Extra housing for family violence victims 

Haven; Home Safe (HHS) has received funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to secure an additional 50 head-leased properties for women and children escaping family violence.

This is the fourth consecutive year the agency has received funding for its award-winning Moving On program, which operates across the North Region of the state, providing rent subsidy and wrap-around support services for households who have experienced family violence.

HHS Chief Operations Officer Trudi Ray said the aim of Moving On was to increase the supply of medium to long-term affordable rental housing.

‘The program means women and their families can access the support they need to stay safe and get back on their feet,’ Ms Ray said.  

HHS sub-lets properties to approved applicants for a period of up to 12 months, while locally based family violence services provide the wrap-around supports.

‘We use a rent step-up model which helps our clients slowly transition towards paying full market rent by the end of the 12 months,’ Ms Ray said 

Of the previous allocations, HHS obtained under the plan, 92 per cent of victim-survivors transitioned to a private rental lease of their chosen property at the end of the 12-month head-lease period.

The organisation will be sending out the call to specialised family violence agencies for referrals to the program in the Melbourne area from Monday, February 3.

‘Once Metro clients have been sourced, we will be accepting referrals from local specialised family violence agencies in Bendigo and other regions in Victoria,’ Ms Ray said.

‘We are pleased to be able to continue the important work we have started with Moving On.’


The regional sites include Geelong, Ballarat, Warrnambool, Bendigo and Mildura/Swan Hill.
 

ROGS data unsurprising

Last year’s ROGS data has been released and, as expected, it shows very little growth in social housing numbers for 2018/19. Victoria continues to invest in social housing at a lower rate than population figures would predict. Despite 25 per cent of Australia’s population (and growing) living in Victoria, the Victorian Government was only responsible for 15 per cent of the national expenditure on housing in 2018/19. However, the Victorian Government’s expenditure on all social housing did increase to $600m, up from $539m in 2017/18.

The number of dwellings in the public housing portfolio was 64,428 in 2018/19, down from 65,064 10 years ago. This decline in stock numbers cannot be explained by stock transfers, as the only transfers that occurred during this period were properties already managed by community housing and therefore were counted in the community housing stock figures. Over the same period, community housing dwellings increased by about 40 per cent, with funding via a combination of government, philanthropic grants and borrowings.

We all know that the throughput in social housing is decreasing with very few private affordable housing rentals available. Public housing assisted 3,990 new households in 2014/15 and that figure plummeted to 2,826 in 2018/19 – a decrease of about 30 per cent. This at a time when there are over 50,000 applications on the Victorian Housing Register.

The decline in throughput was not as great in community housing over the same period. There were 2,115 new tenancies in 2014/15 and 1,953 in 2017/18 – a decrease of about 8 per cent. In part, this would be explained by the sector’s transitional housing and rooming house stock.

Community housing continues to have a higher satisfaction rating than public housing and the latter houses a slightly higher percentage of tenants with the ‘greatest need’; 92 per cent compared to community housing’s 90 per cent.

While the data is interesting, different state and territory policy and practice make inter-sector and jurisdictional comparisons fraught. Also, community housing data is subject to many qualifications and some omissions. Changes in data definitions are amongst the reason comparisons over time are also not straightforward. In Victoria, 96 organisations are invited to fill in the survey while in some jurisdictions only the registered community housing sector is surveyed. There are 38 organisations registered in Victoria with about 20,000 properties under management yet in Victoria 80 of the 96 completed the survey, reporting well short of 20,000 properties!

The Commonwealth wants to improve the quality of the data and is committed to working towards a nationally-consistent data set. In the meantime, this is the best we have. CHIA Vic will continue to liaise with Department of Health and Human Services to improve the Victorian collection.

 

One Hundred Social and Affordable Rentals Delivered

One hundred Victorians are the proud tenants of a new, modern, safe and secure place to call home thanks to a joint venture between National Affordable Housing Consortium (NAHC) and Common Equity Housing Limited (CEHL), backed by the $1 billion Victorian Social Housing Growth Fund.

