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…

ROGS data unsurprising

Last year’s ROGS data has been released and, as expected, it shows very little growth in social housing numbers for 2018/19. Victoria continues to invest in social housing at a lower rate than population figures would predict. Despite 25 per cent of Australia’s population (and growing) living in Victoria, the Victorian Government was only responsible for 15 per cent of the national expenditure on housing in 2018/19. However, the Victorian Government’s expenditure on all social housing did increase to $600m, up from $539m in 2017/18.

The number of dwellings in the public housing portfolio was 64,428 in 2018/19, down from 65,064 10 years ago. This decline in stock numbers cannot be explained by stock transfers, as the only transfers that occurred during this period were properties already managed by community housing and therefore were counted in the community housing stock figures. Over the same period, community housing dwellings increased by about 40 per cent, with funding via a combination of government, philanthropic grants and borrowings.

We all know that the throughput in social housing is decreasing with very few private affordable housing rentals available. Public housing assisted 3,990 new households in 2014/15 and that figure plummeted to 2,826 in 2018/19 – a decrease of about 30 per cent. This at a time when there are over 50,000 applications on the Victorian Housing Register.

The decline in throughput was not as great in community housing over the same period. There were 2,115 new tenancies in 2014/15 and 1,953 in 2017/18 – a decrease of about 8 per cent. In part, this would be explained by the sector’s transitional housing and rooming house stock.

Community housing continues to have a higher satisfaction rating than public housing and the latter houses a slightly higher percentage of tenants with the ‘greatest need’; 92 per cent compared to community housing’s 90 per cent.

While the data is interesting, different state and territory policy and practice make inter-sector and jurisdictional comparisons fraught. Also, community housing data is subject to many qualifications and some omissions. Changes in data definitions are amongst the reason comparisons over time are also not straightforward. In Victoria, 96 organisations are invited to fill in the survey while in some jurisdictions only the registered community housing sector is surveyed. There are 38 organisations registered in Victoria with about 20,000 properties under management yet in Victoria 80 of the 96 completed the survey, reporting well short of 20,000 properties!

The Commonwealth wants to improve the quality of the data and is committed to working towards a nationally-consistent data set. In the meantime, this is the best we have. CHIA Vic will continue to liaise with Department of Health and Human Services to improve the Victorian collection.

 

Bendigo calls for input into affordable housing

The City of Greater Bendigo is calling for community input into its Affordable Housing Action Plan.

The council wants to better understand affordable housing needs in Greater Bendigo so it can address the growing shortage of affordable housing shortage, including utilising mechanisms to increase the supply of well-designed and efficient affordable housing.

The council has released a paper for public comment.

Click here to read the background paper and provide comment via a short survey.

Productivity Commission Stats

Community housing assisting those in greatest need

Statistics released today in the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services 2020 shows new allocations of community housing properties in Victoria during 2018-19 were made to households in greatest need.

Nationally, the 2018 data shows that 84 per cent of community housing tenants stated the amenity of their housing met their needs and 87 per cent thought it was of an acceptable standard (compared to 80 per cent of public housing tenants).

Click here for details.

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.

December VCAT update

CHIA Vic’s Victorian Civil and Administrative guru Mark Smoljo reports back on the latest VCAT news:

The new Head of the Residential Tenancies Division, Ian Proctor is very keen on improving VCAT processes and making the whole system easier to use for all parties. Improvements underway include:

  • Supreme Court summaries of important cases now being put on the VCAT website
  • a project looking at increasing the use of telephone and video for hearings
  • texts to be sent to tenant respondents at the time of application and again five days before a hearing
  • faster process for renewals of hearings. You no longer have to wait five to six weeks for them to retrieve files out of the archives in Werribee. Hearing waiting times should be the same as for new applications.
  • new information on supported disability accommodation on the VCAT website
  • major project underway to prepare for next year’s changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, including many changes to the RT VCAT Hub. Unfortunately for those of you managing rooming houses, this will mean a further wait until you can use the Hub for rooming house matters. Ian is aware of the issue with rooming houses and hopes it can be addressed later next year.
  • VCAT has a new Koori Engagement Officer – Wendy Harris.
  • a major project is being conducted on increasing the use of email communication by VCAT. They may need to investigate texting as well because many tenants don’t have email addresses.
  • a new purpose-built VCAT venue at Oakleigh is opening in early 2020. It will cover cases currently heard at Moorabbin, and some of the caseload from Frankston and Dandenong. Another new VCAT venue is under construction in Frankston. VCAT is trying to get away from the use of Magistrates Courts.
  • Portland Magistrates Court is closing for VCAT hearings. VCAT is investigating alternatives.

If you have questions about any of these developments  or you are having any issues with VCAT please contact Mark Smoljo on 9654 6077 or on a Monday or Thursday.

 

AHURI finds high rates of homelessness in vet community

Approximately 5.3 per cent of Australian veterans who left the Australian Defence Force (ADF) between 2001 and 2018 experienced homelessness, AHURI research has revealed.

This rate of 5.3 per cent, which equates to 5,767 veterans, is significantly higher than that for the general population (1.9%), and although these rates are not directly comparable, this finding strongly suggests that veterans are over-represented in the Australian homeless population. It is also much higher than the estimate of around 3,000 homeless veterans previously assumed by government agencies such as the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Read more…

Planning & buildings approvals consultation opens

Consultation on the Planning and Building Approvals Process Review discussion paper is now open, with feedback able to be supplied until November 15.

The consultation follows a review into the root causes of the increased complexity of planning and building approvals, which has identified 27 points for improvement in the approval chain.

You can download the discussion paper here.

Comments can be submitted online.

A final report including specific recommendations on implementation will be submitted to the Red Tape Commissioner, Anna Cronin, in December 2019.

Have your say in community sector survey

The Australian Community Sector Survey closes next Friday 1 November.

The short, voluntary survey gives employees of community sector organisations the opportunity to tell us ACOSS about the issues that matter most to them: the impending Social and Community Sector Equal Remuneration Order  funding cliff; continuity of funding; levels of indexation; the demand for services; funding relationships…all the issues that impact your capacity to achieve outcomes.

Everyone who works in the community sector can complete the survey.

Click here to take part in the survey.

This survey is being conducted by researchers from UNSW Sydney who have been commissioned by the Councils of Social Service , and is supported by Community Sector Banking.

If, after reading the information for participants, you would like further information or to talk to one of the researchers, please email Dr Natasha Cortis (UNSW) Penny Dorsch at ACOSS.

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.