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News relating to South Australia.

Happy new NHHA?

Four jurisdictions have now signed up to the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement (NHHA) but, despite its early promise, there’s barely a mention of community housing in the four bilaterals so far finalised.

The six national housing priorities of the NHHA are social housing, community housing, affordable housing, tenancy reform, supporting home ownership and reform of the planning system.

Specific mention is made in the priorities of community housing strategies that improve the viability and encourage growth of the sector (may include redevelopment and stock transfers). However, there it stops; the four bilateral agreements released to date contain little to support the viability or growth of community housing.

Jurisdictions must produce a housing strategy that indicates the level of housing supply needed to respond to projected demand, outlines the reforms and initiatives that will contribute to meeting this need, includes planned or expected levels of social housing, and set out how the State will contribute to the housing priority policy areas. (Clause 17(a) of the NHHA). Most states and territories are reported to be working on new strategies, with varying levels of consultation.

Jurisdictions will report annually, with public reporting by 31 October of the following year.

While we encourage you to read the agreement in full, here’s what caught our eye:

South Australia
South Australia promises to have a new housing strategy and a new homelessness strategy in place and publicly available by July 1, 2019.
It aims for an adequate supply of land to meet long-term demand and a 30-year plan for Greater Adelaide to deliver a compact urban reform.

Improving the liveability of social housing stock is included, but only via a commitment that 75 per cent of new stock built by the SA Housing Trust will meet Universal Design criteria.

The development and efficiency of CHPs will be supported through finalising the transfer of 5,000 properties, with contractual requirements ‘that support the upgrade and renewal of CHP managed houses’.

Three reviews of current housing pathways/programs are mentioned, including:
• develop contemporary service responses for young people leaving care, with a new protocol between the Department for Child Protection and Housing SA to support young people into independent housing, in 2018.
• new supportive housing for people who have experienced chronic homelessness will be implemented by 2020
• the existing aged housing program (no timeframe).

Tasmania
The bilateral acknowledges the importance of community housing – over 40 per cent of social housing is managed by community housing providers in Tasmania. However, there are no measures in the bilateral targeted at community housing and only two measures specifically for social housing – a commitment to 15 new (hopefully extra) social housing dwellings a year, and $13.6m to upgrade 1,050 public housing dwellings.

The bilateral does provide for 10 rapid rehousing homes a year for people exiting institutions (from 30 June 2019), to avoid exits into homelessness.

The Tassie Government has an aim to keep home ownership at least 5 per cent above the national average, and will maintain its First Home owner grant program and review what government land could be re-purposed to housing.

The Tasmanian Government will continue to produce quarterly reports on progress against the state’s affordable housing action plan.

ACT
According to the bilateral agreement, the ACT has the most targeted public housing portfolio in Australia with housing allocated to those in greatest need. There are 22,000 people in public housing (it omits to mention the further 1,500 in community housing).

The bilateral promises a new ACT Housing Strategy in 2018. It will address legislative requirements and the requirements of clause 17 (a) of the primary housing
Agreement, covering ‘the full housing spectrum, from homelessness, through public
housing and affordable rental and home purchase opportunities’. Sadly, however, no mention of community housing.

The agreement does promise that the ACT will set and publish annual targets for public, community and affordable housing as part of the Indicative Land Release Program.

The existing ACT social housing model will be reviewed ‘to improve viability, identify and develop initiatives to achieve efficiencies and improve stock utilisation’. This is the closest the bilateral agreement comes to addressing community housing.

Like SA, the ACT undertakes to construct public housing dwellings that are built to national liveable design standards, but is silent about any retrofitting of existing social housing stock to meet the standards.

Northern Territory
The Northern Territory bilateral describes its ‘public housing portfolio’ as including community housing.

However the NT is to be congratulated for specifically including measures to develop and implement an urban Community Housing Strategy that identifies ways to support the growth of the NT CHP sector and inform the transfer of 750 urban public dwellings to the sector, as well as construct community housing dwellings in urban centres (by 2023).

The NT will have a new housing strategy in place and publicly available by September 30, 2019.

A review of rent setting models in urban and remote areas will be undertaken by December 2019.

