon, Hume Board Chairman Robert Vine, Hume Board member The Hon. Robyn Parker, and James Wilson-Miller, member of Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation celebrate the official opening of Hume Community Housing’s Maitland office.

Hume Community Housing, one of the largest housing providers in New South Wales, officially opened its office in Maitland in September at an event attended by more than sixty guests, including Maitland Mayor Cr. Loretta Baker and senior representatives from the NSW Department of Communities. The opening was celebrated with a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony by elder James Wilson-Miller to recognise the transfer of around 2,200 homes and around 4,000 customers across Maitland and Port Stephens from the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ).

Nicola Lemon, CEO of Hume Community Housing, thanked the community for warmly welcoming Hume into the region and acknowledged the support of customers, partners, and DCJ in ensuring Hume was ready to open on time.  “Today is the culmination of more than 18 months of intensive planning as we have readied Hume to double in size to accommodate our Hunter customers. Since we were awarded the transfer, we’ve been actively building relationships with community groups and local businesses. In May, we were able to commence meeting our customers, often in their homes to understand their needs and to ensure their transition over to us was a smooth one”,  said Ms Lemon.

Hume’s entry into the region has already delivered a boost to the local economy through the creation of 45 employment opportunities and the establishment of two offices – a second office in Raymond Terrace has also been announced.  Hume has established working partnerships with a number of local service providers including Maitland Interagency Group, Department of Communities and Justice District Team, Hunter New England Mental Health Service, Maitland City Council, The Smith Family, Woodberry Family Centre and Port Stephens Council to support the delivery of services to customers.

As the third-largest Tier 1 community housing provider in Australia, Hume secured the largest social housing transfer in NSW in 2018 under the Social Housing Management Transfers (SHMT) program, part of a broader program of around 14,000 properties across NSW transferring from DCJ to nine registered community housing providers. Hume worked closely with the NSW Government to deliver a seamless transition for new customers.

Congratulations to all the team at Hume Housing.

September 2020 CHIA Exchange

The CHIA Exchange saw more than 100 participants gather in Sydney to exchange information and ideas across our Asset Managers, Operations, Emerging Leaders, Community Development, Planning & Development and Aboriginal Staff networks.

The Operations Network covered best practice approaches to tenant charges, housing standards and an overview of the regulatory campaigns undertaken by the Registrar. One of the liveliest discussions was on Improving Service System Coordination in Northern Sydney presented by Bridge Housing (Rebecca Pinkstone), Link Housing (Margaret Maljkovic) and SGCH (Renee Wirth). As well as providing an outline as to how the three providers collaborated on the delivery of housing assistance across the Northern Sydney area, it demonstrated how collaboration worked well, how the clients benefitted from the coordinated social housing system, and showcased an example of how well community housing providers have managed the Social Housing Management Transfer program.

The Local Government and Affordable Housing roundtable heard a presentation from Professor Hal Pawson on recent research funded through Landcom’s Co.Lab initiative which considered the potential for Build to Rent to grow as a model in Australia, joined by representatives from a range of local government areas about how they were addressing housing affordability and diversity through their local planning systems.

The Asset Managers network included a shared session with the Community Development Network on flood prevention (see below).  Asset Managers also had an opportunity to hear both the sector perspective and from a technical expert on how to remediate properties affected by methamphetamines.  The Asset Managers also had an opportunity to meet the new Community Housing Provider Relationship Manager, Land and Housing Corporation – Nathalee Tiufino, hear about potential opportunities under the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code, and benefit from two Sector Innovation Snapshots on Compass’s solar panel pilot project, delivering renewable energy for tenants on solar and on Bridge Housing’s Strategic Asset Management Plan.

The Community Development Network included a fantastic discussion about TAG groups and tenant engagement. Sarah Barclay, Sustainable Communities Manager at Bridge Housing shared the successes of the ‘Bridge to Work’ program, in partnership with CoAct.  The program – a process of intensive case management- has resulted in 50% of tenant participants being engaged in employment or training or full-time study. The Community Development Network then joined the Asset Network to attend a session by Jo Zappia from the Inner Sydney Voice who presented on the ‘Get Ready for Flood Social Housing Sector’ project. Jo spoke about the vulnerabilities of particular tenant groups in areas that are susceptible to flood, and the aim to build education, preparedness and community resilience to potential flooding.

