Housing back in the Federal Cabinet

The election of the Australian Labor Party under Anthony Albanese means that in the next Parliament we will see significant housing policy reform. Placing the housing portfolio back in the Federal Cabinet sends a clear message that access to a safe, secure and affordable home is something of national importance and concern.

We warmly welcome the Hon Julie Collins MP to her new role as Minister for Housing, Homelessness and Small Business and extend our thanks to the Hon Jason Clare MP for the commitment he brought to his housing role in opposition.  As shadow housing minister Jason was unstinting in the time he took to engage with the community housing industry. We wish him well in his new portfolio of education.

CHIA’s work of course spans other of the Ministerial portfolios including domestic and family violence, veterans, disability and infrastructure. We will be seeking to build relationships with the new Ministers in these areas. I am sure most readers will already be familiar with the new ALP ministry but in case you missed it click here.

Importantly, in this Parliament there is a clear majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate for action to address the housing pressures faced by low income households. The Greens took an ambitious housing policy to the election and a number of the independents either had a clear policy or responded to National Shelter suggesting they were at least open to much in the organisations housing election platform. See here to read what they said.

The Australian Housing Future Fund, the returns from which will support 30,000 new social and affordable dwellings is a great start. We also know there’s a lot more to do; social housing has reduced to less than one in twenty homes across Australia. That’s because public and community housing has grown by only 4% over the past 25 years while our population has increased by 30%. Only 1-2% of housing built each year is social and affordable housing – far short of the 16% we managed in 1950s and 1960s. You can read more later in this issue about what this has meant for people waiting for social housing. 

So, CHIA strongly welcomes the institutional reforms in the ALP’s housing platform. The housing plan, the proposed Housing Supply and Affordability Council and the new national housing agency – Housing Australia – provide the necessary foundation for a serious effort to tackle our national housing affordability problem. This is a long term project that requires a non-partisan approach to successful delivery.

CHIA also acknowledges the outgoing government’s support to community housing, specifically through the establishment of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC). NHFIC has transformed community housing organisations’ access to lower cost and longer term finance and put us in a far better position to respond to these new opportunities to build social and affordable housing. 

Finally while the outlook for addressing the housing needs of lower income households is looking more positive it is very sad that Professor Judy Yates is not here to witness the developments. We pay tribute to this great woman below.  

Best wishes,

Wendy Hayhurst                                   
Chief Executive                                     
Vale Professor Judy Yates

Judy, one of Australia’s leading experts on housing economics and housing policy reform sadly passed away on Friday 20 May. She will be much missed across the housing world. In a long and distinguished career she combined her academic work with deep engagement in the practical business of policy reform.  She was also a long-term friend to the community housing industry and we have much to thank her for. Not least, Judy’s contribution to research on financing affordable housing directly led to the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation being established.

Her many achievements were recognised  in the Queens’ Birthday 2021 Honours List. Judy was awarded AM (Member in the General Division) for ‘significant service to housing and economic research, and to education.’  For enews, her great friend and fellow academic Professor Viv Milligan celebrated Judy’s 40 year plus career, her international renown and the role she played in multiple government advisory bodies.  

Amongst her past roles were a secondment to the Australian Government’s National Housing Strategy in the 1990s to produce the Financing Australian Housing issues paper for that strategy and membership of the National Housing Supply Council in the 2000s where she made a significant contribution to developing measures to quantify housing (including affordable housing) shortfalls. We will very much miss her input into the incoming governments promised housing and homeless plan and its intention to establish a new National Housing Supply and Affordability Council. That said her knowledge lives on in countless papers and most recently the 2020, book, co-authored with Hal Pawson and Vivienne Milligan, on ‘Housing Policy in Australia: a case for system reform’.  

Judy was generous with her time and advice. I personally benefited from her willingness to prepare pro bono reports. Our thoughts are with her family and close friends.

A memorial service is being held for July in Sydney on Monday 27 June at the Mosman Art Gallery and Community Centre at 2pm.

Managing Access to Social Housing in Australia: Unpacking policy frameworks and service provision outcomes

Recent research from UNSW City Futures Research Centre explores the ‘experience of waiting for social housing’ in Australia.  Housing affordability certainly featured in the campaign and was particularly prominent in the last week after the Coalition announced its ‘super for housing’ proposal. However, there was far less coverage on the pressures facing lower income renter households – two thirds of whom in private rental are in rental stress. Over the last two years rents have sky rocketed especially in the regions. This report explains why the social housing system is not helping most of these households. It examines the housing application process in each state and territory – the eligibility rules, allocation practices, and waiting list management –  and analyses the numbers to provide a picture of what is going on.

