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.’

Interested in becoming a registered NT provider?

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

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

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

The information session will cover:

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

Sessions will be held as follows:

Darwin Thursday 22 November 2018

Alice Springs Friday 30 November 2018

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

If you are a community housing provider and interested in attending one of these sessions, please email NRSCH.DHCD@nt.gov.au by 16 November 2018.

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

NHFIC progress report for Queensland CHPs

CHIA QLD, in partnership with Grant Thornton & the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation (NHFIC), is holding a pre-AGM event: ‘NHFIC – a progress report for Queensland CHPs’, with a presentation by the NHFIC Chief of Staff, David Crawford.

The event will be held on Thursday, November 22 from 9.30am to 11.30am, and will be followed by CHIA Qld’s AGM.

It will be held at Grant Thornton, Level 18/145 Ann Street, Brisbane. Registration is essential, please RSVP to Jo Ahern by email  or call 0475 620 497 before noon on November 20.

NHFIC Chair, Brendan Crotty’s presentation to WA Community Housing Providers

27 August 2018
CHIA WA State Manager, Jennie Vartan’s, key take-outs from the presentation

The Vision
• That Community Housing Providers (CHPs), enabled by NHFIC finance, can generate growth in social/affordable housing supply

• Increasing co-operation between the private sector and CHPs – a catalyst for developers and CHPs to work together

The Intent

• To assist CHPs to expand their portfolios through loans with longer terms and lower interest rates

• To measurably increase social/affordable housing

• To improve the financial strength of the CHP sector

• The infrastructure funding will bring forward greenfield and brownfield residential land by addressing the issue that banks are not keen to lend on infrastructure

The Next Few Months’ Work

• Building relationships with CHPs
• Aim to lend $150-250m over 12 months
• Work with the States and service industries to lend $100-200m in infrastructure loans
• Developing good relationships with the property and banking sectors
• Nathan Del Bon appointed as interim CEO
• Well resourced, staff being appointed, starting to motor

Community Housing Provider Loans

• Initial focus expected to be refinancing existing debt
• All CHP debt considered for refinancing, it does not have to be debt arising from development
• Lowest loan size they will consider is $5m
• Straight forward loans, CHPs do not have to worry about the bond raising side of things, NHFIC will then repackage the loans for bond issues, in tranches of $100m
• Happy to fund multi-tenure development if it is part of a scheme generating significant affordable/social housing
• Thinks the demand will be for ten-year loans, but taking soundings on demand for 10 and 20-year loans
• Pricing will be 90 basis points above relevant Commonwealth bond yields, so a 10-year loan will be 3.5% as at the date of the presentation (27 August 2018)
• Credit assessment criteria will focus on interest rate cover, with loan to value less of an issue for loans secured by rental housing
• Interest rate cover could be as low as 1.25% but likely to be around 1.5% for the average CHP
• Tier 1s realistically have slight in built advantage but NHFIC will lend to Tier 2/Tier CHPs in principle
• Put in an expression of interest first to test whether you’d qualify and whether worth your time and effort to put in a full bloodied application
• NHFIC will also advise on receipt of Expressions of Interest, in terms of pointers as to what you need to do to qualify

Infrastructure loans

• Cost will be higher, probably just under bank loans but without the fees and charges
• No refinancing product
• Available when banks will not/cannot lend
• Deals done 3 months vs 6 months with banks
• With bank lending there is still refinance risk at the end of the construction phase, whereas NHFIC can refinance at that stage

JAV

Letter to Community Housing Registrar, WA, 17 September 2018

17 September 2018

Ms Lyn Anderson
Community Housing Registrar
Housing
Department of Communities
99 Plain Street
East Perth
WA 6004

Dear Lyn

Over the past few weeks, a number of Community Housing Providers (CHPs) have contacted CHIA WA and Shelter WA regarding the current re-registration process.

In this context, and given that the 30th September deadline is fast approaching for Registered CHPs to transition to the national framework, CHIA WA and Shelter WA consulted with the sector, including contacting all those listed as still registered under the 2007 system, to obtain a sector-wide view of the process.

At the outset, we would like to stress that a number of respondents said that their overall experience of the Regulatory team was positive. They reported friendly, timely, and structured feedback and that the Regulatory team had been fair, with flexibility to extend deadlines. Several reported that the process improved considerably with the later addition of experienced staff to the team. For the significant number that continued to find the process difficult, we have set out below the main themes of the feedback received, along with recommendations to address their concerns.

1. Overall, smaller organisations and those organisations for whom housing is only a small part, or not the main focus, of their business (large and small) experienced the most difficulty with the process.

The framework is not well suited to complex organisations for which housing is only a small part of their business. In some cases, this has been a deterrent to such organisations registering under the new system. This is a loss to the sector as these are often larger, well financed organisations, with good governance, and it would benefit the whole sector if they became bigger players in housing or serviced a niche market.

