Diversity needed to improve social and affordable housing outcomes

New approaches are needed to improve access social and affordable housing, according to new research from the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre (SBEnrc).

The SBEnrc’s Procuring Social and Affordable Housing project found Australia needs new housing and community typologies; a greater understanding of the changing demographics of those needing better access to social and affordable housing; and more diverse housing with more innovative and responsive approaches.

The research highlighted the need for mix of procurement approaches to address the needs of a diverse cohort that includes remote Indigenous communities, those with a disability, key-workers, the aging, Millennials and GenY.

These approaches could include evolving Community Housing Provider models, shared equity models, cooperatives, social benefit bonds, build to rent, maximising vacant infrastructure for short-term pop-up shelters, and the Common Ground model.

‘With varied levels of experience across the states and territories, it is important to understand the pre-conditions for success and apply learnings to build nation-wide uptake and understanding,’ says Project Leader Judy Kraatz.

The Social Procurement project has developed guidelines for organisations that deliver social and affordable rental housing to follow when they choose to purchase a social outcome when buying goods or services.

It was informed by a 360 degree survey undertaken in mid-2018.  Representatives from community housing organisations, state and local government, peak bodies, government and private developers, financiers, architects, and builders from across Australia took part in the survey.

Innovative funding schemes, planning mechanisms (including value capture and inclusionary zoning), partnerships, CHP models and estate renewal were considered as the top five approaches to be considered in improving access to social housing, Ms Kraatz says.



No Place Like Home exhibition to raise awareness of housing need

Link Housing’s community art exhibition, ‘No Place Like Home’ is on again. Following the successful launch last month, the exhibition is now travelling to other venues across Northern Sydney from October 12 to November 1.

Come along to one of the opening nights or visit during the gallery opening hours. See the dates and details below.

Link Housing is proud to welcome you to this leading community art exhibition aimed at raising awareness about the need for affordable, safe and secure housing.

Exhibiting artists and artworks reflect the theme: ‘No Place Like Home’. Mediums range from original music, sculptures to paintings and traditional canvas art.

See Facebook for details.

CHIA backs draft bill to improve energy efficiency of rentals

CHIA has thrown its support behind a draft bill to establish a three-year pilot program that would enable landlords to claim a tax offset of up to $2,000 per annum for energy upgrades to rental properties leased at $300 per week or less.

In a submission to the Senate Estimates Committee’s review of the draft bill, CHIA CEO Peta Winzar says, ‘We consider the program would provide a valuable incentive for landlords renting properties at the more affordable end of the spectrum to invest in measures that could improve the energy security of low-income households.

‘Energy efficiency measures such as those contemplated in this Bill can reduce energy demand across the whole system, delaying the need for power in infrastructure. In addition to improving energy security for low-income tenants, this could reduce costs to State and Territory governments over the longer term.’

The Committee is required to report by 23 November 2018. A copy of the report will be published on the Committee’s website.

Download CHIA’s submission.

Energy bill targets affordable rentals

Independent Senator Tim Storer has presented a bill to Parliament that seeks to provide landlords with a $2000 tax credit when they put energy efficient upgrades into rentals that are offered at $300 a week or less.

Senator Storer says, ‘It is estimated that improved energy efficiency in homes could cut energy consumption by up to 50 per cent in many households and cut energy bills by at least another $150 a year.

‘My proposals would fix an anomaly in the tax code where landlords are able to claim the cost of repairs, for example for old inefficient air-conditioning units that do not meet today’s minimum standards.

‘However they are not able to claim for energy efficiency upgrades that would make a big difference to so many who are finding energy bills unaffordable.

‘The proposals would improve the lives of many Australians on low incomes, alleviate anxiety, improve their health, leave more money in their pockets and start to improve the affordability, reliability and sustainability of our energy system.’

CHIA will present a submission on the Inquiry into the bill, the Treasury Laws Amendment (improving the Energy Efficiency of Rental Properties) Bill 2018.

The submission will be posted on our website in due course.


Volunteer Grants 2018 – closing soon

The Commonwealth Government’s Volunteer Grants round closes at 2:00 pm on 18 September 2018.Volunteer Grants aim to support the efforts of Australia’s volunteers by:

-providing small amounts of money that organisations and community groups can use to help their volunteers
-forming part of the Government’s work to support the volunteers who help disadvantaged Australian communities and encourage inclusion of vulnerable people in community life.

See the Funding Round Application page for details.

ACT Government supports discounted rental program

The ACT Government has awarded Community Housing Canberra (CHC) $230,000 to establish a scheme aimed at tackling the territory’s rental housing affordability crisis.

