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July 2017


  1. CEO Talking Points
  2. September Quarterly Federation Exchange Update
  3. Centre for Training in Social Housing Update
  4. City Futures; Grenfell Tower Seminar
  5. National Congress National Indigenous Housing Peak Workshop
  6. NSW Federation of Housing Interim Aboriginal Housing Peak Body Interim Committee Workshop
  7. Perfect Storm pilots chosen
  8. Public lecture: The New York City Housing Market and Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning
  9. Productivity Commission  - Human Services Inquiry
  10. Door to Home Ownership Proposal
  11. Housing (un)affordability as an issue of inequality, by Isla Pawson
  12. Supported Temporary Accommodation Expression of Interest
  13. Strong and Resilient Communities Funding
  14. Summer Foundation SDA Projects
  15. National Housing Program launch
  16. Boosting Affordable Housing Supply
  17. New Federation Staff Members
  18. In the media


CEO's Talking Points

On Monday 24th of July the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) held its Affordable Housing Forum with well over 200 people in attendance from councils, the property industry and community housing. Opened by Cllr Sally Betts, with an introduction from the Minister for Planning and Housing, the Hon Anthony Roberts and an array of polished speakers; the delegates also worked hard to input into what will become a ‘communique’ setting out clear proposals on planning, funding , and delivering affordable housing. View the advocacy clip here.

There were many great contributions including John Brockhoff, Principal Policy Officer at the  Planning Institute of Australia setting out a clear blue print for a model inclusionary zoning (IZ) code, the CEO from City of Sydney Council reminding us all how many more affordable housing units would have been delivered if IZ powers had been extended when Council requested this in 2009 and Phil Frost, CFO at Evolve Housing explaining how the Commonwealth’s bond aggregator could enable the community housing industry to cut its financing costs if all levels of government came to the party with land and funding. Richard McLachlan, Development Director at Frasers Property Australia suggested councils audit their land holdings and use underutilised plots for affordable housing, noting that a large number of small sites could end up equalling quite a lot of new homes.  Troy Daly, Senior Advisor on Affordable Housing at the GSC, spoke about the work on the District Plan proposals for IZ and Dr Marcus Spiller, Principal at SGS Economics and Planning offered an alternative perspective on value capture through development licence fees.

If anyone needed convincing that action is needed the Grattan Institute’s analysis of census data as reported in the SMH on 28 July provided one answer with home ownership declining in 87 per cent of Greater Sydney neighbourhoods between 2011 and 2016. Adding to that are those living in rental stress or priced out of the rental sector, who aren’t going to be helped by current programs. The GSC estimates an additional 726,000 homes are needed by 2036 to house Sydney’s growing household numbers. Current social and affordable programs probably deliver 10,000. There is a big gap to fill. 

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September Quarterly Federation Exchange Update

The Federation Exchange is back with exciting content and news from within the sector!  The Federation Exchange will run on the 13th & 14th of September at Karstens, Sydney.  A full program of network meetings will be released early August.  Networks at the next Federation Exchange include CEOs, Finance Officers, Asset and Development, Community Development, Human Resources, Middle Managers, NDIS and Planning.  Check your inbox for the event invitation coming soon.

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Centre for Training in Social Housing Update

We have received several appreciated requests from Housing Providers over the past couple of months for training, allowing us to broaden our training and professional development opportunities. We have or will be delivering professional development training in the following areas:

  • Ensuring your organization is using effective cultural practices
  • Hoarding and squalor
  • Webinars on the Domestic and Family Violence Tool Kit
  • Providing effective workplace debriefing and support
  • Introduction to Social Housing
  • One day NCAT refresher training

CTSH will also be offering more Units under the Smart and Skilled Part Qualification Program.  Details will be sent to Middle managers soon

As always please contact our Training Manager, Kevin Saide if you would like to discuss any aspect of training and professional development or to arrange an in-office visit to discuss your training needs.

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City Futures; Grenfell Tower Seminar

On the 18th July, the Federation attended a City Futures seminar reflecting on the Grenfell Tower fire. The seminar was presented by visiting UK academic Professor Mark Stephens and summarised what we know about the origins of the disaster and reviewed the fierce debate that has erupted on its underlying implications for housing and social policy.

