Affordable build to rent project wins award

A Queensland community housing provider is ‘over the moon’ after winning an UDIA’s Affordable Housing award for what it has dubbed Australia’s first truly affordable build to rent project.

Churches for Christ Housing Services took out the award for its 50-dwelling townhouse complex in Kallangur, in Brisbane’s northern suburbs. The development, which includes a community centre, was built on well-located land gifted to the organisation by local philanthropists Ian and Neva Handy.

CoC Housing Services General Manager Frances Paterson-Fleider says the successful partnership of local philanthropists, funding by their parent organisation Churches of Christ in Queensland, and a local builder National Construction Management (who they had used previously) who was willing to provide a fixed price for the project, all assisted to make it affordable.

Frances says her organisation was delighted at the win, particularly knowing it was competing against property heavy weights like Grocon.

The award ‘recognises outstanding product that’s pricing is aligned with the selected target market and has considered issues such as ongoing operating costs, sustainability, its integration with the local community, and quality finishes amongst other criteria.’

The UDIA noted that the townhouses, ‘deliver well considered design, construction quality, and diversity of product focussed around a community centre and adjacent open space. The development considered both lifecycle costs and practical sustainable initiatives within a tight budget. The project received strong market acceptance from individuals and families in need of safe and quality accommodation at an affordable price.’

‘This was an amazing outcome for Churches of Christ and our Housing team,’ Frances says. ‘I believe every staff member had a role to play in this achievement – whether direct or supporting processes or holding the fort while staff worked on this.

‘Thank you everyone – a remarkable achievement to be recognised by our peers and most importantly, transforming the lives of another 50 households.’

Interested in becoming a registered NT provider?

The NT Government will be hosting free information sessions for housing providers interested in becoming registered Community Housing Providers under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH).

The NRSCH was developed to regulate providers of community housing, including social and affordable housing, indigenous community housing providers and other specialist community housing providers.

Obtaining registration may improve eligibility for future funding and investment opportunities in the community housing sector, however registration is voluntary.

The information session will cover:

  • Overview of the NRSCH
  • Benefits of registration
  • Capacity Building for Capability
  • Registration Process
  • Wind Up Clause – National Law
  • Examples of performance evidence requirements
  • Compliance assessment
  • NRSCH Resources and Questions

Sessions will be held as follows:

Darwin Thursday 22 November 2018

Alice Springs Friday 30 November 2018

Following the information sessions, interested providers will be able to register to meet with representatives to discuss registration of their organisation in further detail.

If you are a community housing provider and interested in attending one of these sessions, please email by 16 November 2018.

For more information, please call the Community Housing team on 8999 8409.

Community housing welcomes new ACT Housing Strategy

Community housing organisations have welcomed this week’s launch of the ACT Government’s new Housing Strategy, which included a substantial $100m investment in public housing renewal and growth, and a commitment to the growth of the community housing sector.

Whilst detail on the specific support to the community housing sector was limited, the strategy has set a target of ensuring 15 per cent of all future government land releases are for either public housing, affordable rental housing or affordable purchase opportunities.

The government has also committed to reducing the cost of land made available to the sector and to investigating planning controls or lease variation charge remissions to encourage additional affordable rental and purchase opportunities on privately owned land.

Other key measures include the provision of head lease opportunities to the sector for 151 (just over 1 per cent of the total) public housing properties over the next five years; a commitment to explore extending land rent scheme eligibility to the sector; and, measures to grow the supply of affordable rental properties from private owners to be managed by the sector.

Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) ACT Region Chair Andrew Hannan says the community housing sector is keen to further engage government as it undertakes investigation on potential measures outlined in the strategy, as well as some other complementary reforms, to lift the supply of affordable housing in a way that would enable the government to access the benefits that would flow from leveraging the community housing sector.

‘The community housing sector has the capacity to more than double its current property portfolio of 1,000 properties over the next 10 years with government support,’ Mr Hannan says.

‘Having our sector develop and manage properties reduces the capital burden on the government and reliance on its services. It also attracts more Commonwealth money into the ACT as community housing tenants are eligible for Commonwealth Rental Assistance.’

‘Community housing is a proven cost-effective way for the government to deliver affordable housing, but we do need help to bridge the gap between revenue from the low rent able to be charged to our low-income tenants and the costs of supplying accommodation,’ Mr Hannan says.

‘Only by bridging that yield gap can we close the gap between the high levels of demand and the low level of supply of affordable rental homes for people in the ACT.’

CHIA’s ACT Region Committee member organisations include Argyle, CHC, Catholic Care, Focus ACT, Havelock Housing and Northside Community Services.


Joint venture to boost social housing in Hepburn

The Hepburn Shire Council is partnering with national not for profit housing provider, Community Housing Limited (CHL) as part of a joint venture program that will increase the number and quality of social housing dwellings within the region.

