News relating to Queensland.

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.’

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.

Queenslanders searching for NRAS properties

According to data from realestate.com.au, NRAS (National Rental Affordability Scheme) was the second most common search term for people looking at property to rent or buy in Queensland in searches on realestate.com.au in the six months to May 31.

The real estate website noted 51,416 searches for NRAS in that time frame, with the a Commonwealth Government program rent subsidy program. Taking first place was ‘pool’ with 197,487 searches.

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.

Common Ground Qld on new Housing Supply Panel

CHIA QLD member Common Ground’s CEO Sonya Keep is one of nine housing experts appointed to the Queensland Government’s panel for a two-year period to provide independent advice on how to measure, report on and address land supply, development and housing affordability issues in south east Queensland.

CHIA Executive Director Peta Winzar says the appointment of a highly-experienced community housing expert to the panel boded well for the industry.

‘It’s fantastic that the key role community housing can play in tackling housing affordability issues has been recognised by Sonya’s appointment,’ Ms Winzar says. ‘The Queensland Government is to be commended in taking this proactive approach to the housing supply issue.’

It is anticipated South East Queensland will house an additional two million people by 2041, and State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick has been quoted as saying about 794,000 new dwellings will need to be delivered over that time.

‘It’s important that we manage growth efficiently, while keeping a close eye on housing affordability,’ Mr Dick says.

‘The panel will provide independent advice to the government on how to manage housing supply and affordability issues in South East Queensland.’

Mr Dick said the panel consists of high calibre professionals from across the property, planning, economics and demography disciplines.

‘The nine panel members were chosen from a range of fields related to various aspects of housing supply,’ he says.

‘Each member brings a different set of skills and expertise which will ensure the best possible advice is provided to the Queensland Government on land supply and development matters.

‘The panel will also provide expert oversight to the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning’s annual land supply and development monitoring reports, the first of which is expected to be released at the end of 2018.’

Sonya has more than 18 years’ experience in community housing and social planning and is dedicated to seeing an increase in the supply of affordable and supportive housing for those who are vulnerable or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Other panel members include the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute’s Executive Director Dr Michael Fotheringham, and SGS Economics and Planning’s Dr Marcus Spiller, along with other experts from planning, property development and demographic forecasting.

Affordable development meets community need

Churches of Christ in Queensland have officially opened a $10.6 million, 50 townhouse affordable living development in Kallangur, Queensland.

The townhouses were built on land gifted by local philanthropists Ian and Neva Handy, and now house 91 residents.

Churches of Christ in Queensland Chief Executive Officer Dr Paul Scully says the residents are enjoying a sense of community and the high quality accommodation.

‘There are many challenges facing affordable housing developers, one of which is finding appropriate and reasonably priced land. Thanks to the generous donation of land by the Handy family we have delivered a positive social outcome for the Kallangur community,’ Dr Scully says.

The Moreton Bay couple who donated the 9,000 square metre site were involved throughout the project, including working on the townhouse design and landscaping.

‘We partnered with Churches of Christ in Queensland as they are highly regarded for their affordable housing programs,’ Mr Handy said.

Mr Handy said that by donating the land, it enabled a reduction in the overall project costs, which then allowed the not-for-profit to provide affordable housing for reduced rent.

‘We are very supportive of their program to supply affordable housing to those in need, and are very pleased with the newly completed development.’

The building project created local employment and has enabled many of the residents to move from inappropriate living situations to a new home where they can experience independence, security, safety and comfort.

Meryl was one of the first people to express interest in securing a townhouse and moved from her one-bedroom unit in Mango Hill to a two-bedroom townhouse.

‘My friend had found out about them at her local church and let me know,’ Meryl said. ‘I am very happy here.’

Since moving into the townhouses, Aidan, 34, has found independence for the first time. Living with Cerebral Palsy means he requires a home that is accessible and is easy to navigate.

‘I reached a point where I felt it was definitely time I found a place of my own,’ Aidan says.

‘I like that I can learn new skills and start to grow up. The townhouse is the perfect size, and easy to keep clean and take care of.

‘Finding my own place was at the top of my list,’ he said. ‘Now I can look at setting some new goals.’

The townhouses are providing vital housing for lower income earners, key workers, individuals and families, who struggle to afford rents in the private market.

Churches of Christ General Manager Frances Paterson-Fleider, ‘Our vision is to empower communities through high-quality housing solutions and enhance people’s lives by providing safe, secure and affordable homes that people want to live in.’

‘As a nation we are faced with the issue of providing enough affordable housing in a market that is consistently decreasing in affordability, particularly around our major cities.

‘This development fills a vital gap between social housing and the soaring cost of the private rental market.’

CHIA Qld joins the fold

It’s official. Queensland’s community housing peak body has registered its name change from CHPs for Qld to the Community Housing Association Queensland (CHIA Qld) with ASIC.

The name change cements the state peak’s close strategic partnership with the national peak, CHIA.

CHIA Qld CEO Jo Ahern says her organisation’s board and members are fully supportive of the name change, which was approved at the AGM in 2017.

‘We all understood the benefits to both organisations and our members of this clearer and stronger relationship,’ Ms Ahern says.

‘Our members are already benefitting from the improved flow of information and increased opportunities to influence critical government policy at state and national levels.

‘We are now a part of a national network of organisations working towards the interests of community housing organisations in Queensland and throughout Australia. Our focus on the delivery of safe, secure and quality social and affordable housing will inevitably improve standards of living, healthcare and life opportunities for people housed by our members and who are severely disadvantaged and living at, or below, the poverty line.’

The national CHIA Board will meet in Queensland on June 25 before holding a forum to gather input from members on the draft National Plan for Social and Affordable Housing and the industry development plan – Building our Future.

See the events page for details.

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

New Chair for CHPs for QLD

CHPs for Qld/CHIA Qld has a new Chair with experienced and independent board member Anne-Maree Keane elected to the role. Anne-Maree is Partner Transaction Services at KPMG Australia and has over 20 years’ experience in accounting including a Fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and a Fellowship of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia. Her expertise includes acquisition, due diligence, transaction and negotiation support, deal support, valuations and data analytics.

The former Chair, Jo Ahern, has been appointed as CEO position.

‘Having held the role of Chair over the last seven months and having worked closely with CHIA and other state/national players, I am really looking forward to this change in role and working to achieve our new strategic goals,’ Ms Ahern says.

‘Linda Cupitt, our EO will step down in the coming week or so, after providing a handover. As you would be aware, Linda has worked really well with the board over the last year and has contributed substantially to the board’s achievement of many of our goals including cementing our relationship we CHIA. We are sad to see Linda go but she has other professional and personal plans; hence her decision. The board and I wish Linda the very best and we look forward to maintaining this relationship.’

Housing issue ignored in Qld campaign

Almost half of all low-income households in Queensland are suffering from housing stress due to a failure of governments to address the issue.

Despite a 13 per cent increase in federal funding over the past seven years, Queensland continues to lag behind the rest of the country in supplying social and affordable housing according to the states peak body for community housing providers (CHPs).

Chair of CHPs for Queensland, Josephine Ahern, said the issue was of vital importance to Queensland but one thats probably not on the political radar of parties during the current campaign.

Read CHPs for Qld’s media release.