HousingFirst partnering with Vic Gov

Haleh Homaei,Chief Executive Officer of HousingFirst, is delighted to be the first Victorian community housing provider selected to partner with the Victorian Government as part of an innovative public housing regeneration project.

“With over thirty years’ experience providing housing for low-income and vulnerable people across Melbourne, HousingFirst will provide high-quality tenancy and property management services across the three ageing public housing sites undergoing major redevelopment in Preston, Northcote and North Melbourne.

HousingFirst’s investment in the project will see up to an additional 64 community housing properties built on the Preston site, for people on the Victorian Housing Register.

The State Government has guaranteed all existing public housing residents can return to live at their original estates in Director of Housing-owned homes, if they wish.  HousingFirst is fully committed to this outcome.

Once the redevelopment is completed, HousingFirst will deliver resident-focused, property and tenancy management services for all the social housing properties across the sites, including Director of Housing-owned properties.

All dwellings will be built, by Melbourne-based property development company MAB Corporation, to the highest standards of accessibility and with 7-star energy ratings, ensuring they are cost-efficient to heat and cool.

Plans also include high-quality urban design and improvement of open spaces. The revitalised precincts will include community rooms, recreation spaces and artist studios.

HousingFirst is pleased to be working again with MAB Corporation, with whom it has co-developed two other social and affordable housing projects, in Moorabbin and Box Hill.

With all such projects, careful planning and design and high-quality construction, are  followed with high-quality property and tenancy management services and a rich community-development programme, leading to significant measurable increases in resident satisfaction and community cohesion – not only among social housing tenants, but across all residents and neighbours of the developments.

HousingFirst is very pleased to be working with the Victorian Government and bringing our expertise and experience to this redevelopment project; to demonstrate how good social housing can be when it is well-planned, well-built and well-managed.”

Testing the boundaries of social housing: a case for flexibility in rural communities

An open letter to community housing providers from Fiona Lindsay OAM,  President of Dunolly District Hospital Auxiliary

Housing for low income people in rural communities is often overlooked; after all, populations are small and dispersed and there is such a significant and documented housing need in metropolitan areas that community housing resources and energy are well and truly committed in Melbourne and regional centres.

Over the last 20 years, the Dunolly community has identified the potential benefit of constructing Independent Living Units adjacent to the Dunolly District Hospital to provide continuity of housing and accessible healthcare for local and district residents, many of whom are physically and socially isolated and living in insecure and/or unsafe housing.

In 2018, the Dunolly District Hospital Auxiliary, with the active commitment of the Maryborough District Health Service, commissioned a comprehensive feasibility study to dig deep into our demographic profile, document our housing issues and review if building a cluster of up to 20 Independent Living Units was financially viable.

Consultations with three social housing organisations with regional experience were extremely helpful and shone a light on the limited potential to address our community’s needs under current guidelines for social housing.

Three conclusions stand out from the report:

  1. many local ageing residents experience an acute ‘Catch 22’ when they need to move into housing that better suits their needs; their assets exceed eligibility for social housing but are insufficient to buy into private and not-for-profit housing programs.
  2. survey respondents identified a preference to transition, when required, from home to a local Independent Living Unit with access to support and then to local residential aged care.
  3. there is potential economic benefit for the community not only during construction, but by keeping spending dollars in town and enabling employment in health and associated services.

If you can no longer safely drive, have no air conditioning in a poorly insulated house, can’t afford to make your house safe from electrical faults or have white ants demolishing foundations and walls, then the status of ‘home owner’ is more of a burden than a benefit.

We can only hope that the guidelines for social housing published last year as Homes for Victorians can encompass a more flexible approach to assisting older, rural people see out their lives living independently in their own community.

The Dunolly District Hospital Auxiliary, on behalf of our community, hopes that members of CHIA Vic will consider the distinctive housing needs of older, rural people and can test if the revised guidelines for social housing may accommodate a more flexible model than has been possible previously. Our community is happy to work with a registered housing organisation to pursue this matter as a pilot project.

 

 

 

Community housing input to maximise housing redevelopments

By partnering with community housing organisations, the Victorian Government has been able to greatly increase the number of social housing units to be delivered on three aged public housing sites in Melbourne, says Community Housing Industry Association Victoria’s (CHIA Vic) CEO Lesley Dredge.

