Category Archives: Member news

CHIA: Covid-19 surveys

CHIA has launched monthly surveys to understand the trends and emerging issues for the community housing industry as it responds to the COVID-19 crisis.

The first of the monthly surveys is now open until midnight on Friday, 12 June. The survey was piloted with several organisations both large and small before release. Responses will inform the national industry picture and CHIA’s advocacy priorities.

The survey is designed to be completed once for the whole organisation/ group of companies by a senior executive. CHIA has emailed details to CEOs.

MEDIA RELEASE: Building the Recovery

Building the Recovery: investment in social housing will create thousands of jobs and improve social outcomes

New modelling released today by the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) and National Shelter demonstrates how investing in a four-year social house building program of 30,000 homes will create on average up to 18,000 full-time equivalent jobs each year.

Wendy Hayhurst, CEO at CHIA said, “The Social Housing Acceleration and Renovation Program (SHARP) will not just deliver great quality homes to those in need but also secure great jobs for thousands of Australians. SHARP’s main benefit will fall where the job losses have been greatest in Sydney and Melbourne but will also create jobs all over Australia in regions and towns.

“With the period 2021-22 earmarked as an anticipated economic weak point, SHARP will create up to 24,500 jobs both on-site and in the wider building services industry. The Federal Government has stated that we have to maintain a laser-like focus on jobs to get Australia moving and this new modelling shows that SHARP does just that,” says Ms Hayhurst.

To read the full media release click here

For the full report click here

One year on – CHL making progress on its Reconciliation journey

Australia’s largest not-for-profit community housing provider, Community Housing Limited (CHL), is commemorating the one-year anniversary of their REFLECT Reconciliation Action Plan at the start of the National Reconciliation Week 2020.

CHL has not only been providing affordable housing to vulnerable and at-risk groups across the nation for the last 26 years but has been committed towards enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to determine their own housing future and live in accordance with cultural values and customs through Aboriginal Community Housing Limited (ACHL).

With this long-term commitment at the forefront of the organisation, CHL has spent the past twelve months providing Aboriginal cultural awareness training to staff, reviewing current practices, policies, service delivery and procurement of services and making appropriate changes to them.

For the full media release, click here

Building the Recovery: Call for an investment in social housing

Building the Recovery: Investment in social housing will create jobs and improve social outcomes during the pandemic

Today, national housing and homelessness leaders have called for an immediate employment-boosting investment to expand Australia’s social housing by 30,000 homes as the country experiences a wave of job losses due to COVID-19.

National peak bodies, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA), Homelessness Australia, National Shelter, and the national housing campaign, Everybody’s Home have outlined a process with four overlapping waves to deliver urgently needed high quality housing within three years.

For the full media release, click here

For the SHARP summary, click here

For the full SHARP report, click here

EY webinar: Practical steps for the Community Housing Sector

The community housing sector is facing new and unprecedented challenges as it navigates the complexities of operating during COVID19. Providers are under pressure to maintain their viability, protect and maintain workforce and manage risks to ensure essential services continue to those most in need.

EY recently organised a webinar with a specialist panel to discuss the practical steps community housing providers can take to navigate challenges around business viability, workforce and government stimulus. If you are interested in participating in a re-run of the webinar please let CHIA know.

To access the recording please click here

For the accompanying slides please click here.

Joint letter to Prime Minister & NSW Premier

CHIA participated with the following organisations to write to the Prime Minister and NSW Premier in support of a number of essential initiatives aimed at boosting social and affordable housing in the post Covid-19 recovery phase.

These organisations include: Australian Institute of Architects, the Centre for Social Impact, the Community Housing Industry Association, the Community Housing Industry Association NSW, the Constellation Project, Homelessness NSW, National Shelter, the Planning Institute of Australia, Shelter NSW, the UNSW City Futures Research Centre and the Women’s Community Shelters.

The full letter can be viewed here.

Open letter to PM calls for investment in social housing

83 Australian organisations have made an open letter appeal to PM for in investment in social housing.
In the shadow of this year’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) statement and growing pressure on the Federal Government to use fiscal levers to support the economy, the community, housing and homelessness groups are calling for a big investment in social housing construction.

To read the full media release please click here

To read the full open letter please click here


SA community housing provider awarded first capacity building grant

The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) has awarded the first grant from its new Capacity Building Program to Westside Housing, a South Australian-based registered community housing provider (CHP).

Westside Housing provides homes to those at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness across metro-Adelaide and into the Adelaide Hills. They will use the $20,000 grant for business advisory services as a first step to strengthening their operations and enabling them to expand their housing offering to people in need.

