Category Archives: Innovation

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.



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 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.

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.


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

Andrew Hannan

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

A remote West Australian Aboriginal community has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds needed to turn new and refurbished social housing into homes by providing the funds to purchase essential household items, from beds to kettles.

Tjuntjuntjara is located in the Great Victoria Desert, about 690km north-east of Kalgoorlie. Access to the community is difficult due to the surrounding terrain, with food supplies flown in on a fortnightly basis.

The 2011 census reported the community’s population as 162, but Tjuntjuntjara has grown over the last few years and now acts as a service centre for surrounding outstations.

In December 2017, the West Australian Government announced a major capital works and essential services package to upgrade existing social housing and to improve essential services in the community. Work on the properties is nearly complete and, in June, the residents will receive access to 10 new multigenerational houses and 12 upgraded existing houses.

Not-for-profit community housing organisation Community Housing Ltd manages the properties on behalf of the Department of Housing.

Whilst the construction works have been funded by the National Partnership in Remote Housing, the community and residents themselves are completely responsible for furnishing their homes. This presents a big challenge for most community members who are on low incomes. The high cost of freight to the community makes purchasing essential household items unaffordable for low income residents.

The Paupiyala Tjarutja Aboriginal Corporation (PTAC), which manages the Tjuntjuntjara community on behalf of the Spinifex traditional owners, has launched a ‘GoFundMe’ appeal on behalf of the community to solicit donations in cash and kind. CHL is supporting the appeal as part of its broader community engagement program.

‘CHL is committed to community development with dedicated staff who focus on facilitating community development projects which have been generated and are led by community,’ says CHL’s Community Development Project Manager, Rachel Lattimore.

‘CHL’s approach is based on identifying the strengths, knowledge, and capability within communities and developing innovative ideas to create sustainable, resilient, communities. CHL has adopted an Aboriginal Community Strategy, and a Community Development Framework to ensure best practice.’

PTAC can accept gifts or donations on behalf of donors that are tax deductible and directly benefit the community. They are looking for the public’s assistance to raise money or donate physical items such as: storage and transport of items to Tjuntjuntjara, fridges, bedframes, dining furniture, kettles and washing machines.

For details, and to support the campaign, see GoFundMe, or PTAC’s website.

Last days for The New Urban Agenda

Compass Housing Services and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s Sustainability Advantage Program have partnered to bring you The New Urban Agenda: Partnering for a resilient, inclusive, sustainable NSW Forum.

The Group Managing Director of Compass Housing, Greg Budworth, is one of the keynote speakers, along with Michael Nolan, the Chair of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme

The battle for sustainability will be won or lost in cities. To achieve a prosperous, productive and sustainable NSW, growing issues around inclusion, liveability and resilience must be tackled head-on. Finding scalable solutions to these challenges is at the heart of Agenda 2030 (the Sustainable Development Goals) and the New Urban Agenda—and a key focus of NSW Government priorities and local council strategies. But government can’t do it alone: to get where we need to be by 2030 requires new levels of ambition, collaboration and innovation.

Compass Housing Services and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage have partnered to bring you The New Urban Agenda: Partnering for a resilient, inclusive, sustainable NSW, an interactive, multi-stakeholder forum that will unpick three of NSW’s most pressing problems:

  • providing better, more inclusive access to housing and basic services
  • creating clean, resource-efficient and liveable communities
  • building resilient, low-carbon urban economies

The forum will be held on Friday, May 4, from 9am to 5pm.

Register here.

CHIA has started work on what we want to see in the 2018 Federal Budget to improve housing affordability and we want your ideas. However, time is short, so you’ll need to get them to us fast!

In an unusually early start to the Budget process this year, the Treasurer has asked for Budget submissions to be lodged by mid-December.  This means we will need to get your policy proposals by December 1, 2017, so we can finalise our submission by the deadline.

If you have ideas to improve housing affordability for renters or for home buyers, ideas to increase housing supply, or ideas to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, then we want to hear them.

We are particularly interested in your proposals for reforming taxes – not just the well-rehearsed suggestions like changes to negative gearing and the Capital Gains Tax, but ideas for the other quirky bits of the tax system that make it difficult to do business, create inconsistent outcomes, or could create big opportunities for change.  (For example: enabling developers to claim gift deductibility on their tax if they donate housing stock to charities could encourage developers to increase the amount of affordable housing in developments. Currently, donated stock can’t be regarded as a gift if it has been transferred as a condition of a planning permit that requires the provision of affordable housing.)

So send us your ideas – anything from a couple of sentences to a page is fine. Here are a few questions that will help us pull all the ideas together: What is the problem that needs to be fixed? What are good arguments in support of this proposal? Will it benefit any particular group (for example, older renters, people living in regional areas, Indigenous Australians, first home buyers)? Would it affect many people? How much is it likely to cost or save?  Is the wider community likely to support or oppose it?

