Media Release: THINK TANK CLAIMS ON HOUSING REJECTED

The Community Housing Industry Association today rejected claims by two think tanks that reforming state government taxes and charges, planning laws, and delivering rental subsidies to renters would be enough to solve the problem of rental affordability.

“While we agree that state and territory governments must do more to address supply restrictions, simply increasing the overall stock of housing will not be enough to ensure housing is affordable for those on low and moderate incomes,” CHIA CEO Peta Winzar said.

“Over the past decade, more and more households on higher incomes have joined the rental market. They squeeze out those on lower incomes looking for affordable places to rent.  Even as we build another 180,000 homes each year, the supply of affordable rental dwellings for lower income households continues to fall.

“It is disappointing to see how ill-informed many of the critics of National Rental Affordability Scheme are,” she said.

Commenting on suggestions by John Daley of the Grattan Institute that the flat-rate NRAS subsidy has resulted in a preponderance of studios and small apartments in cheaper locations, Peta Winzar said Daley was talking through his hat.

“Just 37 per cent of NRAS dwellings are studios or one-bedroom units, she pointed out. “and two-thirds of NRAS dwellings are in capital cities. This suggests NRAS investors weigh up both the long-term value of their investment as well as the recurrent subsidy”.

“Nor is the overall profile of NRAS dwellings inappropriate,” she said, “Far from it. Over half the low-income renters receiving Commonwealth Rent Assistance are single people without children for whom studio and one-bedroom apartments are very suitable.”

“Daley’s suggestion that the NRAS is ‘pretty poor value’ is a view that would be highly contested by 34,000 NRAS households. The NRAS is not perfect, but it does aim to ensure that the additional housing supply is directed to those on lower incomes.

Ms Winzar also rejected suggestions from the Centre for Independent Studies that if the Commonwealth Rent Assistance program wasn’t working it should be cut.

“The rent assistance program is critical in improving rental affordability for 1.3 million low income renting households,” she said.

“Rather than cutting this program, we suggest it is well overdue for a make-over. Designed in the mid-1980s, this program has failed to keep up with the increases in rents and the changing demographics of Australian households. Even with Rent Assistance, two in every five recipients pays more than 30 per cent of their income in rent. Almost half the 900,000 low income households renting in the private market in our capital cities are in rental stress.

So what can be done?

“The Community Housing Industry Association believes Australia’s rental affordability problem most certainly can be solved,” Peta Winzar said.

“We need a long-term national plan to deliver enough housing to meet the needs of all of us – renters and home buyers on low and moderate incomes. Our housing market needs to be efficient – and that means reforming Federal as well as state taxes, charges and planning systems. We need a diverse housing profile that better matches the needs of our population. We need the contribution of all levels of government, the private sector and the community housing industry. It needs the thoughtful, informed contributions of our think tanks. And yes, it needs programs like NRAS that explicitly focus on increasing supply of affordable rental housing for people on low and moderate incomes.”

Senate committee rejects opportunity to pilot measures to Help renters with energy costs

Disappointed, but not surprised.

That was CHIA CEO Peta Winzar‘s response to advice that the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee had rejected a Bill to pilot a scheme to improve the energy security of low income renters.

‘The evidence put to the Committee about the poor thermal qualities of rental housing was compelling’ she said:

  • in the ACT 43 per cent of rental properties have a 0-star rating,
  • In South Australia, less than four per cent of renters live in homes with solar panels,
  • In Victoria, 58 per cent of private renters and 55 per cent of public renters live in a house with ceiling insulation, compared to 95 per cent of home owners/buyers, and
  • in Queensland, 40 per cent of renters live in properties with insulation compared to 80 per cent of owner occupiers.

The Bill proposed by Senator Storer envisaged a three-year pilot program offering up to $2,000 to landlords, including community housing landlords, to improve energy efficiency of buildings and appliances. The Committee acknowledged that many Australian households struggle with high energy bills and that improved energy efficiency will result in lower energy bills and improved health and wellbeing of tenants.  However, it recommended that the Bill not be passed, suggesting that further consultation into this ‘complex policy area’ was needed.

While describing the energy efficiency of rental properties as seriously inadequate, the committee noted several concerns raised in Submissions: that better energy efficiency might lead to higher rents, that the $300 weekly rental threshold proposed would exclude many renters, and the maximum incentive of $2,000 per year may be too low to fund many improvements and would have a low take up by landlords.

‘CHIA will take this issue up with both the Government and the Opposition, she said, pointing out that channelling these funds through community housing operators would be an effective way to address each of these concerns.

‘Income-linked rents in community housing avoids the problem that energy efficiency investments could lead to rent increases. The $300 pw rent threshold is certainly low, but most community housing tenants fall under this threshold –  and it is these lowest income households who have most difficulty with energy bills.