More info in the full release here


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, Dr Lucy Burgmann 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.

Dr Burgmann, who has over two decades of experience working across the community, public and private sectors in various senior leadership roles, said she looks forward to the new challenge, particularly at a time where there are many exciting opportunities to transform and grow the organisation’s portfolio to meet housing demand.

“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.

“My vision for the new role is to use my experience to expand and strengthen CHL’s services to its customers and to ensure the organisation’s growth is sustained through strategic partnerships.  I will be particularly focused on newer models of housing options and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the newly created Aboriginal Community Housing Limited (ACHL)”, said Lucy.

CHL 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.

“Lucy is an accomplished housing professional and will bring great value to the organisation in the new position. She is highly regarded by her peers both within the organisation and the sector more broadly which is a strong testament to her credentials.

“She has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities the sector presents and has strong connection to the housing industry which will be critical as she supports the organisation’s vision and strategy to deliver new and innovative affordable housing solutions to more Australians”, Steve said.

Dr Burgmann commences her new position this week. She can be contacted via email at [email protected].

Unity Housing: Boarding House Program paving the way for accessible housing for those in need

Unity Housing, South Australia’s largest community housing provider (CHP), is paving the way for safe and accessible housing through its Boarding House Program.

Boarding houses provide housing for single people experiencing hardships, with a private bedroom and either shared common facilities or en-suite bathrooms. Unity currently manages four different boarding house locations across inner city Adelaide.

The Terrace, is the largest, with 95 rooms for both male and female tenants and is staffed 24/7. Their smaller boarding houses include Citi Hall, Gilles Lodge and Hurtle Square. Prior to Unity managing the boarding houses, they were privately owned and lacked much of the organisation and tenant satisfaction that Unity has brought to the program.

Margot George, is the team leader of Unity’s Board Housing Program. Margot spoke with CHIA about the program and its vital nature for helping people access safe housing.

“I heard a lot of stories about when the boarding houses were privately owned and the way tenants were treated. It definitely seems things are running better now. The tenants report to be much happier and love to tell us stories about how it used to work. It’s very different now,” Margot says.

The unique and compassionate way Unity Housing manages the boarding houses largely attributes to the program’s success. Margot says there is a three step process that ensures tenants are well looked after.

“What is really important is the allocation process. It is important to consider what room people are placed in, and what their accommodation needs are. Before any of our tenants are housed, they come in and have an assessment with me to discuss their housing history and why tenancies have failed in the past. From there I find out what are their support needs when selecting a room for them,” says Margot.

‘Another thing I consider is keeping a balance. In the Terrace building there are 95 tenants and it’s broken up into floors and wings. That way people can form supports from other tenants within their floor. We wouldn’t place a female on an all-male floor where she may feel vulnerable. Just like we wouldn’t have a young person on a floor with all older people, because they would be vulnerable or feel isolated.’

‘The other important thing is early intervention. We have house rules here that tenants need to abide by. If we identify tenants that seem to be struggling we will link them in with supports to assist them. There are two liaison workers whose role is to assist our tenants to access supports. If tenants are not coping with their tenancy we work with them to try and rectify that. Same goes for enforcing rules, we always get onto it straight away so tenants know what their boundaries are and what they need to do to be able to live here,” Margot continues.

The tenants at Unity’s boarding house program are varied – and the program is for anyone who is experiencing hardship. There are migrant tenants who don’t speak English as their first language, Aboriginal tenants, tenants who suffer from mental health issues, those with drug and alcohol issues, or simply people who have fallen on hard times.

Although the boarding house program is primarily intended as transitional housing, there are also long-term tenants who reside at the properties.

“We have tenants who have been with us for over ten years, and probably wouldn’t cope well in other housing types. The majority of our tenants won’t stay that long – we do try to move them into our community housing program. But it’s good to have some long-term tenants because they help enforce the rules and set the mood about what it’s like to live here,” Margot says.

What makes Unity’s Boarding House Program unique is there are no comparable programs in South Australia. While there are similar facilities for young people, there are no facilities for ‘generic’ homeless people.

“There are a lot of people here who would not cope elsewhere, that aren’t ready for the private rental market or possibly even for living by themselves in public or community housing. We have staff on site 24/7 and that provides a feeling of security for our tenants. People living here know the property will be well maintained and that we will abide by the Residential Tenancies Act so they won’t be subject to unfair conditions,” Margot continues.

