Fund houses homeless

Minister for Planning, Housing and Multicultural Affairs, Richard Wynne presented Women’s Property Initiatives with the keys to the newly-built home in Ashwood this week.

The stunning home has been developed through the work of the Victorian Homeless Fund — a group of volunteers supported by the Housing Industry Association (HIA) who strive year-round to assist the homeless by building and renovating houses.

The fund’s mission is to ‘build a house and give away a home’.

Generously built by SJD Homes and an extensive group of donors, suppliers and trades, the house has been named in honour of former Victorian Homeless Fund committee member, Brian O’Donnell.

The house has been donated to WPI to provide a home for a home for a female led family in need.

At the opening, Victorian Homeless Fund Chair Colleen May talked about the power of people working together to make a difference.

CEO of Women’s Property Initiatives, Jeanette Large said, ‘This beautiful home will change the future for single mum, Maria, and her three boys aged 15, 13 and 6 when they move in this week.

‘They have been through some very rough times and are desperate for stability and security. We are so grateful to the Victorian Homeless Fund that we can now provide them with this long-term home.’

Maria said that after years of waiting for a stable and appropriate home, this is like a dream come true. ‘We never thought that we would ever get to live in a house like this.’


HousingFirst partnering with Vic Gov

Haleh Homaei,Chief Executive Officer of HousingFirst, is delighted to be the first Victorian community housing provider selected to partner with the Victorian Government as part of an innovative public housing regeneration project.

“With over thirty years’ experience providing housing for low-income and vulnerable people across Melbourne, HousingFirst will provide high-quality tenancy and property management services across the three ageing public housing sites undergoing major redevelopment in Preston, Northcote and North Melbourne.

HousingFirst’s investment in the project will see up to an additional 64 community housing properties built on the Preston site, for people on the Victorian Housing Register.

The State Government has guaranteed all existing public housing residents can return to live at their original estates in Director of Housing-owned homes, if they wish.  HousingFirst is fully committed to this outcome.

Once the redevelopment is completed, HousingFirst will deliver resident-focused, property and tenancy management services for all the social housing properties across the sites, including Director of Housing-owned properties.

All dwellings will be built, by Melbourne-based property development company MAB Corporation, to the highest standards of accessibility and with 7-star energy ratings, ensuring they are cost-efficient to heat and cool.

Plans also include high-quality urban design and improvement of open spaces. The revitalised precincts will include community rooms, recreation spaces and artist studios.

HousingFirst is pleased to be working again with MAB Corporation, with whom it has co-developed two other social and affordable housing projects, in Moorabbin and Box Hill.

With all such projects, careful planning and design and high-quality construction, are  followed with high-quality property and tenancy management services and a rich community-development programme, leading to significant measurable increases in resident satisfaction and community cohesion – not only among social housing tenants, but across all residents and neighbours of the developments.

HousingFirst is very pleased to be working with the Victorian Government and bringing our expertise and experience to this redevelopment project; to demonstrate how good social housing can be when it is well-planned, well-built and well-managed.”

Dear Landlord…

Justice Connect Homeless Law has recently developed the prototype of its first-funded digital innovation tool Dear Landlord: Building tools and knowledge to prevent homelessness for Victorian women and children.

Dear Landlord involves knowledge and tools – for low income women, support workers, real estate agents and landlords – geared towards raising awareness and fostering practice-based change that prioritises eviction prevention.

The initial version of Dear Landlord has been favourably reviewed internationally and nationally as a promising and practical way to improve access to justice. Over the next two years, Dear Landlord will allow Justice Connect to scale up its impact and reach by using its eviction prevention expertise to create digital resources and education materials.

Justice Connect is progressing Dear Landlord through user-centred design testing and exploring ideas about the best ways for people to access legal help if they are in rental arrears. It will be running more user-testing with people who have lived experience of housing insecurity and homelessness, housing workers, real estate agents and landlords, and later this year, it will be rolling-out a targeted cross-sector and help-seeker education program.

Community housing input to maximise housing redevelopments

By partnering with community housing organisations, the Victorian Government has been able to greatly increase the number of social housing units to be delivered on three aged public housing sites in Melbourne, says Community Housing Industry Association Victoria’s (CHIA Vic) CEO Lesley Dredge.

The redevelopments, which include the sale of land to private developers with housing to be built for sale on the private market, were initially only to boost the number of social housing dwellings by 10 per cent. By partnering with community housing organisation HousingFirst, the increase is now closer to 50 per cent.

‘Community housing’s business model enables organisations to tap into various inputs such as grants, tax exemptions and subsidies that mean we can deliver more high-quality, affordable housing at a much lower cost to the taxpayer than would be possible via private developers or government agencies,’ Ms Dredge says.

In Northcote, 87 rundown public housing units will be replaced by 106 new units, in North Melbourne, the 112 existing units will be replaced by 133 and in Preston will see a huge uplift to 90 units from 26.

