ACT Government commits to community housing sector growth: An analysis of the ACT budget

The FY20 ACT Government budget makes further commitments to the community housing sector, responding in part to the priority areas put forward by the CHIA ACT Region Committee last October, but the sector continues to wait for past commitments to be implemented.

Identified priority areas that the budget addresses, in part, include:

Large growth in ACT Government’s annual “community housing” targets (minimum of 100), with access to community housing sites by CHPs at a price that enables CHPs to be financially sustainable.

The budget sets a target to release new sites in FY20 to enable CHPs to develop 60 new community housing dwellings. This is an increase on current year commitments to release new sites to enable development of 34 community housing dwellings in FY18 and 20 community housing dwellings in FY19. None of these sites have been made available for CHPs to bid for as yet, and thus the extent of price discounting or other subsidy intended to be provided by the ACT Government is uncertain. CHPs cannot develop and retain community housing dwellings for affordable rent absent a government subsidy.

Inclusionary zoning and other planning incentives for CHPs, or developers in partnership with CHPs e.g. height limits, plot ratio, streamlined approvals, parking

The budget includes a 25% Lease Variation Charge (LVC) remission measure for CHPs to encourage additional affordable rental and purchase opportunities on privately owned land, which has been budgeted to result in a $200,000 annual revenue hit to the ACT Government.

Land tax exemptions for private landlords as well as potential rates concessions conditional upon the management of the properties being outsourced to CHPs for social or affordable rental provision

The budget includes a two year pilot scheme capped at 100 properties to be exempt from land tax, conditional upon the properties being managed by a registered CHP and rented at <75% of market rent to eligible lower income Canberrans. This pilot commenced 1 April 2019 and has been budgeted to result in a $350,000 annual revenue hit to the ACT Government. No rates concessions are provided.

The budget fails to address the other priority area of provision of a rates exemption for CHP-owned social and affordable rental properties, to position CHPs on par with other not-for-profit organisations that provide charitable services other than provision of community housing. Such a measure, if supported by the ACT Government, would save CHPs collectively approximately $1m annually, enabling each to deliver further impact and thus take pressure off ACT Government provided housing and related community services.

In terms of delivering on measures highlighted in the ACT Housing Strategy, the budget does commit to the target of ensuring 15% of all future government land releases are for either public housing, affordable rental housing or affordable purchase opportunities. Disappointingly, the overwhelming weight of properties within the 15% remain on providing affordable purchase opportunities, with less than 10% (less than 1.5% of the total) for affordable rental housing provided by CHPs.

Separate to the above, there are positive measures introduced at the more acute end of the housing spectrum in terms of accommodation and services for the homeless, as well as continued growth of public housing. At the other end of the housing spectrum there are also positive measures in terms of facilitating home ownership for first home buyers.

Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) ACT Region Chair Andrew Hannan says the community housing sector is keen to further engage government as it seeks to implement the measures outlined in the budget and the ACT Housing Strategy, and that the sector would welcome the opportunity to discuss other complementary reforms that may further help lift the supply of affordable housing in a financially sustainable manner. Such measures would enable the government to access the benefits that would flow from leveraging the community housing sector.

‘Canberra is in the midst of a rental affordability crisis, and boasts the highest median rent in the country…with the right ACT Government support the community housing sector has the capacity to more than double its impact over the next 10 years, and through doing so ease the current crisis in which far too many Canberran households are struggling to make ends meet in an overheated private rental market.’

‘Community housing is a proven cost-effective way for State and Territory Governments to deliver affordable housing, but requires an upfront and/or ongoing subsidy to bridge the gap between revenue from the low rent able to be charged to our low-income tenants and the costs of CHPs supplying accommodation,’ Mr Hannan says.

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


CHIA ACT Region Chair Andrew Hannan is available for comment on 0404 861 896.­

Fifth Pacific Urban Forum (PUF5)

The Pacific Urban Forum (PUF) is a regional event that aims to provide a unique and accessible platform for urban stakeholders to debate what creates a sustainable urban future for the region.