Locals in housing need or those facing the risks of homelessness will benefit from the program, which will provide safe and appropriate housing in the form of 19 dwellings.

With grant funding provided by the Hepburn Shire Council in the amount of $589,000, CHL will deliver four (4) new purpose-built double bedroom units to low income earners in the Clunes community.

‘This program will not only increase the supply of social and affordable housing in the Shire of Hepburn, which is so desperately needed, but will greatly improve the quality of life for struggling residents providing them with real opportunities and pathways,’ says CHL State Manager Shari McPhail.

As part of the CHL’s management, tenants will reap the benefits of services that will connect them with employment, education, training and other community engagements opportunities.

‘We are totally committed to serving the community, and we are really looking forward to working within the region and with the council. Not only will this project provide much needed housing options, but it will also contribute to the local economy with a host of employment opportunities both long and short term, expected to be generated.’

A tender invitation for the construction of the new units is expected to be released shortly, with CHL encouraging local builders and trades within the Clunes Community to partner in the delivery of this very exciting project.

Mayor Cr John Cottrell said that Council was pleased to be working collaboratively with Community Housing Limited.

‘Affordable housing is an issue facing all communities and this is a great opportunity to make a difference in Clunes. The funding raised by Council together with the Clunes community will deliver additional housing options and real opportunities for low income earners.’

Upon completion in the second half of 2019, the new properties will be made available as housing options for the elderly, key workers and younger people, and via CHL will be coupled with resources and support to allow them to engage with their community, develop support networks and grow and lead productive lives.

For almost a quarter of a decade, CHL has been managing the end to end delivery of affordable housing including design, construction, tenancy and property management and currently has more than 9,000 properties under its management nationally, of which over 15 percent are in Victoria.

CHIA looking for new CEO

The Community Housing Industry Association is seeking a new CEO who will continue to build the impact, effectiveness and reputation of CHIA as the national voice of community housing.

Working to a committed and experienced Board, your brief will be to:
• design and implement strategy and business plans that will take CHIA to the next level and to build its financial resources and operational capacity
• achieve closer collaboration between community housing peak bodies
• lead CHIA’s policy and advocacy on issues of national importance to the sector, and
• identify and implement industry development strategies to support an expanding community housing sector, in tandem with other peak bodies.

An effective and credible communicator, you represent CHIA and its members at the national level and engage persuasively with Members of Parliament and government officials. Building strong relationships with other industry bodies, State community housing peaks, CHIA Regional Committees and other stakeholders is an important dimension of your role. Your financial and business acumen enables you to identify and capitalise on opportunities to generate additional income streams, and to develop products and services that enable members to deliver more and better housing services.

To succeed in this role

Leadership and Strategy
You have a strong commitment to social justice and reform. Your ability to frame and articulate a clear vision for the community housing sector is an important part of your skill set. You think ahead, anticipate and respond flexibly to changing contexts/new information. In previous leadership roles that included change management or service delivery, you succeeded in marrying the big picture with attention to detail. Your leadership skill-set includes strong strategic sense and good judgement.

Systemic Advocacy, Public Relations and Communications
You bring excellent oral and written presentation skills to this role and a reputation for building productive stakeholder relationships. You are comfortable negotiating, influencing and consulting with a range of stakeholders and have a record of successful engagement with government departments and elected officials. You understand the advocacy and promotional roles of industry peak bodies. You are at ease delivering public presentations and in dealing with the media.

Member Services and business development
Your well-developed interpersonal skills enable you to engage with our diverse membership base.
You will have experience in providing quality services to a distributed customer base and ideally will have experience in developing or purchasing products on behalf of members. Experience in building alternative income streams will enhance your success in this role.

Organisational Management
You have previous experience of working directly to a Board of Directors and a high-level understanding of corporate governance. You are a ‘safe pair of hands’. Formal qualifications or extensive experience in business management, public policy or public administration would be highly regarded.

Responsibilities and accountabilities

1. Leadership and Strategy
• Develop strategic objectives in conjunction with the Board and members.
• Work with members, Regional committees and State peaks to achieve CHIA’s mission and vision.
• Enhance CHIA’s reputation as a professional, strategic and forward-thinking industry body.
• Develop formal alliances and corporate partnerships to maximise CHIA’s resources and impact.
• Monitor and analyse the business and political environment to take advantage of emerging trends and new opportunities.

2. Systemic Advocacy, Public Relations and Communications
• Assess the impact of government policies, social and economic trends on housing affordability and on the community housing industry.
• Influence government policy by constructive engagement with politicians, advisers and officials.
• Liaise with members and stakeholders to ensure CHIA identifies and responds effectively to emerging issues of significance to the community housing sector.
• Manage CHIA’s corporate communications strategy including its branding, image, and production of quality communications products.
• Support Board members in promoting CHIA and in their representational roles.