The redevelopments, which include the sale of land to private developers with housing to be built for sale on the private market, were initially only to boost the number of social housing dwellings by 10 per cent. By partnering with community housing organisation HousingFirst, the increase is now closer to 50 per cent.

‘Community housing’s business model enables organisations to tap into various inputs such as grants, tax exemptions and subsidies that mean we can deliver more high-quality, affordable housing at a much lower cost to the taxpayer than would be possible via private developers or government agencies,’ Ms Dredge says.

In Northcote, 87 rundown public housing units will be replaced by 106 new units, in North Melbourne, the 112 existing units will be replaced by 133 and in Preston will see a huge uplift to 90 units from 26.

There can be no doubt that the government needed to take decisive action to maximise the number
of available dwellings – and rehouse those tenants currently living in sub-standard conditions in rundown estates, Ms Dredge says.

‘Victoria has the unenviable record of having the lowest percentage of social housing in Australia, with 62,419 households on the Victorian Housing Register as at December 2018. Those are households desperate to access safe, secure and affordable public or community housing and are only some of the Victorian households experiencing extreme housing stress – impacting on all aspects of their lives and the communities in which they live,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘Victoria needs to create 3,000 social housing properties a year for the next decade just to house those with a priority housing need. Doing nothing is just not an option.’

Download media release.

Coburg EOI released

Tenders now open

Tenders are now open for service providers who wish to be involved in supporting rough sleepers who are to be housed in new modular homes on three sites across Victoria.

Minister for Housing, Martin Foley has announced 19 new modular homes at Bacchus Marsh, Norlane and Dandenong will be provided through the Towards Home program.

Towards Home is part of the $45 million Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Action Plan released in January this year. The new properties add to 30 temporary modular homes that have been placed on sites in Preston, Reservoir, Chadstone, Doveton and Brighton.

Tenders for service providers at the new locations are now open at tenders.vic.gov.au.

Tenders are also open for the Action Plan’s $19 million assertive outreach program, which will see teams established in seven high need areas across Victoria – including Geelong.

The assertive outreach teams will actively seek out and engage with people experiencing homelessness, to help them access emergency accommodation, health services and ongoing case management.

 

$3m partnership to deliver new homes in Mitchell Shire

A partnership between the Victorian Property Fund (VPF), Mitchell Shire Council and BeyondHousing will see eight new homes built for couples, single parents and families at risk of homelessness in Wallan, Broadford and Seymour.

The new homes were announced by Minister for Consumer Affairs, Marlene Kairouz, on Wednesday 1 August.

BeyondHousing CEO, Celia Adams, said the Minister’s involvement highlighted the significance of the partnership.

‘BeyondHousing is contributing just over $1million and the Victorian Government $2million through the Victorian Property Fund. It’s a major project for us and we thank Minister Marlene Kairouz for the investment,’ Ms Adams said.

Ms Adams also welcomed Mitchell Shire Council’s support of the project.

‘Mitchell Shire is experiencing rapid population growth and we share their desire to ensure there is a place for everyone in these towns,’ Ms Adams said.

‘Mitchell Shire is leading the way in how councils can work with agencies like ours to ensure their communities get the most out of funding opportunities.’

Mitchell Shire Mayor, Cr Rhonda Sanderson said the housing would address a critical need in the area.

‘There is significant need for increased funding for homelessness services across the shire and greater investment in social housing – this is something we have been lobbying for as part of our advocacy priorities,’ Cr Sanderson said.

‘We are pleased to work with BeyondHousing to increase affordable housing in our shire and we sincerely thank the Victorian Government and BeyondHousing for helping deliver this fantastic service for our community.’

BeyondHousing is the largest housing and homelessness service provider within the Goulburn and Ovens Murray regions of Victoria. Last year BeyondHousing provided services to more than 5500 people and owns or manages more than 700 homes.

Ms Adams said the new homes would be a mixture of units and houses to respond to the housing needs of single parents, couples and families.

BeyondHousing’s contribution was used to purchase land on which the homes will be built.

‘Work will start soon on house design. We have appointed Sessions, Metricon and New View Homes as the preferred builders,’ Ms Adams said.

Tim Sessions from Sessions Builders said they enjoy working with BeyondHousing, building quality homes for people in need and also keeping local people in work, such as builders and trades.

