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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.

 

Happy new NHHA?

Four jurisdictions have now signed up to the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) but, despite its early promise, there’s barely a mention of community housing in the four bilaterals so far finalised.

The six national housing priorities of the NHHA are social housing, community housing, affordable housing, tenancy reform, supporting home ownership and reform of the planning system.

Specific mention is made in the priorities of community housing strategies that improve the viability and encourage growth of the sector (may include redevelopment and stock transfers). However, there it stops; the four bilateral agreements released to date contain little to support the viability or growth of community housing.

Jurisdictions must produce a housing strategy that indicates the level of housing supply needed to respond to projected demand, outlines the reforms and initiatives that will contribute to meeting this need, includes planned or expected levels of social housing, and set out how the State will contribute to the housing priority policy areas. (Clause 17(a) of the NHHA). Most states and territories are reported to be working on new strategies, with varying levels of consultation.

Jurisdictions will report annually, with public reporting by 31 October of the following year.

While we encourage you to read the agreement in full, here’s what caught our eye:

South Australia
South Australia promises to have a new housing strategy and a new homelessness strategy in place and publicly available by July 1, 2019.
It aims for an adequate supply of land to meet long-term demand and a 30-year plan for Greater Adelaide to deliver a compact urban reform.

Improving the liveability of social housing stock is included, but only via a commitment that 75 per cent of new stock built by the SA Housing Trust will meet Universal Design criteria.

The development and efficiency of CHPs will be supported through finalising the transfer of 5,000 properties, with contractual requirements ‘that support the upgrade and renewal of CHP managed houses’.

Three reviews of current housing pathways/programs are mentioned, including:
• develop contemporary service responses for young people leaving care, with a new protocol between the Department for Child Protection and Housing SA to support young people into independent housing, in 2018.
• new supportive housing for people who have experienced chronic homelessness will be implemented by 2020
• the existing aged housing program (no timeframe).

Tasmania
The bilateral acknowledges the importance of community housing – over 40 per cent of social housing is managed by community housing providers in Tasmania. However, there are no measures in the bilateral targeted at community housing and only two measures specifically for social housing – a commitment to 15 new (hopefully extra) social housing dwellings a year, and $13.6m to upgrade 1,050 public housing dwellings.

The bilateral does provide for 10 rapid rehousing homes a year for people exiting institutions (from 30 June 2019), to avoid exits into homelessness.

The Tassie Government has an aim to keep home ownership at least 5 per cent above the national average, and will maintain its First Home owner grant program and review what government land could be re-purposed to housing.

The Tasmanian Government will continue to produce quarterly reports on progress against the state’s affordable housing action plan.

ACT
According to the bilateral agreement, the ACT has the most targeted public housing portfolio in Australia with housing allocated to those in greatest need. There are 22,000 people in public housing (it omits to mention the further 1,500 in community housing).

The bilateral promises a new ACT Housing Strategy in 2018. It will address legislative requirements and the requirements of clause 17 (a) of the primary housing
Agreement, covering ‘the full housing spectrum, from homelessness, through public
housing and affordable rental and home purchase opportunities’. Sadly, however, no mention of community housing.

The agreement does promise that the ACT will set and publish annual targets for public, community and affordable housing as part of the Indicative Land Release Program.

The existing ACT social housing model will be reviewed ‘to improve viability, identify and develop initiatives to achieve efficiencies and improve stock utilisation’. This is the closest the bilateral agreement comes to addressing community housing.

Like SA, the ACT undertakes to construct public housing dwellings that are built to national liveable design standards, but is silent about any retrofitting of existing social housing stock to meet the standards.

Northern Territory
The Northern Territory bilateral describes its ‘public housing portfolio’ as including community housing.

However the NT is to be congratulated for specifically including measures to develop and implement an urban Community Housing Strategy that identifies ways to support the growth of the NT CHP sector and inform the transfer of 750 urban public dwellings to the sector, as well as construct community housing dwellings in urban centres (by 2023).

The NT will have a new housing strategy in place and publicly available by September 30, 2019.

A review of rent setting models in urban and remote areas will be undertaken by December 2019.

