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.

 

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.