A myriad of issues may have contributed the spread of the fire which includes cladding (the type of which was not recommend for use on buildings over 10m); an air cavity of 50mm which may have acted as a chimney; foam insulation which when burns emits carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide; and gas pipes reported by residents as not properly covered. It raised issues of how we decide whether a tower block is fire-safe and whether the whole framework in which building regulations sit is flawed.

The workshop considered two issues.

1. Deregulation

In the UK no single regular or arm of government is directly responsible for enforcement of building regulations. The “improved inspector” regime means builders no longer need Local authority inspectors to sign off a building, allowing them to contract out the work instead (same as in Australia). Buildings can be signed off without complying strictly to regulations as long as the inspector believes the building to be “safe”.  After the Grenfell Tower fire, 95 social housing tower blocks were tested for cladding combustibility (defined as grade A2) and all 95 failed this test.

2. Cost cutting

The Conservative council allegedly cut costs to social housing budgets, whilst giving local tax payers a rebate. The idea that social housing properties can be built on the cheap or that poor people’s housing doesn’t need to meet the same safety standards is of concern.

The implications for social housing, particularly in the UK, are the cost of retrofitting affecting tower blocks and how this will be paid for. Will it come out of money for new housing supply or will a separate fund be allocated. Other safety measures may have to be reviewed such as the requirement for sprinkler systems. The broader implications however are whether the disaster will become an excuse for regeneration based gentrification. London still has a relatively large amount of social housing tower blocks within its inner city. After the fire Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said one of the consequences is that “the worst mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s are torn down”. If they are, it’s certain that 100% of the social housing won’t be replaced.

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National Congress National Indigenous Housing Peak Workshop

On the 20 July 2017 Adell Hyslop, Aboriginal Project Officer at the Federation, attended the National Congress National Indigenous Housing Peak workshop in Adelaide along with other State and Territory representatives. 

The workshop is one of six being held as part of the engagement process between the Federal Government and the members of the Redfern Statement Alliance. The intention of the workshop was to develop a National Indigenous Housing peak body that loyally represents the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities in the housing sector. The workshop provided a basis for high level discussions between the Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing organisations at a National Summit in September.

A number of presentations were undertaken by each State and Territory to provide an overview of the current housing situation and to also provide insight into the housing issues. The presentations highlighted that all States and Territories are faced with similar challenges and issues both with the delivery and demand of housing, transfers, growth and the need for further funding and resources. 
The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion provided an overview of the Federal government’s projects and initiatives. Mr Scullion outlined a number of key issues such as the absence of a pathway for tenants to transition from social housing to affordable housing and home ownership.

There is also a need to review the rent to buy scheme to identify why it is not working. Scullion also identified that there needs to be a provision of infrastructure and link to services to build more properties. Another key area discussed was that the government needed to address the issue around the repairs and maintenance costs including improving the procurement process to engage with Aboriginal service providers.

The afternoon of the workshop was then an opportunity for the group to discuss what a national indigenous peak body could be and what its purpose would be. After the discussion the group moved a number of motions to assist the National Congress progress with the development of a national peak body.

In summary the workshop was a great opportunity to network with other representatives and to discuss the issues and challenges all other States and Territories were facing. It was also an opportunity to highlight the work that the Federation is undertaking with the move towards developing an independent peak Aboriginal housing body for the NSW Aboriginal housing sector.

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NSW Federation of Housing Interim Aboriginal Housing Peak Body Interim Committee Workshop

The Interim Committee held a 2 day workshop to discuss a number of key matters relating to the development and implementation of the Aboriginal Housing Peak body. These included considering options for Registration and Constitutional development, Board Governance and Membership structures.  Other matters for discussion included assisting the Federation in developing its year 2 work plan and projects to focus on for the 2017-18 year. The Interim Committee identified a number of areas for the Federation to focus on including peak body development, communication and feedback to sector, including budgets and resourcing and industry support including obtaining data on the current health of the sector.

Over the coming months the Interim Committee will focus on developing a communication strategy for the sector, drafting a Constitution for the peak body and selecting a name for the peak.  A survey is being developed and will be released in September 2017 which will include all the options considered for these key matters to enable the sector to provide feedback. The feedback will be reported back to the sector and used to support the interim committee in making final decisions to progress the peak body development.   

