CHL’s $6.1m development delivers 24 new affordable homes

Community Housing Ltd (CHL) has completed 24 new affordable homes in Melbourne’s growing north-eastern suburb of Mernda – an initiative made possible by a three-way partnership between the philanthropic, public and not for profit sector.

The $6.1 million development has been jointly funded by the Philanthropic organisation Peter and Lyndy White (P&LW) Foundation who is the majority contributor with over $4.2million followed by $1.2 million from the Victorian Government’s Social Housing Growth Fund and the remainder by CHL. Designed and built by CHL, the new homes will be rented out to eligible people with local community links, at subsidised rent.

‘The contribution by Peter and Lyndy White Foundation is truly inspiring. It shows the impact the philanthropic sector can make in the community. We are proud of the partnership with the Foundation and the Victorian state government in delivering this project which will provide real opportunities for those who are homeless and on low incomes,’ said Steve Bevington, Managing Director of CHL.

Located in the heart of the Mernda township, the high-quality two storey development comprises of one and two-bedroom apartments and will be offered to those on the social housing waiting list. With medical facilities, schools, public transport, supermarket and retail outlets in close proximity, tenants will have easy access to essential services and local employment hubs.

‘These homes are modern, well located and will provide much needed additional supply of affordable housing at a time where the cost of living is increasingly unaffordable. It will provide a new lease of life to those who have fallen into difficulties due to issues such as unemployment, family breakdown, illness and others that have led to their having ended up being homeless,’ Mr Bevington said.

‘The completion of the development couldn’t have come at a more critical time as waiting lists for public housing and social housing continue to grow. We hope to see more investment into building social housing to ensure everyone has access to safe, secure and affordable housing.

‘This project is a great example of three sectors working together to address the shortage of affordable housing. We commend the P&LW Foundation & the Victorian Government for their leadership and look forward to continuing the partnership in the future,’ Steve added.

Minister for Housing Richard Wynne said, ‘Everyone deserves the safety and security of a roof over their head. This latest tranche of the Social Housing Growth Fund will deliver more than 780 units to make sure people sleeping rough, at risk of homelessness, and those escaping family violence can find a home.

Cast your vote in Wintringham’s online art exhibition

The Wintringham Art Space 2020 online exhibition is now open! It includes over 80 artworks from people who use Wintringham’s services, many who have experienced or have been vulnerable to homelessness. There are paintings, drawings, crafts, knitted pieces, poems, sculptures and much more. The exhibition is an annual Wintringham tradition that takes place during Homelessness Week. It provides Wintringham’s clients with an opportunity to get creative and express themselves through their art, especially during this pandemic – look out for the beautiful ‘Covid dreaming’ painting.

As part of the exhibition, Wintringham has also launched its first ever People’s Choice Award. Visitors to the website will be able to show their support for up to five of their favourite artworks through an online survey, but voting is only open from Monday 3 until Sunday 9 August, so get in quick! There are art voucher prizes up for grabs for the winner, runner-up and a lucky voter, very kindly provided by Melbourne Artists’ Supplies. Visit the Wintringham Art Space for some artistic inspiration and vote now!

DHHS community housing infection control information session

Almost 70 CHIA Vic members attended a Zoom presentation by DHHS staff on infection control in community housing facilities on Monday afternoon.

Members discussed a range of issues including the need for security to accompany testing teams.

The PowerPoint, including resources, is now available for members on the Coronavirus Members page of our website.

If you are CHIA Vic member and do not have access, please email for a log in.

Why membership of CHIA Vic is a must

Membership fees for 2020/21 are now due. Here are just some of the reasons why being a member of the state peak for community housing is a must.


Funding announcement offers a boost to Aboriginal housing

Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) has welcomed funding announcements from the Victorian Government to upgrade and build more social housing for Aboriginal Victorians.

The government is investing almost $500 million to public and community housing as part of the $2.7 billion Building Works package, which will kickstart Victoria’s economy and create thousands of jobs across the state.

That includes funding for AHV sites in Hampton Park and Dandenong, creating 12 homes, as well as $35 million for upgrades, maintenance and repairs of existing Aboriginal social housing.

“This funding will enable AHV and other Aboriginal controlled organisations in our state to renovate hundreds of properties and build a dozen or so new homes. We expect Aboriginal Victorians to share in the new jobs to be immediately created in the construction sector while also providing more Aboriginal families with a safe place to live,” said AHV Chief Executive Officer Darren Smith.

“Every Victorian deserves a home and no sector of the community is denied this human right more often than First Australians. The commitment the Government announced yesterday to renovate thousands of existing properties (including those providing shelter for our people) is urgently needed, will boost morale and give a welcome charge to a flagging economy.”

Images of the property by Schored Projects supplied by Lucy Greenham.

Call for Submissions: Monitoring Family Violence Reforms

The Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor was established following the 2016 Royal Commission to independently monitor and review the Victorian government and its agencies in delivering Victoria’s family violence reforms.

To inform her fourth report to Parliament next year, the Monitor is calling for submissions from organisations and individual practitioners who work with people who have experienced or perpetrated family violence, and organisations that represent and advocate for victim survivors.

The Monitor is seeking submissions that address the following topics:
1. How the family violence service system, and users’ experiences of it, have changed since the Royal Commission
2. Looking forward: what is still required in the family violence reforms
3. Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the submission website for details.

How to make a submission
– Visit up until 20 July 2020. Review the questions and areas of interest.
– Respond to questions directly into the website or upload a pre-prepared submission.
– Make a submission on behalf of an organisation or as an individual practitioner.

The Monitor welcomes submissions in whatever format and style is possible for you and your organisation at this challenging time.

