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News relating to Victoria.

Helping rough sleepers find a home in Geelong

Minister for Housing Richard Wynne announced today a $17 million housing package for Geelong; as part of the Victorian Government’s $45 million Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan.

The new plan will be implemented across Geelong to help those sleeping rough find a secure home, and includes 20 new modular homes to be built in areas of high need. The homes will cater to people with complex needs who have been sleeping rough for an extended period and will also have intensive onsite support.

Teams of outreach workers will parol the homeless hot spots in the streets of Geelong as part of the rough sleepers’ package initiated by the Andrews Government. The program seeks to support vulnerable Victorians through providing them with tailored and targeted support. Outreach workers will help direct rough sleepers to emergency accommodation and ongoing support.

“We’re taking targeted support directly to rough sleepers to break the cycle of homelessness for vulnerable Victorians and help them get back on their feet,” Minister for Housing Richard Wynne said.

Labor’s Housing and Homelessness Package will seek to combat homelessness through:

  • Outreach teams in Bendigo, Maroondah, Warrnambool, Swan Hill, Frankston, Dandenong and Geelong.
  • Supportive housing teams in Frankston, inner Melbourne, Geelong and Dandenong.
  • Modular housing support in Bacchus Marsh, Geelong (Norlane) and Dandenong.

Sacred Heart Mission, Uniting Ballarat, Brophy Family and Youth Services, Haven Home Safe, Neami Ltd, Wellways and Launch Housing are partnering with the Government as part of the program.

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.

[av_heading heading=’CHIA Vic launches election platform’ tag=’h3′ style=’blockquote modern-quote modern-centered’ size=” subheading_active=” subheading_size=’15’ padding=’10’ color=” custom_font=” admin_preview_bg=”][/av_heading]

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The November Victoria State Election provides all parties with an opportunity to make a commitment to tackling the state’s out-of-control social housing waiting list.

With the government forecasting an average surplus of $2.5 billion over the next four years. Now is the time to act.

CHIA Vic has developed an evidence-based election platform that calls for an additional 3,000 social housing properties a year for the next decade.

This ask is in line with an alliance of housing and homeless organisations, charities and social service organisations who have signed The Whittlesea Declaration, which calls on the government of the day to commit to providing the equivalent of one new Whittlesea annually for the next 10 years.

It is also supportive of the national Everybody’s Home campaign.

Sign the petition to support CHIA Vic’s election platform.
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Download CHIA Vic’s election platform.
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Councils call for mandatory inclusionary zoning

In the lead up to November’s Victorian State Election, frustrated councils in Melbourne’s outer east are calling on all political parties to commit to mandating the inclusion of social or affordable housing in new developments.

Six councils have formed the Eastern Affordable Housing Alliance, campaigning for a commitment to provide more than 11,000 homes to cover the shortfall in the eastern metropolitan region.

Launch Housing chief executive Bevan Warner said political parties needed to ensure that councils could make decisions regarding affordable homes.

“Local government should be able to include conditions to promote the broader public interest and that must include affordable and social housing. I think both sides of government need to clarify whether legislation is needed or not,” Mr Warner said.

The Victorian Greens Samantha Ratnam says the Greens would legislate to ensure every new large housing complex had a minimum of 30 per cent affordable homes.

‘The effectiveness of this idea has already been proven. Cities such as New York, London and San Francisco have undergone housing stress similar to what Melbourne is experiencing, and the use of genuine inclusionary zoning helped ensure that more people had a safe place to live,’ Dr Ratnam says.

The Victorian Government and opposition have not made a commitment.

Read more…

The Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) in Victoria has released an interactive Homelessness Heat Map which gives a true picture of homelessness across the state.

The interactive map is based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and has been analysed by Victorian state electorates.

It was developed to coincide with the launch of CHP’s Victorian Homelessness Election Platform, a ‘blueprint’ for ending homelessness in Victoria.

You can click on the map to see a break-down of how many people are experiencing homelessness of different forms in every electorate in Victoria.

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.

Vic appoints inaugural tenancies commish

Deputy CEO of Launch Housing and CHIA Vic Board Member Dr Heather Holst has been appointed as Victoria’s inaugural Commissioner for Residential Tenancies.