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Perfect Storm pilots chosen

The Perfect Storm is an exciting new board scenario simulation exercise. It challenges boards and the senior executive to scenario plan for a combination of major risks.  Argyle and Mission Australia Housing have been chosen as the pilots for the first Australian run of the Perfect Storm and to assist in tailoring the Perfect Storm to the Australian context.

The Perfect Storm has been developed by one of the UK’s leading housing consultancies, the Housing Quality Network (HQN). The pilots now have a unique opportunity to work with HQN as Australian specific risks are chosen and the financial model behind the simulation is adapted for our operating context. 

Under the Perfect Storm the board and executive works together to resolve a series of realistic and tailored risks and to put effective mitigation in place. However, participating CHPs must stay true to their organisation’s values. The Perfect Storm model lets providers see at a glance if they are staying within the financial covenants. If an organisation breaches these they must act at once to remedy the situation.

The Perfect Storm pilot exercise is being supported by FACS through the Industry Development Strategy and will be rolled out nationally later in the year.  If your organisation would like to book a Perfect Storm event or if you would like more information, please contact adamw@communityhousing.org.au

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Lecture: The New York City Housing Market and Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning, Dr Mark Willis from the Furman Centre, New York University

New York City as central platform of its New York Affordable Housing Plan adopted Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning in early 2016. The evolution of inclusionary zoning policy from a voluntary to mandatory program is an important story in New York City Housing Policy. Mark will provide some background about the New York Housing market and explain some of the economic analysis behind the development of the policy. This public lecture is sponsored by the NSW Federation of Housing Associations and the University of Sydney.

Darlington Conference Centre, University of Sydney
Wednesday 16th August 2017.
6.15pm to 7.45pm
This is a free event but please RSVP to Kim Beecroft at kim.beecroft@sydney.edu.au

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Productivity Commission - Human Services Inquiry

Housing representative groups from across Australia collaborated to submit a response to the Productivity Commission’s (PC) Inquiry looking at increased application of competition, contestability and informed user choice to human services; including social housing. Our response focuses on chronic underinvestment in the social and affordable housing system, increases the prominence of Aboriginal housing specific issues and stresses the need for modelling/evidence testing before decisions to change the system are made. We also speak about how tenants could have a bigger ‘voice’ in how services are delivered; recognising that choice that can only be exercised via moving home is expensive and often impractical.  Along with the national community housing peak organisation, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA), the Federation attended the Inquiry public hearing on 25th of July to reinforce our points. In August the Federation and a number of community housing providers will participate in the PC’s roundtable on social housing.     

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Doors to Home Ownership Proposal

Shared homeownership offers a realistic and proven option for many aspiring home owners on moderate incomes unable to enter the housing market. People are struggling to save a home deposit to get into this rising market. For those who do manage while interest rates are at historic lows, even a small rise would send repayments soaring. Our proposal outlines a scheme to demonstrate the benefits of shared ownership arrangements. It seeks to provide the NSW Government with a new affordable home purchase solution. Before requesting the Government to co-invest, we are looking to undertake a more detailed feasibility study with financial assistance from FACS to show the scheme's effectiveness. The findings of the study would then shape a tangible proposal for trialling Doors to Homeownership arrangements in Sydney and regional locations that exhibit strong housing demand but are now locking out first home buyers.  Read the full proposal here.

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Paper: Housing (un)affordability an issue of inequality

Australia’s major cities are widely understood to be experiencing a housing problem. However, the conventional understanding and portrayal of the issue suggests that housing is simply becoming more unaffordable for everyone. This oversimplified view – perpetuated in politics and the media – neglects the fact that housing (un)affordability is fundamentally an issue of inequality.

Isla Pawson graduated with Honours from University of Sydney in political economy and is the recipient of the 2017 Journal of Australian Political Economy ‘Young Scholar’ Award, through which she is continuing her research into the political economy of housing, alongside working as a Research Associate in both the Sydney Business School and Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.  Read the full paper here.  This article appeared in the Australian Options Winter Edition 2017.

