News relevant to NSW.

Meet your Board Members: 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.’

Job: Evolve into a Comms role

Evolve Housing is seeking a full-time Communications and Public Relations Officer.

Reporting to the Senior Manager – Marketing & Engagement this position is responsible for providing timely and professional communications and public relations support to the business by contributing to the development of the social media strategy and proactively develop and maintain relationships with media contacts and key stakeholders.

You will primarily be responsible for maintaining high-quality editorial content, providing proof reading and editing support to the business unit and updating website content using WordPress. You will also need to identify opportunities for engagement with media, Government, industry and partner organisations and develop media releases, case studies, articles, speeches, submissions, presentations, fact sheets and other written and digital resources.

Click here for details on how to apply.

New Aboriginal housing peak for NSW

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.

Community housing to deliver 2700 homes in NSW by 2020

By 2020, the community housing industry will deliver 2700 homes across NSW.

That statistic is just one of the facts discovered and highlighted by the NSW Federation of Housing Association’s (NSWFHA) comprehensive report, Delivering New Housing Supply: NSW Community Housing Industry Snapshot 2017. The report is the first time the NSW community housing industry has reported on the significant contribution that registered community housing providers make to social and affordable housing supply.

The NSWFHA Snapshot is based on information provided by its members and highlights the sector’s expertise.

The snapshot found that, by 2020, registered community housing providers will have worked in partnership with NSW state and local governments and the private sector to:

  • create almost $1 billion in new housing investment for local communities
  • develop 2700 new properties, in addition to the 38,000 homes they currently own or manage
  • independently deliver eight out of 10 homes, without partnerships with for profit developers
  • develop new housing in 34 local government areas.

Providing more affordable rental housing is one of the major challenges for NSW and Australia and the community housing industry is uniquely placed to provide solutions. Registered community housing providers have a long-term commitment to the communities they work in and are able to develop quality, well-designed housing that meets local needs.

You can download the NSWFHA’s report and the infographic.


winning picture

CHL to house 2,200 plus in NSW

National Tier one and largest not for profit housing provider, Community Housing Limited (CHL) is excited at the prospect of providing social housing to over 2,200 more people on the NSW Mid North Coast.

In an announcement made by the NSW Minister for Social Housing, Pru Goward, CHL was successful in its tender under the Social Housing Management Transfer Program for the Port Macquarie, Kempsey and Nambucca areas.

CHL will take management responsibility for around 1,300 additional properties, currently managed by Family and Community Services (FACS). Alongside this portfolio growth, CHL will also take responsibility for managing all applications for social housing and private rental assistance in the area, and will take a lead role in coordinating the social housing and homelessness sector across the Mid North Coast region.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for CHL to provide more services to more people, in places where the company has a long history of serving the community”, says Steve Bevington, Managing Director of Community Housing Ltd.

The NSW Government is transferring the management of around 14,000 social housing tenancies to community housing providers by 2019 bringing the total stock under management by community housing providers to 32 per cent.

Properties are scheduled to transfer in late 2018 with the NSW Government maintaining ownership of all of the properties and leasing them to CHL for a 20-year period.

“CHL is looking forward to working closely with tenants and communities, our key partners in the region and FACS over the coming months, to make the transfer a success and improving the overall social housing outcomes in the region,” adds Dr Lucy Burgmann, NSW State Manager for CHL.

This transfer will close to double the total number of properties under CHL’s management in NSW to 2,900 bringing the total national portfolio to around 7,500 properties.

1,201 NSW public housing transferred to community housing

Leading Sydney community housing organisations Bridge Housing and Women’s Housing Company have been awarded the NSW Government tender to manage 1,201 public housing tenancies in the northern beaches for the next 20 years.

The winning partnership under the Social Housing Management Transfer Program will see the two experienced housing organisations take over management of the properties over the next 20 months and assume all housing customer service functions – allocations, tenancy and maintenance – previously delivered by Department of Family and Community Services in the area. Bridge will also be responsible for managing and coordinating services support from government and non-government organisations.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, the Hon. Pru Goward, today announced the winners of all nine packages, representing 14,000 public housing properties across New South Wales, including three portfolios in metropolitan Sydney. Bridge Housing CEO John Nicolades said: ‘I am delighted that Bridge Housing’s enormous investment in the past three years in becoming fit for significant growth has paid off. Over the past decade, we have successfully integrated public housing estates and multi-unit developments into our tenancy management, including in Balmain and South Coogee, but on a much smaller scale.

‘Our two organisations will separately manage housing in the northern beaches portfolio but with an alignment of best practice processes and principles, and with Bridge Housing as the contractual partner with government.

‘I am confident that our new northern beaches tenants will feel welcome and supported and that the government will see its housing assets very well maintained under the combined management of Bridge Housing and Women’s Housing Company.’

Women’s Housing Company CEO Debbie Georgopoulos said: “Women’s Housing Company brings our specialisation in housing and supporting single, vulnerable women to the partnership and will manage 12.5 per cent of the new portfolio, focussing on locations where single women are housed.’

‘Our partnership with Bridge Housing will enable us both to do what we have been doing best for more than 30 years and for Women’s Housing Company to house more people from one of the fastest growing demographics of homeless in Australia.’

Bridge Housing’s portfolio will grow from around 2,000 properties to some 3,100 properties while Women’s Housing Company will grow from almost 750 properties to over 900 properties. The Package 8 portfolio stretches across Mosman and the newly formed North Beaches local government areas and comprises houses, townhouses and units, 724 of them one-bedroom units or studios. The vast majority of households are single person and about 50 per cent of tenants are women. Tenants will remain in their current homes under the management transfer.

Bridge Housing and Women’s Housing Company will keep new and existing tenants informed as information about the transition process becomes available.

(With thanks to Bridge Housing for this article)

Thumbs up to housing boost: NSWFHA

The NSW Federation of Housing Associations (NSWFHA) today welcomed the State Government’s announcement it will provide an extra 1200 homes through Phase 2 of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) and prioritise housing for older women.

 NSWFA Wendy Hayhurst said the 1200 additional homes should bring to 3400 the number of new social and affordable homes provided through the SAHF.

Click here to read NSWFA’s media release.

Bridge Housing funded to create affordable real estate agency

The City of Sydney has provided Bridge Housing with $100,000 funding to create a not-for-profit real estate agency that will increase the supply of affordable rental accommodation in inner city Sydney.

The agency will be part of the Home Ground Real Estate brand established by Launch Housing in Victoria. It will enable private landlords to support people seeking affordable rental housing by offering their properties for rent to Bridge Housing.

Click here for details.

Bridge wins award

Bridge wins gold for annual report

Sydney-based community housing provider Bridge Housing took out a gold award at the 2017 Australasian Reporting Awards for its 2016 annual report.

It was Bridge’s fourth consecutive gold award and fifth overall.

The Annual Report Awards are aimed at improving the communication of business information and the standards of financial reporting and are designed to enable organisation to benchmark the quality of their annual reports against world best practice.

Bridge was competing against entries from New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and Russia.

Bridge CEO John Nicolades says, ‘The recognition we receive through these awards is warmly welcomed and further motivates our Board, management team and staff to strive for best practice governance, communication with our stakeholders and financial reporting in the year ahead.

‘Bridge Housing takes pride in being an organisation that always works to high governance standards and transparency. Congratulations to the other winners for their hard work and achievement.’

You can view Bridge’s annual report here.

Entries for the 2018 ARA will open on September 1.