Life-changing accommodation opens

Six Brisbane residents with high care needs will have a new, state-of-the-art home thanks to a partnership with Community Housing (Qld) Ltd, Youngcare and the Queensland Department of Public Works and Housing.

The housing development will add to the much-needed stock of specialised disability accommodation (SDA) in a state which has an estimated shortfall of nearly 70 per cent of demand.

The high quality, purpose built, and architecturally designed development will provide a mix of shared and self-contained accommodation for people aged between 18-65 years with high physical-care needs with three townhouses and a share house for three people along with overnight accommodation for a care provider.

Community Housing (Qld) Ltd is the owner and ongoing tenancy and property manager of the new residence with Youngcare overseeing the quality of care of the new residents.

One of the residents will be 34-year-old Lathom, whose parents Margaret and Stephen have been caring for at their family home since he was born with severe Spina Bifida.

‘As Lathom’s primary carer, I’ve been responsible for his round-the-clock care needs while my husband Stephen acts as the sole income earner for our family. As my body has worn out, we knew we had to do something to prevent Lathom from ending up in a facility like aged care, which is no life for a young person,’ Margaret says.

‘Moving into Youngcare and Community Housing’s new residence at Wooloowin will allow Lathom access to more choice and exposure to young people and experiences, in an environment that will nurture the independent life we’ve always wanted for him.’

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.

Councils fail to provide rate exemptions for affordable housing

Melbourne City Council candidates have announced a ‘new’ policy plan of giving rate relief to developments that incorporate a minimum portion of affordable housing.  On its own, that seems like a good idea.  And the proposed rate relief will hopefully motivate the construction of new affordable housing.  But the concept of rate exemptions for affordable housing is not ‘new’.  And existing laws are being ignored.

Many councils are presently declining to give a rating exemption to affordable housing owned by registered housing providers – despite the fact that Victorian legislation appears to grant an exemption.  There is no good reason for this position.

Section 154 of the Local Government Act 1989 deals with rate exemptions.  It grants an exemption to land which is “used exclusively for charitable purposes”.

Clearly the provision of social and affordable housing is a charitable use of land.  Every registered housing provider in Victoria is required to be a registered charity (most are tax-deductible Public Benevolent Institutions).

There is one category of housing that does not get the exemption under the Act – a house or flat on the land which is:

  • used as a residence; and
  • is exclusively occupied by persons including a person who must live there to carry out certain duties of employment.

Most ordinary people will read this as a ‘carve out’ for a dwelling where at least one of the occupants is required to live in the residence in order to carry out employment duties.  Examples might include a house used for drug rehabilitation which includes a ‘lead tenant’ employee; a Specialist Disability Accommodation which includes a live-in carer.  It seems anomalous to exclude these types of arrangements from the charitable exemption.

But the Act does not exclude social and affordable housing from a rate exemption.  In fact, the Act gives a rate exemption to affordable housing.  Many Councils are simply ignoring the Act.  If Councils want to give a boost to affordable housing, they could grant the rate exemption and they could do it today.

Giving effect to existing laws by granting rate exemptions would free up millions of dollars in the housing sector, which could be used to generate more housing.  Housing solves homelessness.

Andrew Boer, Practice Leader and Kate Drummond, Senior Lawyer at Moores 

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.

CHL’s $6.1m development delivers 24 new affordable homes

Community Housing Ltd (CHL) has completed 24 new affordable homes in Melbourne’s growing north-eastern suburb of Mernda – an initiative made possible by a three-way partnership between the philanthropic, public and not for profit sector.

The $6.1 million development has been jointly funded by the Philanthropic organisation Peter and Lyndy White (P&LW) Foundation who is the majority contributor with over $4.2million followed by $1.2 million from the Victorian Government’s Social Housing Growth Fund and the remainder by CHL. Designed and built by CHL, the new homes will be rented out to eligible people with local community links, at subsidised rent.

‘The contribution by Peter and Lyndy White Foundation is truly inspiring. It shows the impact the philanthropic sector can make in the community. We are proud of the partnership with the Foundation and the Victorian state government in delivering this project which will provide real opportunities for those who are homeless and on low incomes,’ said Steve Bevington, Managing Director of CHL.

Located in the heart of the Mernda township, the high-quality two storey development comprises of one and two-bedroom apartments and will be offered to those on the social housing waiting list. With medical facilities, schools, public transport, supermarket and retail outlets in close proximity, tenants will have easy access to essential services and local employment hubs.

‘These homes are modern, well located and will provide much needed additional supply of affordable housing at a time where the cost of living is increasingly unaffordable. It will provide a new lease of life to those who have fallen into difficulties due to issues such as unemployment, family breakdown, illness and others that have led to their having ended up being homeless,’ Mr Bevington said.

‘The completion of the development couldn’t have come at a more critical time as waiting lists for public housing and social housing continue to grow. We hope to see more investment into building social housing to ensure everyone has access to safe, secure and affordable housing.

‘This project is a great example of three sectors working together to address the shortage of affordable housing. We commend the P&LW Foundation & the Victorian Government for their leadership and look forward to continuing the partnership in the future,’ Steve added.

Minister for Housing Richard Wynne said, ‘Everyone deserves the safety and security of a roof over their head. This latest tranche of the Social Housing Growth Fund will deliver more than 780 units to make sure people sleeping rough, at risk of homelessness, and those escaping family violence can find a home.