COVID-19 and the community housing sector

Find out how our sector has fared throughout the COVID-19 crisis by downloading the special edition of our CHIA Vic magazine. Out now.

Click here to view your copy.

Do you manage a DHHS property?

CHIA Vic has produced a guide to Fire Risk Management in DHHS properties managed by community housing organisations (CHOs). It outlines CHOs responsibilities and provides checklists to ensure they meet them. The guide  has been devised in consultation with the DHHS Fire Services Team.

One of the catalysts for writing this document was uncertainty about how to assess tenants’ ability to evacuate in the event of a fire or other emergency event. A good indicator of this is that a tenant should be able to understand an alarm and evacuate the premises in three minutes.

If you are in any doubt that they can do this then you should contact the DHHS Fire Services Team and get them to make an assessment. The team will assess whether the tenant can safely evacuate, and may organise the provision of other fire services to ensure that the ongoing tenancy is safe.

The ability to evacuate includes evacuation with the assistance of a family members living permanently at the premises. If an unrelated paid or unpaid carer is living at the premises and can assist with evacuation, this should still be brought to the attention of the DHHS Fire Services Team so they can assess the situation.

While these guidelines only apply to properties owned by the Director of Housing, they include practices that CHOs should aim to follow for all their properties.

The guide is available on the resources page of our website or you can download it here.

 

Launch of older women and homelessness reports

An online event to raise awareness of the issue of older women and homelessness and lobby for government funding for housing and associated services will see the launch of two new reports on the issue:

  1. At Risk: understanding the population size and demographics of older women at risk of homelessness in Australia, commissioned by Social Ventures Australia, written by Dr Debbie Faulkner and Laurence Lester, University of Adelaide.
  2. Older women in the private rental sector: unaffordable, substandard and insecure housing, by Dr Emma Power, University of Western Sydney.

This event will be held on Zoom on Tuesday, 4 August from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Brief presentations will be followed by a Q&A.

Register here.

Parity open for community housing submissions

Community housing organisations are urged to respond to a Call for Contributions for the upcoming August 2020 “Supporting and Sustaining Tenancies in Community Housing” edition of Parity.

Parity is Council to Homeless Persons national publication, which examines homelessness from personal, local, social and global perspectives.

The August edition will focus on the work taking place across the community housing sector to support and assist tenants maintain their housing, including policies, programs, services and initiatives.

Download details here.

Social housing boom needed to avoid COVID-19 homelessness spike

The alliance of Victorian housing peaks has called on the State Government to act immediately to avoid a post-COVID homelessness spike, and begin rebuilding the economy.

Victoria faces a looming resurgence of rough sleeping unless the Victorian Government immediately
delivers long-term social housing options for more than 2,000 Victorians without a home who are
staying temporarily in hotels, according to Victoria’s housing and homelessness peak bodies.

The warning of a post-COVID homelessness spike comes as the group launches Make Social Housing
Work — a new blueprint for Victoria to increase its proportion of social housing to the national
average.

Victoria currently trails the nation in social housing, with just 3.2 per cent of all housing stock identified
as public and community housing. The new framework would increase Victoria’s social housing share
to the national average of 4.5 per cent of all housing stock.

To get there, the housing groups calculate the Victorian Government must commit to creating 6,000
new social housing properties each year for ten years, with at least 300 Aboriginal housing units a year.
In addition to keeping people safe and housed after the COVID pandemic, a social housing construction
blitz would provide much needed stimulus to the Victorian economy.

CHIA Victoria CEO Lesley Dredge says, “Building and investing in a stronger social housing safety net
will protect all Victorians who are struggling in the private market.

“With over 80,000 people already on the social housing waitlist in Victoria, people can be waiting to
secure stable housing for years. An additional influx of people who have lost income or their current
homes during this pandemic, will only make matters worse if the Government doesn’t urgently invest
to create more social housing.

Council to Homeless Persons CEO Jenny Smith says, “We have an opportunity right now to end
homelessness for people who were sleeping rough before the pandemic and have now moved into
temporary accommodation. If the Victorian Government doesn’t urgently deliver more social housing
these vulnerable people will have nowhere to go but back to rough sleeping when restrictions ease.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also resulted in hundreds of thousands of Victorians living a new reality
of unemployment, rent stress, and homelessness.