Despite the ‘frustrations’ of ‘inadequate breadth and quality of much official data’ the report provides deep insight into how each jurisdiction manages increasing demand for social housing.

It also shows just how much the annual supply of social housing tenancies is drying up.  Most of us are aware that social housing dwellings have dropped as a proportion of the population but this report shows that the position is exacerbated by the reduction in tenancy turnover. Proportionate to population there has been a 61% reduction in the number of applicants granted a social housing tenancy between 1991 and 2020/21.

Read the introductory blog here. Links to the report are in the blog.
City Futures Research Centre: Seminar Series 2022

Managing Access to Social Housing in Australia: Unpacking policy frameworks and service provision outcomes
– Professor Hal Pawson
Date: 10th June, 4pm-5pm
More info and register here
National Reconciliation WeekNational Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.
NRW takes place each year from 27 May to 3rd June. The 2022 theme Be Brave. Make Change. is a challenge to us all to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for all.

CHOs, their staff and tenants held many events to come together and learn about our shared history, cultures and achievements as part of an ongoing commitment to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

Here is a small selection of events from around the sector.
Housing Choices: Wurundjeri Gunnai Kurnai Elder Ronald Ringo Terrick conducted a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony for staff on the lands of the Wurundjeri people. 
Foundation Housing: spent time on country with Noongar Elder Neville Collard, hearing about his language and culture and the history of Whadjuk Noongar Boodja.
City West Housing staff celebrated National Reconciliation Week with a highly informative session on Gadigal country.  Aunty Norma Ingram, a Wiradjuri woman born in Cowra, NSW and an educator on Aboriginal cultural awareness for many years, presented on the topic of housing for Aboriginal people, ‘From the mission to the city’.
Link Wentworth staff shared reflections, resources, stories and questions about the histories, cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Unity Housing released their Reconciliation Plan
UK Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing Gets Big Thumbs Up

In the May edition of e news we featured the project commissioned by CHIA to develop an environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting framework. In this edition we include the first year report card on the UK Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing.  

Since it was launched just over a year ago, 68 UK housing associations collectively managing 1.5 million homes and 36 financial institutions with circa GBP 90Billion invested in the sector have formally adopted the standard. In England participation has reached over a third of the sector. Adoption is not restricted to the largest organisations. While the largest housing association managers more than 125,000 homes, the smallest has fewer than 500 homes, demonstrating that the standard is useful to a wide range of organisations. 

To oversee the development and promotion of the standard, the sector set up Sustainability for Housing Ltd, chaired by the former CEO of UK provider, Peabody Trust and with a board drawn from financial institutions and the sector.

In the first year, 49 housing associations completed ESG reports. In feedback from both those completing reports, there was overwhelming positivity expressed. The two main advantages found were that it has ‘driven strategic direction, operational decision-making, and ambition for ESG performance’, and that it has ‘improved the credibility on sustainability management with current and prospective lenders and investor’. Talking to investors, they seem to concur citing that the standard  is seen as ‘best practice’, and ‘provides assurance on ESG management and is ‘influencing funding decision-making’.

And what do the reports say? The report card both highlights high standards and also draws attention to issues that are less of a focus for regulators and some which require more investment dollars. While only 0.25% of homes fail to meet Decent Homes standards (the English property standard); just 14% of existing homes also meet the highest energy standards. The average board demographic is: 39% female, 12% BAME, 11% LGBTQ+ and 5% with a disability. The median gender pay gap is 8.14%. Reporting against some of the environmental indicators is challenging for some organisations, but over time they are going to provide important data on such things as Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, biodiversity criteria and managing pollutants.

Sustainability for Housing Ltd aim to update the standard to reflect the first year and changing circumstances.
Women’s Property Initiatives: 25th anniversary and a fundraiser to celebrate

On any given night, 49,000 Australian women are homeless. 39,000 women and children seek help for homelessness each year because of domestic and family violence. Many of them return to unsafe situations because they can’t afford a secure place to live.

