Project Development Manager role available

Your chance to secure a fantastic opportunity with a Community Housing organisation where people are paramount.

  • Newly created position based in Melbourne, your chance to give something back
  • Bring your dynamic Project Development experience to the Not for Profit sector
  • Exciting Community focused role with an employer of choice

Our client is an award winning, Not-for-Profit, Community Housing provider with a proven track record for creating safe, high quality, affordable housing for people who are struggling to find a safe place to call home in Australia’s challenging private rental market.

As part of their continued growth strategy they have created a new opportunity for an experienced Project Development Manager to join the team and be a key part of this fantastic success story.

Reporting to the General Manager, Property Development the successful candidate will have extensive experience and a successful delivery track record across the project development process.

This will include identifying suitable housing development opportunities throughout Victoria by undertaking feasibility studies to ensure financial and social sustainability and managing the implementation of projects through to the design, construction and delivery process of residential and commercial properties up to $20-$30 million.

The ideal candidate will hold a tertiary qualification in Construction Management, Engineering, Architecture, Town Planning, Property Architecture or a related discipline with sound knowledge of project management and construction techniques, preferably within the community housing or disability sector.

In addition, you will have excellent interpersonal and communication skills with a demonstrated ability to work with internal and external stakeholders to negotiate and influence successful business outcomes. You will also be a skilled negotiator who is adept at managing contractors and consultants to achieve agreed project deliverables.

In return you will be rewarded with a competitive salary and benefits package including full salary sacrifice options that are currently available to the Not for Profit sector.

To be considered for this exciting opportunity you must meet the above criteria and have Australian Citizenship or Permanent Residency Status.

To apply for this great opportunity please forward your resume in Word format to mark@globalskilledsolutions.com  to learn more call Mark on 08 8238 3468 for a confidential conversation.

Intel on planning scheme changes

CHIA Vic has, following consultation with members and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), published a guidance note for members and private developers on the government’s 2016 amendments to the planning scheme.

The State Government’s approved Amendment C270 to the Melbourne Planning Scheme establishes a ‘public benefit obligation’ for high rise developers in the CBD and Southbank including, potentially, the transfer of social housing units to registered housing associations or providers (at zero consideration).

 

 

Residential Tenancies Act Reforms

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The Victorian Government has issued a media release announcing proposed reforms to the Residential Tenancies Act, including:

  • ‘Cracking down on rental bidding’ by mandating that rentals be advertised at a fixed price and ensuring that prospective tenants cannot be invited to make an offer at a price higher than the fixed price.
  • Limiting rent increases to once a year.
  • Abolishing ‘no specified reason’ notices to vacate.
  • Placing new restrictions on ending leases without a reason at the end of a lease when that lease has lasted more than one fixed term.
  • Giving every tenant the right to own a pet. While landlords will still need to provide consent, they will only be able refuse in certain circumstances.
  • Making it easier for tenants to make minor modifications to a rental property, such as installing hooks for picture frames.
  • Ensuring faster reimbursements for tenants who pay for urgent repairs.
  • Capping bonds at one month’s rent where the rent is twice the current median weekly rent – currently equivalent to $760 per week or less.
  • Tenants will be able to apply for the release of their bond without written consent from their landlord, who will have 14 days to raise a dispute before the bond is repaid automatically.
  • Introducing a landlord and estate agent blacklist available to renters.
  • False, misleading, and deceptive claims by landlords will be outlawed.
  • A new Commissioner for Residential Tenancies will be set up to help champion the rights of Victorian renters and give them a voice in future reform of renting laws over the years to come.

The media release focuses on the proposed changes that improve rights for tenants.  A list of these specific suggestions can be found at rentfair.vic.gov.au   At this stage there is no more comprehensive document that looks at all the other changes to the Act that were canvassed during the two-year consultation period.

Many of the proposed improvements to the rights of tenants are long overdue and a good thing. The only areas of potential concern for housing managers are the removal of the 120-day NTV for no specified reason and the new provisions for pets.

Most registered housing associations and providers use the 120-day notice and believe that this option should be retained. There are strong arguments for removing it as well, given the potential for misuse in the private rental market.

The effect of its removal for CHOs will very much depend on whether the new legislation includes some of the earlier suggestions we made regarding dealing more effectively with tenants that are causing danger, damage and anti-social behaviour; providing for housing worker and contractor safety; and, being able to terminate transitional tenancies where tenants have refused a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation. None of these suggestions are mentioned in the media release.