3. Member services and industry development
• Co-ordinate industry development activities with State peaks and Regional Committees, including the expansion of member services across the national market, developing industry-wide workforce strategies and initiatives to enhance service quality and governance across the sector.
• Ensure that services, advocacy and policy activities are relevant and cost effective for members.
• Ensure CHIA provides effective support for current and potential members.

4. Organisational and Business Development
• Manage CHIA’s financial and human resources effectively, in conjunction with the Board.
• Develop and implement strategic and business plans to advance CHIA’s strategic objectives.
• Increase CHIA’s income generation to ensure CHIA is revenue, resource and reserve secure.
• Assist the CHIA Board to meet its objectives and legal responsibilities, including timely acquittal of compliance and reporting obligations.
• Risk Management.

A remuneration package reflecting the skills and experience brought to the position will be negotiated with the successful candidate. CHIA is a Public Benevolent Institution, which allows employees to benefit from certain tax rebates and exemptions under ATO rules.

About the Community Housing Industry Association

The Community Housing Industry Association is Australia’s peak body for community housing providers. Community housing is on a steady growth path and aims to become the housing provider of choice for low and moderate-income households within the next decade.

CHIA’s primary objective is to help our members improve housing options for lower income Australians. To do this CHIA aims to:
• Be the voice of the industry through effective policy development and advocacy.
• Provide effective national representation to government, other national peaks and stakeholders.
• Deliver valued services to members across a national market, in partnership with state peak bodies.
• Develop the capacity and professionalism of the community housing industry.
• Foster effective Regional Committees to deal with State/Territory issues in jurisdictions without a State community housing peak body.
• Create a more resilient and independent national organisation by diversifying income sources.
• Promote the benefits and value of community housing to the wider public.

How we are structured
CHIA was established as a member-driven industry peak body in mid-2015 with the aim of developing a strong national voice for the sector, independent of government. CHIA has a national Board of 12 Directors, supported by Regional Committees in the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, and by state community housing peak bodies in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

The Chief Executive Officer is supported by a Media and Communications officer (0.4 FTE) and a bookkeeper/admin officer (0.4 FTE). The Board intends to add more functions over time as the organisation develops and as the sector expands.

CHIA’s national office is currently located in Melbourne with regular travel to Canberra to engage with Federal Ministers, other Members of Parliament and government officials. However, CHIA is open to relocating its national office to Canberra, Melbourne or Sydney for the right applicant.

Expression of interest
For a confidential discussion please call Mark Williams on (08) 8238 3468 or email your resume to

Closing date for applications is Monday 12th November 2018


CHIA Vic launches election platform

Katoomba approves $16.7m affordable housing development

St Vincent de Paul Housing has received approval to build 26 affordable housing units in Katoomba. The $16.7m project is expected to begin later this year or early 2019, with completion in 2020.

A spokeswoman for St Vincent de Paul, Felicity Moody, said there would be eight one-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom units over eight levels (two levels will be basement parking).

‘All units are to be used for social housing tenants aged 55 and over,’ Ms Moody says.

The development will be built just south of the heart of Katoomba on a site currently being used as an unofficial car park.
Ms Moody said St Vincent de Paul Housing ‘intends to use the development to deliver services under NSW Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF)’.

The move follows repeated public comments by St Vincent de Paul’s former National Council CEO Dr John Falzon on the increasing rate of homelessness.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data by Homelessness Australia from 2017 has shown a significant increase in the numbers of young people and older women experiencing homelessness. Women and children escaping family violence is still the biggest driver of homelessness in the country.

Dr Falzon says, ‘It is painfully clear the rate of homelessness in Australia is rising with a nine per cent increase in the number of people seeking help from homelessness agencies over the 2015-16 financial year compared to the previous year.’

‘There are 200,000 people on the waiting list for social housing and at the same time Australia has a shortfall of housing supply, estimated at over 500,000 rental dwellings, which are both affordable and available to the lowest income households.’

Meet your Board Members: Steve Bevington

Steve Bevington began his housing affordability journey in the late 70s in London, when he started a housing cooperative with some friends. Fast forward almost 40 years, and he now oversees Australia’s largest community housing organisation with operations in South America, South East Asia, South Asia and, most recently, Africa.

It’s been quite the ride, given Community Housing Limited (CHL) was a company only on paper when he began working there as its first employee in 1994. It was set up to cater to tenants whose needs would not be met by Victoria’s existing community housing organisations, which, at that time, specialised in certain cohorts such as elderly tenants, crisis housing or those with a disability or housing models such as housing cooperatives.

‘By November 17, CHL will manage 11,000 houses, which is more than double the next provider within our sector, and we’re the only organisation that operates across all six states. However, whilst that is substantial in Australia, it’s still not a substantial organisation in European terms,’ Steve says.