The Forum will have a strong focus on arrangements and actions for implementation of the New Urban Agenda and an emphasis on the importance of public, private and civil society cooperation in order to fully achieve the New Urban Agenda.

The Forum also aims to localize and scale up the implementation of the New Urban Agenda as an accelerator to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, highlights adequate housing as first target of the “Urban SDG”:

By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums (SDG 11.1)

The New Urban Agenda is also clear on the right to adequate housing:

  1. We commit ourselves to promoting national, subnational and local housing policies that support the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing for all as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living (NUA);

The Pacific New Urban Agenda lists as the first key action:

Upscaling and embarking on housing and settlement upgrading programmes and improving access to serviced land and housing, including through planned city extensions; building on the approaches developed in the region and global best practices.

There is a Special Session on Affordable Housing in the Pacific which aims to:

  • Provide an update on the discussion on Affordable Housing globally and in the wider region
  • Understand the shared and country specific challenges and issues in providing adequate and affordable housing in the Pacific Region
  • Identify the challenges and opportunities presented by the SDGs and the NUA to mobilise housing solutions at all levels of government and the local/community level
  • Explore models of affordable housing provision, their scalability and replicability in different national contexts
  • Collaboratively develop conclusions and recommendations for inclusion in the Action Plan for the Pacific New Urban Agenda

Representatives from Governments of Fiji and PNG; Un-Habitat, academia from RMIT and Compass Housing will be on this panel.

The Forum will be a good platform for the Australian Housing Sector to have an understanding of the needs, related issues and challenges in providing affordable housing in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  In particularly, understanding the context and operating environment around climate and environmental impact and resilience, Informal settlement and land tenure.  The Forum also provides good opportunity to meet and network with the major Government and NGO stakeholders who are interested to engage in providing affordable housing.

Compass is a member of the Steering Committee to organise the Forum.

Please download the PU5 Concept Note here.

Register for the PUF5 event here. 

For any queries on the PUF5, please email or contact Ben Wong, Manager International & Stakeholder Relations at  or 0438033801.

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.

AHURI publishes new research: homelessness soars in our biggest cities

New research conducted by AHURI, ‘The changing geography of homelessness: a spatial analysis from 2001 to 2016’ has revealed homelessness is continuing to increase in Australia’s major cities.

Almost two thirds of Australians experiencing homelessness are located in the country’s capital cities, with this number continuing to grow in size.

Homelessness on a per capita basis still remains highest in very remote areas, yet these figures are becoming more dispersed nationally and growing in larger cities. Specifically, cities with a shortage of affordable private rental housing and higher median rates are seeing homelessness continue to rise. Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart have the most significant rise in homelessness.

AHURI’s research indicated overcrowding in major cities is directly correlated with weak labour markets and poorer areas with a higher concentration of males. However, these associations do not apply for overcrowding in remote areas.

The study also found that 63 per cent of homelessness is now based in Australia’s capital cities, up from 48 per cent in 2001. While homelessness has been falling in remote and very remote areas, it is still higher in these areas per head of the population.

Shares (%) of homelessness and population by area type

Homelessness is now becoming more dispersed in major cities. There is a decline of homelessness in the CBD and inner areas of Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, yet rates of homelessness in outer urban areas has increased.

Change in homeless rate compared with population growth 2001–2016

The number of households living in severely overcrowded dwellings has doubled in capital cities over the last 15 years, accounting for much of the increase in homelessness overall.

As homelessness across the country continues to rapidly increase, now is the time for governments to increase the supply and size of affordable rental dwellings. Housing affordability is a crucial issue that needs to be combated so all Australians can have a roof over their heads.

View the Executive Summary of AHURI’s report here. 

View AHURI’s Full Report here.

Media Release: Community housing industry association congratulates the re-elected coalition government

The Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) today congratulated the Coalition on being re-elected to govern Australia for the next three years.

