NHFIC pandemic update

News from the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC)

The NHFIC team has been in regular contact with our community housing clients over the past weeks to offer support and gather feedback on strategies being adopted to address COVID-19 related circumstances. We appreciate the challenges that many of you are facing in ensuring continued provision of services and support to tenants, ongoing business functions and protecting the health and wellbeing of your staff.

It has been encouraging to hear in these discussions that the reduced financing risks and costs provided by NHFIC funding has been beneficial for weathering the impact of COVID-19. I’m pleased to advise we’re currently working towards the issuance of our third bond in the coming months, which will support more low cost, long term loans to CHOs.

Our team have also been engaging with state registrars to coordinate communications with CHOs. We will continue to communicate with registrars on a regular basis to ensure the community housing sector continues to be supported during this time.

The National Housing Infrastructure Facility (NHIF) is another way we can support CHOs as the need for more social and affordable housing increases. The NHIF is a $1 billion facility that provides finance for eligible infrastructure projects that will unlock new housing supply. It offers concessional loans, grants and equity finance to help support critical housing-enabling infrastructure, including electricity and gas; water, sewerage and stormwater; transportation (including roads) and telecommunications.

For more information, you can email our team or contact us on 1800 549 767.

– NHFIC CEO, Nathan Dal Bon

Funding announcement offers a boost to Aboriginal housing

Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) has welcomed funding announcements from the Victorian Government to upgrade and build more social housing for Aboriginal Victorians.

The government is investing almost $500 million to public and community housing as part of the $2.7 billion Building Works package, which will kickstart Victoria’s economy and create thousands of jobs across the state.

That includes funding for AHV sites in Hampton Park and Dandenong, creating 12 homes, as well as $35 million for upgrades, maintenance and repairs of existing Aboriginal social housing.

“This funding will enable AHV and other Aboriginal controlled organisations in our state to renovate hundreds of properties and build a dozen or so new homes. We expect Aboriginal Victorians to share in the new jobs to be immediately created in the construction sector while also providing more Aboriginal families with a safe place to live,” said AHV Chief Executive Officer Darren Smith.

“Every Victorian deserves a home and no sector of the community is denied this human right more often than First Australians. The commitment the Government announced yesterday to renovate thousands of existing properties (including those providing shelter for our people) is urgently needed, will boost morale and give a welcome charge to a flagging economy.”

Images of the property by Schored Projects supplied by Lucy Greenham.

NHFIC offering bushfire support

The National Housing Finance & Investment Corporation has pledged to support Community Housing Organisations efforts to help in the recovery process for bushfire affected communities, given the scale of the disaster.

Contact NHFIC for details.

NHFIC first home deposit scheme

First Home Loan Deposit Scheme

The banks have registered 3,000 potential first home buyers under the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme since it started on January 1, according to NHFIC.

The remaining 7,000 Scheme places for the current financial year will be available from 1 February 2020 when potential applicants will have a panel of 27 lenders to choose from.

NHFIC is releasing 10,000 First Home Loan Deposit Scheme guarantees this financial year. Another 10,000 places will be available from July 2020.

The staged release of Scheme places provides first home buyers with the opportunity to gather the necessary financial information to support their application and enables a broader choice between the major banks and smaller lenders. Twenty-five smaller lenders join the Scheme’s lending panel on 1 February.

Information on eligible properties and settlement dates can be found on the NHFIC website.

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.

Lord Mayor’s Innovation Grants open today

The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation Innovation Grants round supports new ideas – large and small – that address the social and environmental priorities of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.

This grant round will be the first under the Foundation’s 2019 – 2023 Strategic Plan, which features revised outcomes within the four Impact Areas, one of which is Homelessness & Affordable Housing.

The grant round opens today!

Click here for details.

Women’s trust grants open

The Victorian Women’s Trust aims to help women and girls thrive through targeted grant making. The trust currently has 11 grant categories open to applications, with several relevant to the housing sector.