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Supported Temporary Accommodation Expression of Interest

The Supported Temporary Accommodation Expression of Interest for Tranche 1 has been released by FACS, with a closing date of 15 September 2017. The NSW Government is asking for new models of supported Temporary Accommodation services that enable clients to access safe, clean and appropriate accommodation at times of crisis, that support clients to access the services they need and to access appropriate longer term accommodation options as quickly as possible.
Options for models outlined in the EOI include using existing residential premises, using existing commercial properties for ‘pop up’ approaches, and the use of land with relocatable properties.

Tranche 1 covers south western Sydney, Southern NSW and the Illawarra Shoalhaven. The EOIs for Tranches 2 and 3 will be released in October- December 2017 and January-March 2018 respectively.

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Strong and Resilient Communities Funding

The Commonwealth has announced the opening of the latest round of Strong and Resilient Communities funding. $65m is available nationally to help local organisations to build strong and safe communities. Funding is capped at $500k and is focused on ‘establishing social harmony’. Some of the types of projects the Department of Social Services is looking to fund include:

  • training or volunteering opportunities for humanitarian entrants or newly arrived migrants
  • cultural or sporting activities that bring people of different cultures or faiths together;

Applications for SARC’s Inclusive Communities Grants and Community Resilience Grants are open until 23 August 2017. More information is at the GrantConnect website at www.grants.gov.au.

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Summer Foundation SDA Projects

The Summer Foundation is currently carrying out a number of projects funded through the NDIS Housing Market Development Initiative and has been consulting with community housing providers, particularly in relation to projects focusing on identifying participant demand for SDA and connecting that demand with vacant SDA housing.

The Summer Foundation will also be asking people who are likely to be eligible for SDA payments, and/or their family members, to ‘describe what the future of housing for people with disabilities could look like’ at workshops being held across Australia. These workshops will provide important information about the housing experiences, needs and preferences of SDA recipients, as part of the National SDA Demand Study that the Foundation is also carrying out.

If you are interested in knowing more about the SDA projects please contact Melanie Southwell at the Summer Foundation on (03) 9894 7006.

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National Housing Program launch

The highly anticipated program for the National Housing Conference 2017, Building for better lives, is now available.  With more than 1000 delegates and 150 speakers expected to participate in 35 sessions over three days, and with significant political will and public appetite for real reform, #NHCSydney is set to be the most significant conference in many years.

Convened by AHURI, in partnership with the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, the National Housing Conference runs from 29 November to 1 December 2017 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.

The conference program is available for download at www.nhc.edu.au/program.  To allow potential conference delegates extra time to examine the program the discounted early bird registration offer has been extended for two weeks. Register by 11 August to save over $200.

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Boosting Affordable Housing Supply, Sydney University –  Urban Housing Lab

What a privilege to spend two hours on 18 July at the University of Sydney listening to four experts talk through evidence based strategies to deliver affordable housing.  The scene was set by Professor Ken Gibb from the University of Glasgow who reflected on the UK experience which can seem like nirvana over here but has its issues.

UrbanLabProfessor Gibb explained the market and non-market housing challenges the UK faces, including the speculative private housing supply model which can work against increased supply, weaknesses in home ownership demand resulting from labour market insecurity and tighter mortgage lending and government policy working against good outcomes, for instance the ‘help to buy’ scheme pushing up prices. Amongst the non-market housing supply challenges are the decline in subsidy for social and affordable housing (at least in England) since the GFC.

Most stark was the trend in all housing completions since 1950 and the role government played as a volume house builder – accounting for not far short of 50% of total supply in its heyday in the 1970s. Housing supply has never recovered since the Government stopped building, bumping along at a pretty constant 200K a year until the GFC reduced construction even further.

While government stepped away from construction there was continued investment in social and affordable housing via grants to housing associations and local authorities throughout the UK used the planning system via the s106 regime in England and s75s in Scotland to secure affordable housing. Before the GFC use of the planning system delivered new homes; from 20K new homes in 2001/02 to 50K in 2007/08, equivalent to nearly 60% of all affordable housing sites at its peak point. It still operates reasonably well today although there’s a shift to more affordable purchase products, partly explained by lower government subsidies which has reduced the amount of affordable rental homes secured.

So in the UK direct government action, use of planning powers and the provision of subsidy have driven both total and affordable housing supply.