Unity’s staff are also essential in maintaining the positive progression and operation of the Boarding House Program.

“When people come here [Unity] they stay. Our staff have empathy for people in crisis, as well as being resilient. We’re part of a big organisation and we’ve got policies and procedures to support both staff and tenants,” says Margot.

The success of the program exhibits the great need for more boarding houses which mirror Unity’s approach.

“We’ve got 117 beds but there are so many more people sleeping rough…places like the Terrace help people build independent living skills before they move on to more independent living,” Margot says.

CHIA congratulates Unity Housing’s unique and inspiring program that has helped many people who would otherwise very likely be without a home.

CHL announces new reconciliation action plan

National Reconciliation Week could not be a more fitting time for Community Housing Limited (CHL), a national community housing provider, to announce their Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

CHIA congratulates CHL on their fantastic initiative towards working collaboratively with Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders. CHL has a long history of supporting Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with RAP ensuring a long-term plan to assist with the provision of safe, affordable and long-term housing. The security of housing will also enable the sustainable development of Indigenous Australian communities.

Cover of RAP


“CHL’s RAP is a reflection on our long reconciliation journey which started in the very early years of our existence. Over the years we have forged deep relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partners, organisations and communities on the very strong foundation of mutual trust and respect.

The CHL Reflect RAP will enable the organisation to further strengthen the existing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and organisations.

It will also support an organisational culture within CHL that acknowledges and fosters awareness and respect for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their histories and their cultures, through both its work practices and organisational environments,” Steve Bevington, Managing Director of Community Housing Ltd Group said.

Over 14% of CHL’s housing tenants are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples, and CHL has a 15 year history of assisting and working extensively with local communities.

“Whilst there is a huge parity gap between wider Australia and our First Peoples, CHL celebrates the survival and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures across the country’s many traditional lands and language groups. We also recognise their right to determine their own future and to live in accordance with their own values and customs.

Recognising the importance of self-determination, CHL has also commenced the process of registering an Aboriginal housing organisation, Aboriginal Community Housing Limited (ACHL) that will provide culturally appropriate housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

ACHL will become the first independent national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led and managed provider of long-term affordable housing, and property and tenancy management for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

CHL will support the development of ACHL in its formative years and provide staff resources, systems, expertise and advice to enable ACHL to grow into an independent national organisation in the long-term,” said Steve.

RAP launch Victoria

Reconciliation Week is a crucial time in Australia’s calendar, and CHL is proudly hosting events in their offices across Australia, and contributing to the reconciliation between Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

To download a copy of CHL’s RAP click here.

Home4life wins Hunter Residences Program

Home4Life, a joint venture between Hunter’s Compass Housing and the Campbelltown-based BlueCHP, has won the Hunter Residences Program to support people with disabilities. This initiative was announced last week by Minister for Disability Services, Ray Williams.

Under the program, 69 homes designed to be accessible for people with disabilities will be built in the Hunter Residences.

“I’m thrilled to give more than 330 residents the good news that their new homes are one step closer to becoming a reality,” said Minister for Disability Services, Ray Williams.

All the new dwellings will be built in accordance with the standards for disability housing set by the NSW Government and National Disability Insurance Scheme. While Home4Life are responsible for constructing and managing the properties, the residents will be cared for by the organisations.

“We have listened to what residents and their families want every step of the way in the redevelopment process,” Mr Williams said.

Home4Life’s rent would be 25 per cent of the disability pension plus any Commonwealth rent assistance – together with SDA payments or Continuity of Support (CoS) payments for those over 65.

Later this year, a select tender process for a Supported Independent Living service provider will commence. Families will be able to meet with potential providers before a decision is made.

Housing Plus gets $95 million

Housing Plus, a NSW community housing provider, has received $95 million in funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

Roughly 220 new affordable homes have been designed which are energy efficient and will be available to low-income earners. Housing Plus, based in regional NSW, received CEFC finance as part of its successful bid for inclusion in the second funding round offered by the NSW Social and Affordable Housing Fund.

47 new affordable homes will be delivered in Bathurst, 87 in Dubbo and 86 in Orange over the next three years as construction begins. To abide by the National Housing Energy Rating System standard, the new homes will have a minimum 7-Star rating. The new dwellings will feature rooftop solar battery installations, heat pumps, additional insulation, double glazing, smart meters, LED lighting and energy efficient white goods.

“Once families settle in these new homes, the clean energy benefits will speak for themselves, with increased levels of comfort requiring significantly less energy for day-to-day living. These homes, because they require less energy, will also help reduce the emissions impact of our built environment,” CEFC’s chief executive Ian Learmonth said.


