CHL founder celebrates 25 year milestone

Steve Bevington, the man behind Australia’s largest not-for-profit social and affordable housing provider, Community Housing Limited (CHL), this month celebrates 25 years at its helm.

As founder and managing director of CHL for a quarter of a century, Steve has helped transform the affordable housing sector both in Australia and abroad and is determined to see ‘a world without poverty’; a goal shaped by his very own experience with homelessness during his younger days in England.

‘My experience sleeping on the streets and insecure, short term housing won’t ever leave me. It’s a powerful motivator and is the reason behind why I do what I do every day,’ Steve said.

‘What most people don’t realise is that safe and secure housing is life’s foundation. Housing either sets you up for life or sets you back. You can’t plan for a future when at first you don’t have a safe place to sleep. Slipping through the cracks is quite easy when there’s no safety net there to catch you as you fall.’

After migrating to Australia in the late 80s and picking up a housing role with the Victorian Government, Steve spotted an opportunity to make a difference by launching CHL with the aim of housing more Victorians.

What started as a one-man show, has now turned into a global housing powerhouse with more than 300 staff united in a commitment to house those in need. CHL currently manages 11,000 properties in Australia and has expanded operations internationally to countries including India, Rwanda, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Chile, Peru and Indonesia.

As well as being CHL’s driving force, Steve has been a leader in affordable housing advocacy nationally for more than two decades as a director of the national Community Housing Industry Association’s (CHIA) board and its predecessor, the Community Housing Federation of Australia. Tasked with solving the industry’s biggest challenges, Steve said that while Australia had made some large strides in the delivery of affordable housing since the 90s, much more needed to be done to ensure a sustainable path is forged for the next 25 years.

‘There are many great opportunities that the housing sector presents, but also many critical challenges that need to be addressed immediately in order to deliver innovative affordable housing solutions to more Australians,’ Steve said.

‘We saw news this week of a 20-year research project from AHURI finding that there’s a shortage of almost half a million rental houses for low income families in Australia. We are one of the world’s wealthiest and prosperous countries, and this is simply isn’t good enough.

‘Families need the support of the federal and state governments to invest in more affordable housing stock and the build-to-rent sector.  As a start, an increase to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance is vital for at-risk households so they can secure access to an increasingly unaffordable rental housing market for low income people.

‘My hope is that in 25 years’ time, housing poverty will be history. Easier said than done, but can we ignore this crisis at hand?’

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

Assistant Treasurer visits HousingFirst development

HousingFirst residents and management were pleased to welcome the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer, during a visit to their residential housing development in St Kilda.

Minister Sukkar met with HousingFirst residents Jan and Roxane and heard, first-hand, about the positive impact that good social housing has had on their lives.

Jan has been a HousingFirst tenant for over 25 years. She is an active volunteer and a giving member of her community. She has been foster Mum to over 40 children. Over the years, depending on her needs, Jan has been housed in various HousingFirst properties, and due to health and mobility issues (and her foster son Luke moving out of home) she moved to her current Chapel Street apartment seven years ago.

HousingFirst CEO Haleh Homaei and Chair Frank O’Connor were delighted to show the Minister over the award-winning, modern, social housing development in Chapel Street, St Kilda. Completed in 2012, the development was built by HousingFirst with support from the Victorian Government and is home to 81 tenants and their families, who have created a supportive and vibrant community with the help of HousingFirst.

The development is typical of the 276, high-quality new and refurbished homes that HousingFirst and the Port Phillip Housing Trust will now build in St Kilda, Preston, Box Hill and Rowville, thanks to the $72 million of low cost finance they were awarded in the second round of National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) funding, announced by Minister Sukkar. (View the Minister’s statement here).

In welcoming Minister Sukkar to the property, CEO Haleh Homaei acknowledged the vital role played by NHFIC, that operates the Australian Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator and provides cheaper and longer-term secured finance for community housing providers by issuing bonds in Australia’s debt capital markets.

‘There are just too many people struggling to find good, safe housing that they can afford. The awful consequences of this shortage are only too visible on our streets; with the rising numbers of homeless, and the impact of unstable or unsuitable housing on them and on the community. Not for profit housing providers like HousingFirst are ready and willing to build new homes for vulnerable people in need, and help them re-build their lives. Having access to low cost finance through NHFIC will jump-start our projects and enable us to build homes that will take people off the streets and into homes, where they can be safe and plan for the future,’ Ms Homaei said.

HousingFIrst Chair Mr Frank O’Connor thanked the Minister for his commitment to HousingFirst and its tenants, and to the community housing sector. ‘With practical support from both Federal and State governments, the community housing sector can genuinely help to resolve the housing crisis that has badly affected so many vulnerable Victorians,’ he said.

Understanding the big social housing picture

Curious to understand why housing problems in Australia are so deep and entrenched? Why is the social housing sector in Australia the way it is? How is it different to other countries? Why are housing problems in Australia so deep, and what are the contemporary debates about social housing management practices such as allocations, rent setting, and support services?

Terry Burke is Professor of Housing studies at Swinburne University. He is one of Australia’s most well-known academic researchers and conceived, developed, and taught Swinburne’s suite of social  housing management courses (Grad Cert, Dip and Masters in Housing Management and Policy). He has served on many urban and housing advisory panels and committees for all levels of government. Terry presents a half-day course for managment and team leaders, housing workers and anyone interested in Australia’s housing problems.

