COVID-19 and the community housing sector

Find out how our sector has fared throughout the COVID-19 crisis by downloading the special edition of our CHIA Vic magazine. Out now.

Click here to view your copy.

Is COVID-19 causing a housing crisis?

CEO of the Aboriginal Housing Victoria and CHIA Vic Board Member Darren Smith will be one of the speakers on a Facebook Live event hosted by ABC Melbourne’s Raf Epstein on  Is COVID causing a housing crisis?

The online event is one of a series created by VCOSS and ABC Melbourne on some of the pressing social dimensions of the pandemic.

Darren will be joined by Dr Nadia Chaves, infectious disease specialist from cohealth and Georga Wootton, senior lawyer at Tenants Victoria.

It will be held on Thursday, September 10, from 7.30 – 8.30pm.

Click here to take part.

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.

Social housing push to end homelessness during COVID recovery

More than three quarters of Victorians want the State Government to “build significantly more public and community housing” as part of its response to COVID-19.

According to a new Essential Poll commissioned on the eve of National Homelessness Week, support for more social housing was rock solid in all demographics, regions and age groups, and across the political divide.

This includes support for more social housing from:

84% of Labor voters and 78% of Coalition voters.
76% of women and 78% of men.
77% of Melbourne residents and 79% of people in country Victoria.

Support to build more homes for people on low-incomes and those who are homeless was also consistently strong amongst workers, retirees, parents and those without kids.

A whopping 83% of Victorians agreed the Victorian Government should be doing more to end homelessness, in the poll conducted on behalf of Victoria’s leading housing and social advocacy groups.

Click to read the media release.

Cast your vote in Wintringham’s online art exhibition

The Wintringham Art Space 2020 online exhibition is now open! It includes over 80 artworks from people who use Wintringham’s services, many who have experienced or have been vulnerable to homelessness. There are paintings, drawings, crafts, knitted pieces, poems, sculptures and much more. The exhibition is an annual Wintringham tradition that takes place during Homelessness Week. It provides Wintringham’s clients with an opportunity to get creative and express themselves through their art, especially during this pandemic – look out for the beautiful ‘Covid dreaming’ painting.

As part of the exhibition, Wintringham has also launched its first ever People’s Choice Award. Visitors to the website will be able to show their support for up to five of their favourite artworks through an online survey, but voting is only open from Monday 3 until Sunday 9 August, so get in quick! There are art voucher prizes up for grabs for the winner, runner-up and a lucky voter, very kindly provided by Melbourne Artists’ Supplies. Visit the Wintringham Art Space for some artistic inspiration and vote now!

DHHS community housing infection control information session

Almost 70 CHIA Vic members attended a Zoom presentation by DHHS staff on infection control in community housing facilities on Monday afternoon.

Members discussed a range of issues including the need for security to accompany testing teams.

The PowerPoint, including resources, is now available for members on the Coronavirus Members page of our website.

If you are CHIA Vic member and do not have access, please email Jason.perdriau@chiavic.com.au for a log in.

Community sector survey opens

You’re invited to participate in the Australian Community Sector Survey COVID-19 edition, which will provide an invaluable picture of the effects of the current COVID-19 situation on the community sector, as it allows a longitudinal comparison between the sector in late 2019 and now.

Your response is vital to give a full picture of the impacts of these events on the sector.

The survey will close on 21 July 2020. 

Click here to take part.

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.

Get ready for the Rapid Housing EOI

 The Victorian Government will soon release its Expressions of Interest process for community housing organisations to apply for funding through its new $498 million housing package.

The government has announced funding is to repair, upgrade and build more than 23,000 of social housing units, with a further $50 million to be invested in aged care and disability accommodation across Victoria.

The funding is part of the government’s $1.3 billion Building Works package, aimed at creating thousands of jobs across the state to kickstart the economy post COVID-19.