‘And I can guarantee that community housing providers would snap up the opportunity to improve energy security for their low income tenants, she said.

Find the committee’s report here.

and Senator Storer’s media release here.

Australia Day awards for people in housing

The Australia Day awards list has showcased the enormous contribution of many individuals in the community housing sector. CHIA congratulates the eleven awardees for their valuable contributions to community housing and thanks them for their service.

Peter Allen from Balwyn, VIC is currently on the board of Servants Housing, and was awarded an Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the community through a range of organisations.

Graeme Brady, was a board member of Rockhampton and Environs Affordable Community Housing Ltd from 2008 to 2016. From Frenchville, QLD, Mr Brady was awarded an OAM for his service to the community of Rockhampton.

Raymond Brown from Dalby, QLD was the inaugural chair of Western Downs Housing Trust in 2012. His OAM was awarded to him for his service to local government, and to the community.

Ross Cooke from Malvern East, VIC received an OAM for his contribution to community health. He was a board member for Wintringham (and Wintringham Housing) from 1998 to 2015, and was the president of Wintringham in 2006.

Jim Couper from Mt Rankin, NSW is one of Bathurst’s recipients of the OAM. Mr Couper served as the chair of Housing Plus Ltd from 2009 to 2018, and was previously the president and chair of the Central Tablelands Housing Association in Orange from 2009 to 2011. He says he is “thrilled and humbled to be receiving an OAM.”

Elizabeth Hopwood from Orange, NSW is a former board member for Housing Plus Ltd and is currently a chairperson and volunteer coordinator for Food Care Orange. She received an OAM for her service to the community through social welfare organisations.

John Kenny from Forestville, SA has served as the chairman of the Frederic Ozanam Housing Association since 2012. His OAM was awarded for his service to the community.

Diane Kerr from Moorabbin, VIC is the former director of the Narragol Housing Co-Operative. She received the award for her service to the Indigenous community of Victoria.

Terrence Luthy from Birkdale, QLD was a board member of Wynumm Manly Housing Co-Operative from 2005 to 2007. He was awarded an OAM for his service to the community.

William Risk from South Port, NT is the director of the Indigenous Housing Association. The OAM was awarded to him for his service to the Indigenous Community in the Northern Territory.

John Stone, the chair of North Coast Community Housing from 2005 to 2017, was awarded an OAM for his service to the community of Grafton, NSW.

We congratulate all the awardees for their tremendous service in helping the community. CHIA encourages people to think about who to nominate for their respective organisations. Nominations can be made here. A full honours list of awardees can be downloaded here.

Quick Guide to ROGS 2019 Report on Social Housing

Total Commonwealth, state and territory outlays

Commonwealth expenditure on CRA ($4,438.8m) and NHHA (2003.8m) totalled $6,442.6m. Commonwealth expenditure under the NHHA in 2017-18 increased by $280.9 (16.3%) almost of all of which is explained by an additional $225.4m on Remote Indigenous housing.

State and territory outlays totalled $5,595.7m.[1] State expenditure on social housing per capita varied from $82.94 in Victoria to $638.97 in the NT. Victoria’s per capita spend is now less than half the national average of $166.93 per head of population.

State and territory governments reported transferring (management of) $1,375.4m of public housing stock to the community housing sector in 2017-18. Most of this was in SA where the transferred stock was valued at $1,079.1m.

All social housing

Over the past decade, the number of social housing dwellings has increased by 29,930 or 7.4% – well below population growth of 11% over the same period.

Public housing and state owned and managed Indigenous housing dwelling stock has fallen by 20,233 over the decade, to 330,917 in 2018. At the same time as public housing has retracted, the community housing portfolio, including Indigenous community housing, has expanded by 44,348 dwellings to 103,849.  Community housing now represents 23.9% of all social housing dwellings nationally.

 

 

Community housing

The latest Report on Government Services 2019 confirms another year of steady growth for the community housing sector.

Mainstream community housing

At 30 June 2018, mainstream community housing organisations owned or managed 87,819 dwellings, up 4,917 (5.6%) on the previous year. Mainstream community housing dwelling portfolios rose in all jurisdictions except Queensland (down 396 dwellings, or -3.4%), Tasmania (down 135, or -2.2%) and NT (down 11 or 14.9%). Most of the increase was in SA (4,077) reflecting a substantial public housing stock transfer in that state, topped up by growth in NSW (up 947 dwellings, or 2.8%) and WA (215, or 2.7%). Growth in the Victorian community housing sector was disappointing, at just 125 dwellings (0.2%) over the previous year

Further sector consolidation saw the number of mainstream community housing providers fall by 66 (10.7%) from the previous year to 552.  Provider numbers fell in all jurisdictions except WA, ACT and Tasmania. Most of the reduction occurred in Queensland (down 50 providers to 143) where a number of organisations were identified as no longer providing social housing, and several other (small) providers merged in 2017-18. [2]

Indigenous community housing

Dwellings held by Indigenous community housing organisations rose by 3.7% (569 dwellings) to 16,030 in June 2018. Increases in NSW (366), NT (322) Qld (78) and SA (43) were offset by loss of dwellings in Victoria (219) and WA (21).