The NT will also consult senior Territorians and those approaching retirement about aged care housing (to identify demand) and provide findings to the private sector to help identify potential opportunities for future private sector development of seniors-appropriate accommodation.

Planning reforms include allowing more scope for providing affordable housing products through
the incorporation of a flexible approach to zoning, including through the use of Specific Use Zones in the NT Planning Scheme, and facilitating land release in remote Aboriginal communities by extending the exemption under the Planning Act (Regulation 3A), which removes the need for subdivision approval for development associated with the $1.1 billion remote housing program.

Community housing’s take on Budget 2018

The Commonwealth Government’s 2018 Budget has let the momentum slide on affordable housing.

While the 2017 Federal Budget laid the foundations for real improvements in affordable housing this year’s budget fails to follow through.

This budget focuses on tax reform, infrastructure investments, improving security, and the digital economy. The tax reforms are unlikely to impact on many community housing tenants but will provide some assistance to those in affordable housing: from 2018-19, an increase to the Low Income Tax Offset will deliver around $530 pa to 10 million low and moderate income earners. From July 2024, the 37 per cent tax scale will be abolished and only 6 per cent of the population with income over $200,000 will pay the highest marginal tax rate (45 per cent).

There is an additional $24.5 billion for infrastructure initiatives on top of the $75b announced in the last budget – no mention of housing, this is all roads, rail, ports and air infrastructure, and $1b to fix congestion in cities.

Major sector-specific measures:
The major measures focussed on the social and affordable housing sector in this year’s budget are:
• $550m over five years under a new Bilateral Agreement to improve Indigenous Housing in Northern Territory (already announced); and
• extra funding to improve the condition of public housing in the Northern Territory, including asbestos removal
• a related measure will provide $259.6m in 2017-18 to the NT government to offset GST reductions, so it can improve services in remote communities.

Minister Scullion’s Press Release advises that the government is in negotiations with the Queensland, South Australian and Western Australian governments ‘about future Commonwealth investment [in housing] in those jurisdictions’.

Minor sector-specific measures:
National Regulatory Scheme for Community Housing (NRSCH) will be funded $1.1m over 2017-18 and 2018-19 towards the evaluation of the NRSCH.
Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute (AHURI) will receive $5.5m/three years to continue the national housing research program.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will receive $4.9m/four years to improve data collection of affordable housing stock estimates, planning and zoning activity, and dwelling construction cost. (This looks like the input to a National Housing Supply Council some time in the future.)
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) will receive $0.2m in 2018-19 to improve its user interface for housing and homelessness data collections.

Broader housing-related measures:
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will get an undisclosed amount to set up North Queensland Home Insurance Comparison website to help home owners compare premiums.

The Western Sydney City Deal will be funded $125m/five years to support infrastructure projects and liveability, including $15m for planning reforms to support housing supply in Western Sydney (this is redirected money from uncommitted funding, not new money).

Other matters:
Wage growth is expected to pick up in the broader economy to 3 per cent pa in 2019-20 (the increases under Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Award are phasing in until 2021). Inflation is projected to increase from 2.25 per cent in 2017-18 to 3.25 per cent in 2019-20. These movements may impact on Community Housing Providers operating costs.

There are some changes to income support arrangements that may have a minor impact on sector rental cash flows.

These include:
• the black economy taskforce response gets another $12.3m over four years – potentially impacting on some social housing tenants’ income declarations
• to encourage ‘lawful behaviour’ among income support recipients, the Commonwealth will be able to compulsorily deduct court-imposed fines and suspend/cancel welfare payments to people with outstanding warrants. How this will impact on tenants with Centrepay deductions is unknown. This may require renegotiation of rental payments for some tenants.
• pensioners will be able to earn up to $300pf (up from $250), without affecting their pension
• employment programs:
– jobs and skills for mature age Australians – $189.7m/five years
– transition to work – $80m/four years to support 40,000 young people aged 15-21 who are at risk of long-term unemployment
– the Community Development Program will ‘redirect $1.1b/five years to improve employment outcomes in remote areas’, including through 6,000 employment subsidies.

