WA’s Aged Pension Recipients may be ineligible for social housing by next year


Recipients of the Age Pension as their primary source of income may be ineligible for social housing by 2020 unless the State Government updates its eligibility rules according to Jennie Vartan, State Manager for the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) in WA, the industry body for community housing providers in the State.

“Income and asset eligibility limits for social housing have not changed since 2006. That means that 13 years of income inflation has been ignored by the State Government in terms of assessing eligibility for social housing. The Age pension has increased by an average of 4.9% per annum since 2005 whereas the eligibility threshold for a single person has remained static at $430.00 per week. The current basic rate for a single aged pensioner is $421.80 per week, meaning that by next year we could have the farcical situation where people on an Age Pension would be considered ‘over income’ and thus ineligible for social housing” said Ms. Vartan

“Already, the failure of the State Government to index the eligibility thresholds against increases in statutory payments and incomes (which, themselves, reflect increases in the cost of living) mean that people in housing stress who would have been eligible for social housing five or ten years ago are being turned away. In addition, clear workforce disincentives are being created as even modest increases in income can result in social housing tenants becoming ineligible. As such, the social housing waitlist can no longer be said to be an accurate measure of either demand for social housing demand in WA or housing stress among low income households.” said Ms. Vartan

“This is not the first time that CHIA WA has sought Government action on this issue. In fact, in 2016 we made reforming and updating the eligibility thresholds a key policy recommendation in our pre- State election policy platform. The fact that three years have passed and the issue has still not been dealt with is not acceptable.” concluded Ms Vartan.

ENDS- For further information, please contact Jennie Vartan, CHIA WA State Manager on 0409889437

Please find attached to this release a copy of  West Australian Housing Policy Where to from here

Less than 7% of WA State Government’s 35,000 new affordable housing opportunities by 2020 will be social housing


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Jennie Vartan, State Manager for the Community Housing Industry Association WA, the peak industry body for community housing providers in WA, today warned that successive State Government’s affordable housing strategies have fallen worryingly short in terms of social housing delivery. Ms. Vartan is today launching a new CHIA WA publication, ‘West Australian Housing Policy: Where to from here?’ which analyses State policy during the last decade and suggests a new approach.

“There has been almost a decade of bipartisan political support for an affordable housing strategy which has put affordable home ownership initiatives like Keystart front and centre while failing to address how to grow and develop the social housing system. This is problematic for several reasons but the most important one is that social housing is the area where community need is greatest with State and Federal Government’s bearing ultimate responsibility for ensuring that there is enough housing stock to prevent households at the margins falling into homelessness.” said Ms. Vartan.

“Since 2011, the social housing system has only increased in size by 2,241 dwellings with much of that increase attributable to the one-off State and Federal social housing stimulus undertaken in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. In 2020, a decade of affordable housing policy in WA will have produced less than 7% of the headline affordable housing target of 35,000 dwellings. There are certainly funding constraints but the failure of successive State Governments to harness the growth building capacity of the State’s community housing sector – in contrast to the approach in other states – significantly detracts from progress made in other areas” continued Ms. Vartan.

“CHIA WA understands that the State Government is currently developing an affordable housing strategy for the next decade, 2020 to 2030. The publication we are launching today contains recommendations and advice regarding how the State Government ought to refine and improve its approach. Central to that approach must be that any newly constructed public housing properties are transferred to community housing providers who have the wherewithal to leverage those properties and build more for people in need. Housing academics have been relentless in their warnings that social housing stock levels are dangerously low nationwide. In the face of rising demand as the population grows and ages, it is time that the WA State Government develops a singular focus on addressing that problem” said Ms. Vartan.

Quick Facts:
1. Public housing numbers have decreased by 547 dwellings from June 2011 to June 2018.
2. Community housing numbers have increased by 2,788 dwellings from 5,274 in June 2011 to 8,062 in June 2018.
3. Total social housing numbers (sum of public and community) have risen by 2,241 since June 2011.
4. Between 2010 and 2017, 2,020 public housing dwellings were either sold or demolished by the State Government.
5. In 1991, 7.1% of all dwellings in Australia were in the social and affordable housing system compared to 4.4% today.
6. The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) estimate that the WA social housing system will need to grow to 86,500 homes by 2036 to meet total need. To achieve that target the social housing system will have to retain the stock it already has and increase in size by over 2,500 dwellings a year to 2036.

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

Successful NRSCH registration for the first Sydney Metropolitan Aboriginal Housing Corporation

NAIDOC Week in Sydney also showcased the historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation and Hume Community Housing. This significant event in the changing landscape for registered Aboriginal community housing providers in Metropolitan Sydney and NSW followed the successful registration of Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation under the National Regulatory System on 14 June 2019 as a tier 3 provider.

The Aboriginal housing organisation is based in south west Sydney and is part of the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation which includes the highly regarded Tharawal Corporation Aboriginal Medical Services. Tharawal has been operating for 30 years, providing specialist health care and well-being services and homeless and transitional housing support for its community. In 2019 the National Close the Gap Day was held at Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation in partnership with South Western Sydney health.

