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News relevant to NSW.

St Vincent de Paul Housing has received approval to build 26 affordable housing units in Katoomba. The $16.7m project is expected to begin later this year or early 2019, with completion in 2020.

A spokeswoman for St Vincent de Paul, Felicity Moody, said there would be eight one-bedroom units and 18 two-bedroom units over eight levels (two levels will be basement parking).

‘All units are to be used for social housing tenants aged 55 and over,’ Ms Moody says.

The development will be built just south of the heart of Katoomba on a site currently being used as an unofficial car park.
Ms Moody said St Vincent de Paul Housing ‘intends to use the development to deliver services under NSW Government’s Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF)’.

The move follows repeated public comments by St Vincent de Paul’s former National Council CEO Dr John Falzon on the increasing rate of homelessness.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data by Homelessness Australia from 2017 has shown a significant increase in the numbers of young people and older women experiencing homelessness. Women and children escaping family violence is still the biggest driver of homelessness in the country.

Dr Falzon says, ‘It is painfully clear the rate of homelessness in Australia is rising with a nine per cent increase in the number of people seeking help from homelessness agencies over the 2015-16 financial year compared to the previous year.’

‘There are 200,000 people on the waiting list for social housing and at the same time Australia has a shortfall of housing supply, estimated at over 500,000 rental dwellings, which are both affordable and available to the lowest income households.’

Link Housing’s community art exhibition, ‘No Place Like Home’ is on again. Following the successful launch last month, the exhibition is now travelling to other venues across Northern Sydney from October 12 to November 1.

Come along to one of the opening nights or visit during the gallery opening hours. See the dates and details below.

Link Housing is proud to welcome you to this leading community art exhibition aimed at raising awareness about the need for affordable, safe and secure housing.

Exhibiting artists and artworks reflect the theme: ‘No Place Like Home’. Mediums range from original music, sculptures to paintings and traditional canvas art.

See Facebook for details.

Yass we need more housing

Argyle Housing, a not-for-profit organisation providing affordable and social housing in NSW, has seen a worrying rise in requests for housing services in Yass.

In an article published in the Yass Tribune, CEO Wendy Middleton said, ‘Of the properties that we manage in Yass, all 95 are allocated to social housing and in many cases are not enough compared to the list of people waiting for or needing social housing.’

Adding to the cause for concern locally, Ms Middleton said usually the organisation works with support agencies to assist in providing social housing, but recently in Yass, the office is dealing with enquiries from people off the street.

There are many causes of homelessness. They can include domestic violence, unemployment, mental health, drugs and alcohol and lack of affordable housing. Ms Middleton said it’s this last cause that’s contributing to the issue in Yass.

‘We are experiencing people coming in for housing packs and asking to be placed onto the NSW Housing Register as the Yass rental market has priced a lot of people out of affordability,’ she said.

‘The rising cost of housing is not specific to just one demographic, it affects all people including single, low-income earners, the young and the elderly.

‘Our staff have also experienced a number of people coming in asking for a referral to support agencies as they are quite often left trying to keep a roof over their heads but are struggling to buy groceries and pay bills.’

Argyle Housing is always looking for homeowners and real estate agents willing to provide housing at less than market rate to give to those in need.

Read more…

Elderly to be at home in pub

Anglicare plans to expand its redevelopment of the Steelworks Hotel in Port Kembla to provide additional affordable rental housing.

The welfare agency already has permission to turn the heritage-listed pub into a 22-bed residence for older people at risk of homelessness but is seeking to add an additional seven self-contained rooms in a separate building, following the acquisition of adjacent land.

The project is part of the organisation’s efforts to cater for the increasing number of people at risk of becoming homeless as they age.

Anglicare’s development manager Dean Cotter says, ‘We are committed to enriching and strengthening local communities through the provision of integrated accommodation, care and support services that are sensitive to cultural, financial and social needs of the people who will live in our homes.

‘The new proposal will allow Anglicare to assist 30 people primarily aged over 60 who are struggling to live on low incomes.

‘The project will be providing support services to rental tenants that foster independence and enable them to feel a part of their local community…and build meaningful relationships with others living with and around them.

The design for the pub will deliver 22 bed-sitter style rooms with private bathrooms and kitchenettes over two levels, with a lift included.

Construction of the first set of dwellings is expected to be completed in mid 2019.

No place like Homes North

Community housing provider Homes North has opened its second affordable housing complex in Armidale to assist those experiencing housing stress.

The 2016 Census reported 14 per cent of Armidale households were experiencing housing stress (paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent to keep a roof over their heads). The new Homes North five villa complex not only provides much needed affordable rental housing, it also provides access to housing for people with mobility challenges as the development meets the highest ‘liveable design standards’.