The following measures may impact on some CHPs:

Disability and Carers
• the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is to be fully funded
• the NDIS Jobs and Market Fund – $64.3m/four years to help disability service providers take advantage of NDIS opportunities
• an additional $9.9m over two years will help Disability Employment Providers transition to the NDIS
• $92.1m/five years to ensure continuity of support for people who are not transitioning to the NDIS but are getting services under programs that are transitioning to the NDIS (programs not named)
• carer coordination – $113m/five years for Integrated Carer Support Services to help carers navigate the system through a new Carer gateway – an income test will be introduced for the Carer Allowance, with the carer and their partner required to have a combined income of less than $250,000 pa.

Older Australians
More Choices for a Longer Life – a package of measures for older Australians, including:
• 14,000 high-level care packages (on top of 6,000 already announced)
• 13,500 residential age care places
• $40m in capital grants for aged care facilities in regional and remote areas
• several measures focusing on quality of care, including an extra $8.8m to improve transparency of information on aged care provider quality
• more money for mental health services for older Australians
• $22.9m/two years to encourage older Australians to take part in physical activity.

Abstudy – $38.1m/five years will improve Abstudy payments, including providing boarding payments to kids under 16 getting Abstudy Living Allowance, more flexible travel arrangements and relaxed rules about which schools kids can attend.

Stronger Communities Round 4 – $25.9m/two years for small capital projects ($2,500-$25,000) that deliver benefits for local communities (redirected funds, not new money).

Building Better Regions Fund Round 3 – $206.5m/four years for investment in community infrastructure and capacity building projects in regional areas. [Note, some CHPs have accessed BBR funding from previous rounds to support mature age housing).

There are also some institutional reforms that may impact on how CHPs operate, for instance:

Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission – $1m in 2018-19 to respond to ‘anticipated litigation’ as it pursues its role of regulating charities and charity registration
Consumer Data Rights – will allow people to share their data safely ‘with trusted and accredited service providers’.
The National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) -Budget Paper No3 makes it clear that Commonwealth funding under the NHHA includes supplementation to the states and territories until 2021 to assist with wage cost increases under the Social, Community Services and Disability Industry Equal Remuneration order 2012. This was previously paid under a separate National Partnership Agreement for Housing and under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for homelessness services. (There is no supplementation for CHPs unless states pass this on).
Rent Assistance – Rises from $4.4b to $4.53 mainly as a result of growth in age pensioner and carer pensioner populations.

What’s missing?
1. There is no National Housing Strategy in sight.
2. There are no measures to increase housing supply.
3. There is still no prospect of capital funding or additional subsidy to fill the gap between rental receipts and operating costs, to support the Bond Aggregator and Housing Infrastructure Funding announced in the last budget.
4. There is no reform of Capital Gains tax and negative gearing, which distort the housing market.
5. There is no reform of Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) to alleviate housing stress among low income households.
6. The package of measures in this budget for older Australians, while welcome, is completely silent on housing stress among the 190,000 people over 70 who receive CRA.
7. There is no recognition that affordable, appropriate housing is essential to Closing the Gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, 79 per cent of whom live in non-remote areas.

In short, there is no National Housing Strategy.

Federal Budget silent on National Housing Strategy

This year’s Federal Budget shows exactly why Australia needs a National Housing Strategy, according to the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA).

The $110m for five years to continue work on remote housing in the Northern Territory is very welcome, as is the added funding for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to improve housing data. Spending on infrastructure to reduce urban congestion and improve transport networks to support our growing population is welcome. The $15m to encourage planning reforms in Western Sydney is a good start.

But this Budget is silent on one of the biggest pressures facing Australian households: housing affordability, says CHIA Executive Director Peta Winzar.

‘House prices at the top of the East coast capital city markets may be coming off the boil, but home ownership remains a challenge for many families on low and moderate incomes and more than 40 per cent of low income renters are in housing stress,’ Ms Winzar says.

‘Unless we have a National Housing Strategy and the programs to support it, housing will still be on the front pages of the paper in 12 months’ time, when tonight’s tax cuts promised tonight hit people’s bank accounts. And it will still be a problem in 2024 when the 37 per cent tax bracket is eliminated.’