“After a hard-fought campaign in which housing featured prominently, CHIA looks forward to working closely with the new Government to address Australia’s far-reaching housing affordability crisis. This critically affects not only aspiring first home owners, but also many low-waged working and vulnerable households doing it tough in often expensive and unsuitable private rental housing,” CHIA Chair Michael Lennon said today.

Mr Lennon acknowledged the work initiated by the last Coalition government’s Affordable Housing Working Group under then-Treasurer Morrison, and which led directly to the creation of the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC). He said ‘the NHFIC has already had an impact by enabling community housing organisations to refinance existing loans, with considerable resulting savings through lower interest charges.’ He also welcomed the Coalition’s election campaign announcement to use NHFIC to administer a government guarantee to support first home buyers.

Wendy Hayhurst, CHIA’s CEO added that the Coalition’s $25M pledge to research housing supply and demand via NHFIC was very much in tune with CHIA’s own proposals as published in the organisation’s 2018 National Housing Plan. She said ‘independently-produced analysis of the housing system augurs well for housing policy achieving more prominence in government decision making that, as essential social and economic infrastructure, it deserves.

UNSW research for the community housing industry and other partners – Strengthening Economic Cases for Housing: the Productivity Gains from Better Housing Outcomes – clearly demonstrates the gains to individuals, communities and the country in constructing well-located affordable housing. Ms Hayhurst said “the research demonstrates that the productivity ‘return’ from investing in affordable housing for those many households in rental stress can easily exceed the cost to government.”

CHIA also welcomes the creation of a dedicated Housing Minister, the Hon. Michael Sukkar, and an assistant minister for Community Housing and Homelessness, Luke Howarth MP. This week we have also seen the appointment of Jason Clare MP, Labor’s Shadow Housing and Homelessness spokesperson.


Contact: Wendy Hayhurst 0421 046 832

CHIA WA Press Release – Morrison Govt needs to make social and affordable rental housing its key housing priority

Morrison Government needs to make social and affordable rental housing its key housing priority

Jennie Vartan, State Manager for the Community Housing Industry Association WA, the peak industry body for community housing providers in WA, today congratulated Scott Morrison and his parliamentary team on winning Saturday’s general election and urged them to remember the importance of affordable housing rental supply as it prepares to serve another term of Government.

“The Liberal party’s pre-election pledges focussed predominantly on assisting first time buyers into home ownership. While helping people into home ownership is a laudable aim, the most pressing issue is ensuring the nation’s stock of social and affordable rental housing continues to increase. When it comes to housing need no one is doing it tougher than low income renters, for whom home ownership is often unachievable, said Ms. Vartan.

“The previous Government should be applauded for the establishment of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC). NHFIC will play a vital role in the years ahead in providing development finance to community housing providers looking to build new housing for people in need. However, it is only one part of the solution. More needs to be done if we are to address the growing social and affordable housing deficit, continued Ms. Vartan

“The simple truth is that the Federal government investment in social and affordable housing is insufficient and needs to increase. Institutional, policy, and regulatory reform are also an important part of the overall solution as set out in CHIA’s National Housing Plan, said Ms. Vartan.

“CHIA WA members look forward to working with Mr. Morrison and his team on the pressing housing issues affecting all of us and wish them well as they commence the new term of Government” concluded Ms. Vartan.

For further information, please contact Jennie Vartan, CHIA WA State Manager on 0409 889 437

The Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) is the peak industry body for the Australian community housing industry, which provides one in five of Australia’s social housing properties, complementing public housing.

Community housing providers manage a $30 billion-plus portfolio of more than 80,000 rental properties, which are home to people who are on low and moderate incomes who find it hard to access affordable or appropriate housing in the private market.

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.

Joint Media Release: Community groups condemn mock rent increase notices and negative gearing scare tactics

Housing, homelessness and community peaks today condemned the use of mock rent increase notices as election material, which target people already living in rental stress.

