Stimulate social housing

Anglicare Australia has called on cabinet to include action on social housing and Newstart in its stimulus package.

Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers said the stimulus package offered the Morrison Government the perfect opportunity to invest in social housing.

“The homelessness crisis will only get worse after the summer bushfires. The effects are likely to be felt for years. Social housing is the best way to tackle that crisis.

“Social housing will offer relief for the tens of thousands of people who are homeless in Australia. It also boosts GDP, and creates jobs in construction for the regions that need it most.

“With the economy reeling from the recent bushfires and struggling in the wake of the coronavirus, we need to invest in projects that are shovel-ready. There is no time to waste. Social housing projects can get off the ground more quickly than road or rail infrastructure – and it brings longer-term benefits.

“For years, the community and business sectors have known what’s needed to be done to boost the economy. Now it’s time for the Government to act before it’s too late.”

Ms Chambers also called on the government to raise Newstart.

“For months, experts and economists have been telling the government that the best way to boost the economy is to raise the rate of Newstart. Now is the time to act,” Ms Chambers said.

A Newstart increase of $95 a week would boost the economy by $4 billion – and create thousands of jobs. The benefits would go straight to the areas that need them most.

“Whole communities would benefit, including those recovering from this summer’s devastating fires. The flow-on effects would be profound. Every cent would be spent in local communities.

“We call on the Government to take the step that we know would make the biggest impact to the economy and those in need. It’s time to raise the rate of Newstart.”

ROGS data unsurprising

Last year’s ROGS data has been released and, as expected, it shows very little growth in social housing numbers for 2018/19. Victoria continues to invest in social housing at a lower rate than population figures would predict. Despite 25 per cent of Australia’s population (and growing) living in Victoria, the Victorian Government was only responsible for 15 per cent of the national expenditure on housing in 2018/19. However, the Victorian Government’s expenditure on all social housing did increase to $600m, up from $539m in 2017/18.

The number of dwellings in the public housing portfolio was 64,428 in 2018/19, down from 65,064 10 years ago. This decline in stock numbers cannot be explained by stock transfers, as the only transfers that occurred during this period were properties already managed by community housing and therefore were counted in the community housing stock figures. Over the same period, community housing dwellings increased by about 40 per cent, with funding via a combination of government, philanthropic grants and borrowings.

We all know that the throughput in social housing is decreasing with very few private affordable housing rentals available. Public housing assisted 3,990 new households in 2014/15 and that figure plummeted to 2,826 in 2018/19 – a decrease of about 30 per cent. This at a time when there are over 50,000 applications on the Victorian Housing Register.

The decline in throughput was not as great in community housing over the same period. There were 2,115 new tenancies in 2014/15 and 1,953 in 2017/18 – a decrease of about 8 per cent. In part, this would be explained by the sector’s transitional housing and rooming house stock.

Community housing continues to have a higher satisfaction rating than public housing and the latter houses a slightly higher percentage of tenants with the ‘greatest need’; 92 per cent compared to community housing’s 90 per cent.

While the data is interesting, different state and territory policy and practice make inter-sector and jurisdictional comparisons fraught. Also, community housing data is subject to many qualifications and some omissions. Changes in data definitions are amongst the reason comparisons over time are also not straightforward. In Victoria, 96 organisations are invited to fill in the survey while in some jurisdictions only the registered community housing sector is surveyed. There are 38 organisations registered in Victoria with about 20,000 properties under management yet in Victoria 80 of the 96 completed the survey, reporting well short of 20,000 properties!

The Commonwealth wants to improve the quality of the data and is committed to working towards a nationally-consistent data set. In the meantime, this is the best we have. CHIA Vic will continue to liaise with Department of Health and Human Services to improve the Victorian collection.

 

NHFIC offering bushfire support

The National Housing Finance & Investment Corporation has pledged to support Community Housing Organisations efforts to help in the recovery process for bushfire affected communities, given the scale of the disaster.

Contact NHFIC for details.

NHFIC first home deposit scheme

First Home Loan Deposit Scheme

The banks have registered 3,000 potential first home buyers under the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme since it started on January 1, according to NHFIC.

The remaining 7,000 Scheme places for the current financial year will be available from 1 February 2020 when potential applicants will have a panel of 27 lenders to choose from.

NHFIC is releasing 10,000 First Home Loan Deposit Scheme guarantees this financial year. Another 10,000 places will be available from July 2020.

The staged release of Scheme places provides first home buyers with the opportunity to gather the necessary financial information to support their application and enables a broader choice between the major banks and smaller lenders. Twenty-five smaller lenders join the Scheme’s lending panel on 1 February.

Information on eligible properties and settlement dates can be found on the NHFIC website.

NHFIC update

In what has been a full year for NHFIC, the Board approved over $900 million of loans to 16 community housing organisations supporting the financing of more than 3800 social and affordable homes and over 1000 new dwellings.

The issuance of two bonds totalling $630 million during the year enabled NHFIC to provide lower cost, longer term loans to community housing organisations around the country with the second NHFIC bond issued last month supporting loans to seven CHOs in Victoria, NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia.

NHFIC’s 2018-19 Social Bond Report details the use of proceeds from NHFIC’s inaugural  bond issuance in March 2019. The report demonstrates the positive impact that NHFIC’s transformative financing is achieving in improving housing outcomes for Australians.  You can view the report here.