CHIA Vic CEO Lesley Dredge says Dr Holst is a ‘brilliant’ choice for the position.

‘Heather has worked in the housing, homelessness and tenancy sectors since 1989. With her experience of the sector stretching from the coal face of being a frontline worker through to senior executive and board roles, she will bring invaluable knowledge and skills to this new role.’

‘Victorian tenants will have a committed and diligent advocate,’ Ms Dredge says.

As Commissioner for Residential Tenancies, Dr Holst will work closely with stakeholders across the rental sector to identify systemic issues and make recommendations to government.

Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Marlene Kairouz says, ‘Dr Heather Holst has long been an advocate for housing rights and I congratulate her on her appointment.’

 

 

 

Partnership approach to deliver more housing

The Victorian Government’s moves to work in partnership with the community housing industry through a new Victorian Social Housing Growth Fund and Low Cost Loans initiative has been welcomed by the industry’s state peak body.

The Community Housing Industry Association Victoria’s (CHIA Vic) CEO Lesley Dredge says, with the waiting list for social housing in Victoria sitting at 42,162 households, action on creating more affordable housing supply is urgently needed and the government’s moves to increase the impact of the community housing sector via the growth funds and low-cost loans, are significant.

To resolve unmet housing need by 2051, factoring in population growth, Victoria must add another 3,000 social housing properties each year to house our most disadvantaged, plus another 3,000 affordable rental properties each year for low income households facing housing stress.

When the government’s $1b Social Housing Growth Fund is fully operational it will provide about $60 million annually, with the aim of adding only 2,200 social housing places over five years, an important step forward, Ms Dredge says.

‘The $1bn fund is the first time there has been a long-term, ongoing commitment to produce an income stream to be used for social housing in Victoria,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘We are hopeful that once this architecture is embedded, more funding will be allocated by subsequent governments; enabling community housing organisations to leverage the funds and plug the gap between the cost of delivering new social housing and the rents they are able to charge their low income tenants.’

The Low Cost Loans initiative for community housing organisations is also a step in the right direction, Ms Dredge says.

‘Making loans more affordable will assist some community housing organisations to leverage funds to be used to house more Victorians in need,’ Ms Dredge says.

Click here for details on the Victorian Social Housing Growth Fund and the low interest loans and guarantees.

Homeless shelter pops up in Melbourne

Even red tape can come with a silver lining, as proven by a delayed development site that has been used to create a homeless pop up shelter in the interim.

When red tape held up its development plans, CaSPA Care rented a former nursing home in South Melbourne to the YWCA for a nominal fee. The YWCA has turned the site into a pop up shelter by harnessing the goodwill of some key businesses.

Building company Metricon cleaned and refurbished the building then added an industrial kitchen and laundry; interior decorating company Guest Group furnished the pop up and social enterprise Two Good provided food.

The shelter can house 38 women – and is already receiving 40 applications a week.

Read more

Living cities forum hears tenants’ views

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYaJKKU34aM&t=7s

A high-level gathering of planners, designers and architects from around the world has been given insight into the possible development of Melbourne from the perspective of a community organisation and its tenants.

Melbourne-based Housing Choices residents and property team members created a video on their views on Melbourne’s future for the 2018 Living Cities Forum. The forum tackles a number of big questions around architecture and issues facing Melbourne and global cities.

Housing Choices’ video provided a unique opportunity for community housing organisations and tenants to reach the people who ultimately plan, design and build the cities and suburbs we live in.

View the video.

Launching a new CEO

Launch CEO Bevan Warner

Launch Housing, one of Victoria’s largest providers of housing and homeless support services, has announced that current Managing Director of Victoria Legal Aid, Bevan Warner, will commence as its new Chief Executive Officer on 29 August 2018.

Launch Housing Chair Neil Chatfield says, ‘We are delighted to announce Bevan’s appointment. His wealth of experience working with government and communities to advance human rights in meaningful and practical ways, makes him the ideal leader to continue the transformation and long-term development of Launch Housing.

‘He is an experienced Chief Executive and skilled advocate, who has modernised and improved services for the 90,000 plus clients assisted by the legal assistance sector each year.