In 2017, the Treasurer laid the groundwork for a coherent, sustained effort to improve housing affordability, raising the hopes of a growing number of Australians who are finding themselves it increasingly difficult to afford a secure, affordable and appropriate place to call home.

‘We now need a National Housing Strategy to follow through,’ Ms Winzar says.

‘We need a National Strategy that commits to more fundamental tax reform to remove the distortions in the housing market. A Strategy that includes reform of Commonwealth Rent Assistance to reduce rental stress for private renters.  A Strategy that sets housing as a core component of infrastructure investment. A Strategy that commits to delivering 200,000 social and affordable dwellings over the next decade.

‘We need a National Housing Strategy which guides a sustained effort of all levels of government to fix housing affordability, especially for those on low and moderate incomes. Because being able to afford somewhere to live is more important than a generic tax cut,’ Ms Winzar says.

 

Strong economic argument for govt investment in housing

Economist Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ is looking a bit arthritic when it comes to the housing market, according to Professor Duncan McLennan.

At a seminar in Sydney this week, Professor McLennan proposed a strong set of economic arguments for government investment in housing to support the traditional arguments of affordable housing as a merit good which makes a critical social contribution.

Professor McLennan observed that, across the western world, governments had stepped back from investing in affordable housing in the 1980s, following the idea that the market should prevail. It is now abundantly clear that Adam Smith’s theory of the invisible hand of the market would see the self-interested actions of individuals frequently benefiting society more than if actions that were intended to benefit society is not ensuring good outcomes for those on low incomes.

The broader housing market is made up of a mosaic of housing sub-markets that interact in complex ways with the wider economy. In cities like Sydney, the housing market has become so overinflated compared to the wider housing market that government cannot manage it using the usual monetary policy solutions without disrupting the wider economy.

It is surprising how little analysis there has been in Australia of the impact of housing on the economy, he said.  Yet housing represents 20 to 25 per cent of the household budget; it is the most significant asset and major debt of households.

When households spend more and more of their income on housing costs, they divert spending away from consumption of other goods and services and they save less. Productivity is lowered by the long commutes of key workers, congestion in our cities, and the mismatch of jobs and housing.

There is a strong intergenerational impact as well he said.  Children’s educational outcomes are impacted by poor housing and concentration of low income households in more affordable areas, away from job opportunities, compromises the school to work transitions of young people. A new narrative is needed, he argued, which deals with housing as part of a country’s essential infrastructure, not as separate or in opposition to investment in transport or energy, for example.

McLennan’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion involving Jennifer Westacott, CEO of the Business Council of Australia, Emeritus Professor Judith Yates, and Dr Marcus Spiller of SGS Economics.

Ms Westacott  flagged that the Business Council of Australia is keen to work with the sector on housing policy.  She identified that one of the reasons for our housing problem was the failure of planning systems to take a long-term, integrated view of transport housing and other infrastructure.

We need to encourage large scale private sector investment into affordable housing and reform the taxes and charges that distort the housing market. Westacott said it was time to look again at how housing subsidies were delivered into social housing, observing that the situation now might be very different if the Howard government’s 1996 proposals had succeeded (to replace the Commonwealth-state housing agreement funding to the states with  rent assistance).

Innovation in the monolithic public housing system was nigh impossible, Ms Westacott said.

Judith Yates urged the audience not to abandon the social justice narrative in the pursuit of stronger economic arguments for government investment in housing. There is plenty of evidence that growing inequality itself lowers a country’s productivity, she said, but we should not just be concerned about inequality because of its impact on productivity.

Yates asked if we succeed in changing the housing system to increase productivity, how will the benefits of that increase be shared across the community? Looking towards Australia in 2117, she challenged the audience to think more creatively about the housing challenge – should we be building more cities for instance?