Australia’s largest national not for profit community housing provider, Community Housing Limited (CHL), delivers affordable housing in Australia, South Asia, South-East Asia and South America and is unstoppable in expanding its international footprint across those regions in the world where extreme housing poverty remains pervasive.

In Australia, CHL targets low to moderate income people who have the highest housing need or who have been disadvantaged by market failure in their efforts to secure long-term rental accommodation. These people may be living in metropolitan areas or in regional Australia.

In other countries, CHL works with people who are languishing in slums or in informal housing, unable to secure safe, affordable homes to achieve home ownership.

CHL’s 1993 founding was inspired by the need “to develop more organisations outside of public housing to deliver housing to specialised client groups in need,” recalls Founder and Managing Director, Steve Bevington.

When government funding came down the pipeline, the organisation got its start helping community groups in Victoria carry out small scale, specialised housing projects.

The not for profit has continued to grow ever since and is now the largest community housing provider in the country with over 11,000 properties under its management with the widest reach.

“We have been on a long journey, from the little projects with community groups in Victoria, through to expanding across Australia, to expanding overseas,” Mr Bevington recounts.

But, regardless of how large CHL has grown, “the original intention of the organisation is still there at the core,” says Steve marking the organisation has been in existence for a quarter of a century.

Under the leadership of its Managing Director and a forward-thinking and supportive Board, CHL has undoubtedly been the biggest champion of affordable housing at home and in these developing countries.

“We analyse the circumstances of communities and develop programs or projects so that they can secure affordable housing; it’s just that the extent of it has grown dramatically from those small projects.”

It has been CHL’s passion and commitment to provide stable accommodation to those most in need regardless of where they live in the world, that has seen the organisation’s international operations develop.

To effectively manage these operations, CHL has established subsidiaries in each of the international jurisdictions in which it works making differences to the lives of many in Timor Leste, Chile, India, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Rwanda.

“We have always been an adventurous and optimistic organisation. Prepared to take a chance when needed.  We’ve always had people who were prepared to dream and do things and it has been this persistence that has enabled us to move into places and drive change.

Whether it be in Australia or overseas, we have never been the ones to sit by idle, in fact we’ve always operated in environments which are extremely challenging and at times difficult to function, but despite this we have managed to advocate and achieve affordable housing outcomes for those disadvantaged and that is something I am very proud of. Operations have developed incrementally whether in Australia or overseas until the local environment is responsive to addressing housing affordability. For example, CHL established both its Tasmanian and Timorese operation in 2004 and neither achieved sustainable size and growth until 2014 but the fact that CHL had always been there meant that it was in a position to respond when circumstances changed such as the introduction of the Better Housing Futures stock transfer program in Tasmania and Government funding for affordable housing in Suai, Timor Leste.

Our international operations are all tailored to meet the needs of the local communities, there is never a “one size fits all” approach to delivering housing services and the flexibility and capacity that we have been able to offer to the communities we work with makes all the difference.”  emphasises Steve. It has been this level of understanding of the need to be flexible and respective of the needs of the people at a local level and the willingness to work alongside that has seen CHL thrive.

From Papua New Guinea to Chile, the environment is carefully analysed to determine what kind of housing is culturally acceptable, where this housing needs to be located, and how much people can afford to pay for this housing. The team must also consider what kinds of construction technologies should be introduced and what type of financing arrangements can be developed to ensure affordability.

Developing projects in regions which have always failed to create sustainable housing for the poor requires tenacity in maintaining trust and confidence to move forward. CHL is the only Australian housing organisation that has ventured overseas starting with Timor Leste and has been operational in the region for 14 years.

The venture has seen the development of a building technology which has introduced housing to the country at a cost that people can afford by creating employment and providing training in the manufacture of materials and construction of their housing.

“Our goal is always two-fold as we not only intend to eradicate housing poverty through the provision of affordable homes, but our intention is to provide the necessary support where necessary to empower communities through training and skill development”, Steve Bevington continued.

When CHL ventured overseas, the team encountered some new challenges that had to be addressed in new and innovative ways. “We went to countries where people subsisted off their land and had no income whatsoever,” shares Steve.

“There was no means by which they could pay for housing.” Governments were unable to offer much help, leaving CHL to forge a novel path. “In order to provide people with the means to pay for their housing, we added to our aims the development of training and employment related to construction and housing delivery.”

Over the period that CHL has operated in Timor Leste it has employed a 100 percent Timorese workforce which can carry out all stages of housing development.