The complex has two and three-bedroom homes to offer a range of options for single people, couples and families looking for affordable rentals.

Homes North’s CEO Maree McKenzie says, ‘we are proud to make this new complex available in Armidale to those who need it in our community. The quality of design and build allows our households to live in dignity without breaking the bank. The build reduces power costs, and we ensure residents don’t pay more than 30 per cent of their income in rent. All in all, residents can live a better quality of life because of the reduced financial stress – knowing they can afford other basic living costs such as clothing, medical care and education.’

Homes North Asset Manager and construction partners, Hibbards Homes, ensured a quality build, Ms McKenzie says.

‘One resident says that her family is delighted to be in the new complex saying, “We love it here and it is so warm, we have hardly needed to use our heater this winter.”’

Shocking rent/income gap revealed

A new report has revealed the shocking gap between the incomes of typical renting households and the incomes required to avoid housing stress in Australia’s three most populated states.

Compass Housing’s Affordable Housing Income Gap Report, takes a new approach to the measurement of housing affordability for renters. The Report establishes the amount of additional income required to avoid housing stress on various types of rental properties in more than 300 suburbs, towns and local government areas across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. This amount is referred to as the Affordable Housing Income Gap (AHIG).

Compass spokesperson Martin Kennedy said in many cases the median incomes of renting households were tens of thousands of dollars per year below the level required to secure a basic two-bedroom apartment without experiencing housing stress. The situation for renters seeking a 3-bedroom house is worse, with median incomes up to $100,000 per year short of the level required to avoid housing stress in certain areas.

Annual income to afford a 3br house Amount above annual median income (AHIG) Annual income to afford a 2br unit Annual amount above median income (AHIG)
Inner Sydney $172,467 $78,139 $121,333 $27,005
Inner Melbourne $130,000 $50,336 $93,600 $13,936
Inner Brisbane $94,987 $17,299 $83,200 $5,512

 

Housing stress is experienced by households with incomes up to 120% of the median that are paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

Mr Kennedy said the Report proved housing stress isn’t just a problem for low-income households. He said working families with average incomes are struggling to afford suitable rental properties close to where they work.

“To avoid housing stress in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, a typical renting household often has to choose between living a considerable distance from the city or living in a one-bedroom apartment,” Mr Kennedy said.

“Neither of those things are practical for lots of families so they are effectively forced to accept living in housing stress. This can have a real impact on living standards because people in housing stress are less able to pay for other essentials like food, utilities, insurance, healthcare, childcare, and debt repayments.”

Mr Kennedy said that even in regional towns, where prices are nominally cheaper, comparatively lower household incomes mean renters in many areas still face significant affordability income gaps. The impact is particularly severe in “commuter belt” cities close to the capitals.

“The steady decline of housing affordability for renters is part of a broader housing crisis driven by a combination of low interest rates, preferential tax treatment for investors, rapid population growth, artificial rationing of land supply, high transfer duties, and a prolonged failure to invest in social and affordable housing.”

The Report recommends the creation of a national housing plan with initiatives crossing all levels of government. They include:

  • the construction of 500,000 social and affordable housing dwellings in the next 10 years,
  • reviewing the tax and transfer system to strike a fairer balance between the level of support provided to investors, first home buyers and renters
  • reforming state tenancy laws to provide greater security of tenure for renters and decrease demand for social housing.

Link Housing is making the move into bigger office space in light of its success in securing public housing transfers.

Link Housing CEO Andrew McAnulty has led the organisation through a period of significant growth.

Last year the organisation won tenders to manage 235 specialist disability accommodation tenancies and almost 1900 social housing tenancies, which had previously been managed by the NSW Government.

‘It is a very exciting period of growth for us. By the end of the year, we would have more
than doubled our number of staff, properties under management and clients, largely due to
the Social Housing Management Transfers (SHMT) program,’ Mr McAnulty says.

‘There was no doubt we needed more space.’

Link has recently opened a new office in West Ryde and will unveil new larger office facilities in Chatswood on September 17.

The new offices will give the not-for-profit organisation the space to continue to provide
quality, client-focused and comprehensive services to their growing community of housing
applicants and residents within Northern Sydney and beyond.

The West Ryde office is located minutes from West Ryde train station and in the same building as the NSW Government’s Families and Community Services (FACS) Northern district office, allowing Link Housing to work closely with FACS in the lead up to the SHMT ‘go live’ in December this year.

‘This is a positive change for our clients. With offices that are easier to get to and with more
space and facilities, we will be able to meet and help more people. Our expansion and new
offices is really just about taking steps to fulfil our mission and vision of enhancing lives
through community housing,’ Mr McAnulty says.