The groups said that mock notices distributed to renters by the LNP are grossly misleading and likely to cause unnecessary anxiety amongst vulnerable renters.

ACOSS, National Shelter, the National Association of Tenant Orgnisations, Homelessness Australia and the Community Housing Industry Association after calling for an end to scare tactics around negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions.

“We strongly condemn the use of mock rent increase notices which target people who already live in rental stress. Renters in Australia already face some of the weakest regulatory protections, from which landlords currently benefit. Many tenants have faced repeated rent hikes which cause deep financial stress,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

The Chair of the National Association of Tenants Organisations, Penny Carr, said:

“This kind of political tactic is irresponsible and deliberately designed to alarm renters, including many who are already deeply concerned about paying the rent every week or in fear of unfair evictions by their landlord.”

Shelter CEO Adrian Pisarski said the current tax concessions for housing investors have driven up house prices and rents and should be wound back.

“We have together advocated for reforms to housing tax concessions for more than a decade. These concessions overwhelmingly benefit higher income households, do nothing to increase the supply of housing and are unsustainable,” said Mr Pisarski.

“There is no evidence to suggest that rents would increase as a result of Labor’s proposed reforms. To the contrary, these changes are likely to reduce pressure on the housing market, improving affordability for both buyers and renters.

“Labor’s proposal will not apply to properties that are currently negatively geared, so existing investors will not be affected. Instead of scare campaigns we need to pursue a sensible reset of these concessions so that our housing system works for everyone.”

CEO of the Community Housing Industry Association, Wendy Hayhurst, said the property and real estate industries were lone voices in their opposition to reforming investor tax breaks.

“Two thirds of voters support government investment in social and affordable housing over negative gearing tax breaks for property investors,” Ms Hayhurst said.

“We need proper bipartisan support for policies that will address all pressure points in our housing system.”

Homeless Australia Chair Jenny Smith said that the campaign scare tactics would instil fear in people at risk of homelessness.

“The major parties should be offering hope to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in this Election, not creating fear. That means putting homes ahead of investment portfolios, making renting fairer for tenants, investing in more social and affordable housing for the 811,000 households struggling in the private rental market, and developing a national plan to end homelessness in Australia.”

“We appeal to all political parties and candidates in the last days of the Election campaign not to exploit the fears of vulnerable people with misleading scare tactics.”


ACOSS: 0419 626 155

National Shelter: 0417 975 270

Community Housing Industry Association: 0421 046 832

National Association of Tenant Organisations: 0418 747 921

Homelessness Australia: 0435 966 251


Helping rough sleepers find a home in Geelong

Minister for Housing Richard Wynne announced today a $17 million housing package for Geelong; as part of the Victorian Government’s $45 million Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan.

The new plan will be implemented across Geelong to help those sleeping rough find a secure home, and includes 20 new modular homes to be built in areas of high need. The homes will cater to people with complex needs who have been sleeping rough for an extended period and will also have intensive onsite support.

Teams of outreach workers will parol the homeless hot spots in the streets of Geelong as part of the rough sleepers’ package initiated by the Andrews Government. The program seeks to support vulnerable Victorians through providing them with tailored and targeted support. Outreach workers will help direct rough sleepers to emergency accommodation and ongoing support.

“We’re taking targeted support directly to rough sleepers to break the cycle of homelessness for vulnerable Victorians and help them get back on their feet,” Minister for Housing Richard Wynne said.

Labor’s Housing and Homelessness Package will seek to combat homelessness through:

  • Outreach teams in Bendigo, Maroondah, Warrnambool, Swan Hill, Frankston, Dandenong and Geelong.
  • Supportive housing teams in Frankston, inner Melbourne, Geelong and Dandenong.
  • Modular housing support in Bacchus Marsh, Geelong (Norlane) and Dandenong.

Sacred Heart Mission, Uniting Ballarat, Brophy Family and Youth Services, Haven Home Safe, Neami Ltd, Wellways and Launch Housing are partnering with the Government as part of the program.

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.