Big Housing Opportunities

The New Year will bring significant opportunities for builders and developers to partner with community housing organisations to deliver 4,200 social housing properties over the next four years through the Victorian Government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build (BHB).

CHIA Vic CEO Lesley Dredge says the BHB provides an exciting opportunity for builders and community housing organisations to work together to provide much needed homes for renters who are priced out of the private housing market.

‘This task is both exciting and huge and can only be achieved if we all pull in the same direction,’ Ms Dredge says.

For many, this will be their first interaction with the community housing industry and CHIA Vic has developed information and fact sheets explaining the sector’s business model and what housing organisations will be seeking in development partners.

‘Key things to note are that our sector consists of heavily regulated not-for-profits who are looking to build and manage housing in well-located areas close to transport and jobs. Because we are looking to the long-term, our focus is on quality construction to reduce future maintenance costs and environmentally efficient design to reduce costs for our low-income renters,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘If social housing is to be part of a larger development, we will be conscious of the impact of amenities on ongoing owners’ corporation fees. Community housing organisations are unable to pay market rates for housing, which is why working in partnership with builders to bring down the cost of the build will be so valuable, providing a win for both parties.’

CHIA Vic will be running education and networking sessions in partnership with key developer peaks including the UDIA, Property Council and Master Builders Victoria early in 2021, but in the meantime, developers and builders can learn more here or sign up for CHIA Vic’s email newsletter.

Why so little social housing?

Ever wondered why Australia has so little social housing? Why the number of social housing properties is in decline despite the increasing and desperate need? Why social housing fails to get political support despite the mountain of policy ideas setting out what needs to be done?

CHIA Vic is holding a workshop presented by Swinburne University Adjunct Professor Terry Burke to answer the question, ‘Why can’t social housing get greater political traction in Australia?’

Tuesday, September 29 from 10am to noon.

Register now.

Councils fail to provide rate exemptions for affordable housing

Melbourne City Council candidates have announced a ‘new’ policy plan of giving rate relief to developments that incorporate a minimum portion of affordable housing.  On its own, that seems like a good idea.  And the proposed rate relief will hopefully motivate the construction of new affordable housing.  But the concept of rate exemptions for affordable housing is not ‘new’.  And existing laws are being ignored.

Many councils are presently declining to give a rating exemption to affordable housing owned by registered housing providers – despite the fact that Victorian legislation appears to grant an exemption.  There is no good reason for this position.

Section 154 of the Local Government Act 1989 deals with rate exemptions.  It grants an exemption to land which is “used exclusively for charitable purposes”.

Clearly the provision of social and affordable housing is a charitable use of land.  Every registered housing provider in Victoria is required to be a registered charity (most are tax-deductible Public Benevolent Institutions).

There is one category of housing that does not get the exemption under the Act – a house or flat on the land which is:

  • used as a residence; and
  • is exclusively occupied by persons including a person who must live there to carry out certain duties of employment.

Most ordinary people will read this as a ‘carve out’ for a dwelling where at least one of the occupants is required to live in the residence in order to carry out employment duties.  Examples might include a house used for drug rehabilitation which includes a ‘lead tenant’ employee; a Specialist Disability Accommodation which includes a live-in carer.  It seems anomalous to exclude these types of arrangements from the charitable exemption.

But the Act does not exclude social and affordable housing from a rate exemption.  In fact, the Act gives a rate exemption to affordable housing.  Many Councils are simply ignoring the Act.  If Councils want to give a boost to affordable housing, they could grant the rate exemption and they could do it today.

Giving effect to existing laws by granting rate exemptions would free up millions of dollars in the housing sector, which could be used to generate more housing.  Housing solves homelessness.

Andrew Boer, Practice Leader and Kate Drummond, Senior Lawyer at Moores 

Consultation on Melb affordable housing begins

CHIA Vic’s CEO Roberta Buchanan attended the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on Tuesday to speak in support of the council’s draft Affordable Housing Strategy. With the meeting endorsing the draft, a period of public consultation on the draft Affordable Housing Strategy has begun and members are encouraged to take part.

The strategy’s goal is to increase the supply of appropriate and accessible affordable rental housing in the City of Melbourne.

