Disability Royal Commission hands down interim report

People with disability are more likely to feel unsafe in their homes, according to the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The Royal Commission has already heard that violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with a disability occurs across a range of residential settings, and more particularly in group homes where they can be deprived of choice.

The Royal Commission is to make further inquiries into measures to improve the conditions and safety of those living in supported accommodation, alternatives to group homes and forms of redress for those who have been subjected to abuse while residing in supported accommodation.

For a great summary of the 561 page Interim Report, see this article by DSC, or visit to the Commission’s website.

Shape the future of the Affordable Housing Assessment Tool (AHAT)

CHIA Vic members are invited to take part in a session to assist the development of the Affordable Housing Assessment Tool (AHAT).

The AHAT allows the user to specify the mix of clients an affordable housing project or program aims to house, determine the development parameters and cost inputs specific to the site or program, assesses the basic feasibility of the project given the expected revenue stream and costs, and then apply different subsidy inputs to best meet long term (30 year) viability outcomes.

It allows a mix of social, affordable and market product to be modelled as well as a wide range of user-specified household/client types, with viability estimated over a 30-year period.

At this online member forum, you can hear directly from the City Futures and the University of Sydney research team who developed the AHAT, see the AHAT in action and ask questions. Support from the sector will mean the AHAT remains a resource for providers.

CHIA members will be able to access the AHAT as a free download.

Date: Tuesday 10th November

Time: 11am-12.15pm NSW

Platform: Zoom

Registration: for CHIA members and invitees only, via this link

Further info: info@communityhousing.com.au

Federal budget missed opportunity

In the largest spending Federal budget in decades it was disappointing to see little in it for housing or most of our tenants. The key measure for the sector was an increase from $2 billion to $3 billion in the NHFIC Government Guarantee for the Australian Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator. While this is a welcome initiative debt alone will not build anymore social houses – subsidised housing requires a subsidy.

However, it was pleasing to see $150 million for the Indigenous Home Ownership Program which is a shared equity model that will support the construction of new homes in regional areas – something the Victoria’s Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework identified as a priority.

The Treasurer gave no indication about the ongoing rate of Jobseeker once the coronavirus subsidy is withdrawn. It is inconceivable to think that the government would expect people to return to living on $40 per day. More money in the hands of people on low incomes is not only good social policy but it is sound economic policy and would help reboot the economy.

Attention now turns to next month’s state budget and Tim Pallas said this morning that the ‘Victorian Government will hand down a budget that will kickstart the biggest economic recovery effort our state has ever seen.’ The Andrew’s Government is aware that Victoria has the lowest rate of social housing in the country and they understand the economic power of investing in social housing as demonstrated by the Rudd Stimulus Package in 2008. We are hopeful that this will translate into a sizeable commitment into housing.

– Lesley Dredge, CHIA Vic CEO

A problem and a solution

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.

Read it here.

Has your local member signed the pledge?

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.

#HW2020

Super interest in affordable housing

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.

Read more….

Homelessness inquiry seeks sector submissions

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.

ABC Radio National calls for more social housing

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.’

Click here to read the full article.

Petition calls for ongoing increase to income support payments

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.

 

Stimulus package for community housing would boost economy

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’.