Women’s Property Initiatives is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. To mark this 25 year milestone, we are launching a campaign to deliver 25 new homes for women over the next three years. A secure home is a new beginning. It is a foundation for a happier, healthier life. Please help us change the lives of women and children living in housing crisis.
If you would like to donate you can do so here


Congratulations to City West Housing

City West Housing’s Ironbark Apartments has been selected as finalists for two awards at the prestigious Property Council of Australia annual National Innovation & Excellence Awards.

It’s one of the five finalists for the Suburban Land Agency Award for Best Affordable Housing Development and one of the seven finalists for the Parkview Constructions Award for Best Residential Development. We wish City West best of luck ahead of the event in September.

The Funding of Western Australian Homelessness Services

The Funding of Western Australian Homelessness Services 2022 report commissioned by Shelter WA and undertaken by the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia (CSI UWA), is a comprehensive overview of the funding of homelessness services in Western Australia (WA).

This report is based on findings from 73 homelessness services operating across WA and outcomes from focus groups comprising of homelessness service CEOs and managers.Funding Focus

The report provides an overview of the current state of homelessness and policy that WA homelessness services operate within, before presenting comprehensive evidence of the funding of homelessness services, which assist those experiencing homelessness.

Full article, plus the report here

CHL urges Albanese to fix affordable housing crisis 

As Anthony Albanese is sworn in as Australia’s new Prime Minister, Community Housing Limited (CHL) urges him to address the national affordable housing crisis by taking immediate action to significantly increase supply.

While CHL Founder and Managing Director Steve Bevington welcomed the Labor Government’s commitment to invest $10 billion in the Housing Australia Future Fund which should yield around 30,000 new homes in the first five years, he says a sustainable, long-term strategy that increases supply is critical.

“The Labor Government’s commitment is only a very first step in what has to be a long-term and on-going investment to meet the rapidly growing demand that can’t be solved by the private rental market,” Mr Bevington said.

“We know the current $1.6 billion annual funding provided by the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement is not tied to increasing housing stock. This agreement needs to be reviewed with the primary aim of increasing supply.

Full article here
Gender diverse, Victorian and NSW young people and students most severely impacted by pandemic

Gender diverse young people, those living in Victoria and NSW, and students have reported higher proportions of negative impacts from COVID-19 on various aspects of their lives including mental health, according to a new report from Orygen and Mission Australia.

The majority of young people reported the top three areas of their life most negatively impacted by the pandemic were participation in activities, education and mental health.

Of the more than 3,000 young people who rated their mental health and wellbeing as poor, over three quarters (76.5%) indicated the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health.

The report – Clusters of COVID-19 Impact: Identifying the impact of COVID-19 on Young Australians in 2021 – reveals the alarming impact of the once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic with data analysed from Mission Australia’s 2021 Youth Survey – an annual Australia wide survey of more than 20,000 young people aged 15-19 years.

Full article and report here

Northern Territory:  30 New Social and Affordable Housing Homes Now Available for up to 70 Tenants

Up to 70 tenants will begin to move into new social housing units this month following the completion of 30 new two-bedroom units in The Narrows, Darwin.

The Territory Labor Government is investing $21 million into more social and affordable housing to improve liveability, boost our economy and drive investment right across the Northern Territory.

The signing of this lease for 30 new apartments complements other housing projects which are occurring across the Territory with CHIA members including: partnering with Venture Housing to supply 41 affordable homes across the Territory and establish a rental subsidy scheme for key workers; awarding the management of 57 affordable housing homes to Community Housing Central Australia and transferring 12 dwellings at Runge Street Coconut Grove to Team Health.

Full media release here
NSW: LAHC boosting social housing supply with a new development in Sydney’s Glebe

More than 1,200 of these properties will be for social housing – a 38 percent increase in social housing across major proposed redevelopment sites in the LGA.

“This is all part of the Government’s plans for 4,300 new dwellings across the City of Sydney Local Government Area (LGA),” Ms Brill said.
NSW Land and Housing Corporation Acting Chief Executive Deborah Brill said that LAHC is contributing to Glebe’s vibrant and diverse community, with construction expected to start at Cowper Street mid-year.