CHIA NSW backs expansion of housing levy

Clover Moore headshot

CHIA NSW has backed Sydney Council’s proposal to extend  its affordable housing levy across the entire local government area.

Currently, the council’s affordable housing levy  only applies to new developments in Green Square, Pyrmont and the the area between Sydney airport and the CBD.

It is thought extending the levy across the entire municipality could boost affordable housing numbers by 3,600 by 2030.

Sydney Lord Mayor  Clover Moore says  housing affordability had reached crisis point. and the planning proposal was a win for low and middle-income earners.

CHIA NSW CEO Wendy Hayhurst says, ‘It would be great if it were approved sooner rather than later with so much development going on at the moment. We’re losing time.’

Click here to read the full story.

Bridge’s annual report a winner

Bridge Housing is honored to have been awarded the gold Australasian Reporting Award not-for-profit Annual Report for the fifth consecutive year and the sixth year overall, reflecting our deep, ongoing commitment to transparency.

Bridge CEO John Nicolades attended the awards ceremony in Sydney on 20 June to accept the Gold Award for Excellence on Bridge Housing’s behalf. He also delivered a presentation at the ARA Seminar on Reporting: Engaging with Stakeholders in the Digital Transition.

“In an era when trust in organisations is under pressure, it is critically important that they are as transparent as possible about their purpose, how they use their funds, deliver their services and develop their culture.”

“I thank our staff, our Executive and our Board for their enormous contributions towards Bridge Housing winning this award. Congratulations to the other winners, too, including Wentworth Community Housing and Evolve Housing.

The Australasian Reporting Awards is an independent, not-for-profit organisation concerned about the quality of financial and business reporting.

Read the 2017 Annual Report

article courtesy of Bridge Housing

NSW Cost of Living Budget leaves out housing costs for renters

Additional funding to support Aboriginal housing and people who are homeless is good news
but the NSW Budget does not include new investment in more social and affordable housing for
NSW renters in housing stress, the state’s peak not-for-profit housing body said today.

The Budget announced today includes an additional $61 million over four years for homelessness
programs, and $33.1 million over four years to support Aboriginal housing.

However, CHIA NSW CEO, Wendy Hayhurst, said the NSW Government had missed the
opportunity to reinvest the $18.25 billion it has reaped in stamp duty windfalls since 2011 in
providing the 12,500 social and affordable homes NSW will need each year to keep up with population growth.

‘Homelessness support services aren’t effective if people don’t also have secure permanent
homes to go to,’ Ms Hayhurst said.

‘And extra funding for childcare, education and health will only go so far if children don’t have a
safe, secure home to go to at the end of the day, or people leaving hospital can’t recover safely
at home.

‘This Budget had a chance to future-proof our housing system by encouraging investment in the
social and affordable housing we’ll need in the future as Sydney’s population continues to grow.’

Ms Hayhurst recognised the NSW Government could not solve the problem on its own – after
the Federal Government’s Budget failed to deliver funding to kick start greater investment in
social and affordable housing from bodies such as superannuation funds.

‘State Government housing programs such as the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF),
Communities Plus, and Future Directions are good programs but will not deliver the scale of
new housing needed,’ she said.

‘We need all levels of government to work together on solutions –and a strategy that includes a
suite of measures, from planning reforms, to access to government land, and direct subsidies to
close the funding gap for community housing providers.’

Key facts

NSW needs 12,500 social and affordable homes a year for people on low and middle incomes.
Homelessness has increased by 48% in Sydney and 37% in NSW over five years (Census).
The number of social housing properties has not kept up with population growth – over the last 20 years there has been a 4% increase in properties against a 30% increase in households in need (AHURI).
60,000 people are on waiting lists for social housing in NSW.
In April, there was not a single property affordable for a young family on a minimum wage to rent within 20km of Sydney’s CBD – and the situation as almost as bad in most regional centres (Anglicare 2018 Rental Affordability Snapshot).
In Sydney average house prices are still roughly 12 times average incomes.

  • content courtesy of CHIA NSW

United’s $6.43m accommodation plans

Registered community housing provider United has lodged plans to build a $6.43 million seniors accommodation and affordable housing project in Nowra, NSW.

United’s planning application is for a 30-unit, four-storey building on two blocks of land located only a block away from Nowra’s CBD.

Most of the units will be set aside for seniors or people with a disability, with six units to be used for affordable housing. Eighteen of the units are to be two-bedroom, with the rest being one-bedroom.