Tharawal Housing’s Chief Executive, Darryl Wright, has worked with the Corporation for 16 years and in 2018 was awarded the Order of Australia to acknowledge him as an outstanding member of the Macarthur community, the Indigenous community and the Australian community. Alison Croall, General Manager and Karen Fischer, Housing and Compliance Manager complete the highly skilled and experienced executive team at Tharawal Housing Aboriginal Corporation.

Tharawal will work closely with the Aboriginal Housing Office to secure transfers of properties whose tenure is up for renewal. Tharawal’s strategic alliance with Hume Community Housing is principally to provide outsourced maintenance services and has been supported through registration by John Stott of the Housing Action Network.

Not-for-profit Community Housing Providers could inject some oomph into the Build to Rent model

The Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) today welcomed the publication of Build-to-Rent in Australia: Product feasibility and potential affordable housing contribution, a report prepared for the NSW Government by UNSW City Futures and Macquarie University.


After considerable debate and discussion about, but not much action taken on the build to rent model, this report gets to the guts of what needs to be done to make the model fly.

Wendy Hayhurst, CEO at CHIA, the peak body for Australia’s not-for-profit community housing industry, said “While the Government’s commitment to helping people make the step into home ownership is a positive, there are many hard working, lower paid Australians for whom this remains a longer term dream, so more high quality secure and affordable rental accommodation is very much needed.”

The report is positive about the benefits to be gained from a thriving build to rent sector – its contribution to housing diversity, the likelihood that construction standards will be driven upwards and its potential to counter the troughs in the market. It also makes clear what needs to be done if both ‘market’ build to rent and more importantly an affordable rental component are to be secured. As well as levelling the playing field with other ‘market players’ on ‘development taxes and ongoing levies’, to get the all-important affordable element, governments need to provide some additional support.

Critically, the report also demonstrates the advantage of using not-for-profit community housing providers to deliver the housing.

John Nicolades, CEO of Bridge Housing which operates across Sydney explained why. “As charitable entities we benefit from tax concessions which reduce our development costs. We also don’t need to take money out of our business to pay shareholders. So if we developed a build to rent block with both market and affordable rental homes we could use the profit from the market rented properties to help fund the affordable homes.”

Andrew Hannan, CEO at CHC, the largest community housing provider in the ACT and one of the major not-for-profit developers in the industry, added “The report also demonstrates the difference discounted land could make to project viability, a point we make in CHIA’s National Plan for Affordable Housing. Our industry was very pleased that the Housing Minister Michael Sukkar in one of his first statements recognised that government land contributions could help us secure affordable housing.”

With the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC) also providing low cost, long term loans to community housing providers, supporting CHPs to deliver build to rent must be a no-brainer.

Contact: Wendy Hayhurst 0421 046 832

NHFIC Capacity Building Program Consultant Panel Goes Live

Following lively briefings in five state and territory capitals cities the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) today takes the next step to enable the professional advisory service grants program to go live, by publishing the list of consultants approved for panel membership.
We received tremendous interest from a wide range of organisations – large and small and from across the country. What they all share is a track record of successful project delivery, knowledge about the community housing industry, demonstrable value for money and skills and expertise in at least one of the following – financial planning, risk management, business planning and development services.

James Kennedy, Senior Director, Strategic Consulting at JLL is one of the successful panellists and said, ‘JLL is excited to deliver professional property services to CHIA, NHFIC and the community housing sector in this crucial initiative. JLL has the depth and breadth of expertise in social and community housing, coupled with a leading position supporting financial institutions’ credit and risk deliberations, to drive tangible results for the sector.’

Over at BlueCHP another panellist Charles Northcote was also enthusiastic ‘ BlueCHP is excited for the opportunity to assist CHPs navigate and access the NHFIC. As we are currently benefiting from savings of a million dollars per annum having secured NHFIC finance of $70m, BlueCHP is well positioned to assist CHPs through this process by providing Finance, Business Planning and Property Development consultancy services to achieve NHFIC funding. BlueCHP applauds the NHFIC and CHIA teams for this initiative and looks forward to assisting CHP’s increase housing services and develop much-needed housing.”

Grants will be available to smaller registered community housing organisations (registered as tier 2 or 3 in the National Regulatory System and in WA or housing providers in Victoria) that are referred to CHIA by NHFIC. The grants will cover assistance to the CHOs in one or more of the areas mentioned earlier.

The next and final step is opening for business which we anticipate is days away.

List of Consultants
A K Advisory
Affordable Housing Management Fund
Caldrex Capital
Capetal Advisory
Carrie Hamilton
Dentons Australia
Development Projects
E3 Advisory
Ernst & Young
Grant Thornton
HillPDA Consulting
Hornsby & Co.
Jones Lang La Salle
KW Consulting Group
Mihno Group
Morrison Low
Nexia Edwards Marshall
Nous Group
Opteon Solutions
Q Shelter
Questus Funds Management
Quintessential Finance
RAW Business Advisory
Social Ventures Australia
Societel Consulting
Solute Consulting
Sphere Company
Strategic Small Business Solutions

Please visit our website for more information and updates


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 benw@compasshousing.org  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