It includes:                                     

  • $155 million for maintenance and upgrade works that can be delivered quickly – like painting and roofing – on more than 15,000 public housing properties
  • $110 million for new kitchens and bathrooms in 2,100 public housing properties
  • $50 million for community housing providers to undertake similar maintenance and upgrade work on social housing properties they manage or own.
  • $58 million to deliver brand new, shovel-ready social housing in Reservoir, Balaclava, Dandenong and Hampton Park.
  • $125 million for projects that increase housing options for women and children escaping family violence, Aboriginal Victorians, and those leaving State Government services.
  • plus, $50 million will fund maintenance and upgrades to public sector residential aged care facilities across metropolitan and regional Victoria, as well as more than 450 Specialist Disability Accommodation properties.

What you need to know:

  • The social housing projects are to start within the next six months.
  • At least 25 per cent of maintenance and upgrade funding will be earmarked for regional areas.

EOI

An Expression of Interest process will be designed to ensure projects respond to the needs of priority groups in the community and benefit communities across the metropolitan and regional areas of the state.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will release the Expressions of Interest process in the coming weeks. The process will be a rapid application and assessment process, with funding flowing to organisations to begin works as soon as possible.

 CHIA Vic

CHIA Vic has welcomed the funding and is working with the department to assist in successfully rolling out the package.

Social housing boom needed to avoid COVID-19 homelessness spike

The alliance of Victorian housing peaks has called on the State Government to act immediately to avoid a post-COVID homelessness spike, and begin rebuilding the economy.

Victoria faces a looming resurgence of rough sleeping unless the Victorian Government immediately
delivers long-term social housing options for more than 2,000 Victorians without a home who are
staying temporarily in hotels, according to Victoria’s housing and homelessness peak bodies.

The warning of a post-COVID homelessness spike comes as the group launches Make Social Housing
Work — a new blueprint for Victoria to increase its proportion of social housing to the national
average.

Victoria currently trails the nation in social housing, with just 3.2 per cent of all housing stock identified
as public and community housing. The new framework would increase Victoria’s social housing share
to the national average of 4.5 per cent of all housing stock.

To get there, the housing groups calculate the Victorian Government must commit to creating 6,000
new social housing properties each year for ten years, with at least 300 Aboriginal housing units a year.
In addition to keeping people safe and housed after the COVID pandemic, a social housing construction
blitz would provide much needed stimulus to the Victorian economy.

CHIA Victoria CEO Lesley Dredge says, “Building and investing in a stronger social housing safety net
will protect all Victorians who are struggling in the private market.

“With over 80,000 people already on the social housing waitlist in Victoria, people can be waiting to
secure stable housing for years. An additional influx of people who have lost income or their current
homes during this pandemic, will only make matters worse if the Government doesn’t urgently invest
to create more social housing.

Council to Homeless Persons CEO Jenny Smith says, “We have an opportunity right now to end
homelessness for people who were sleeping rough before the pandemic and have now moved into
temporary accommodation. If the Victorian Government doesn’t urgently deliver more social housing
these vulnerable people will have nowhere to go but back to rough sleeping when restrictions ease.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in hundreds of thousands of Victorians living a new reality
of unemployment, rent stress, and homelessness.

“Victoria spends less on social housing per person than any other state or territory, and years of
underfunding has created a perfect storm for Victorians unable to afford private rental and who find
themselves without a home.

VCOSS CEO Emma King says, “These two thousand people in hotels are just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Social housing is a smart investment. It saves lives, saves jobs and saves money in the long-run,” Ms
King said.

The Housing Peaks Alliance comprises: Aboriginal Housing Victoria, the Community Housing Industry
Association (Victoria), the Council to Homeless Persons, Domestic Violence Victoria, Justice Connect,
Tenants Victoria, the Victorian Public Tenants’ Association and the Victorian Council of Social Service.
Unless we move fast to build more social housing, tens of thousands of Victorians risk being homeless
again, or thrust into homelessness for the first time.

The Housing Peaks Alliance is calling on Victorian Government to develop a 10-year social housing
plan. This will not only address the backlog of housing infrastructure and keep up with population
growth but demonstrate a commitment to a stronger, fairer Victoria for future generations.

You can view the full framework here.