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.

A problem and a solution

Australia’s lack of social housing is usually talked about as a major problem. And it is, particularly in Victoria, which languishes at the bottom of the pile in terms of social housing as a proportion of the total housing market. However, a Smart Company article, which quotes CHIA National’s CEO Wendy Hayhurst, lays out a reasoned argument about why social housing can also be a solution in the context of the Covid-19 generated economic turndown.

Read it here.

Super interest in affordable housing

Industry super funds are showing increased interest in investing in affordable housing and are expected to support calls from the Community Housing Industry Association for state and federal governments to offer subsidies to make low-cost housing feasible as a long-term investment.

Read more….

Opportunity to shape home energy rating scheme

Community housing organisations have the opportunity to help shape the development of a home energy rating scheme for existing homes and take advantage of opportunities to access capital to undertake energy upgrades within their portfolios.

As part of the Trajectory for Low Energy Buildings, The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Energy Council, comprising the national, state and territory energy ministers, has agreed to national initiatives that improve the energy efficiency of the housing sector.

One of the initiatives is to deliver a home energy rating scheme for existing homes by mid-2021 that leverages the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) and accommodates energy rating tools. Currently NatHERS is primarily used for new homes, so extending it to existing homes will provide a national rating system for all homes.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is leading this initiative with a project that aims to identify the needs of key markets – such as the social housing sector – and how the proposed extension of NatHERS to existing homes could meet those needs.

This process will inform the design of the scheme and encourage early voluntary adoption.

Key institutional stakeholders, including the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), will be involved in the project, which will also support the social housing sector to better understand opportunities for energy upgrades within their existing portfolios and highlight additional mechanisms available to access capital.

The NSW Department is starting its engagement with Community Housing Organisations (CHOs) with an industry workshop early July.

For details, and to register your interest in participating in the upcoming workshop, contact James Erickson.

 

 

ABC Radio National calls for more social housing

In an article published by the ABC’s Radio National, Peter Mares,the  author of No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis, echoes our sector’s call for increased investment in social housing. 

In the article entitled, Can Australia build its way out of the coronavirus economic slump, with public housing the priority? Mr Mares writes: ‘Large-scale programs to build social housing aren’t a short-term fix to help the economy recover from the pandemic, they are a long-term investment in a prosperous and fair society.

‘It would take a lot of money. But unless we invest in social housing, we are going to spend a lot of money anyway; we’re just going to spend in different, less effective ways as we condemn a proportion of the population to housing insecurity and rental stress.’

Click here to read the full article.

Download the COVIDSafe app

The COVIDSafe app speeds up the process of contacting people who have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19), assisting health authorities to find and contain outbreaks quickly.

Downloading the app is voluntary but the greater the uptake the more effective it will be in, potentially allowing the current movement restrictions to be eased earlier.

Click here for more information on the app and how to download it.

Petition calls for ongoing increase to income support payments

Anglicare’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot has provided a unique insight into the impact embedding the temporary increase in some income support payments would have for those struggling to secure housing.

The snapshot was taken only days before the Commonwealth Government announced a temporary, six-month increase to some income payments in response to the pandemic. It found that only 3 per cent of all properties in Australia advertised for rent were affordable and appropriate for households on government income support payments.

For households on minimum wage it was 22 per cent.

For those receiving the Disability Support Pension, only 245 properties in the whole of the country were affordable and suitable.

Anglicare then recalculated the figures to see how they would be impacted if the government’s Coronavirus Supplement increase to income support was ongoing.

It found couples with children where both parents are receiving Jobseeker Payment would be able to afford more than 11 per cent of properties, up from 1 per cent.

Couples where one parent is receiving minimum wage and the other the Parenting Payment (Partnered) would see a 10 per cent increase.

Singles, including those with children, would see little improvement in affordability. The situation for those on the Disability Support Pension and the Aged Pension was unchanged, as there were no increases to their payments.

Anglicare Australia  is calling for a permanent adoption of the $275 per week increase for Jobseeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy and Parenting Payment recipients;  an expansion of the increase to cover people on the Disability Support Pension, Carers and Aged Pensioners with accommodation costs;  an expansion of the Jobseeker Payment to cover migrants, people seeking asylum, and international students; and , the creation of an Independent Social Security Commission to review and set government income payments.

The Everybody’s Home campaign is citing the snapshot results in its push to have  housing included in any stimulus package, permanently increase income support, and to keep up the pressure for long-term action on homelessness.

You can support the campaign by signing the Everybody’s Home petition.

Click here to view Anglicare’s 2020 Rental Affordability snapshot.

 

NHFIC’s new financial modelling tool

A new financial model is now available on the NHFIC website. The financial model was developed in consultation with community housing organisations to provide a uniform framework that can be used to deliver historical and forecast financial information to NHFIC during the loan origination and management processes.

The Microsoft Excel-based tool has been designed to accommodate common activities undertaken by the community housing sector and can accommodate an actual/forecast period of up to 30 years.

Any feedback on the new financial model can be sent to inquiries@nhfic.gov.au.

CHOs interested in applying for a NHFIC loan can complete the eligibility checker on its website.

Affordable housing stimulus calls grow

Great to see the construction industry has joined with charities and welfare groups to push for a post-COVID-19 social housing boom to stimulate the economy, create more jobs and head off a potential increase in homelessness.

Community housing organisations played an important role in the Rudd Government’s stimulus package during the Global Financial Crisis and we are ready to do the same again.

Read today’s Age article….

CHIA Vic seeking clarity on eviction measures

Following the recent National Cabinet announcement of an eviction moratorium, Premier Andrews has released a statement regarding the Victorian measures being introduced to limit evictions and support tenants in rental stress in the wake of the coronavirus.

The media release is available here. Further information from the Department of Justice and Community Safety is available here.

CHIA Vic has sought further information about how these measures will impact the Victorian community housing  sector and will be providing updates to members on this issue.