Most of the proposed changes regarding pets should be fine and are fairly close to current practice for the community sector. However, the Rentfair website specifically says that ‘landlords cannot refuse consent for assistance dogs’, which could be a problem if this included rooming houses.

Click here to leave your comments on these two issues or any others.

From here on, there will be a more detailed document released by the end of the year and a targeted consultation, hopefully including CHIA Vic, regarding the draft bill early next year.

Commonwealth to ‘unlock’ community housing’s potential: Sukkar

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Inquiry into housing renewal

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Over the last few weeks there has been increasing debate about the State Government’s plans to redevelop eight or nine of Melbourne’s rundown public housing estates.

Most recently, the Legislative Council provided a reference to the Standing Committee on Legal and Social Issues to hold an inquiry into renewal program. You can read the detailed terms of reference of the inquiry here. The proposed increase in public housing units of at least 10 per cent; the impact on the existing tenants; the mix of public and private units; and, the density and loss of public space are amongst many items listed.

Scrutiny of the program is not necessarily a bad thing. However, the danger is that the program could be delayed or derailed.

Our ageing public housing estates are extremely rundown to the point of being beyond mere renovation and not acting is no longer an option. Public housing tenants deserve to live in well-located, quality housing. Redevelopments of public housing of this scale are extremely ambitious and controversial, which is why they have been in the too hard basket for too long. We believe that total replacement of the public housing on these sites with social housing integrated into new, mixed use precincts is the right outcome for tenants and the community.

We would like to participate in a constructive debate about what is possible on these sites and we believe that community housing has many positive contributions to make:

  • enhanced community engagement to provide tenants, the neighbouring community and other key stakeholders with quality information and an opportunity to have input into the redevelopments
  • increased uplift in the number of social and affordable units delivered on the sites
  • on-going place management services to rebuild communities once tenants return.

Our involvement in social housing is for the long haul so we have a vested interest in ensuring the ongoing success of any redevelopments. The recent announcement of the redevelopment of the Ivanhoe public housing estate in Sydney provides a glimpse of what is possible when government, the community and the private sector work together – see the article below.

20,000 new properties needed each year: CEDA

Australia needs 20,000 new affordable properties each year to house low income people, according to one recommendation by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

CEDA’s released its report Housing Australia, which warns that Australia’s housing affordability challenge could have long-term budget and political implications as more people retire without owning a home, or end up on the city fringe.

CHIA CEO Peta Winzar was on the panel at the Melbourne launch of the report.

‘I welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s budget package as an important first step in addressing the issues surrounding housing affordability, but the CEDA Report shows clearly how much work still needs to be done,’ Ms Winzar says.

Ms Winzar also urged the Victorian Government to identify more government land to be developed or redeveloped for affordable housing.

CEDA Research and Policy Committee Chairman, Professor Rodney Maddock says, ‘Prolonged housing affordability issues will result in more people entering retirement without owning their home and low socioeconomic households pushed to outer or regional areas where transport infrastructure is poor and job prospects are lower.

‘In the long term this could have budget implications for governments as more people become reliant on government assistance,’ he says.

‘With most Australians choosing to live in our major cities, it is likely the trend of more people living in apartments and more long term renters will become permanent and we need to accommodate this better with increased protections for renters.

‘In addition, we also need to ensure better transport and infrastructure to accommodate increased inner city density and to connect outer suburban developments to employment hubs.’

You can download a copy of the CEDA report here.

Social housing system broken – Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission’s draft report into Human Services has described the current social housing system as broken and failing those in housing need.

The draft report, which was handed down on Friday, describes the current arrangements as both inefficient, offering little choice within the system and access to the private market; and inequitable, with people in need receiving vastly different levels of assistance depending on whether they can access social housing.

The report comes after the 2017-18 Federal Budget flagged a new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement to replace the current federal-state housing and homelessness funding compacts. If adopted under this new agreement, the report’s draft recommendations would mean wide-ranging reforms to both the funding of housing assistance and the design of the social housing system.

A new system of funding for social housing

The report recommends a radical overhaul of funding arrangements to:

  1. Extend Commonwealth Rental Assistance (CRA) to public housing tenants and increase the rate (for both social and private tenants) by about 15 per cent, with future increases linked to increases in rents and not CPI (Draft Recommendation 5.1).
  2. Transition social housing providers (both public and community) to charging market rents, with states and territories providing a new high-cost housing payment to tenants in both social and private rental housing to bridge the affordability gap (5.2).  This would be supported by new intake processes that include assessment of eligibility for this high cost housing payment (6.3). Existing tenants would be grandfathered on the current rent model for up to 10 years.