The network also heard about community greening initiatives and directly from two community housing tenants who affirmed the importance of indirect peer support through groups such as TAG groups, the Tenant Network, and gardening groups.

Thank you to all the speakers and participants for creating an informative and collaborative day!

Farewell to Sue Ogier

Sue Ogier, CEO of the Sapphire Coast Tenancy Scheme has recently announced that she will be moving on from her position.  CHIA NSW would like to recognise Sue’s commitment, energy and achievements over the course of her community housing career.  Sue has been absolutely dedicated to supporting the communities of Eden, Merimbula and Bega. She’s a true housing champion and has worked for Sapphire Coast for almost 26 years.  When she started in November 1993, they had $600 in the bank and 30 properties.  They now have $4million in reserves and have 107 properties, including 16 that they’ve purchased.

Sue has always been one of the advocates for the small and regional provider and she always been tireless for her community and for people who need a safe and secure home.  All the best for the future, Sue.

NHFIC Capacity Building Program grants

Need help applying for a low cost, longer-term NHFIC loan? NHFIC’s Capacity Building Program provides grants of up to $20,000 (incl. GST) to eligible tier 2 and 3 CHPs to fund professional advisory services to assist in accessing NHFIC finance. Services are available in one or more of four approved areas:

  • Finance
  • Business planning
  • Property development
  • Risk management.

The services must be used to support a loan application for either NHFIC’s Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator (AHBA) or the National Housing Infrastructure Facility (NHIF).

The grant process is simple and straight-forward. To be considered for a grant you need to have submitted an initial expression of interest (EOI) to NHFIC for AHBA or NHIF finance.  NHFIC’s Origination team will then contact you to discuss your EOI and might suggest your proposal needs more assistance, in which case they will make a referral to CHIA who administers the program on NHFIC’s behalf. CHPs can select consultants from the approved panel on the CHIA website.

You can find out more about the Capacity Building Program at https://nhfic.gov.au/bond-aggregator/ or have an initial conversation with NHFIC’s Origination team by calling 1800 549 767 or email inquiries@nhfic.gov.au.

Community Housing Ltd appoints new Regional Manager

Australia’s largest not-for-profit social and affordable housing provider, Community Housing Limited (CHL) has appointed Dr Lucy Burgmann into the organisation’s newly established leadership role of Country Manager.

Heading the CHL NSW State operations since 2016, Lucy was at the forefront of leading one of the company’s largest growth initiatives which expanded the state’s portfolio by more than double in a year.    Lucy is also a Board member of CHIA NSW.

Lucy has over two decades of experience working across the community, public and private sectors in various senior leadership roles and is looking forward to the new challenge.

“CHL is filled with great people who are dedicated to driving innovation and who are motivated to provide safe, secure and long-term affordable housing to those in need. I am excited to be part of a team who have the ability to think creatively to support our communities by delivering innovative housing options,” she said.

CHL’s Managing Director Steve Bevington said the new position will primarily lead the state teams in seamless delivery of services to customers as well drive forward the company’s strategic objectives in line with the Group’s business plan.

Congratulations Lucy!

Pacific Link Housing appoints new CEO

Pacific Link Housing (PLH) has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer, Ian Lynch (above right).

Ian has been with PLH since 2017 and has worked locally on the Central Coast and overseas in a number of commercial companies in the IT, Hospitality and Insurance sectors. As a qualified CPA, Ian has a strong finance background and a deep understanding of the community housing sector and supporting services.

“I am excited to be appointed to lead Pacific Link Housing in further improving the supply of affordable housing to the Central Coast and Hunter communities,” says Mr Lynch. In recent years, the company has delivered 68 new social and affordable housing units worth over $15 million and has a further 63 units in the pipeline.

PLH’s strong tenant focus has assisted more than 900 residents through the organisation’s self-funded tenant support programs, which provide opportunities and extensive support for tenants to improve their lives and, where possible, transition to mainstream housing.  Ian was instrumental in the establishment of Key2 Realty, PLH’s new social enterprise start-up. “Key2 Realty offers a social enterprise alternative to traditional real estate agencies – delivering property management services for a flat fee. It appeals to local property investors as a unique, community-focussed business, with Key2’s profits being invested in Pacific Link’s capacity building programs to support the most vulnerable in our community” he said.