Waiting list pressures

Waiting list pressure on community housing is growing, up from 38,776 on the waiting list in 2017 to 43,844 in June 2018. Even discounting the increase in the waiting list in SA following transfer of public housing stock, the national wait list for community housing grew by 7.8% (3,007 extra).

The number of new applicants on the wait list for community housing who were in greatest need sky-rocketed by 46% between 2017 (17,315) to 2018 (25,265).

The wait list for public housing fell from 142,490 in 2017 to 140, 578 in 2018. New applicants in greatest need on the public housing waitlist grew by 20% (up 7,798), driven mainly by a 6,933 (58%) increase in public housing applicants in greatest need in Victoria.

Rental stress among private renters

The number of CRA receipts fell by 32,245 between 2017 and 2018 to 1.311m people. Falls were reported in all jurisdictions except WA and SA (which had marginal increase of 0.2%).

CRA outlays fell by $100m to $4,438.8m. Even after CRA, 40.3% of recipients paid more than 30% of their income in rent and 12.5% paid more than half their income in rent in June 2018. Almost one in four CRA recipients under the age of 25 paid more than half their income in rent.

Comparative performance across sub-sectors

Public housing Mainstream CHO Indigenous CHO* State-owned & managed Indigenous housing
Occupancy rates

[Table 18A. ]

97% 95.1% 93% 95.3%
Turnaraound times for vacant stock 25.2 – 88.2 days

(varies across jurisdictions, NT highest)

27.9 – 38.1 days
Waiting lists

[Tables 18A.5 to 7]

140,587 43,844 10,793
Greatest need as % of all new allocations 76.3% 81.8% 63.1%
New tenancies allocated to households with special needs

 

60.7% 55% 43.2%
Low income as a % of all households

 

98.5 94.2% 97.6%
% of households that are low income

[Table 18A.21]

98.5% 94.2% 97.6%
% of low income households paying <20% of income in rent

[Table 18A.22 to 24]

11.1%

(57.4% in NT and 25.1% in ACT pay <20% of income in rent)

19.8%

(34.2% in Tas and 31.9% in ACT pay less than 20% of income in rent)

30.4%

 

% of low income households paying >25% and <30% % of income on rent

[Table 18A.22 to 24]

2.1% 13.9% 0.6%
% of low income households paying > 30% of income on rent

[Table 18A.22 to 24]

0.5% 7.6% 0.2%
Overcrowded

[Tables 18A.25 to 28]

3.8% 4.3% 3.5% – 32%* 24.2%
Under utilisation

[Table 18A.32]

16.9% 10.3% 26.4%
Dwelling condition: 4 working facilities and not> 2 structural issues

[Tables 18A.3 to-38]

80.3% 87% 71.4%** 73.2%
Customer satisfaction – satisfied or very satisfied

[Tables 18A.40 to42]

74.1% 79.9% 66.2%
Cost per dwelling (excl capital)

[Tables 18A.43 to 45]

$9,448 pa $10,905 pa* $10,373* $13,055 pa
Cost per dwelling (inc capital)

[Tables 18A.43 to 45]

$38,667 pa $46,235 pa

*data is 2016-17                            ** data is 2014-15                        *** transfer of 4,000 properties to the CH sector in SA skews data

[1] Report on Government Services 2018, Table 18A.1

[2] Data on ICHO numbers is not included in the 2019 ROGS.

WENDY HAYHURST APPOINTED NEW CHIA CEO

CHIA is pleased to announce that Wendy Hayhurst will take up the position of Chief Executive Officer of the community housing industry’s national peak body at the end of February 2019.

CHIA Chair Michael Lennon said CHIA is thrilled to have Wendy on board. “Wendy has a deep knowledge of community housing in Australia and overseas and will be a great asset to CHIA as we move into the next exciting phase of expansion of the industry.”

“We have been very impressed with the impact Wendy has had over the past three years in her role as CEO of CHIA NSW (formerly the New South Wales Federation of Housing Associations). We are looking forward to using her experience to expand our suite of member services and industry support for smaller and larger housing providers across the country. She is an excellent choice to take CHIA and the community housing industry forward on the next phase of our journey.”

John McKenna, Chair of CHIA NSW agreed with Lennon’s assessment, saying that he and the NSW Board are very sorry to lose Wendy, but recognise the impact she can make on the national stage.

