Parity open for community housing submissions

Community housing organisations are urged to respond to a Call for Contributions for the upcoming August 2020 “Supporting and Sustaining Tenancies in Community Housing” edition of Parity.

Parity is Council to Homeless Persons national publication, which examines homelessness from personal, local, social and global perspectives.

The August edition will focus on the work taking place across the community housing sector to support and assist tenants maintain their housing, including policies, programs, services and initiatives.

Download details here.

Homelessness inquiry seeks sector submissions

The Inquiry into Homelessness in Australia is seeking submissions from the community housing sector.

Submissions should be made to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs by Friday, 12 June 2020.

The Committee would particularly welcome submissions addressing the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness is Australia, and encourages community groups and others to share their experiences in responding to the pandemic. Those wishing to give evidence are welcome to prepare a short submission addressing the impact of COVID-19, to be followed by a more comprehensive submission later in the inquiry.

Click here for more information on the inquiry, including the full terms of reference.

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.

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.

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.

 

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….

Call to implement family violence recommendations

CHIA Vic is looking forward to the response from the Victorian Premier to a joint letter calling for action to eliminate homelessness caused by family violence by fully implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

You can read the letter here.

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.”

Victoria now has an Aboriginal Housing & Homeless Framework

Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) has launched the Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework to a large and enthusiastic crowd at Parliament House. The formalities opened with traditional dances performed by Aboriginal Wellness Foundation and were followed by speeches from Dr. Kerry Arabena, Chair of the Steering Committee, The Hon Richard Wynne MP and The Hon Gavin Jennings MLC.

The strategy, Mana-na worn-tyeen maar-takoort: Every Aboriginal Person Has a Home, is the first self-determined strategic housing policy developed by the Aboriginal community for their people.

CHIA Vic would like to congratulate Darren Smith and the staff at AHV for all their hard work in supporting the development of this framework. CHIA Vic is committed to the principles of self-determination and looks forward to working with AHV and the Victorian Government to implement this framework. In the coming months we will be releasing resources that support our mainstream providers in their work to deliver cultural safe services.

We welcome the initial commitment of $5.3 million made by government at the launch of the framework, and in particular the recognition of AHV’s award-winning More Than a Landlord program.

Download the framework.

More housing for family violence survivors in Dandenong

Family violence support service, Wayss, has added 16 new properties to its housing stock available for women and children escaping the horrors of family violence.

The properties are in addition to 14 properties Wayss secured under the DHHS funded head-lease program in 2019.

Wayss Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Thomas, says head-leasing, where a private rental property is rented from a landlord by a third party and
then sub-let to the tenant, is a great opportunity for Wayss to directly access private rental stock in the local community for families in need.

‘Stable housing is the first step in empowering a family violence victim survivor to take control of their life and recover. Once the family has secure accommodation, we can then coordinate specialist support services to help the woman and her children rebuild their lives,’  Ms Thomas says.

‘In just over 12 months, we’ve increased our housing stock to 30 head-lease properties under our management and that will result in some incredibly positive outcomes for families living in our local community. That’s 30 families that now have the chance to build a positive rental history to support future tenancy applications – it’s access to a critical first step that they may not have been able to take without this program.’

Before linking the family with their new home, Wayss conducts a full safety and risk assessment of the property and works closely with local real estate agents to ensure the right property for the right family. When they move in, the tenant pays only 33 per cent of the rent for the first six months, then 66 per cent for the remainder of the 12-month tenancy. The goal is for the family to then take over the lease and maintain the tenancy. The subsidised rent is a particular advantage when a woman is escaping a financially abusive relationship and needs time to get on top of their finances.

Ms Thomas says Wayss wholeheartedly supports the continued development of the head-lease model across Victoria.

‘Head-leasing is an extension of the housing first model which focuses on getting people housed in safe, secure accommodation and then supporting them to stay housed by access to dedicated case-management. Safe, secure housing is essential to support families to plan pathways for living their best life,’ Ms Thomas says.