What happens to your submission?
Submissions will directly inform the Monitor’s final report to Parliament on progress with implementation of the family violence reforms. The Monitor’s report will be released in 2021 as legislated by the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor Act 2016.

For further information, please contact:
Megan Wendt, Senior Project Officer
Office of the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor

HousingFirst secures funding for $100m plus projects

HousingFirst has been successful in securing funding for three projects through various funding arrangements delivered by the Victorian Government and will soon start building a total of 270 new homes for vulnerable Victorians in Box Hill, Parkville and Balaclava.

The combined market value of the three HousingFirst projects is over $100 million.

Click here to read the statement from HousingFirst Chair Frank O’Connor.

solar installation on roof

Calls for a solar powered stimulus

A successful program that has enabled almost 700 low income households to benefit from reduced power bills could be used as the basis of a solar-powered stimulus package that could benefit more vulnerable Victorians and the environment, create employment and support the economy.

The Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic) and BOOMPower are partners on a project that has seen solar power and other energy efficiency products and solutions installed in social housing properties, including standalone properties and multi-unit apartment buildings.

With funding from the Victorian Government’s New Energy Jobs Fund, CHIA Vic and BOOMPower developed the BOOM! software platform. The platform makes it easy for organisations to produce a clear business case on the impact of installing energy efficiencies, as well as providing a seamless procurement process, and measuring and verifying performance and outcomes on an ongoing basis.

Additional funding from Solar Homes and the Victorian Property Fund saw seven community housing organisations use the platform to plan and implement $3.5 million worth of energy upgrades on social housing properties and counting.

CHIA Vic CEO Lesley Dredge says, ‘People on low incomes are the most vulnerable to high energy prices. It can have a real impact on their day-to-day lives, as they can avoid using heating and cooling even in extreme temperatures, which reduces their quality of life and their health and wellbeing.’

BOOMPower Director Alex Houlston says new funding for solar and energy efficiency from the Victorian Property Fund (VPF), along with the introduction of Solar Homes in 2018 and the availability of the BOOM! platform caused a surge in the level of engagement from the sector for a range of energy solutions.

‘This is evidence a stimulus package would be welcomed; in addition to construction projects, the community housing sector has $14 million in solar and energy efficiency upgrades that are ready to be undertaken in the next six to 18 months,’ Mr Houlston says.

Based on jobs figures provided by product suppliers and retailers for the initial projects, Ms Dredge says, ‘We can confidently say that a $14 million program would also directly support up to 356 jobs.’

CHIA Vic and BOOM! are hopeful Solar Homes will develop a separate funding stream for community housing, in recognition of the fact that, unlike private landlords or homeowners, they are unable to receive any of the financial benefits of their investment in energy efficiencies.

HCA work as a team to assist tenants and staff

Housing Choices Australia’s (HCA) staff may have been working from home since the end of March but the organisation is still working together to assist tenants during the pandemic.

HCA is utilising Microsoft Teams to continue its workflow and connectivity. Some teams are hosting ‘Virtual Friday Night Drinks’ via video conferencing, and the Melbourne office is having a ‘Zoom Trivia Night’ tonight with exciting prizes to be won.

Although ‘walk in’ appointments aren’t going ahead at the moment, residents can still meet with the Housing Team by scheduling an appointment and several staff are coming into the offices on a rotating roster.

Emails and letters have been sent to residents notifying them of changes to the organisation during this time. To keep connected with our residents, we are still publishing the ‘Home Stories’ resident newsletter for all of the states. The newsletters include useful COVID-19 links and resources, puzzles and brainteasers to keep things fun, as well as resident stories of how they are getting creative and managing social isolation.

Housing Officers have also been contacting all residents in their portfolio to touch base with them and to see how they are coping in these difficult times. We have increased engagement with our support partners and the NDIS, and linked residents with varied support agencies (new and old).

This week the ‘Darebin Food Share Program’ kicked off. HCA Victoria’s Community Development Team partnered with The Bridge (Preston Neighbourhood House) to enable us to distribute pre-cooked meals to our residents in Darebin.

The meals are being provided by FareShare, a community organisation that rescues surplus food and turns it into nutritious meals for people doing it tough. Their motto is ‘Rescue, Cook, Feed.’ On Monday 11 May, a group of HCA staff collected, packed and delivered over 200 nutritious, pre-cooked frozen meals to support our residents at over 60 different addresses.

We are also providing food vouchers, offering to cover medical bill costs and making payments of up to $200 for utility bills to help residents impacted by the pandemic.

The organisation has introduced COVID-19 Special Leave, which grants up to 10 days additional leave for staff who are dealing with the impacts of Coronavirus. Our Intranet page is updated with a ‘COVID-19’ panel where staff can find useful resources. There, information on COVID-19 Special Leave can be found, resources for working from home, a link to the Employee Assistance Program which offers free counselling, and a content bank of all the communications sent to staff and residents.

AGMs in the time of COVID-19

Coronavirus social distancing and shutdown requirements have made holding an AGM face-to-face  impossible for most community housing organisations and CHIA Vic has been fielding calls from some members seeking clarity on this issue.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced a temporary (six-month) reform to the Corporations Act that will allow companies to hold virtual annual general meetings.Not-for-profit Law has created a flow chart for organisations to determine if they are able to have an online AGM or need to postpone it until the restrictions are eased.

You can download the pdf here.

The ACNC has also recognised that many charities are likely to experience issues with submitting their 2019 Annual Information Statement (and, if required, their annual financial report) by their due date and provided an extension until August 31, 2020.

You can download the ANC’s webinar, ‘Charities, the ACNC and COVID-19,’ for details.