Australia’s lack of social housing is usually talked about as a major problem. And it is, particularly in Victoria, which languishes at the bottom of the pile in terms of social housing as a proportion of the total housing market. However, a Smart Company article, which quotes CHIA National’s CEO Wendy Hayhurst, lays out a reasoned argument about why social housing can also be a solution in the context of the Covid-19 generated economic turndown.
In Homelessness Week, CHIA Vic, along with other members of the Everybody’s Home campaign is urging local and federal members to sign the pledge and take action to address the massive shortfall in social housing supply.
Click here to view the heatmap showing the prevalence of homelessness in your local area.
Industry super funds are showing increased interest in investing in affordable housing and are expected to support calls from the Community Housing Industry Association for state and federal governments to offer subsidies to make low-cost housing feasible as a long-term investment.
The Inquiry into Homelessness in Australia is seeking submissions from the community housing sector.
Submissions should be made to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs by Friday, 12 June 2020.
The Committee would particularly welcome submissions addressing the impact of COVID-19 on homelessness is Australia, and encourages community groups and others to share their experiences in responding to the pandemic. Those wishing to give evidence are welcome to prepare a short submission addressing the impact of COVID-19, to be followed by a more comprehensive submission later in the inquiry.
Click here for more information on the inquiry, including the full terms of reference.
In an article published by the ABC’s Radio National, Peter Mares,the author of No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis, echoes our sector’s call for increased investment in social housing.
In the article entitled, Can Australia build its way out of the coronavirus economic slump, with public housing the priority? Mr Mares writes: ‘Large-scale programs to build social housing aren’t a short-term fix to help the economy recover from the pandemic, they are a long-term investment in a prosperous and fair society.
‘It would take a lot of money. But unless we invest in social housing, we are going to spend a lot of money anyway; we’re just going to spend in different, less effective ways as we condemn a proportion of the population to housing insecurity and rental stress.’
Anglicare’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot has provided a unique insight into the impact embedding the temporary increase in some income support payments would have for those struggling to secure housing.
The snapshot was taken only days before the Commonwealth Government announced a temporary, six-month increase to some income payments in response to the pandemic. It found that only 3 per cent of all properties in Australia advertised for rent were affordable and appropriate for households on government income support payments.
For households on minimum wage it was 22 per cent.
For those receiving the Disability Support Pension, only 245 properties in the whole of the country were affordable and suitable.
Anglicare then recalculated the figures to see how they would be impacted if the government’s Coronavirus Supplement increase to income support was ongoing.
It found couples with children where both parents are receiving Jobseeker Payment would be able to afford more than 11 per cent of properties, up from 1 per cent.
Couples where one parent is receiving minimum wage and the other the Parenting Payment (Partnered) would see a 10 per cent increase.
Singles, including those with children, would see little improvement in affordability. The situation for those on the Disability Support Pension and the Aged Pension was unchanged, as there were no increases to their payments.
Anglicare Australia is calling for a permanent adoption of the $275 per week increase for Jobseeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy and Parenting Payment recipients; an expansion of the increase to cover people on the Disability Support Pension, Carers and Aged Pensioners with accommodation costs; an expansion of the Jobseeker Payment to cover migrants, people seeking asylum, and international students; and , the creation of an Independent Social Security Commission to review and set government income payments.
The Everybody’s Home campaign is citing the snapshot results in its push to have housing included in any stimulus package, permanently increase income support, and to keep up the pressure for long-term action on homelessness.
You can support the campaign by signing the Everybody’s Home petition.
Click here to view Anglicare’s 2020 Rental Affordability snapshot.
As coronavirus threatens to derail Victoria’s economy, the community housing industry is capable of providing a vital lifeline, just as it did during the GFC when it leveraged the Rudd Government’s stimulus package.
During the GFC, our industry built 19,700 social housing units across Australia, 13% more than the target. A KMPG evaluation estimated the social housing push increased FTE jobs in construction and other areas by 14,000 during the stimulus period.
Our industry has a number of shovel ready projects awaiting funding and there can be no doubt of the need. The latest figures from December have the number of low-income households on the waitlist for social housing topping 51,646. With the unemployment rate predicted to reach 10 per cent, this is only going to grow exponentially.
A social housing stimulus would enable Victoria to seize this opportunity to increase our social housing stock. Now, more than ever, Victorians need the safety and security of a job and a home. And, as SGS Economics commentator Terry Rawnsley pointed out (The Age, 16/4), ‘Social housing, after all, is not a cost to Victorian taxpayers, it’s an investment in an asset’.
The Everybody’s Home campaign is urging people to send their MP a Christmas Card setting out the reasons why more action is needed on social housing.
You can take part in the digital campaign by clicking on the Everybody’s Home campaign page and adding your postcode to find your federal MP and hit send to makd sure they receive the digital card by Christmas.
There’s only seven days until Christmas so be quick!
In a training first for CHIA Vic, we have created an online course to assist housing workers to understand the NDIS. The free course has three modules that cover an overview of the NDIS and eligibility; the Housing Workers’s role; the NDIS pathway and how to Talk to Tenants.
The course complements a range of resources, tools and templates specific to the community housing sector that are now available on our website and face-to-face training for housing workers.
CHIA Vic runs multiple training for members and stakeholders during the year, but this is the first time the organisation has ventured into online training.
Did you know that housing organisations can access grants of up to $20,000 (incl GST) for tailored consulting services (selected from an approved panel) to assist their applications for NHFIC finance?
CHIA Vic has created a new web resource to assist those community housing organisations that are interested in applying for funding via the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC).
CHIA Victoria, and CHIA Vic, is the trading name of the Community Housing Federation of Victoria (CHFV).
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APPLY FOR HOUSING
Applications for social housing (public and community housing) can be made via the Victorian Housing Register.
Click here for details.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
CHIA Vic acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to elders both past and present.