The development application, which has been lodged with Shoalhaven City Council, exceeds the maximum height set within the Local Environment Plan height maps by about 2.5 metres.

St Vincent de Paul to deliver SAHF homes

St Vincent de Paul will deliver 78 social and affordable housing units at Merrylands in Western Sydney as part of the NSW Government’s $1.1bn Social and Affordable Housing Fund.

Social Housing Minister Pru Goward was reported as saying the SAHF model, which links housing with vital supports, showed what could be achieved when government worked with the community-housing sector.

‘Our partners at St Vincent de Paul were selected because of their proven track record of housing and helping people in need. By embracing a collaborative approach, the government and its partners are helping people to break the cycle of disadvantage and move towards greater independence.’

St Vincent de Paul Housing chief executive Brian Murnane, said: ‘St Vincent’s is working with the NSW Government under the SAHF to ensure more social and affordable housing is being offered to people who need it most. We look forward to the continued progress of our housing constructions, providing 500 homes across Sydney and regional NSW.’

The service package tenants receive through the SAHF will include access to accommodation, asset and tenancy-management services and links to supports like training, education opportunities and medical services.

Story courtesy of liverpoolchampion.com.au

CHL and Horizon join forces for housing affordability

Australian not-for-profit housing provider Community Housing Limited (CHL) has announced its integration of Queensland’s largest housing provider, Horizon Housing,  into the CHL Group of  Companies.

The move will provide CHL with a strong advantage in Queensland to deliver more affordable housing  in the State.

Over the next year this integration will drive growth for the two organisations so that more Australians who are facing housing crisis are able to secure long‐term affordable housing.

The integration will boost CHL’s current portfolio to over 11,000 properties by November 2018, making it  the largest community housing provider in the country. The combined group will manage  community and affordable housing properties across the six states with nearly 300 staff delivering  services to support those most disadvantaged.

The new arrangement will consolidate expertise and strengthen the reach and services offered by  both community housing providers. It will allow both the organisations to utilise their  complementary strengths and drive efficiencies, reducing costs and releasing revenue to access  more finance to build more homes and improve the quality of services to customers.

Horizon, Queensland’s largest housing provider with operations in 15 in local government areas  across Queensland and parts of New South Wales, provides both community housing programs and  affordable housing projects and has over 2,400 properties in its portfolio, all of which will now  benefit from the expansion of services and increased resources available via CHL.

‘This new arrangement further strengthens the position of both organisations, providing each with  mutually beneficial outcomes aligned to our shared vision of providing the communities we serve  with affordable housing solutions that are available and accessible by those in need,’ says CHL Group’s  Managing Director, Steve Bevington.

‘Our collaboration is an exciting development for the sector and redefines the landscape, we look  forward to drawing on this strengthened position to deliver future affordable housing solutions as  the housing crisis across the country escalates.’

CHL has long been considered a sector leader, supporting and growing the industry  both locally and internationally, providing end-to-end affordable housing developments and long -term housing and tenancy management operations in Australia.

‘Horizon’s integration within the CHL Group is another step in that direction’, adds Steve.

CEO of Horizon Housing, Jason Cubit, said the organisation was excited to be part of the CHL group of  companies.

‘The integration of Horizon Housing and CHL is an exciting new chapter, as it allows us to pool the  expertise and resources critical to improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of the  community,’ Mr Cubit says.

‘Our initiatives don’t only help families get by in the short‐term, but empower them to break  the  cycle of financial stress, aiding a transition into the private rental or property market.’

The integration of the two entities creates a powerful alliance to fight the problem recently  highlighted by the latest Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot, which categorised three out of  67,365 rental properties listed in Australia as ‘affordable’ for a single person on Newstart Allowance.

Horizon Housing and its subsidiaries will maintain business as usual for the foreseeable future,  delivering quality services to Queensland’s most vulnerable, whilst retaining all current governance  structures, branding and staffing.

Article courtesy of CHL

Last days for The New Urban Agenda

Compass Housing Services and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s Sustainability Advantage Program have partnered to bring you The New Urban Agenda: Partnering for a resilient, inclusive, sustainable NSW Forum.

The Group Managing Director of Compass Housing, Greg Budworth, is one of the keynote speakers, along with Michael Nolan, the Chair of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme

The battle for sustainability will be won or lost in cities. To achieve a prosperous, productive and sustainable NSW, growing issues around inclusion, liveability and resilience must be tackled head-on. Finding scalable solutions to these challenges is at the heart of Agenda 2030 (the Sustainable Development Goals) and the New Urban Agenda—and a key focus of NSW Government priorities and local council strategies. But government can’t do it alone: to get where we need to be by 2030 requires new levels of ambition, collaboration and innovation.