CHC plans to develop a program, modelled on the one used by HomeGround Real Estate, that encourages landlords to rent their properties to low-income households at sub market rent.

CHC chief executive Andrew Hannan says the program will start early next year, and he urged the ACT Government to assist further by adopting a proposal by the ACT Greens that would provide landlords with incentives to participate.

The incentive would provide a land tax exemption to landlords who rented their properties via a registered community housing provider at a rent discounted by up to 25 per cent of market value.

The ACT Government is expected to release its affordable housing strategy before the end of the year.

Click here to read more.


Homeless shelter pops up in Melbourne

Even red tape can come with a silver lining, as proven by a delayed development site that has been used to create a homeless pop up shelter in the interim.

When red tape held up its development plans, CaSPA Care rented a former nursing home in South Melbourne to the YWCA for a nominal fee. The YWCA has turned the site into a pop up shelter by harnessing the goodwill of some key businesses.

Building company Metricon cleaned and refurbished the building then added an industrial kitchen and laundry; interior decorating company Guest Group furnished the pop up and social enterprise Two Good provided food.

The shelter can house 38 women – and is already receiving 40 applications a week.

Read more

Living cities forum hears tenants’ views

A high-level gathering of planners, designers and architects from around the world has been given insight into the possible development of Melbourne from the perspective of a community organisation and its tenants.

Melbourne-based Housing Choices residents and property team members created a video on their views on Melbourne’s future for the 2018 Living Cities Forum. The forum tackles a number of big questions around architecture and issues facing Melbourne and global cities.

Housing Choices’ video provided a unique opportunity for community housing organisations and tenants to reach the people who ultimately plan, design and build the cities and suburbs we live in.

View the video.

Shared equity program allows residents to unpack for good

A unique pilot program, Unpack for Good™ that helps people living in community housing purchase their own home has launched in regional Victoria.

Pioneered by Community Sector Banking and Haven; Home Safe in Victoria, and Housing Plus in regional NSW, Unpack for Good aims to address demand for more affordable housing in regional areas.

Under the pilot, residents will be able to co-own their home with their housing provider – sharing ownership lowers the cost of purchasing the home for residents, meaning they can buy a home that would otherwise be unaffordable.

The remainder of the property’s cost is made up by a regular Community Sector Banking home loan.

It’s the first time this type of agreement has been launched with community housing providers and a banking service in Australia. Not only does it assist residents into home ownership; it also frees up housing stock for community housing providers, allowing them to assist more people.

“We’re delighted to be piloting Unpack for Good, which aims to create much needed opportunities for those on the margins to realise the great dream of home ownership,” said David Fisher, CEO of Housing Plus.

“Our experience tells us the only cure for the housing crisis is more affordable housing stock – this innovative pilot has been designed to deliver just that in regional Australia,” said Ken Marchingo, CEO of Haven; Home, Safe.

“We know that safe, secure and affordable housing is the cornerstone of people building productive and healthy lives. This program is being bravely pioneered by some of Australia’s leading housing providers without government involvement – providing a hand up rather than a hand out,” said Andrew Cairns, CEO of Community Sector Banking.

“This pilot is not only a great example of innovation to tackle the housing crisis– it shows how financial services and housing providers can work together to create more affordable housing, strengthen regional economies, and improve intergenerational outcomes for years to come.”

Census data released earlier this year shows an increase in homelessness to 116,427 people, including 43,552 (39%) under 25 – an increase of 13.7% since 2011.

With ACOSS attributing some of this increase to a lack of affordable housing, programs such as Unpack for Good will play an important role in alleviating the problem.

Download a brochure on the project.

-article courtesy of Haven; Home, Safe

Bridge’s annual report a winner

Bridge Housing is honored to have been awarded the gold Australasian Reporting Award not-for-profit Annual Report for the fifth consecutive year and the sixth year overall, reflecting our deep, ongoing commitment to transparency.

Bridge CEO John Nicolades attended the awards ceremony in Sydney on 20 June to accept the Gold Award for Excellence on Bridge Housing’s behalf. He also delivered a presentation at the ARA Seminar on Reporting: Engaging with Stakeholders in the Digital Transition.

“In an era when trust in organisations is under pressure, it is critically important that they are as transparent as possible about their purpose, how they use their funds, deliver their services and develop their culture.”

“I thank our staff, our Executive and our Board for their enormous contributions towards Bridge Housing winning this award. Congratulations to the other winners, too, including Wentworth Community Housing and Evolve Housing.

The Australasian Reporting Awards is an independent, not-for-profit organisation concerned about the quality of financial and business reporting.

Read the 2017 Annual Report

article courtesy of Bridge Housing