The NT will also consult senior Territorians and those approaching retirement about aged care housing (to identify demand) and provide findings to the private sector to help identify potential opportunities for future private sector development of seniors-appropriate accommodation.

Planning reforms include allowing more scope for providing affordable housing products through
the incorporation of a flexible approach to zoning, including through the use of Specific Use Zones in the NT Planning Scheme, and facilitating land release in remote Aboriginal communities by extending the exemption under the Planning Act (Regulation 3A), which removes the need for subdivision approval for development associated with the $1.1 billion remote housing program.

SA public housing sell off

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Concern about the sell off of public housing in South Australia has prompted Shelter SA to create a campaign to stop the sell off and improve the management of public housing….

‘South Australia once had one of the best public housing system in the world.  Over the last 20years we’ve sold off more than 20,000 homes and we’re selling more each year with 660 more properties to be lost this year.

It makes no sense to sell off a publicly-owned asset when homelessness is increasing and other systems are pushed to the limit trying to deal with issues of poverty, unemployment, child protection, mental health and disadvantage.  We understand that the Private Rental Assistance Program is critical for people living on low incomes to enter into the private rental market, providing bond guarantees and sometimes rents.  The cost of funding this program, that is increasingly needed, should be borne across government budget lines and should not be funded by selling off public housing.

Investing in prison beds, health budget blow-outs and new hospitals won’t replace the need for an affordable, safe place to call home, the only foundation upon which people can regain their lives.  We’ve put together a short video to alert South Australians to this situation and we’re asking you to like it and share it to call upon government to change the way they look at providing housing and improve the management of our precious public asset that is public housing.’

To support their campaign, view and like the video.

Video and content courtesy of Shelter SA
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‘Home’ will be the theme for the opening of Housing Choices South Australia’s (HCSA) new offices in downtown Adelaide today.

Located in Waymouth Street, the new offices will help accommodate the significant growth Housing Choices SA has undergone following its successful merger with Common Ground Adelaide and, most recently, the successful transfer of 840 public housing tenancies to HCSA under the SA Government’s Renewing our Streets and Suburbs program.

A free lunchtime barbecue will be held for new and existing tenants during the day. Staff are setting up a diorama of items donated by guests, which exemplify what ‘home’ means to them. HCSA State Manager Julie Duncan, Managing Director Michael Lennon and Chair Arthur Papakotsias will join friends, supporters, politicians and staff to officially open the space.

SA Budget wrap

SA logo

Shelter SA welcomes the Targets outlined for social housing in the next financial year, in particular the revised claims process for Housing SA Bond guarantees to increase protection for private renters.

The activity indicator on the number of public housing rental opportunities provided by Housing SA is reducing from 38,710 (the 2016-17 Estimated Result) to a projected 34,050 in 2017-18.  The reduction reflects approximately 4,000 properties that will be transferred to the community housing sector and it is assumed that the remaining 660 of those properties will be sold, further reducing the public housing available to people living on low incomes across South Australia.  The overall reduction in public housing will worsen housing stress for people living on low incomes and potentially increase the number of people experiencing homelessness, adding further strain on an at capacity service system.

Shelter SA is very pleased that there has been no reduction in assistance to people living on low incomes through the Housing SA Private Rental Assistance Program with a slight increase in customers expected in the next financial year.  It is also pleasing to see a slight increase of 415 high needs clients who will be placed in housing by Housing SA, no reduction in the number of rough sleepers assisted into accommodation through specialist homelessness services and a modest increase in the number of Aboriginal customers assisted into housing by Housing SA from 4,230 to 4,590.

The National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, now combined with the National Affordable Housing Agreement is assured in the South Australian Budget for the next 12 months – $18.1 million in partnership with the Commonwealth Government.  The new National Affordable Housing and Homelessness Agreement is yet to be negotiated.

A new revenue measure will see foreign residential property buyers pay a stamp duty surcharge from 1 January 2018 which will amount to $48.8 million over four years – it would be ideal if some of this revenue could be used to create more social housing and avoid the need to continue to sell off our public housing assets.

Click here to view the SA State Budget.

With thanks to Shelter SA for this report.