Congratulations Ian!

City of Sydney Industry Roundtable

The City of Sydney hosted an industry roundtable on 27 September to hear views on its draft Local Strategic Planning Statement.  CHIA NSW attended to support the council to include social and affordable housing as a planning priority.

The City of Sydney’s draft LSPS sets out a roadmap for how the City will grow and change by 2036 with an additional 115,000 residents and 200,000 workers project for the area.

The City has made a strong commitment to social and affordable housing in its draft LSPS.  Affordable housing is clearly a significant priority and the City has a target that of all housing, 7.5% will be affordable and 7.5% will be social. This means that of 50,000 new homes, 11,175 will be affordable rental housing and 2,294 will be social housing.

The City of Sydney has a well-established affordable housing program with affordable housing contributions forming a condition of development consent.  This approach will continue to deliver affordable rental housing in the City of Sydney but more investment will be required to meet the City’s targets.  Let’s hope that the NSW Government is watching and considering how its investment can make the city more liveable for lower income households.

CHIA NSW submission on the adequacy of Newstart

CHIA NSW made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart on behalf of its members calling for an increase in the current payment level.  Our submission also recommends investment in social and affordable housing and raising the rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance to reduce rental stress and stimulate the economy.

Newstart is part of the social safety net, providing people looking for work with income support.  The rate of the Newstart payment has not changed for some time.  This impacts the social housing system because private rents have increased, putting people on Newstart at risk of homelessness and in need of social housing.

There is increasing evidence that the current level of the Newstart payment is not just leaving people in poverty but that it is also damaging to the Australian economy.  An increase in the payment complemented by new investment in social and affordable rental housing can create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Research also suggests that targeted investment in affordable rental housing can make the labour market more efficient and the economy more productive. We also know that housing stability is positively related to employment, so investing in social housing makes sense because it will provide a vital building block to help Australians back into work.

Some facts and figures about Newstart and social housing:

  • Since 2013-14, there has been a 25% increase in the proportion of new social housing tenants who have Newstart as their main source of income
  • Almost 30% of social housing tenants newly housed in 2017-18 were in receipt of Newstart
  • 1 in 3 Newstart recipients also receive Commonwealth Rent Assistance
  • In Greater Sydney, almost 75% of people receiving Newstart and CRA are living in rental stress
  • Almost 2 in 5 people receiving Newstart and CRA in Greater Sydney are paying more than half of their income in rent
  • Australia-wide in April 2019 , there were just two available and appropriate private rental dwellings which were affordable to single people on Newstart
  • Since 2012-13, there has been a 75% increase in the number of people seeking support from specialist homelessness services who were in receipt of Newstart

The Senate Inquiry will report by 27 March 2020. Visit our website to read our latest submissions

Australian Poverty WeekPutting Regional Needs on the Map

NCOSS is inviting the sector to join them at NSW Parliament House on Thursday 24 October from 7.30am – 10.30am for a breakfast event where you will hear directly from a broad coalition of voices to discuss the common concern of economic disadvantage across NSW. Register by Tuesday 15 October to secure your spot!

This is an invaluable opportunity to hear from guest speaker, journalist and author of ‘Rusted Off – Why Country Australia is Fed Up’ Gabrielle Chan. With over 30 years of journalism experience, Gabrielle has lived in both regional and metro NSW, experiencing firsthand the cultural and economic divide.

A panel, facilitated by Gabrielle Chan, will also discuss their diverse experiences and varied perspectives on the difficult realities and structural barriers faced by individuals in regional communities. This dynamic discussion will highlight the need for a cohesive, collective and coordinated action in order to reduce economic disparities and inequities between regional and metro NSW.

NCOSS will also be launching the ‘Mapping Economic Disadvantage in NSW’ report undertaken in conjunction with the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM).

Can’t make the event? Share with NCOSS the one thing that would create a positive change in your community that you would ask MPs. They will collate these asks and present them as a part of the launch of the NCOSS ‘Mapping Economic Disadvantage in NSW’ map. These asks can be emailed to elyse@ncoss.org.au