CHL has also expanded overseas, with operations in Timor-Leste, Chile, Peru, India, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and, as of this year, Rwanda.

‘The general strategy is to work in South East Asia, South Asia, South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. It took us many years to get to sub-Saharan Africa…Africa was always going to be the hardest, and it is, although the others are pretty hard too to be honest,’ Steve says.

Whilst the overseas operations are, overall, relatively small and new, they are important, he says.

‘If you look at Australia, in reality 10 per cent of people are in high housing need, of which only about 3.5 per cent are being served. If you’re looking at the other countries, you’re talking about 60, 70, 80 per cent.

‘I think for all the difficulties we have in Australia, we’re still a lucky country, and a country where the majority of the people are in pretty good nick. The question is: Does one have a broader social conscience? Is one’s mission based on Australia?’

In Australia, the biggest challenge facing community housing is to cement its place as the natural solution to resolving the housing needs of people through social and affordable housing but Steve is confident that community housing will grow as an industry, and CHL with it.

‘I see CHL as being 10 per cent of a growing sector,’ Steve says.

‘Since 1997, which was the year CHL became sustainable, it’s had an average 21.5 per cent exponential growth per year. That’s been for the last 20 years. I would expect that to continue. That would be the aspiration, and we will hope that the sector will grow with us at the same pace.’

Reflecting on his time in community housing, Steve says, ‘I’m most proud of being an active participant in the formation of a sector that has reversed the 20 year decline in actual numbers of housing for people in need (even though it’s a smaller proportion population wise). The community housing sector has done that, and CHL has been a very active participant, along with other organisations.

‘However, I think we could end up being much more proud of the things we do overseas… CHL is an organisation that produces ideas, projects, and frameworks, which we seek to be copied by other organisations and if you look at what we would hope to do in Africa, our first project will be 1,200 houses or so. If we can be copied by others in Africa, then this could form a basis of housing for the emerging affordable housing needs for a billion people or so.’

Councils call for mandatory inclusionary zoning

In the lead up to November’s Victorian State Election, frustrated councils in Melbourne’s outer east are calling on all political parties to commit to mandating the inclusion of social or affordable housing in new developments.

Six councils have formed the Eastern Affordable Housing Alliance, campaigning for a commitment to provide more than 11,000 homes to cover the shortfall in the eastern metropolitan region.

Launch Housing chief executive Bevan Warner said political parties needed to ensure that councils could make decisions regarding affordable homes.

“Local government should be able to include conditions to promote the broader public interest and that must include affordable and social housing. I think both sides of government need to clarify whether legislation is needed or not,” Mr Warner said.

The Victorian Greens Samantha Ratnam says the Greens would legislate to ensure every new large housing complex had a minimum of 30 per cent affordable homes.

‘The effectiveness of this idea has already been proven. Cities such as New York, London and San Francisco have undergone housing stress similar to what Melbourne is experiencing, and the use of genuine inclusionary zoning helped ensure that more people had a safe place to live,’ Dr Ratnam says.

The Victorian Government and opposition have not made a commitment.

Read more…

PhD Scholarship in Social Housing

The Unison Housing Research LaB (UHRL) is a unique education and research collaboration between RMIT University and Unison Housing, Victoria’s largest social housing provider. The LaB is situated in the Social and Global Studies Centre (SGSC) in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies (GUSS). The LaB was established in 2017 and is funded for five years to undertake an innovative research program informed by the experiences of service users and providers.

We are seeking highly motivated and qualified applicants for a PhD scholarship to commence in February, 2019. The successful applicant will have, at minimum, an Honours level qualification in social science or related discipline (e.g. sociology, psychology, anthropology, criminology, law, gender, politics, health) and will have experience in quantitative research methods. Utilising their skills with administrative and survey data, the successful candidate will examine why people leave social housing and what happens to them subsequently. The candidate will investigate three questions:

  1. What are the reasons households leave social housing?
  2. What sort of housing do people subsequently move into and, relatedly, what proportion end up experiencing homelessness after they exit.
  3. What are the patterns of service use following exits from social housing.

In answering these questions this PhD project will provide important insights into the personal, social and economic costs of leaving social housing. It will also provide useful information for Unison with respect to maximising positive exits and minimising negative exits which are costly to everyone.

A stipend of $30,900 per annum pro rata (full time study) for three years.

Expressions of interest must be submitted via email by Friday October 26th, 2018.

Expressions of interest should contain the following information:

  • A one-page summary justifying the applicant’s suitability for the role
  • An academic CV
  • Transcript of qualifying degree
  • A copy of any publications, thesis or other scholarly writing

For further information contact:

Dr Juliet Watson,  03 9925 3477

Prof Guy Johnson,   03 9925 9893