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.

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.

Spending money on housing a must

Great Inside Story by Peter Mares on the National Housing Conference, that ends with this key comment:

‘Even if we don’t invest in social housing, though, we are going to spend a lot more public money on housing anyway. We’re just going to spend it in different, less effective ways: on more rent assistance, more welfare payments, more homelessness services, more visits to emergency departments, more Medicare claims, more police and ambulance call-outs, and more people going through the courts and being put in jail. And tax revenue will be lost as a result of lower employment and declining productivity.’

Read the full article here.

Michael Sukkar MP

More controls on development on Fed Govt land: Sukkar

Commonwealth Housing Minister Michael Sukkar has been reported as saying the ‘good old days’are over for developers who buy Commonwealth land cheaply and fail to provide any social or affordable housing.

In an article in the Financial Review, Mr Sukkar says the Federal Government would be prepared to sell land for a cheaper price if required to ensure more affordable and social housing was provided.

Click here to read the full article.