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.

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.’

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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.