The strategy has identified four priorities:

  1. Advocate for mandatory inclusionary zoning.
  2. Develop affordable rental housing on City of Melbourne land.
  3. Strengthen internal affordable housing processes.
  4. Advocate and partner for affordable housing.

Learn more in the draft strategy overview and have your say in the online survey. You can also attend one of the pop-up feedback sessions or email a written submission.

The consultation closes Sunday 5 April.

Bendigo calls for input into affordable housing

The City of Greater Bendigo is calling for community input into its Affordable Housing Action Plan.

The council wants to better understand affordable housing needs in Greater Bendigo so it can address the growing shortage of affordable housing shortage, including utilising mechanisms to increase the supply of well-designed and efficient affordable housing.

The council has released a paper for public comment.

Click here to read the background paper and provide comment via a short survey.

City of Melbourne supports mandatory inclusionary zoning

CHIA Vic has commended the City of Melbourne  for its call for the introduction of mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would see developers compelled to include social and/or affordable housing in their projects.

The council’s Future Melbourne committee this week endorsed a submission to the Victorian Government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Planning Mechanisms for Affordable Housing that made the case for mandatory inclusionary zoning, at a rate to be determined by modelling, and with a cash-in-lieu option. This option would be complemented by flexibility for local governments to increase the minimum requirement where there was strategic justification and evidence of need.

The submission also called for local governments to be able to provide a voluntary uplift incentive in strategic development areas to encourage developers to include even more social and affordable housing than the level set for the state.

Currently, local governments in Victoria are able to negotiate with developers to include social and affordable housing, but the Affordable Housing Agreements are voluntary.

CHIA Vic CEO Lesley Dredge says making inclusionary zoning mandatory could play a key role in reducing the massive gap between supply and demand for social and affordable housing in Victoria, where the waitlist for social housing as at September this year was sitting at 44,152 households – and growing.


Social housing need 310% higher than thought

If every household in Australia who met the eligibility criteria for social housing decided to apply, waiting lists across the country would increase by more than 310 per cent, according to a discussion paper released by Compass Housing Services.

The paper, Estimating Current and Future Demand for Housing Assistance, used housed income date to estimate the number of households in Australia who meet current eligibility requirements in their state or territory and looked into the likely impact of the expected wave of automation and digital disruption on wages.

It found while there were currently more than 144,000 households on the social housing waiting list, income and asset data suggested an additional 452,000 households were also eligible to apply for housing.

Report author Martin Kennedy said the findings were “deeply concerning” and could cause future headaches for governments already handling a backlog of housing applications.’

Click here to download the report.

Affordable Housing Delivery and Financing Masterclass

At the Affordable Housing Implementation Symposium held in August 2018, the Minister for Planning, Hon Richard Wynne MP, announced an affordable housing capability uplift package to assist stakeholders when negotiating voluntary affordable housing agreements.

As part of this package, DELWP commissioned the Affordable Housing Industry Advisory Group (the AHIAG) to deliver four Affordable Housing Masterclasses between November 2018 and February 2019 to:
· Heighten awareness of the affordable housing reforms and associated voluntary framework.
· Build the capacity of Councils to successfully negotiate voluntary affordable housing agreements.
· Support timely and efficient negotiation of voluntary affordable housing agreements, and the delivery of more affordable housing.
· Support the development of a network of local government professionals with an interest in such agreements.
· Further build DELWP’s understanding of enablers and barriers to affordable housing agreements.

In light of the overwhelmingly positive feedback received from the four previous one-day Masterclasses, DEWLP have commissioned a further two Masterclasses. The one-day Masterclass is being offered on Tuesday, 14 May and Thursday, 6 June 2019 (participants only register to attend one date).

The Masterclass includes presentations by development and not-for-profit representatives. Opportunities for participant discussion, and a comprehensive resource pack to support further learning. It intentionally seeks to enhance stakeholder’s understanding of the cross-industry requirements to invest and support planning negotiated Affordable Housing outcomes.

DELWP Sponsorship
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is offering  a 50%  discount on ticket price to Local Government and Community Housing Organisation participants in the Masterclass.

Staff of these organisations can enter the discount code ‘delwp2019’ when selecting their preferred date option to receive a 50 per cent discount on the Masterclass Fee (tip: click on ‘Enter Promotional Code’ when the pop-up box appears).

Register here.

Email queries to Kate Breen.