There can be no doubt that the government needed to take decisive action to maximise the number
of available dwellings – and rehouse those tenants currently living in sub-standard conditions in rundown estates, Ms Dredge says.

‘Victoria has the unenviable record of having the lowest percentage of social housing in Australia, with 62,419 households on the Victorian Housing Register as at December 2018. Those are households desperate to access safe, secure and affordable public or community housing and are only some of the Victorian households experiencing extreme housing stress – impacting on all aspects of their lives and the communities in which they live,’ Ms Dredge says.

‘Victoria needs to create 3,000 social housing properties a year for the next decade just to house those with a priority housing need. Doing nothing is just not an option.’

Download media release.

Irving Benson entry

Wintringham purchases Coburg units

Wintringham has purchased an independent living residence in Coburg, with the aim of updating, modernising and potentially increasing the number of units available for people aged over 50.

Wintringham bought Irving Benson Court from Uniting Vic.Tas with the generous support of the Peter and Lyndy White Foundation. At present, the development is home to 17 residents.

Wintringham CEO and Founder, Bryan Lipmann AM says, ‘All Irving Benson Court residents will be assured affordable housing now and into the future as a tenant of Wintringham. Our motto always has and always will be to provide a home until stumps for our clients.’

Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Paul Linossier says the sale was in the best interests of current and future residents.

‘We are working closely with Wintringham to make sure the transition is as seamless as possible’ Mr Linossier says.

‘Wintringham have agreed to honour all existing arrangements with the residents. They will be able to receive all the services they receive now, whether from Uniting or other providers.’

Wintringham has a proven track record of updating and modernising specialised aged care and independent living accommodation throughout regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne.

Coburg EOI released

Why do tenants stay or leave?

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Rethinking transitional housing

Victoria’s THM program was established in 1997 to provide short term housing combined with support for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

With the program turning 21 the Department of Health and Human Services initiated a review in 2017, to develop high level options and recommendations to refresh policy and operational settings. THM property providers and the support services were consulted on the key challenges and issues.

DHHS now wishes to establish a THM Reference Group to provide advice on future directions of the program. Nominations have been called for from interested people. See the Terms of Reference.

Interested parties should email a request for an Expression of Interest Form from Matthew O’Rourke, Senior Project Officer, Homelessness and Accommodation Support or call 9096 3023. Forms must be completed and returned by Friday 15 February 2019.

Help develop our sector’s social outcomes framework

Funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and in collaboration with Think Impact, CHIA Vic is assisting the community housing sector to build their capacity to understand, identify and measure their social impact through facilitated workshops and a guided process for tenant engagement.

This project is a unique opportunity for the community housing sector to work together to identify a shared set of measures about the difference that community housing makes in the lives of tenants.

  • It is your opportunity to contribute to a stronger community housing sector.
  • It is your opportunity to connect more deeply with your tenants and hear their stories and experiences of community housing.
  • It is an opportunity to build greater brand awareness about the value of community housing.

What is involved in participating?

Participating organisations will attend three half-day workshops between February and June 2019, and be prepared to conduct interviews with tenants in February and March 2019.

Participating organisations will need to nominate:

  • a senior manager to guide the organisation’s involvement in the project and ensure the availability of resources
  • front-line worker/s with the capacity to attend the workshops and willingness to conduct tenant interviews.

The first workshop is scheduled for Tuesday 19 February from 9.30am – 1pm. It will provide leaders with an overview of the project and support to drive a focus on tenant outcomes in decision making and service delivery within their organisations. The remainder of the workshop will provide front-line workers with training to conduct impact interviews with tenants.

At this workshop your organisation will be provided with a shared approach and templates to guide the tenant engagement. The ways tenants could be involved include:

  • One-on-one interviews conducted by CHOs
  • Small focus groups or tenant advisory group feedback led by CHOs
  • Participation in a joint tenant focus group led by CHIA Vic

For more information on the project and to register for the workshop, contact Jess.


Wintringham to build $10m development in Shep

Wintringham will build a $10 million development in Shepparton, consisting of 28 – 30 new independent living units, after securing grants from the State Government ($5.5m), a major philanthropic foundation ($2.5m) and The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation ($2m).

Wintringham CEO Bryan Lipmann AM thanked all the donors for their contribution to the project: ‘This is a powerful example of how government and community funds can be used in partnership to deliver much needed services.’

With Wintringham’s model of taking on zero debt to ensure it is able to focus 100 per cent on housing the most disadvantaged, coupled with a lack of investment in social housing over the past 30 years, Bryan says his organisation is forced to rely heavily on the goodwill of philanthropists and Commonwealth and State Government to assist homeless older people.

‘We have 2,050 people on our waiting list, all of whom are over 50 and need our support,’ Bryan says.

‘For example, we have someone in hospital recuperating from an operation and they have nowhere to go when they are discharged.

‘Imagine trying to recover when you know you will have no safe place to go once you leave hospital.’

The Shepparton units are due for completion in 2021.