Click here for details.

CHIA Vic’s State Budget submission

CHIA Vic has written to Treasurer Pallis to provide input into the first budget of this new government.

We argued that this budget provides a great opportunity to build on the new government’s momentum and tackle the bleak picture for those in housing need, as outlined in the Report on Government Services released last month. The report noted:

•    Victoria spends the lowest amount per head of population on social housing – $82.94 when the national average is $166.93.
•    Net recurrent expenditure on public housing decreased from $457m in 2014/15 to $412m in 2017/18.
•    In the five years to 2018, the total number of long-term social housing dwellings (both public and community housing) increased by only 42.

Against this backdrop, funding has recently been announced for 680 new rental properties to be leased by the community housing sector under the New Rental Development Program (see press release).  The Build to Operate program, which is also part of the Social Housing Growth Fund, is at the Request for Proposal stage and we understand that the government is overwhelmingly positive about the response to this program.

These initiatives, plus the commitment to build 1,000 new public housing properties, will provide a much needed to boost to stock supplies. However, while the initiatives in train are valuable they are not enough.

Fortuitously, we have a Build-to-Operate program that has been oversubscribed with the number of high-quality proposals far exceeding the amount of funding that is available. Many of these projects are time sensitive in that they are partnerships with developers, and if funding is not made available in this round then the project will not proceed at all.

We urged the Treasurer to allocate additional funding to allow all of the projects to proceed.  This would be a quick win for the government where no departmental design or development work would be required as all the systems and staff are in place.

In addition to more funding for the Build–to-Operate program, we would like to see funding allocated in the State Budget to:

•    deliver the Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework
•    evaluate the current inclusionary housing pilot and identify more parcels of government land for a further round
•    implement the Community Housing Industry Transition Plan.

Andrew benefits from solar install

Few renters would expect their landlord to install solar power for their benefit but SouthEast Housing Cooperative Ltd is doing just that.

Andrew Phillips* is the sole community housing resident in a small block of two-bedroom units in Croydon, yet his is the only home sporting solar panels.

‘My owner occupier neighbours are jealous,’ Andrew says.

Andrew’s home is one of the 162 properties managed by SouthEast that have had solar panels installed with the support of the Victorian Property Fund’s Environmentally Sustainable Housing Funding Round.

Andrew’s panels were installed in August last year and the impact was instant, despite his power company taking until February 2019 to begin crediting him with a feedback tariff for the energy his home was generating in excess of his usage.

‘But I noticed a difference in my bills immediately,’ Andrew says, with his bills dropping from an average of $5 a day to $3 a day.

Andrew says he was pleased SouthEast took advantage of the opportunity to reduce the energy consumption of their properties from an environmental, as well as financial, point of view.

‘I am really happy to be part of the bigger environment picture and I think this is something that should be rolled out to throughout the country.’

SouthEast’s CEO, Steven Morrissey, says his organisation leapt at the opportunity to apply for the VPF funding.

‘Our cooperative is all about housing and helping people on low incomes, and this is another way of making a difference.’

Retrofit funds for community housing up for grabs

Community housing organisations can apply for funding to retrofit their properties to improve water efficiency with the aim of saving water and reducing costs.

South East Water, City West Water and Yarra Valley Water in partnership with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) have created aCommunity Housing Retrofit Program (CHRP).

CHRP provides assistance to emergency and community housing organisations to repair leaks and repair or replace faulty water appliances across Victoria.

Eligible organisations include refugee housing, domestic violence shelters or short term housing for displaced persons.

Some of the retrofit works available under this program are:

  • Showerhead replacement
  • Repair or replacement of single flush toilet suites
  • Leak detection
  • Leak repair, including underground pipes and internal appliances and fixtures
  • Hot water service adjustment repair and/or replacement
  • Water and energy efficient appliance replacement such as washing machines and dishwashers
  • Additional related plumbing works

Click here for details of how to apply.