The session will be held on Wednesday, December 18 from 9.30am to noon.

Click here for details and to book.


WPI calls for Xmas donation

Create new beginnings for women and children with a Festive Season donation! A message from WPI

When Marie, her six month old son, Josh, and 14 year old daughter, Holly, escaped her extremely violent ex-partner, they went into hiding. They were terrified that he would find out where they were, as he had threatened her life on many occasions. The police had given her a phone number to call so she could raise the alarm and get help quickly. He fought Marie for access to their son Josh, who was just a baby. Throughout the court process she was terrified. During this time, she was also moving from place to place, trying to keep her location a secret and care for her traumatised children. Marie desperately needed a safe and secure place to start again and rebuild her life.

After two years of running, Marie found refuge in a Women’s Property Initiatives home. She has lived there for eight years and it is a safe haven that she can rely on. It was eventually determined that it was simply too dangerous for her ex-partner to have any contact with Marie or the children, but to this day she has to hide from her abuser. The courts and police have supported her in her efforts to keep her location a secret, but still she worries that he will find them. Added security measures at her home give her some peace of mind.

Although she carries the physical and emotional scars of that relationship, she has built a new life for herself and Josh and Holly. Josh has autism and she has found him a supportive and inclusive school. Marie has studied to be a classroom integration aid, which has helped her understand more about what he goes through. She works at Josh’s school, helping him and lots of other children. She has created a stable and loving home and he is thriving. So is Holly, who is now an adult and works as a call center manager for an energy provider. In a secure home, Holly was able to complete her education and move on from the trauma.

This is the difference a stable home makes. It provided this family with a new beginning and they grabbed it with both hands. They are living productive lives and contributing to their community.

“My home is my safe place, my sanctuary. Because it is secure, we’ve been able to heal and try to be normal. It has been critical in creating a routine for Josh. He is doing well at school. I love being part of that and giving back by helping other kids like him. When you’ve been through what we have, you never take a safe home for granted. We are the lucky ones,” said Marie.

We provide homes for more than 230 women and children. They have been able to enjoy many happy celebrations in the homes they love. This festive season, make a tax deductible donation that will create new beginnings for women like Marie; women who deserve the safe and permanent homes that lots of us take for granted.

Click here to donate now


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.



Wayss project

Built for good

Ten short-term affordable homes have been built in Cardinia Shire to accommodate women and children for up to two years, who have experienced family violence and are faced with homelessness.

Funded by the Peter and Lyndy White Foundation, the social housing initiative, ‘Built for good‘ is a standout partnership and collaboration between Council, philanthropists, business and local community organisations, and aims to pave the way for stable and secure housing in the area.

The 10 unit housing complex with on-site office, has been purpose built on Council land by local builders Sienna Homes, to respond to the social problems of family violence and the resulting homelessness that is experienced.

The need for social housing across the state has dramatically increased over the last two years, and homelessness is a hidden and significant issue impacting the Cardinia Shire community.

More than 220 people are experiencing homelessness across Cardinia Shire; this has grown by 53% from 2011 to 2016. Each day, on average, the Pakenham Police refer two women to Wayss because of incidents of family violence. Of the people seeking support for social housing in Cardinia Shire, 24.2% is because of family violence, and 92% of all presentations are women.

Managed by local community service organisation Wayss, the housing complex has a mix of single and double storey units, comprising of two, three and four bedrooms. At any one time the complete 26 bedrooms will both ensure women and their children will be safely housed, and supported with wrap-around services provided by Windermere and Wayss, to help them rebuild their lives.

“There is no doubt the ‘Built for Good’ initiative, is a flagship project that can be replicated in other areas of need across Australia,” said Wayss CEO Elizabeth Thomas.

Haven; Home, Safe logo

Job: HR Coordinator South

Haven; Home, Safe is seeking to fill the ongoing position of HR Coordinator – South

  • Preston
  • Full-Time
  • Ongoing

Reporting to the HRM, the HR Coordinator South will work collaboratively within a dynamic, busy HR team to provide HR support, coordination and administration to deliver high quality HR services and advice to southern and Mallee-based staff and management in the areas of:

  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Onboarding
  • Learning and Development
  • Contract management
  • Workplace relations
  • Renumeration, Reward and Recognition
  • Off-boarding
  • Projects, Reporting and other HR Administrative Duties.


Click here for a detailed description of the position, to access the key selection criteria and to apply.

To be considered for shortlisting and an interview application must include the following:

  • Cover Letter
  • A statement which describes your suitability against each of the key selection criteria detailed in the Position Description;
  • A resume containing your contact details, summary of work experience, details of qualifications and education
  • Referees – if required for an interview you will be required to provide details of at least three referees – ideally one should be from your supervisor and from your most recent employer and others a knowledge of your work performance.

Email queries to

Applications must be received before COB, Friday 20 December 2019.

Are you eligible for portable long service leave?

The Victorian Government has introduced portable long service leave to make it fairer and easier for Victorians working in community services, contract cleaning and security to access long service benefits.

From 1 July 2019, Victorians working in those areas can start building up long service benefits as part of the Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018 

The Portable Long Service Leave Authority provided a presentation to CHIA Vic members at our AGM this week.

Click here to view the presentation.