NAHC and CEHL created a holding company, Affordable Rentals Victoria, to deliver the project.

This Victorian State Government Program has enabled the delivery of 100 below market social and affordable rental units providing much needed additional supply of lower-priced housing at a time where the cost of living is increasingly unaffordable.

Located in key Melbourne suburbs chosen for their location, greenery and nearby amenities, this joint venture is providing not just affordable housing to Victorians but, more importantly, a place to call home.

Click here to read the press release

turning the sod in Mitcham

Delivering crisis accommodation

Ground has been broken on a project to deliver an eight-unit development in Melbourne’s east designed to support older women at risk of homelessness.

Community Housing Ltd (CHL), Uniting Vic.Tas together with other partners Mountview Uniting Church, Oak Building Group and the Department of Housing and Human Services (DHHS) have celebrated turning-the-sod on the project in Mitcham.

The homes will be located close to public transport and schools to ensure tenants maintain their links to local services and the community.

‘We are pleased to be partnering in this significant project which will provide safe, secure accommodation for older women in housing need. We will bring in our expertise of careful and sensitive design utilising 25 years of experience in designing accommodation for people in highest housing need,’  says Steve Bevington, CHL’s Managing Director.

The Hon. Bronwyn Pike, CEO-designate of Uniting Vic.Tas, says the facility will support women facing homelessness to take control of their lives and transition into sustainable, safe, long-term housing.

‘The numbers of women over 55 years of age requiring homelessness support are underestimated and under-reported,’ Ms Pike says. ‘Mountview House will be a step toward helping address the need for older women’s crisis accommodation in Melbourne’s East.’

The Mountview House facility is nearly two decades in the making. The Victorian Government is contributing more than $2.3 million to the facility’s development as part of its Accommodation for the Homelessness Phase 2 initiative.

 

 

City of Melbourne supports mandatory inclusionary zoning

CHIA Vic has commended the City of Melbourne  for its call for the introduction of mandatory inclusionary zoning, which would see developers compelled to include social and/or affordable housing in their projects.

The council’s Future Melbourne committee this week endorsed a submission to the Victorian Government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Planning Mechanisms for Affordable Housing that made the case for mandatory inclusionary zoning, at a rate to be determined by modelling, and with a cash-in-lieu option. This option would be complemented by flexibility for local governments to increase the minimum requirement where there was strategic justification and evidence of need.

The submission also called for local governments to be able to provide a voluntary uplift incentive in strategic development areas to encourage developers to include even more social and affordable housing than the level set for the state.

Currently, local governments in Victoria are able to negotiate with developers to include social and affordable housing, but the Affordable Housing Agreements are voluntary.

CHIA Vic CEO Lesley Dredge says making inclusionary zoning mandatory could play a key role in reducing the massive gap between supply and demand for social and affordable housing in Victoria, where the waitlist for social housing as at September this year was sitting at 44,152 households – and growing.

 

Brunswick tenants to benefit from Women’s management

Channel 10’s report demonstrates how much the Gronns Place public housing estate requires redevelopment.

Tenants in the new social housing are to benefit from management by Women’s Housing.

Click here to view the news report or here to read more about this major redevelopment project in Brunswick will lead to the creation of 119 new social housing properties.

Energy efficient homes to replace rundown estates

More vulnerable Victorians will be able to access social housing with the Victorian Government’s announcement that redevelopment is to begin of a rundown housing estate in West Brunswick. Community housing organisation Women’s Housing Limited will manage the completed redevelopment, which will increase social housing numbers by 45 per cent.

Women’s Housing CEO Judy Line says, ‘We have worked closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and developer AV Jennings to bring this project to life, and we are delighted to be part of this exciting housing development.

‘The old rundown walk-ups at Gronn Place will be replaced by new energy efficient homes that will not only be better to live in but be more affordable for our tenants.