“Wendy brought new skills and resources to our team at CHIA NSW,” McKenna said. “She has been very successful in raising the profile of community housing in this state and forged valuable links across government and industry. She will be hard to replace, but I know her future work with CHIA national will continue to benefit community housing providers in New South Wales.”

Immediately before taking up the role as the CEO of CHIA NSW, Ms Hayhurst was the Manager (Regulation) for the Registrar of Community Housing in NSW. Her extensive housing experience ranges from front-line housing management services, to Head of Housing at East Lothian Council in the UK and Regulation Manager at the Scottish Housing Regulator. She has also held senior roles in UK housing consultancy services working on policy and capacity building for a range of clients.

With Ms Hayhurst’s appointment, CHIA’s national office will relocate from Melbourne to Canberra.

Anglicare to develop Coca-Cola site into affordable housing

A section of the recently-closed Coca-Cola Amatil manufacturing site in Thebarton will be transformed into social and affordable housing for people on low-incomes, InDaily can reveal.

The ageing Thebarton line produced its final bottle of Coke last week, ending 66 years of local production.

The 2.5ha Port Road site had been valued at almost $17 million in February last year when it was rezoned to allow for residential development of up to eight stories.

Anglicare SA CEO Peter Sandeman told InDaily this morning that his organisation had this week purchased a 9,500m2 portion of the site for an undisclosed sum to build its third housing and services hub in metropolitan Adelaide.

The purchased site, approximately two-blocks in size immediately south of the bottling plant, will be developed into multi-storey affordable and social housing, an Anglicare services centre and a space for “back-room administration”. It will complement Anglicare’s two existing services hubs, located in Elizabeth and Noarlunga.

Coca-Cola Amatil had formerly used the site as a storage space and car park.

Sandeman said it was “enormously rare” to secure a plot of land so close to the city and he was “quite confident” that construction would begin in six months, with the build expected to be completed by about 2020-21.

“I suspect Anglicare will be the first to develop on the site so we will have to use due-care in making sure the design is appropriate and sets, I hope, a high standard of what will be developed along that stretch of Port Road in the future,” he said.

Read more here….

Nathan Dal Bon new CEO for NHFIC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHIA chairman Michael Lennon congratulated Nathan Dal Bon on his official appointment as the new CEO for the National Housing Finance and Investment Cooperation (NHFIC).

Dal Bon has been the Principal Adviser for the Australian Treasury and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. He has also worked as the Head of the Economic Advisory Group at the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

Lennon said that the community housing industry had been very impressed with the open and consultative approach Dal Bon had taken to the design and roll out of the NHFIC. We are very pleased to have the opportunity to continue working with Dal Bon and the NHFIC board over the coming years. This is a very exciting time for the community housing sector.

Sarah Henderson MP

New Housing Minister introduced to our sector

In her introductory meeting with the new Federal Minister for Disability and Housing, Sarah Henderson MP, CHIA’s Executive Director outlined the sector’s ambition to become the housing provider of choice for renters on low and moderate incomes by the end of the next decade.

Community housing now represents 3.3 per cent of all rental housing, Peta Winzar explained. The sector aims to triple in size to around 300,000 social and affordable rentals by 2028. The primary objective is to offer more choice to tenants. And, at 10 per cent of the rental market, the community housing sector would also be well-positioned to drive improvements across the broader rental market.

Review of National Regulatory System well overdue

At last week’s forum of state-based registrars of community housing, state housing policy agencies and community housing peaks, CHIA Executive Director Peta Winzar pressed the point with housing policy agencies that the long delay in kicking off the review of the National Regulatory System for Community Housing was extremely frustrating for the sector.

We know that the registrars and housing policy agencies have been working on an evaluation of the NRSCH since at least April 2017. Yet, over 18 months later, we are still to see the final Terms of Reference for this review.

The review is important for several reasons. A central objective of the NRSCH is to support the growth and development of the community housing sector. It must be able to do this and effectively support the NHFIC and the Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator to avoid creating any unnecessary additional regulatory burden on providers. (Reducing the regulatory burden on CHPs working across different states and territories is another core objective of the NRSCH.)

Community housing peaks have been providing feedback on the NRSCH through the Regulatory Advisory Group Forum over the past two years, but this NRSCH Review would give CHPs the opportunity to provide direct feedback on whether the NRSCH is meeting these objectives and make suggestions for improvement.

Both Western Australia and Victoria have flagged that they will consider joining the NRSCH once this review is complete, but that won’t happen until the end of 2019. So the earliest date from which we will have a national system of community housing regulation in Australia is 2010 – and more probably, not until 2021.

Other matters canvassed at the Regulatory Forum included the Evidence Guidelines for Tier 3 providers, the Community housing Standards and improving transparency and accountability of regulatory decisions. The NRSCH will also release a comprehensive annual report on regulatory activity and outcomes later this year.

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.’