Similarly, smaller organisations where management of housing, although important, is secondary to their role in support service delivery found that the focus of the assessment tools, particularly the financial ones, was not well suited to their business.

The feedback was that assessment of these types of organisations was overly comprehensive across the non-housing parts of the business, whilst not being tailored to reflect that these are non-housing areas.

When reviewing the regulatory framework, some thought needs to be given as to how to make the regulation appropriate and proportionate for such organisations.

2. Many found the process cumbersome and time consuming, particularly the financial template which takes a full-time, suitably qualified person, two to four weeks to fill out, depending on the closeness of the organisation’s accounts system to the template.

3. Several CHPs felt that the initial briefings and information did not adequately prepare them for the detail of what was to come. A lot of very specific information requirements only became evident after the process got underway. This created a lot of time pressure which could have been avoided if they had realised the time they would need to allocate to prepare in advance of their allocated timeslot.

4. Many of those going through the process at the end of the financial year reported that the timing was not good. They felt the window allocated to them meant they were being required to stick to a timetable whilst managing their year-end, audit, and AGM processes. Smaller organisations in particular find this very difficult to juggle.

5. Many CHPs are still undecided as to whether it is worth the effort. In this regard, some providers requested a debrief from the Housing Authority regarding the consequences of losing registration and/or the advantages of being registered; and a wider conversation about the intended benefits and outcomes from going through the process.

6. We note that the Contracts side of the HA has given a number of CHPs written assurance that they will take no action regarding temporary loss of registration, provided the CHP is actively going through the process and is registered within 6 months. We appreciate this and trust that this approach will be taken for all CHPs in this situation.

7. There is confusion on the part of some CHPs as to whether this is the national scheme.

8. Two providers felt that the distinction between the three tiers was not nuanced enough and that what was required of a Tier 3 provider was not very different from that required of Tier 1 and 2 providers.

9. There is an appreciation of the need for good governance, but some felt the governance requirements did not reflect the small size and/or regional nature of their organisation and the limitations this places on them.

10. There was some concern that regulation duplicates information required to be provided under the current contract/lease agreements.

Whilst we support nationally consistent regulation, which is important to the overall growth of the sector, we remind the Housing Authority of its stated intention, when the NRSCH was first mooted for WA, that there would be less red tape: for example, the Regulator and Contracts would not be asking for similar data in different forms; nor that a financial template would be mandatory but that the same audited accounts provided to ASIC/ACNC would be acceptable.

Based on this feedback we respectfully recommend that:

1. All CHPS who are required to be registered under the terms of their contract(s) with the Housing Authority, are given assurance in writing that the Housing Authority will take no action regarding temporary loss of registration provided they are going through the process and are registered within 6 months.

2. The Housing Authority provides a debrief to the sector re the consequences of losing registration and/or the advantages of being registered.

3. That the pending national review of the financial template reflects the feedback that one size does not fit all and aims to make this requirement less onerous in terms of the format of its delivery.

4. That the timetable provided to individual CHPs for future registration/re-registration, takes into account other statutory reporting obligations CHPs must comply with at certain times of the year.

5. That CHIA WA and Shelter WA are actively included in any forthcoming review of the Regulatory System.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely

 

Jennie Vartan, State Manager, CHIA WA

Michelle Mackenzie, CEO, Shelter WA

Diversity needed to improve social and affordable housing outcomes

New approaches are needed to improve access social and affordable housing, according to new research from the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre (SBEnrc).

The SBEnrc’s Procuring Social and Affordable Housing project found Australia needs new housing and community typologies; a greater understanding of the changing demographics of those needing better access to social and affordable housing; and more diverse housing with more innovative and responsive approaches.

The research highlighted the need for mix of procurement approaches to address the needs of a diverse cohort that includes remote Indigenous communities, those with a disability, key-workers, the aging, Millennials and GenY.

These approaches could include evolving Community Housing Provider models, shared equity models, cooperatives, social benefit bonds, build to rent, maximising vacant infrastructure for short-term pop-up shelters, and the Common Ground model.

‘With varied levels of experience across the states and territories, it is important to understand the pre-conditions for success and apply learnings to build nation-wide uptake and understanding,’ says Project Leader Judy Kraatz.

The Social Procurement project has developed guidelines for organisations that deliver social and affordable rental housing to follow when they choose to purchase a social outcome when buying goods or services.

It was informed by a 360 degree survey undertaken in mid-2018.  Representatives from community housing organisations, state and local government, peak bodies, government and private developers, financiers, architects, and builders from across Australia took part in the survey.

Innovative funding schemes, planning mechanisms (including value capture and inclusionary zoning), partnerships, CHP models and estate renewal were considered as the top five approaches to be considered in improving access to social housing, Ms Kraatz says.

 

 

Joint venture to boost social housing in Hepburn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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