CHL founder celebrates 25 year milestone

Steve Bevington, the man behind Australia’s largest not-for-profit social and affordable housing provider, Community Housing Limited (CHL), this month celebrates 25 years at its helm.

As founder and managing director of CHL for a quarter of a century, Steve has helped transform the affordable housing sector both in Australia and abroad and is determined to see ‘a world without poverty’; a goal shaped by his very own experience with homelessness during his younger days in England.

‘My experience sleeping on the streets and insecure, short term housing won’t ever leave me. It’s a powerful motivator and is the reason behind why I do what I do every day,’ Steve said.

‘What most people don’t realise is that safe and secure housing is life’s foundation. Housing either sets you up for life or sets you back. You can’t plan for a future when at first you don’t have a safe place to sleep. Slipping through the cracks is quite easy when there’s no safety net there to catch you as you fall.’

After migrating to Australia in the late 80s and picking up a housing role with the Victorian Government, Steve spotted an opportunity to make a difference by launching CHL with the aim of housing more Victorians.

What started as a one-man show, has now turned into a global housing powerhouse with more than 300 staff united in a commitment to house those in need. CHL currently manages 11,000 properties in Australia and has expanded operations internationally to countries including India, Rwanda, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Chile, Peru and Indonesia.

As well as being CHL’s driving force, Steve has been a leader in affordable housing advocacy nationally for more than two decades as a director of the national Community Housing Industry Association’s (CHIA) board and its predecessor, the Community Housing Federation of Australia. Tasked with solving the industry’s biggest challenges, Steve said that while Australia had made some large strides in the delivery of affordable housing since the 90s, much more needed to be done to ensure a sustainable path is forged for the next 25 years.

‘There are many great opportunities that the housing sector presents, but also many critical challenges that need to be addressed immediately in order to deliver innovative affordable housing solutions to more Australians,’ Steve said.

‘We saw news this week of a 20-year research project from AHURI finding that there’s a shortage of almost half a million rental houses for low income families in Australia. We are one of the world’s wealthiest and prosperous countries, and this is simply isn’t good enough.

‘Families need the support of the federal and state governments to invest in more affordable housing stock and the build-to-rent sector.  As a start, an increase to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance is vital for at-risk households so they can secure access to an increasingly unaffordable rental housing market for low income people.

‘My hope is that in 25 years’ time, housing poverty will be history. Easier said than done, but can we ignore this crisis at hand?’

turning the sod in Mitcham

Delivering crisis accommodation

Ground has been broken on a project to deliver an eight-unit development in Melbourne’s east designed to support older women at risk of homelessness.

Community Housing Ltd (CHL), Uniting Vic.Tas together with other partners Mountview Uniting Church, Oak Building Group and the Department of Housing and Human Services (DHHS) have celebrated turning-the-sod on the project in Mitcham.

The homes will be located close to public transport and schools to ensure tenants maintain their links to local services and the community.

‘We are pleased to be partnering in this significant project which will provide safe, secure accommodation for older women in housing need. We will bring in our expertise of careful and sensitive design utilising 25 years of experience in designing accommodation for people in highest housing need,’  says Steve Bevington, CHL’s Managing Director.

The Hon. Bronwyn Pike, CEO-designate of Uniting Vic.Tas, says the facility will support women facing homelessness to take control of their lives and transition into sustainable, safe, long-term housing.

‘The numbers of women over 55 years of age requiring homelessness support are underestimated and under-reported,’ Ms Pike says. ‘Mountview House will be a step toward helping address the need for older women’s crisis accommodation in Melbourne’s East.’

The Mountview House facility is nearly two decades in the making. The Victorian Government is contributing more than $2.3 million to the facility’s development as part of its Accommodation for the Homelessness Phase 2 initiative.



Joint venture to boost social housing in Hepburn

The Hepburn Shire Council is partnering with national not for profit housing provider, Community Housing Limited (CHL) as part of a joint venture program that will increase the number and quality of social housing dwellings within the region.

Locals in housing need or those facing the risks of homelessness will benefit from the program, which will provide safe and appropriate housing in the form of 19 dwellings.

With grant funding provided by the Hepburn Shire Council in the amount of $589,000, CHL will deliver four (4) new purpose-built double bedroom units to low income earners in the Clunes community.

‘This program will not only increase the supply of social and affordable housing in the Shire of Hepburn, which is so desperately needed, but will greatly improve the quality of life for struggling residents providing them with real opportunities and pathways,’ says CHL State Manager Shari McPhail.

As part of the CHL’s management, tenants will reap the benefits of services that will connect them with employment, education, training and other community engagements opportunities.

‘We are totally committed to serving the community, and we are really looking forward to working within the region and with the council. Not only will this project provide much needed housing options, but it will also contribute to the local economy with a host of employment opportunities both long and short term, expected to be generated.’

A tender invitation for the construction of the new units is expected to be released shortly, with CHL encouraging local builders and trades within the Clunes Community to partner in the delivery of this very exciting project.

Mayor Cr John Cottrell said that Council was pleased to be working collaboratively with Community Housing Limited.

‘Affordable housing is an issue facing all communities and this is a great opportunity to make a difference in Clunes. The funding raised by Council together with the Clunes community will deliver additional housing options and real opportunities for low income earners.’

Upon completion in the second half of 2019, the new properties will be made available as housing options for the elderly, key workers and younger people, and via CHL will be coupled with resources and support to allow them to engage with their community, develop support networks and grow and lead productive lives.

For almost a quarter of a decade, CHL has been managing the end to end delivery of affordable housing including design, construction, tenancy and property management and currently has more than 9,000 properties under its management nationally, of which over 15 percent are in Victoria.