Ms Adams said BeyondHousing deliberately focused on working closely with local builders to support their efforts to offer jobs in the community and add to the local economy.

‘This is a significant injection of economic activity in the area and we prefer to develop longer term relationships with builders in our catchment area,’ she said.

BeyondHousing is committed to addressing homelessness, supporting people in housing stress and increasing the supply of affordable housing.

‘Increasing the supply of affordable housing in the Goulburn Valley and north east Victoria is a key priority of ours over the next three years. Last year we added 16 new homes to our portfolio,’ Ms Adams said.

The project is supported by the Victorian Property Fund through the Victorian Government.

Public Tenants launch campaign for more housing

The Victorian Public Tenants Union has launched a campaign calling on the Victorian Government, Opposition, and Greens Party to commit to build at least 2,000 new public housing properties each year over the next decade, renew run-down properties that are passed their use-by date and include public housing in new developments.

The campaign, housed at  www.homesforall.com.au, and using the #HomesforAll hashtag  is asking supporters to sign the online petition and contact their local member to lobby for more public housing.

LGAs funded for social housing

Fifteen Victorian councils have received government funding for social housing initiatives, providing opportunities for them to partner with community housing organisations.

Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley announced the awarding of a total of $2.5 million to local governments to plan new social housing in their regions.

The councils will are to use the grants of up to $200,000 each for initiatives including creating municipal social housing plans and identifying land suitable for social housing developments.

Minister Foley says, ‘We are giving local governments the help they need to build more modern social housing in their council areas…I look forward to seeing the impact these projects will have in housing Victorians in their respective communities.’

The funded councils and projects are:

Cardinia: Facilitating Social Housing in Cardinia – $144,780;
• Casey: Affordable and Social Housing Strategy – $145,000;
• Darebin: Darebin Social Housing Strategy 2018-2028 – $110,000;
• Frankston: Site Feasibility Study – $160,000;
• Geelong: City of Greater Geelong Social Housing Plan 2018-2036 – $200,000;
• Glen Eira: Social & Affordable Housing Strategy & Feasibility Study to increase density of Social Housing – $200,000;
• Hobsons Bay: Epsom Street Affordable Housing – $140,000;
• Knox: Laying a Social Housing Pipeline in Knox – $200,000;
• Moonee Valley: Developing a model to deliver social housing outcomes for Moonee Valley – $200,000;
• Mount Alexander: Mount Alexander Shire Social Housing Feasibility Study and Business Case – $139,400;
• Port Phillip: Marlborough Street Affordable Housing – $200,000;
• Warrnambool: Warrnambool Social Housing Planning Project – $104,500;
• Whittlesea, Hume and Mitchell: Delivering Social Housing in Growth Areas: A Partnership Approach – $200,000;
• Wyndham: Building Social Housing Capacity in Wyndham – $200,000;
• Yarra Ranges: Lilydale Affordable Housing Project – $200,000.

Budget ignores housing crisis

Victoria is set to retain its unenviable record of having the lowest percentage of social housing in Australia, with the budget lacking the type of investment needed to provide safe, secure and affordable housing for those on low incomes.

Chief Executive Officer of Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic) Lesley Dredge says whilst the Victorian Government is to be commended on implementing the Homes for Victorians strategy, and putting in place the architecture needed for growth in social housing, Victoria’s level of social housing will continue to go backwards.

The latest statistics show there are currently 36,742 households on the Victorian Housing Register, awaiting social housing, including 17,848 on the priority list.

‘Those figures represents only some of the Victorian households experiencing extreme housing stress – impacting on all aspects of their lives and the communities in which they live, Ms Dredge says.

‘We must address the urgent backlog of social and affordable housing in Victoria. With Melbourne growing by 125,000 people last year and housing stress increasing in our regional centres, doing nothing is just not an option,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘We need 1800 properties just to stand still and remain the worst in the country – whilst the Budget target is a drop of 45 social housing dwellings.’

Ms Dredge says there were positives to come out of the Budget, including
– rebuilding the TAFE system and aligning the training system with industry
– big investments in mental health and addiction
– further investment in health and education
– continuation of the large focus on infrastructure.

‘But without an affordable, well-located home it is hard for those on low incomes to make use of these initiatives.’