‘Homelessness is not a condition that can’t be fixed. It is a problem that can be solved with the right policies and priority attention from government and the wider community. An individual life of dignity and the ability to sustain productive employment, requires all people to have access to safe, secure and affordable housing.’

Mr Warner says, ‘People’s experience of neglect, financial insecurity, trauma and ill health can propel them, often unfairly, into the justice system and sometimes into homelessness. We can do better as a community. I am thrilled to be joining Launch Housing, to continue its transformation and long-term development, and to provide much needed services to people in acute need.

‘Launch Housing is an organisation I have long admired, and I look forward to meeting staff, clients, to learning more, and applying my energies and skills to help achieve its mission of ending homelessness.’

article courtesy of Launch Housing

WHL awarded Housing Association status

In an exciting development, the Victorian Housing Registrar has approved Women’s Housing Limited’s (WHL) application to become a Housing Association.

WHL’s CEO, Judy Line says the status change from Housing Provider to Housing Association, which has been 18 months in the making, is significant: ‘Becoming a Housing Association presents a wonderful opportunity for WHL and our clients – present and future.

‘As a Housing Association, WHL will have the capacity and resources to be able to provide more specialist housing for women and children.

‘For women in need, it’s about providing housing security and also a pathway out of disadvantage.’

Community Housing Industry Association Victoria Chair Haleh Homaei congratulated WHL on the news.

‘It’s a huge achievement for WHL and it’s great to have a specialist women’s housing provider within the pool of Housing Associations.’

The Registrar of Housing Agencies, Bernard Gastin, approved Women’s Housing Limited’s application for a change in category to a Housing Association under the Housing Act 1983, based on its demonstrated capacity to grow at scale through a strong track record of consistent housing growth in the past and a future growth strategy that will continue this trend.

Whilst Registered Housing Providers vary in size, they primarily manage rental housing portfolios for other parties, such as the Director of Housing (DoH). Whilst some own properties, their growth is small scale compared with housing associations.

‘WHL specialises in the provision of affordable housing for women and children and has grown its asset base of $0.3 million in 2008 (with no owned property) to $54 million by 30 June 2019. Tenancy numbers have grown from 108 to 400. This scale is consistent with Tier 1 housing provider status under the National Regulatory System for Community Housing,’ Mr Gastin says.

‘WHL has also established a pipeline of projects, including a new development in Bayswater and partnership with major developers such as Lendlease. These projects will continue to increase the supply of affordable housing by approximately 60 units by 2025-26. The growth is achieved through WHL’s own capital investment as well as leveraging generous developer land contributions and without relying solely on government funding.’

The broader Housing Registrar team also congratulated WHL on achieving this important milestone.

‘We will continue to work closely with WHL to ensure the regulatory requirements of a Housing Association are met.’

WHL joins the other nine Registered Housing Associations in Victoria: Aboriginal Housing Victoria Limited, Common Equity Housing Limited, Community Housing (Vic) Limited, Housing Choices Australia Limited, HousingFirst Limited, Haven; Home, Safe Limited, Beyond Housing Limited, Unison Housing Limited and Wintringham Housing Limited. There are 30 Registered Housing Providers in Victoria.

 

Property fund gives more Housing Choices

Housing Choices Australia will build 24 new homes for low income and vulnerable people in Dandenong and Newport after being awarded $4.9 million from the Victorian Property Fund (VPF).

The VPF distributes grants to support a range of property-related programs, including housing assistance for vulnerable Victorians. Housing Choices is using the grant to rebuild and expand vital housing options at two owned properties; one in Hemmings Street, Dandenong and the other in Oxford Street, Newport.

The Hemmings Street, Dandenong property will be transformed into a five-story, architect-designed apartment building, increasing the accommodation from 7 run-down flats, to 19 apartments, located close to shops, schools and public transport.

The Oxford Street, Newport property will see the construction of five new architect-designed townhouses in a leafy residential street in family-friendly Newport.

Construction will start late 2018 and be ready for tenants in mid-2019.