The NSW Government is boosting social housing supply in Glebe with demolition soon to commence at Cowper Street to make way for 75 new inner-city apartments.
More info here
Picture: Artist impression of Cowper Street, Glebe.
LAHC have also announced new data to support growth in social housing. Acting Chief Executive Deb Brill said it has expanded its Local and Regional Area Analyses for Campbelltown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Maitland, Newcastle, Orange, Parramatta, Tamworth, Tweed and Wollongong. “We continue to renew and redevelop social housing properties to ensure they are the right type, are in the right areas, and fit-for-purpose,” Ms Brill said.“This data will support the delivery of a pipeline of safe, well-designed and appropriate housing for individuals and families.“These new datasets will help LAHC and other housing providers reduce the priority waiting list, increase the number of homes available, deliver more homes fit for an ageing population, and provide more housing options tailored to local needs.”Further info here

SGCH: Cooking with purpose

On Monday 2 May 2022, Team SGCH joined with other volunteers for OzHarvest’s Community CookOff at Abhi’s restaurant in North Strathfield to prepare delicious chicken korma meals, 80 of which were delivered to Redlink, an organisation supporting public housing residents in Redfern. Together, Group CEO Scott Langford, Chief Financial Officer Kevin McCarthy, Group Executive, Homes Andrew Brooks and Rommel Harding-Farrenberg from Corrs Chambers Westgarth have raised $22,152 to date!

Further details and how to donate here
In the Media

CHIA applauds elevation of housing to federal cabinet
What business and peak groups want the new government to prioritise
Housing is a right, not a luxury
Builders urge debt moratorium to ease crisis
Australia’s social housing system is critically stressed
Public housing waitlist in Victoria balloons by 55%: ‘I’d never get anything, so why bother?’
From Billy Bragg to DJ Albo: what Anthony Albanese’s music taste says about him
Rental crisis in Tasmania forcing more into permanent spots in caravan parks
Developers keen to tap plan for 30,000 new social, affordable homes
Indigenizing practice: Inclusive Indigenous community housing
Wait times balloon as scarce social housing is ‘rationed’
Port Pirie’s Hillsview Tourism Park provides space for permanent residents with housing ‘impossible’ to find
Despite property booms across Australia, safe and secure housing remains out of reach for many
Renters are facing eviction as the National Rental Affordability Scheme winds up
Additional Safe Spaces to provide more support during winter
Blue Mountains tackles housing crisis with Australia-first community land trust
What are the election promises to ordinary low income Aussie renters?
Community works to keep rough sleepers safe in wild weather
Regional Australia Institute calls on policymakers to diversify responses to housing crisis
Grant opportunities

Here is a small selection of grant funding that may be of interest:

1. NHFIC Capacity Grants (Nat)
The Capacity Grant program, which is administered by CHIA, is open and CHOs can apply for up to $20k to undertake work in four key areas with a consultant from the panel provided.
More info here 

2. 2022 East Coast Floods Emergency Response Grant Program (National)
The ILSC Program has been established as an emergency response grant for any Indigenous corporation whose property has been directly affected by the floods. 
A grant of up to $20,000 (GST excl.) will be available to assist Indigenous corporations whose property has been directly affected by the recent flood disaster, or Indigenous groups who are assisting the immediate recovery and clean-up efforts on Indigenous lands.
More info here

3. Social Housing Growth Fund – Mental Health Supported Housing (VIC)
Homes Victoria, together with the Department of Treasury and Finance, have launched the Mental Health Supported Housing round of the Social Housing Growth Fund.
More info here

4. SHERP Remote Maintenance Grant (WA)
The purpose of the Remote Aboriginal Communities Social Housing Maintenance Grants is to support organisations that deliver social housing outcomes in remote areas to undertake maintenance works on existing housing stock, with the objective of improving the liveability and lifespan of existing social housing assets.
More info here

5. Housing investment Fund (QLD)
The Housing Investment Fund is targeting 4 housing supply priorities to increase social housing and affordable housing: homelessness and rough sleeping; diverse rental supply; housing choices for seniors and homes for large households.
More info here

6. Youngcare’s Home Support Grant (National)
The Youngcare Home Support Grants provide essential funding to assist people to move from inappropriate housing, such as aged care, rehabilitation or hospital, into somewhere more appropriate. This may be back home, or to more specific housing for their needs, such as Specialist Disability Accommodation.

More info here
Please send news stories or sector information that you would like to share through CHIA eNews to:
Joanna Forman
Business Manager, CHIA
[email protected]