“Victoria spends less on social housing per person than any other state or territory, and years of
underfunding has created a perfect storm for Victorians unable to afford private rental and who find
themselves without a home.

VCOSS CEO Emma King says, “These two thousand people in hotels are just the tip of the iceberg.”

“Social housing is a smart investment. It saves lives, saves jobs and saves money in the long-run,” Ms
King said.

The Housing Peaks Alliance comprises: Aboriginal Housing Victoria, the Community Housing Industry
Association (Victoria), the Council to Homeless Persons, Domestic Violence Victoria, Justice Connect,
Tenants Victoria, the Victorian Public Tenants’ Association and the Victorian Council of Social Service.
Unless we move fast to build more social housing, tens of thousands of Victorians risk being homeless
again, or thrust into homelessness for the first time.

The Housing Peaks Alliance is calling on Victorian Government to develop a 10-year social housing
plan. This will not only address the backlog of housing infrastructure and keep up with population
growth but demonstrate a commitment to a stronger, fairer Victoria for future generations.

You can view the full framework here.

Victoria now has an Aboriginal Housing & Homeless Framework

Aboriginal Housing Victoria (AHV) has launched the Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework to a large and enthusiastic crowd at Parliament House. The formalities opened with traditional dances performed by Aboriginal Wellness Foundation and were followed by speeches from Dr. Kerry Arabena, Chair of the Steering Committee, The Hon Richard Wynne MP and The Hon Gavin Jennings MLC.

The strategy, Mana-na worn-tyeen maar-takoort: Every Aboriginal Person Has a Home, is the first self-determined strategic housing policy developed by the Aboriginal community for their people.

CHIA Vic would like to congratulate Darren Smith and the staff at AHV for all their hard work in supporting the development of this framework. CHIA Vic is committed to the principles of self-determination and looks forward to working with AHV and the Victorian Government to implement this framework. In the coming months we will be releasing resources that support our mainstream providers in their work to deliver cultural safe services.

We welcome the initial commitment of $5.3 million made by government at the launch of the framework, and in particular the recognition of AHV’s award-winning More Than a Landlord program.

Download the framework.

Social housing pathways research

A new AHURI report examines pathways in, within and out of Australia’s social housing system. As part of the research, 76 past and present tenants and 33 primarily frontline practitioners were interviewed.

The report, Understanding the experience of social housing pathways, found that there are limited pathways for tenants to leave social housing for the private rental market, even for those who want to. The Australian private rental market is largely inaccessible, unaffordable and insecure for households that might otherwise have had the capacity to move on from social housing.

Read the report…

Identifying older Aussies at risk of homelessness

A new AHURI report investigates the issues affecting older Australians who are experiencing or facing homelessness.

The research, An effective homelessness services system for older Australians identified three broad groups of older Australians who become homeless: those with conventional housing histories who experience a financial or other ‘shock’ late in life, such as eviction from rental housing, the death of a spouse, or a decline in their health; those who had experienced long-term social exclusion and had previously experienced homelessness; and people with transient work and housing histories.

One of the findings was a recommendation to expand the Assistance with Care and Housing program (ACH) as a simple first step to better support this vulnerable group.

Click here to download the report.

CHIA Vic launches our first online annual report

In a first for CHIA Vic, we have gone digital with our annual report, creating an interactive website, which you can view here.

A downloadable Word version is also available.

 

 

Five ways community housing has an edge over private developers

Victoria’s community housing industry is making an increasing significant contribution to the development of housing for people in need. Between 2010 and 30 June 2019, the community housing industry provided 1,033 additional social and affordable homes in Victoria.

Here are just five of the reasons why community housing organisations are well placed to be the engine room for social housing growth in Victoria:

  1. community housing organisations can deliver 25-30 per cent more dwellings than for-profit developers by folding the developer margin and tax advantages back into additional supply
  2. they can benefit from land lax, stamp duty and GST concessions through their charitable not-for-profit status
  3. they can complement government funding with other forms of investment, including philanthropic, to increase supply
  4. they can design and build high-quality homes with lower running costs for tenants
  5. they can protect social and affordable housing as public assets.

Download our Development Snapshot for details.