The Victorian Property Fund is administered by Consumer Affairs Victoria, with funds from license fees paid by estate agents and conveyancers and interest paid on their trust accounts and income from other investments.

Consumer Affairs Minister Marlene Kairouz toured the Dandenong site with Housing Choices Board Member Fabienne Michaux to announce the $4.9 million grant.

‘Affordable housing projects give vulnerable Victorians the security they need to thrive. We’re investing in more of these dwellings, so that people going through hard times can rebuild their lives,’ Minister Kairouz said.

Housing Choices Managing Director Michael Lennon commended Minister Kairouz and the Victorian Property Fund for their commitment to supporting housing initiatives for Victorians in need and for their confidence in Housing Choices as the developer and manager of high-quality, affordable housing.

‘We have already worked closely with all the people who resided at our two properties, who have been actively and professionally supported by our experienced and compassionate Housing Services Team to find the right accommodation while this building program takes place. All Dandenong tenants will be afforded the opportunity to return to the newly built dwellings once they’re finished if they wish,’ Mr Lennon said.

Shared equity program allows residents to unpack for good

A unique pilot program, Unpack for Good™ that helps people living in community housing purchase their own home has launched in regional Victoria.

Pioneered by Community Sector Banking and Haven; Home Safe in Victoria, and Housing Plus in regional NSW, Unpack for Good aims to address demand for more affordable housing in regional areas.

Under the pilot, residents will be able to co-own their home with their housing provider – sharing ownership lowers the cost of purchasing the home for residents, meaning they can buy a home that would otherwise be unaffordable.

The remainder of the property’s cost is made up by a regular Community Sector Banking home loan.

It’s the first time this type of agreement has been launched with community housing providers and a banking service in Australia. Not only does it assist residents into home ownership; it also frees up housing stock for community housing providers, allowing them to assist more people.

“We’re delighted to be piloting Unpack for Good, which aims to create much needed opportunities for those on the margins to realise the great dream of home ownership,” said David Fisher, CEO of Housing Plus.

“Our experience tells us the only cure for the housing crisis is more affordable housing stock – this innovative pilot has been designed to deliver just that in regional Australia,” said Ken Marchingo, CEO of Haven; Home, Safe.

“We know that safe, secure and affordable housing is the cornerstone of people building productive and healthy lives. This program is being bravely pioneered by some of Australia’s leading housing providers without government involvement – providing a hand up rather than a hand out,” said Andrew Cairns, CEO of Community Sector Banking.

“This pilot is not only a great example of innovation to tackle the housing crisis– it shows how financial services and housing providers can work together to create more affordable housing, strengthen regional economies, and improve intergenerational outcomes for years to come.”

Census data released earlier this year shows an increase in homelessness to 116,427 people, including 43,552 (39%) under 25 – an increase of 13.7% since 2011.

With ACOSS attributing some of this increase to a lack of affordable housing, programs such as Unpack for Good will play an important role in alleviating the problem.

Download a brochure on the project.

-article courtesy of Haven; Home, Safe

WPI’s tax time campaign

Women’s Property Initiative has launched a tax time campaign to raise funds for a new development in Melbourne’s south east…

Imagine looking at 100 rental properties and not being able to afford a single one of them. Or searching for work when you don’t have a secure or stable place to live. What if your children couldn’t function at school because of the stress of moving around from friend to friend, relative to relative – or even worse – living out of your car.

These are some of the scenarios that single women and mothers face. Two out of three people seeking help for homelessness are women. We know there are many more who are the hidden homeless, living in highly unstable or grossly inadequate housing. Secure homes will change their future.

Women’s Property Initiative (WPI) currently provides permanent, secure and affordable homes for more than 220 women and children. They tell us every day about the difference these homes have made in their lives.

WPI is excitingly close to breaking ground on six new homes in Melbourne’s south-east that will completely change the future for six more vulnerable women and their children!

We have the land and we have secured funding for most of the construction. Now we need an extra $50,000 to get this development over the line and for it to be completely debt free. We’ve made some great progress towards this target, but it’s not too late to make a tax-deductible donation before 30 June to help us reach it! Please help these families secure the homes they deserve.

Click here to donate.

PPHA now Housing First