Compass Housing Services and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage have partnered to bring you The New Urban Agenda: Partnering for a resilient, inclusive, sustainable NSW, an interactive, multi-stakeholder forum that will unpick three of NSW’s most pressing problems:

  • providing better, more inclusive access to housing and basic services
  • creating clean, resource-efficient and liveable communities
  • building resilient, low-carbon urban economies

The forum will be held on Friday, May 4, from 9am to 5pm.

Register here.

Meet your Board Members: Leonie King

headshot Leonie King

CHIA Board member and City West Housing CEO Leonie King brings a unique perspective to her community housing role.

Leonie spent a number of years working in housing as a senior NSW Government executive. She bowed out of the bureaucracy in 2016 as an Executive Director in the Department of Family and Community Services, her most recent roles including responsibility for community housing and specialist disability accommodation.
‘I had developed a passion for the community housing sector,’ Leonie says, ‘And I thought the obvious thing to do was to go into in the sector that I had been involved in growing and supporting for a considerable period of time.

‘What has always appealed to me about housing, and about social and affordable housing in particular, is that tension between the commercial imperative and social objectives and how you use use both levers to make lives better for people. That makes it a very interesting area to work in because you are always having to make judgement calls and trade offs.’

Leonie is optimistic about community housing’s potential to develop and grow over the next few years.

‘There had been a bit of a drought nationally in recent years in terms of government focus and attention on the community housing sector, but now there are so many different parts of government that all see the community housing sector’s usefulness in terms of their ability to deliver on the government’s policy agenda.’

Not that the attention is without its difficulties, as different government agencies and tiers of Government have different contractual obligations and different risk profiles, adding to the administrative complexity and costs of managing multiple similar, but slightly different, programs and contracts.

‘It would be really nice to see a bit more consistency; if they contracted in a similar way, if the standard terms and the standard risk profile for like programs was similar that just makes the decision making process so much easier.’

City West has been a major beneficiary of the only planning scheme in Australia (in the City of Sydney) that sees developer contributions levied on developments and passed through directly to a community housing organisation.

‘We have received quite significant contributions under that model which is invested in new affordable housing.’

Leonie says it is unfortunate that many local governments who receive affordable housing in exchange for density bonuses to developers are hesitant to consider a role for community housing beyond property and tenancy management.

‘The standard model is that the councils receive those affordable housing units at the end of the project, maintain ownership and outsource the management; I think there is a potential missed opportunity in either transferring ownership to community housing providers or thinking about forming a joint venture or partnership arrangement with community housing at the front end of that process.

‘The strength of the City of Sydney model is that they saw that owning and managing community housing was not their core business or their core strength,’ Leonie says.

While City West Housing has not participated in the NSW Government’s transfer of more than 6,000 public housing properties to community housing providers in recent years Leonie, unsurprisingly, is a major fan of this initiative.

‘I passionately believe that the first major tranche of property transfers in NSW, which also saw a transfer of ownership, was the trigger that was needed at that time in NSW to build the balance sheet capacity for the sector so it could then borrow and deliver more affordable housing.’

NSW now has a number of large community housing providers, holding significant assets, undertaking development and operating at scale which is a direct result of those title transfers, she says.
‘If you want to grow through borrowing you can’t do that without a balance sheet.’

A number of those providers now stand to benefit from the NSW Government’s commitment to transfer the management of a further 14,000 public housing properties.

Looking to the future, Leonie would like to see more public housing transferred to the community housing sector.

‘I strongly believe in having a diversified delivery system to provide more choice and to create innovation. I think that is really hard to create when, as is the case in NSW, you still have a 130,000 property portfolio managed by one provider. So I would like to see change of at least management, if not ownership.

‘The more this sector grows, the more housing outcomes we can deliver for people…so I hope governments continue that trajectory.’

The NSW Aboriginal Housing Office has partnered with the NSW Federation of Housing Associations (NSWFHA) to support the development of a new peak body to represent that state’s Aboriginal community housing sector.

The new body is to be called the Aboriginal Community Housing Industry Association NSW– or ACHIA NSW – to promote a close working relationship with the mainstream peak bodies; the national Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) and state NSWFHA (which plans to change its name to CHIA NSW in 2018).

Since being established in December, ACHIA’s interim committee has been developing its terms of reference, a work plan and strategic priorities to take back to the sector for consultation.

NSWFHA has also been working hard to raise the profile of the new peak with stakeholders, including all levels of government, so that Aboriginal housing is not just seen as a specialist area dealt with by specialist agencies.

The interim committee will consult with the sector on the governance structure for ACHIA, including elections and the selection criteria for Board members.