‘We are looking forward to taking a leading long-term role in the overall management of the precinct, to ensure that this project further enriches the neighbourhood as well as delivering much needed long-term housing for vulnerable women,’ Judy says.

The 82 vacant units currently on the site will be demolished to make way for 111 new public housing properties, and Women’s Housing will purchase an additional eight homes from the developer, greatly increasing the number available to those eligible for social housing. The redevelopment will also include 79 private homes, which will help fund the project and create more diverse communities.

Public housing tenants who have been provided with alternative accommodation in the lead up to the redevelopment will be given the option to move back to the site once it is complete, with Women’s Housing to be responsible for the management of rental agreements and maintenance. Tenant’s rights will continue to be protected via the Residential Tenancies Act.

As a registered Victorian Housing Association, Women’s Housing Ltd has extensive experience in managing a diverse range of social housing across Melbourne and has an excellent reputation for property and place management.

Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA Vic) CEO Lesley Dredge says the redevelopment is welcome with Victoria holding the unenviable record of having the smallest proportion of social housing in Australia. Currently 50,145 households are on Victoria’s social housing waitlist.

The Gronn Place development is part of the Victorian Government’s $185 million Public Housing Renewal Program that plans to develop up to 2,500 public housing dwellings and increase the number of social housing properties by at least 10 per cent across metropolitan and regional sites.

Treasurer commits to further housing initiatives

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has committed to announcing more initiatives to increase social housing stock this year, that will be in addition to the $209 million set aside for more public housing in this week’s budget.

Speaking at the VCOSS post-budget breakfast briefing, Mr Pallas admitted the government had ‘dropped the ball’ on social housing in the 1970s but that he is ‘personally passionate’ about improving the situation.

‘The fact that we have put a little over $200 million into providing more social and public housing in this budget is really a start, but there’s a lot more to do,’ Mr Pallas says.
The government is continuing to work on the Homes for Victorians initiatives, announced 18 months ago, and intends to do more, he says.

‘Our intention would be to augment that again in the near future…There will be more this year.

‘We have been working on it for quite some time. We have been looking at the offerings we have had from number of representatives in the community sector who are working closely with financiers and the State Government.

Mr Pallas says the government has been evaluating various models to improve the value and number of public and community housing properties against the government’s values and expectations.

‘My department is working to essentially reduce the range of offerings that we are interested in so we can get the community to focus in on those areas that the government is prepared to partner with to deliver more stock into the future.’

Making sure we deliver for all Victorians

The CEO of Victoria’s peak body for community housing has called on the State Government to continue to deliver a strong economy by directing some of its surplus to ensuring vulnerable Victorians have somewhere safe to call home.

Lesley Dredge says the government is rightly proud of its efforts that have led to Victoria becoming the nation’s powerhouse, leading the country with jobs, infrastructure investment and delivering a projected average $3.4 billion surplus over the next four years.

However, research shows investing in social and affordable housing as vital infrastructure provides significant economic benefits. City Futures Research Centre’s Professor Duncan Maclennan has found spending on affordable housing delivers significant savings in transport costs and increases productivity.

‘These results serve to reinforce the fact that there are no downsides to increased funding for social and affordable housing and that no one, particularly in a state as prosperous as Victoria, should be forced to live in fear on the streets or couch surf,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘Whilst it’s great that the budget is following through on the government’s pledge to build an additional 1,000 public housing dwellings, the need is much greater.

‘Our research shows that 3,000 new properties are needed each year for the next 10 years just to house those on the priority waitlist, which are households that are homeless, are escaping family violence, or have significant support needs.

‘The gap between what is needed, and what is being delivered, becomes even more stark at this time of year, with thousands of homeless Victorians being particularly vulnerable during long, cold nights sleeping rough,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘No Victorian should be forced to sleep in a park or laneway; we have the resources to house them, and they should be invested.

‘The government has titled this year’s budget, Delivering for all Victorians. We call on it to dip into the surplus to invest in safe and affordable housing for the benefit of all Victorians and the state as a whole.’

Download media release

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.”