New financial modelling tools

During the year, NHFIC launched two new financial modelling tools to assist CHOs. Workshops and training for the Project Finance Model will be available in early January, while workshops for the Financial Model will follow in February.

Capacity Building Program

NHFIC has also extended the $1.5 million Capacity Building Program to Tier 1 CHOs. The program provides access to professional advisory services to assist CHOs with the upfront work required to support a NHFIC loan application.

First Home Loan Deposit Scheme

Finally, NHFIC is looking forward to the launch of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme on 1 January 2020, a new Australian Government initiative that will help first home buyers on low to moderate incomes enter the housing market sooner. Fact sheets and eligibility criteria can be accessed on the NHFIC website.

Check out NHFIC’s new website featuring a number of product fact sheets and case studies.

  • article courtesy of NHFIC

Send your pollie an important Christmas message

The Everybody’s Home campaign is urging people to send their MP a Christmas Card setting out the reasons why more action is needed on social housing.

 

You can take part in the digital campaign by clicking on the Everybody’s Home campaign page and adding your postcode to find your federal MP and hit send to makd sure they receive the digital card by Christmas.

There’s only seven days until Christmas so be quick!

 

 

Assistant Treasurer visits HousingFirst development

HousingFirst residents and management were pleased to welcome the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer, during a visit to their residential housing development in St Kilda.

Minister Sukkar met with HousingFirst residents Jan and Roxane and heard, first-hand, about the positive impact that good social housing has had on their lives.

Jan has been a HousingFirst tenant for over 25 years. She is an active volunteer and a giving member of her community. She has been foster Mum to over 40 children. Over the years, depending on her needs, Jan has been housed in various HousingFirst properties, and due to health and mobility issues (and her foster son Luke moving out of home) she moved to her current Chapel Street apartment seven years ago.

HousingFirst CEO Haleh Homaei and Chair Frank O’Connor were delighted to show the Minister over the award-winning, modern, social housing development in Chapel Street, St Kilda. Completed in 2012, the development was built by HousingFirst with support from the Victorian Government and is home to 81 tenants and their families, who have created a supportive and vibrant community with the help of HousingFirst.

The development is typical of the 276, high-quality new and refurbished homes that HousingFirst and the Port Phillip Housing Trust will now build in St Kilda, Preston, Box Hill and Rowville, thanks to the $72 million of low cost finance they were awarded in the second round of National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) funding, announced by Minister Sukkar. (View the Minister’s statement here).

In welcoming Minister Sukkar to the property, CEO Haleh Homaei acknowledged the vital role played by NHFIC, that operates the Australian Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator and provides cheaper and longer-term secured finance for community housing providers by issuing bonds in Australia’s debt capital markets.

‘There are just too many people struggling to find good, safe housing that they can afford. The awful consequences of this shortage are only too visible on our streets; with the rising numbers of homeless, and the impact of unstable or unsuitable housing on them and on the community. Not for profit housing providers like HousingFirst are ready and willing to build new homes for vulnerable people in need, and help them re-build their lives. Having access to low cost finance through NHFIC will jump-start our projects and enable us to build homes that will take people off the streets and into homes, where they can be safe and plan for the future,’ Ms Homaei said.

HousingFIrst Chair Mr Frank O’Connor thanked the Minister for his commitment to HousingFirst and its tenants, and to the community housing sector. ‘With practical support from both Federal and State governments, the community housing sector can genuinely help to resolve the housing crisis that has badly affected so many vulnerable Victorians,’ he said.

Safe Places Emergency Accommodation capital grants open

The Australian Government’s $60 million Safe Places Emergency Accommodation capital grant round is now open with the closing date extended to 11.00pm (AEDT) on 14 February 2020.

Safe Places will provide new or expanded emergency and crisis accommodation for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.  It could also fund renovations or repurposing of buildings, where it creates new emergency accommodation.

 Participants must:

  • comply with all applicable work health and safety requirements, including under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Cth) and any other applicable laws (including state and territory law)
  • comply with the Work Health and Safety Accreditation Scheme under the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 if:

o   the grant payable under the Funding Agreement is $4 million or more (GST inclusive); and

o   the grant is for ‘building work’ (as defined in the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016).

Organisations interested in applying for a Safe Places grant should visit Community Grants Hub or GrantConnect for grant information. Organisations should refer to the Questions and Answers document which includes the questions received during the information sessions.  It also includes the support that is available from state and territory governments.  If you have a question about Safe Places or the grants process that is not included on the Questions and Answers document please email support@communitygrants.gov.au no later than 5.00pm AEDT on 7 February 2020.

The best way to ensure organisations are notified of announcements or changes to the Safe Places program is to register with GrantConnect.

Help to access NHFIC funds

Did you know that housing organisations can access grants of up to $20,000 (incl GST) for tailored consulting services (selected from an approved panel) to assist their applications for NHFIC finance?

CHIA Vic has created a new web resource to assist those community housing organisations that are interested in applying for funding via the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC).

Visit the page here.

The rest we forget

An article in the Daily Telegraph reports that almost 6000 veterans are homeless every 12 months at a rate nearly three times higher than the national average.

A three-year study by the Australian Housing and Urban Infrastructure (AHURI) for the Department of Veterans Affairs showed the highest recorded rate of homelessness in the Veterans community.

Click here to read the full article or read the AHURI report.