This workforce was responsible for the completion of an affordable housing project in Timor Leste and included 87 homes, while delivering an accredited training program for the local workers and providing on-the-job training opportunities to up to 400 local unskilled workers. This project is now being expanded with the completion of design of a further 64 houses in the same region and planning for major affordable housing developments in the south of the country.

Recently, CHL Timor completed the construction of an accommodation facility for the teaching and administrative staff of San Carlos School in Dili, an Educational Retreat for the Marist Brothers in Baucau, design of a Teacher’s Training Centre to be funded by Monte Saint Angelo Mercy College in Maliana.

In Chile in the city of Valparaiso, CHL has carried out a number of projects comprising 35 houses priced at around 75% of the market value available to those lower income workers who receive a government subsidy to secure housing as well as projects to move communities living in slum conditions in central and southern Chile comprising 68 homes, CHL is now ready to commence affordable housing projects comprising 40 apartments for low income workers of Playa Ancha University and in Limache, Chile, some 50km from Valparaiso, we are about to commence an affordable housing 54 unit project as an alternative to the high rising apartment prices in Valparaiso. The build will be an ideal economic solution to those willing to commute as it will be along the major train line.

In Peru, CHL has made great advancements, with the commencement of its first build project in the city of Chincha. While employment is solid in the region, affordable housing is scarce and so CHL Peru considered Chincha to be an ideal location to assist those in need. The pilot project of a 20 unit complex is now under construction and in March, CHL Peru opened a sales office close by to negotiate sales of these competitively priced homes.

Prior to this, CHL Peru delivered a variety of housing design prototypes for 600 families in a rural central Peruvian community as part of a consultancy project with the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID), the South American branch of the World Bank.

The consultancy included numerous field trips to analyse existing buildings and to conduct workshops with affected residents who will soon lose their homes due to the construction of a freeway.  Most of the designs featured rammed earth, the only building material that local people are experienced to work with.

CHL Peru proposed that houses are built by their future owners, with the assistance of engineers, architects and community workers, as it is important in such a remote area to keep the number of external workers who are unfamiliar with local customs to a minimum.

At present CHL is exploring the rehousing options of slum communities in Iquitos on the Amazon river where thousands of families may be able to be rehoused in multistorey accommodation with improved security and better living conditions and alongside this CHL is examining assisting remote Amazonian communities with essential infrastructure to supply drinking water and electricity given that they have no access at present.

In Africa, CHL Rwanda Ltd (CHLR) has signed a MOU with the Government as part of a joint venture to develop a site in Kigali, Rwanda, dedicated to the construction of an affordable housing project on 13.15 hectares for low-income singles and families comprising of 1,184 homes priced at around 50% of the market rate prevailing in Kigali.

As part of its South East operations, CHL Building and Design Services Pvt Ltd, an Indian subsidiary of CHL has partnered with a real estate development group Shivdhan Infra based in Ahmedabad & Mumbai to participate in affordable housing projects.

The first partnership project is the Pooja Heaven Affordable Housing project located in Dehgam near Ahmedabad that is now commencing construction. The project comprises the construction of 134 apartments for key workers in Dehgam who will be able to take advantage of concessionary loans to secure housing. The housing is priced at 22-26 lakh (A$44,000-53,000) which is eligible for first home owner grants and GST concessions and will be affordable for lower income administrative workers at around 65% of the price of equivalent housing locally.

In Indonesia, CHL Indonesia has been working with a local foundation, Grya, that it assisted the establishment of to create solutions for housing the poor. In the lead up to the national election Grya, became the policy think tank assisting the Director General of Housing to formulate a reform agenda for housing the poor in Indonesia. Over the next year six pilot projects in different parts of the country will be commenced with slum communities and an overall plan to encourage a national program for slum redevelopment is being formulated.

Under Steve’s stewardship, CHL continues its willingness to innovate and evolve its offerings both locally in Australia and overseas.

Its steady and sustained focus on a vision of ‘a world without housing poverty” ensures a journey outside its comfort zone to make progress towards this outcome.

Throughout Australia – and around the world – there is an ongoing need for affordable housing solutions. Meeting that need will always be fraught with challenges – but CHL is committed to overcoming them.

The organisation has already blazed a new trail in the affordable housing industry, redefining what is possible both at home and abroad.

And with a full roster of projects already lined up for several years, the team will continue to make a difference and is excited about approaching the next 25 years of its journey.

*CHL’s country presence outside of Australia.