Marcus Spiller of SGS Economics challenged the audience to consider why governments had become so deaf to the economic arguments for intervening in the housing market.  Since neither the Federal nor state governments appear able to deal with Australia’s housing challenge, he proposed that a better way to transact housing policies would be to devolve authority for matters such as planning and taxes to the regional level.  Regional, he hastened to add, means metro-wide planning approaches. Spiller also asked the question of who owns the development rights to land – while ownership of the land is clear, surely the development rights belong to all of us.

 

CHIA calls for national housing strategy

CHIA Chair Michael Lennon has told the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) that a national housing strategy is absolutely critical to fix Australia’s social housing shortfall

Michael told the Senate inquiry that halting and reversing the decline of social housing stock over the past 15 years would take a significant commitment from all levels of government and all political parties, over several decades and is unlikely to be achieved without national oversight

The inquiry is investigating the development of an agreement that will replace the existing National Affordable Housing Agreement between the states and the Commonwealth, which has failed to deliver an increase in social housing over the past decade.

The new agreement presents the perfect opportunity for the states and the Commonwealth to collaborate on a National Housing Strategy to guide investment over the longer term, Michael told the inquiry.

‘A National Housing Strategy is one of the missing pieces of the puzzle. If the NHHA legislation requires states and territories to have housing and homelessness strategies, it is entirely appropriate that the Commonwealth also has a National Strategy,’ Michael said.

‘In fact, it makes no sense to plan otherwise.’

Michael also detailed the core elements that needed to be included in state and territory housing strategies, such as specific targets and strategies to improve Indigenous housing outcomes, mechanisms to support the bond aggregator in providing long-term and low cost finance for social housing, and consistent national regulation and standards to be applied equally to community and public housing.

Michael also argued that the states and territories should transfer 50 per cent of public housing dwellings to the community housing sector.

‘Community housing is the only arm of social housing which is growing in size, capacity, and sophistication. Unlike public housing, community housing has a strong track record of leveraging assets to increase the number and quality of social housing dwellings.

‘Expanding the community housing sector also provides healthy competition and promotes choice for tenants.’

Download CHIA’s full submission to the inquiry.

SA public housing sell off

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Concern about the sell off of public housing in South Australia has prompted Shelter SA to create a campaign to stop the sell off and improve the management of public housing….

‘South Australia once had one of the best public housing system in the world.  Over the last 20years we’ve sold off more than 20,000 homes and we’re selling more each year with 660 more properties to be lost this year.

It makes no sense to sell off a publicly-owned asset when homelessness is increasing and other systems are pushed to the limit trying to deal with issues of poverty, unemployment, child protection, mental health and disadvantage.  We understand that the Private Rental Assistance Program is critical for people living on low incomes to enter into the private rental market, providing bond guarantees and sometimes rents.  The cost of funding this program, that is increasingly needed, should be borne across government budget lines and should not be funded by selling off public housing.

Investing in prison beds, health budget blow-outs and new hospitals won’t replace the need for an affordable, safe place to call home, the only foundation upon which people can regain their lives.  We’ve put together a short video to alert South Australians to this situation and we’re asking you to like it and share it to call upon government to change the way they look at providing housing and improve the management of our precious public asset that is public housing.’

To support their campaign, view and like the video.

Video and content courtesy of Shelter SA
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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.

Commonwealth to ‘unlock’ community housing’s potential

The Commonwealth Government wants to ‘unlock the potential of the community housing industry’, according to the Assistant Minister to the Federal Treasurer, Michael Sukkar MP.

Minister Sukkar addressed a well-attended lunchtime forum, organised by CHIA and the Community Housing Federation of Victoria, in Melbourne yesterday, along with Productivity Commissioner Stephen King.

Minister Sukkar told community housing organisations, and stakeholders, ‘There is always going to be a place for state governments’ public housing stock, but increasingly we see the future being community housing providers.’

You can read a media release detailing Minister Sukkar’s very positive comments about community housing by clicking here.

 

What impact will the WA Budget have on community housing?

headshot of WA Treasurer

The WA State budget was handed down in parliament on Thursday by Treasurer, Ben Wyatt.

This year’s budget is, like last year, set against a backdrop of falling State revenue, a budget deficit and increasing public sector debt. State Government forecasts suggest that it believes the worst is over in terms of the post mining boom slump. However, only modest growth is forecast in terms of State final demand, employment and Government revenue. WA’s population growth has slowed sharply since 2014 and low population growth is expected to continue according to the forward estimates.