Email your ideas through to [email protected]

CHIA Chair Michael Lennon has been asked to take part in an innovative community engagement initiative that aims to connect everyday Australians with decision-makers and experts and develop solutions to key issues.

The not-for-profit Australian Futures Project is running the #WTF (What’s the Future?) project over four weeks this month, covering four key issues facing Australians: the energy crisis; the future of work; housing affordability; and, thriving kids.

On Monday, October 23, Mr Lennon will be one of eight housing affordability experts fielding  questions from the public via various #WTF social media channels. The public will then be invited to contribute their solutions to the issues, which will be added to a report that brings together the facts and discussion and will be used to inform a roundtable debate by decision-makers.

Community organisations will then be funded to act on solutions.

CHIA members and stakeholders are encouraged to be part of the debate. Go to the #WTF website for details on how to take part.

Housing hub home for disabled dwellings

Housing Hub website homepage


The Housing Hub is a new way for Community Housing Providers to list their disability housing vacancies, and people with disability to find suitable housing.

The website:

  • lists housing vacancies for people with a disability, including NDIS housing, existing Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) properties, new SDA builds, non-SDA supported accommodation, private rental and properties for sale
  • enables eligible people to submit an Expression of Interest in NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation housing
  • has a library of useful information about housing options and planning your move.

The Housing Hub will continue to grow and develop nationally, with more vacancies, features and information continually being added. Help make the site a success for people with disability by spreading the word and sharing the link 

Landscape shift for affordable housing

symposium powerpoint

Landscape shift for affordable housing

Attendees of an affordable housing symposium, held at Griffith University, heard CHIA CEO Peta Winzar speak about the Federal Government’s September release of key reports, draft legislation and a consultation paper, which collectively signal a major shift in government thinking in relation to financing social and affordable housing.

Ms Winzar told the symposium that these four measures, together with some complementary budget measures announced by some state governments this year, have the potential to significantly alter the financing landscape for affordable housing.

  1. The Affordable Housing Working Group,

The Affordable Housing Working Group, which was set up by state and federal treasurers to investigate innovative ways to finance affordable housing has released its report with three recommendations.

Its prescription for closing the funding gap between rents and operating costs contain no surprises – targets, planning mechanisms, tax reform, contributions from affordable housing providers, and so on.  This is a list which could have been written a decade ago.

While it acknowledges the need to increase direct subsidies for affordable housing, the working group’s report stops short of suggesting how this might be done.

The report does contain some good examples of how to increase housing supply at no cost or low cost to government, for example, redevelopment of public housing properties, with the government getting a return either in cash or in replacement dwellings, or government taking a share of the profit from development of government land, in partnership with a developer or a CHO, or cross-subsidisation through a mix of market sale, affordable sale, affordable and social rent in a development

It also makes some valuable recommendations about strengthening the regulatory framework for community housing, and overhauling the national industry development framework for community housing.

  1. Bond Aggregator 

The aim of the bond aggregator (BA) is to raise institutional finance at scale from the wholesale bond market and then lend the money to Community Housing Providers (CHPs) for longer terms and at a cheaper rate than those offered by banks. The CHPs would apply for loans, pay a small fee towards the administrative costs of the BA and their borrowings would then be aggregated.

The government’s proposal is for the Bond Aggregator to sit under the new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), but there are still some design issues to be sorted out, for example:

  • Exactly how long the term of the bond would be – probably up to 10 years. This would give CHPs certainty about financing costs and remove the need for them to renegotiate with their bank every three to five years
  • How much cheaper the BA would be – this would depend on the credit-worthiness of the community housing sector and whether the government guarantees the bond
  • the proposal that the borrowing be secured against the title of properties held by the CHP, which raises interesting questions about the conditions under which state governments would allow properties under long-term management by CHPs to be used as security for a loan.

Treasury is seeking feedback on these questions and others as part of its broader consultation on the structure and operation of the NHFIC.

  1. NHIF report

The Commonwealth Government is currently running a consultation on the National Housing Infrastructure Facility (NHIF) and the NHFIC. What’s innovative about this in a housing context is that it is a legislated vehicle at the Commonwealth level but it will be able to invest in City Deals at the state and territory level.

It will also be able to invest in projects at the government’s direction and the aim is for its investment returns to enable it to be self-sustaining over the medium term.

Note that it is intended to prioritise development projects with an affordable housing component.

The consultation paper on the NHFIC and the NHIF is on the Treasury website, consultation closes on 20 October 2017.

You can download Ms Winzar’s presentation here.