Reforms to the social housing system

To support this new funding model, as well as choice for tenants and accountability for providers, the report proposes a range of complementary reforms, including:

  • the introduction of choice-based letting systems (5.3)
  • more contestable processes for the management of social housing (5.4)
  • separating the funding of social housing from tenancy support services (6.1)
  • a separation of the respective entities responsible for managing social housing assets and social housing policy (6.2)
  • measures to improve the consistency of reporting of the efficiency of social housing and on outcomes for both social housing tenants and those who use the high-cost housing payment to rent privately (6.4)
  • making publicly available the regulatory reports on the performance of community housing providers that are undertaken as part of the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH) (6.5)
  • consistent regulation across providers — government, not-for-profit, mutual and cooperative, or for-profit.

On the issue of contestability, the Commission was not convinced of the merits of transferring title to social housing assets to the community sector, being sceptical in particular that such transfers can lead to growth in stock or lower borrowing costs.

The process from here

The Commission invited feedback on the draft report, with submissions due by Friday 14 July 2017 and has flagged that it will be seeking further input on whether the NRSCH is flexible enough to regulate different types of providers and, if not, the changes that are necessary.

The Commission is also interested in understanding the extent to which inconsistencies between jurisdictions under the NRSCH add to administration costs and create barriers to entry.

CHIA will be in the coming weeks working with state and territory housing peaks to ensure a coordinated national response to the report in consultation with their respective members. 

Many of the draft recommendations are welcome and reflect the peaks’ previous joint submission to the Commission.  The further consultation on the NRSCH is significant given the importance of reform of the regulatory system to the proposed bond aggregator model. While reform of CRA is needed, wider reform of the social housing funding and rent model is complex and may carry with it significant implications for both people disadvantaged in the housing market and the viability of community housing providers.

While implementation of the report’s recommendations may be some time away, it is worth bearing in mind that a Productivity Commission report formed part of the genesis of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The NDIS is now one of the most significant social reforms of our generation and its rollout has created both opportunities and risks for people using services and service providers.  The community housing industry may be about to embark upon a similar journey.

Government restructures housing

CHFV has welcomed the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) decision to once again bring together the areas concerned with housing into one branch under the leadership of Nick Foa.

The branch is part of a broader DHHS restructure that will create six divisions, each headed by a senior deputy secretary:

  • Children, Families, Disability and Operations – Chris Asquini
  • Corporate Services – Carolyn de Gois
  • Health and Wellbeing – Terry Symonds
  • Housing, Infrastructure, Sport and Recreation – Nick Foa
  • Regulation, Health Protection and Emergency Management – Melissa Skilbeck
  • Strategy and Planning – Amity Durham (Acting)

And three portfolio agencies:

  • Family Safety Victoria
  • Safer Care Victoria
  • Victorian Agency for Health Information

Family Safety Victoria, will come into being from July 3, utilising staff and work areas from the Department of Premier and Cabinet and DHHS. It will be overseen by the Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings.

See the department’s website for details of the restructure.

Report backs level of unmet need

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A new report commissioned by the Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce has found an additional 1,700 social housing homes are needed each year, for the next 20 years, to maintain social housing at its current 3.5 per cent share of the total homes in Victoria.

‘Double this amount of social housing homes is needed over the next 20 years if lower income households, currently facing housing stress in the private rental market, are to have affordable housing,’ the report states.

The report Victoria’s social housing supply requirements to 2036, was researched by Dr Judy Yates, an Honorary Associate in the School of Economics at the University of Sydney.

A key aim of the research was to quantify the number of additional social housing units needed to house victims of family violence who are currently unable to gain access to and sustain private rental accommodation.

CHFV EO Lesley Dredge welcomed the report, which mirrors research commissioned by CHFV that found 1,800 new homes are needed each year.

‘It’s further proof of the scale of this issue and the need for action,’ Ms Dredge says.

Click here to view the report.

Scholarships for housing vulnerable youth

Students who live in public or community housing or who are at risk of homelessness are eligible to apply for a $1,100 Victorian Government scholarship.

There are 230 scholarships available, designed to assist with expenses such as books, laptops and course fees to help young people to continue their secondary education.

Students are eligible to apply for a scholarship if they are under 21 years of age, experiencing financial hardship, and living in social housing or at risk of homelessness. Students must be studying in Year 11 or Year 12 at a Victorian Government school – or the equivalent at TAFE – for the 2018 academic year.

Teachers are invited to nominate eligible young people in their school or TAFE. Applications can be made between 22 May and 30 June 2017.

For more information go to www.kuc.org.au