Download CHIA’s briefing paper on the WA budget.

Focus on NAHA

With house prices — and more recently, rents —  surging in the Eastern State population hubs, it is no surprise that housing affordability has become a key political issue.

The Federal Government has begun to set its mind about how best to ease the pressure on those feeling the negative effects of rising prices, principally aspiring first time buyers, low income renters and the homeless.

Against this backdrop, the performance of the National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA) has come under intense scrutiny and Productivity Commission data released earlier this year provides plenty of evidence that meaningful reform is required. Despite over $9 billion dollars being invested by the Commonwealth since its inception in 2009, NAHA has underperformed against virtually every performance indicator.

In 2016, the number of public housing dwellings in Australia was down more than 16,000 on the 2009 numbers and almost 21,000 less than in 2007.

The number of low income renters in rental stress has risen significantly in some states, with capital cities seeing the steepest rises. Note that this has occurred in tandem with a 20 per cent increase in spending on Commonwealth Rent Assistance since 2012.

Public housing waitlists have grown, not shrunk, and almost 20 per cent of public housing dwellings and 11 per cent of community housing dwellings are not of ‘an acceptable standard’.

There is a silver lining: the community housing industry has doubled in size since 2009 and now manages over 80,000 dwellings nationwide in a system that is considerably more sophisticated and innovative than it was a decade ago. Moreover, homelessness alleviation programs operating with NAHA support have yielded some very positive results in terms of addressing the housing and support needs of those at the sharpest end of the housing continuum.

The Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) believes that measures announced in the May Federal budget show that the Commonwealth is interested in fundamental reform and, hearteningly, that it believes community housing providers have a significant part to play in that reform agenda.

At the same time, the Productivity Commission’s latest draft report Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services contains several game changing suggestions for reform. These include: moving to a single model of financial assistance that would see public housing tenants become eligible for CRA; creating competitive neutrality between all social housing providers including state housing authorities; and, the expansion of tenancy support services to eligible households in the private rental system.

Due to the nature of the scope of the report, however, it is largely silent on how to address perhaps the most fundamental question of all — how to grow the social and affordable housing system.

CHIA and the state-based peak bodies provided a joint response to the draft report in July.

Policy measures in the budget, combined with the work of the Productivity Commission, have set the scene for the reform of the NAHA.  There can be no sacred cows; the case for structural reform regarding how the nation’s social housing system is funded, managed and regulated is irrefutable.

CHIA will continue to argue that a central pillar of reform must be enabling the community housing system to continue its growth trajectory, harnessing its ability to attract private finance, developing new housing stock, providing services that sustain tenancies and creating pathways to the mainstream housing system for tenants capable of making that transition.

Barry Doyle, CHIA Project Director WA

Queensland expands its national influence via CHIA

The community housing sector in Queensland has expanded its influence nationally with a landmark agreement between the state peak body, CHPs for QLD, and the national peak, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA).

The bilateral agreement means that membership of CHPs for QLD will include membership of CHIA, which represents the community housing industry in all states and territories.

Chair of CHPs for QLD, Josephine Ahern, says the agreement will enable Queensland community housing organisations to have input into national policies that impact on their day-to-day activities and lift their ability to expand services to meet the needs of disadvantaged Australians.

‘CHPs for QLD is focused on representing the sector on State issues but Federal issues also impact on our members,’ Ms Ahern says.

‘This agreement with CHIA will provide a forum for our members to have their voices heard, it will enable them to be kept in the loop on Federal matters and they will also be able to access CHIA’s resources.’

CHIA CEO, Peta Winzar, welcomed the agreement formalising the relationship that has been fostered with the Queensland community housing peak.

‘We are keen to get input from CHPs in QLD about national policies and sector-wide matters,’ Ms Winzar says.

‘We want to hear the perspectives of Queensland providers on national matters, be it housing affordability in general, the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, or the impact of climate change on community housing operations. This agreement will open the way for this to happen.’