Why so little social housing?

Ever wondered why Australia has so little social housing? Why the number of social housing properties is in decline despite the increasing and desperate need? Why social housing fails to get political support despite the mountain of policy ideas setting out what needs to be done?

CHIA Vic is holding a workshop presented by Swinburne University Adjunct Professor Terry Burke to answer the question, ‘Why can’t social housing get greater political traction in Australia?’

Tuesday, September 29 from 10am to noon.

Register now.

CHL’s $6.1m development delivers 24 new affordable homes

Community Housing Ltd (CHL) has completed 24 new affordable homes in Melbourne’s growing north-eastern suburb of Mernda – an initiative made possible by a three-way partnership between the philanthropic, public and not for profit sector.

The $6.1 million development has been jointly funded by the Philanthropic organisation Peter and Lyndy White (P&LW) Foundation who is the majority contributor with over $4.2million followed by $1.2 million from the Victorian Government’s Social Housing Growth Fund and the remainder by CHL. Designed and built by CHL, the new homes will be rented out to eligible people with local community links, at subsidised rent.

‘The contribution by Peter and Lyndy White Foundation is truly inspiring. It shows the impact the philanthropic sector can make in the community. We are proud of the partnership with the Foundation and the Victorian state government in delivering this project which will provide real opportunities for those who are homeless and on low incomes,’ said Steve Bevington, Managing Director of CHL.

Located in the heart of the Mernda township, the high-quality two storey development comprises of one and two-bedroom apartments and will be offered to those on the social housing waiting list. With medical facilities, schools, public transport, supermarket and retail outlets in close proximity, tenants will have easy access to essential services and local employment hubs.

‘These homes are modern, well located and will provide much needed additional supply of affordable housing at a time where the cost of living is increasingly unaffordable. It will provide a new lease of life to those who have fallen into difficulties due to issues such as unemployment, family breakdown, illness and others that have led to their having ended up being homeless,’ Mr Bevington said.

‘The completion of the development couldn’t have come at a more critical time as waiting lists for public housing and social housing continue to grow. We hope to see more investment into building social housing to ensure everyone has access to safe, secure and affordable housing.

‘This project is a great example of three sectors working together to address the shortage of affordable housing. We commend the P&LW Foundation & the Victorian Government for their leadership and look forward to continuing the partnership in the future,’ Steve added.

Minister for Housing Richard Wynne said, ‘Everyone deserves the safety and security of a roof over their head. This latest tranche of the Social Housing Growth Fund will deliver more than 780 units to make sure people sleeping rough, at risk of homelessness, and those escaping family violence can find a home.

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

DHHS community housing infection control information session

Almost 70 CHIA Vic members attended a Zoom presentation by DHHS staff on infection control in community housing facilities on Monday afternoon.

Members discussed a range of issues including the need for security to accompany testing teams.

The PowerPoint, including resources, is now available for members on the Coronavirus Members page of our website.

If you are CHIA Vic member and do not have access, please email Jason.perdriau@chiavic.com.au for a log in.

Homelessness pandemic support extended

The Victorian Government has announced support for homeless Victorians will be extended during the pandemic and beyond.

A Victorian Government media release states:

‘At the start of this pandemic, we acted swiftly to support over 2000 Victorians off the streets and into accommodation in vacant hotels – because you can’t “stay home” if you don’t have one and you can’t “stay safe” if you have nowhere to wash your hands.

Now, the Victorian Government will help these same Victorians out of homelessness and into their very own homes with the new $150 million From Homelessness to a Home package.

This funding will also see the Government extend current hotel accommodation until at least April next year while these 2,000 Victorians are supported to access stable, long term housing.

We will lease arrange to lease 1,100 properties from the private rental market, providing a permanent home for people once they leave emergency accommodation. This investment will give Victorians a roof over their head in the short-term, while also providing long-term support to help them find their home – and the security, stability and sense of belonging that goes with it.

The first of the Government’s promised 1000 new social housing units are also coming online now and will also support people to transition out of homelessness and into a home.

Each client will have access to flexible support packages to ensure they are getting the tailored help they need while in crisis hotel accommodation – including mental health, drug and alcohol and family violence support for those who need it. That same support will be available to help sustain a tenancy once they move to other long-term housing.

The Private Rental Assistance Program will also gain extra funding to encourage more people leaving emergency hotel accommodation to set up their own private tenancy, helping with the bond and initial rent.

This investment is an opportunity to break the cycle of homelessness – affording more Victorians the security and stability of a home, while also boosting the private rental market.

Funding will be allocated to homelessness agencies in both metropolitan and regional areas – enabling them to deliver a tailored and more responsive service based on the needs of individuals.

The investment builds on nearly $25 million in emergency housing, isolation and coronavirus recovery facilities for people experiencing homelessness, and almost $500 million to upgrade and build new community and public housing across the state.’

 

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.

 

Community housing Aboriginal Cultural Safety Framework officially launched

At an online launch this afternoon, Victorian Housing Minister Richard Wynne and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams launched the Community Housing Aboriginal Cultural Framework.

The Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic) developed the framework after extensive consultation with tenants and its member organisations. It sets out the steps community housing organisations can take to become culturally safe and will be backed by training and consultancy services to provide further assistance.

Organisations that commit to the framework will begin to integrate an understanding of the impact of intergenerational trauma has had on Aboriginal tenants, and employees, and work to create services that are appropriate and welcoming. One aim is to increase the number of Aboriginal people taking up housing in the community housing sector and have sustained successful tenancies.

CHIA Vic will provide assistance to organisations keen to commit to the framework with training and consultancy services.

You can view the framework, and details on the launch, here.

Or download the media release.

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….

Get ready for the Rapid Housing EOI

 The Victorian Government will soon release its Expressions of Interest process for community housing organisations to apply for funding through its new $498 million housing package.

The government has announced funding is to repair, upgrade and build more than 23,000 of social housing units, with a further $50 million to be invested in aged care and disability accommodation across Victoria.

The funding is part of the government’s $1.3 billion Building Works package, aimed at creating thousands of jobs across the state to kickstart the economy post COVID-19.

It includes:                                     

  • $155 million for maintenance and upgrade works that can be delivered quickly – like painting and roofing – on more than 15,000 public housing properties
  • $110 million for new kitchens and bathrooms in 2,100 public housing properties
  • $50 million for community housing providers to undertake similar maintenance and upgrade work on social housing properties they manage or own.
  • $58 million to deliver brand new, shovel-ready social housing in Reservoir, Balaclava, Dandenong and Hampton Park.
  • $125 million for projects that increase housing options for women and children escaping family violence, Aboriginal Victorians, and those leaving State Government services.
  • plus, $50 million will fund maintenance and upgrades to public sector residential aged care facilities across metropolitan and regional Victoria, as well as more than 450 Specialist Disability Accommodation properties.

What you need to know:

  • The social housing projects are to start within the next six months.
  • At least 25 per cent of maintenance and upgrade funding will be earmarked for regional areas.

EOI

An Expression of Interest process will be designed to ensure projects respond to the needs of priority groups in the community and benefit communities across the metropolitan and regional areas of the state.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will release the Expressions of Interest process in the coming weeks. The process will be a rapid application and assessment process, with funding flowing to organisations to begin works as soon as possible.

 CHIA Vic

CHIA Vic has welcomed the funding and is working with the department to assist in successfully rolling out the package.

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’.