It’s a similar conclusion Associate Professor Steven Rowley from Curtin University has come to from examining state led initiatives to deliver affordable housing in WA, ACT and NSW.  WA’s affordable housing strategy 2010-20: Opening Doors, which set a 20K target across the housing continuum and achieved it five years ahead of schedule, and ACT’s affordable housing action plan - which expanded the community housing capacity by delivering 500 additional affordable homes and creating a new low cost home ownership product, were the stars.  The ingredients of success – strong political leadership, a single flexible, collaborative and responsive delivery agency, targets, a range of programs and non-partisan – able to survive changes in Minister or government

Professor Nicole Gurran at University of Sydney honed in how jurisdictions have used planning approaches to secure affordable housing. In contrast to San Francisco’s 18 percent mandatory inclusionary zoning target for those on very low and low incomes, which are ‘supplemented’ by a voluntary density bonus, NSW’s measures are failing to deliver very much. The research team mined sources for information on Council voluntary planning agreements and density bonuses, infill affordable housing, new generation boarding houses and secondary dwelling approvals.  The research team got hold of reliable information about the number of units promised and supplied, and how affordable or suitable they are to those on low incomes. While the enabling legislation has delivered more units (the new generation boarding houses and secondary dwellings) a lot is either student or unregulated rental. Very little is ending up managed by a community housing provider subject to regulatory requirements on rent setting, allocations and tenancy management.

The final presentation from Professor Bill Randolph ended the session on a more optimistic note. He focused on a number of successful projects from across Australia, clearly illustrating the different financing, policy and subsidy mechanisms that were layered to get a successful outcome.  All bar one used NRAS, most had government capital or land contributions and all were topped up with private finance and/or cross subsidy from market sales. There was little ‘new’ or ‘innovative’ - just the tried and tested mechanisms that have delivered time after time. Bill also gave a glimpse of the needs-driven model being developed to assess and test the combination of mechanisms that are required to deliver the outcomes required – dwelling types, tenure, household characteristics etc. It looks good, let’s hope we have lots of reasons to use the model.

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Welcome to our new Federation staff members

JANE WORRALL - Training and Resource Officer

We are delighted to welcome our new Training and Resource Officer – Jane Worrall.  Jane has a strong interest in social housing and has been a member of the Inner Urban Regional Housing Council in Melbourne and the Townsville Affordable Housing Group in North Queensland; on the Management Committee of the Townsville Housing Resource Unit and on the working party for the Homelessness Community Action Plan Initiative auspiced by Queensland Council of Social Services.

After completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Community Development from Victoria University of Technology, Jane worked for a number of years as a Tenant Support Worker for the Atherton Gardens Residents Association on the Fitzroy estate, then as a Community Development Project Officer appointed by the Department of Housing to work across all the high rise blocks and walk up units in the City of Yarra; an inner-city municipality with the highest concentration of social housing of any LGA in Victoria.

Jane has also worked in several non-government organisations in the family support, drug & alcohol and youth work field in both Victoria and Queensland and has international experience in three developing countries within the South East Asian region. Her most recent job was with a private RTO in Sydney, employed as a Trainer in the Diploma of Community Services qualification at their Bankstown Campus.                                   

ANNETTE BUTTIGIEG – Administration Officer

Annette steps into the Administration Officer position in July 2017 from her background in trade unionism. During her completion of a Bachelor’s in Social Science at Macquarie University, Annette developed a passion for social issues, particularly surrounding fairness and equality. After several years in the trade union movement, Annette decided to continue to fight for fairness in the community sector.  

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In the Media

Over the past month the Federation Wendy Hayhurst, CEO, and Deborah Georgiou, Head of Policy and Communications, have been mentioned in the following news articles:

July 21, 2017: Elderly people 'under-utilising' large public housing due to shortage of smaller homes
A growing number of social housing properties are left partially empty because current housing stock isn't catering for Australia's ageing population.  New data reveals almost 200,000 people across Australia, many of them families, are on waiting lists for public housing.  Many can't find accommodation because many larger homes are being occupied by single, often elderly people. Featuring Wendy Hayhurst, CEO, NSW Federation of Housing Associations and Katherine McKernan, CEO, Homelessness NSW.  Listen here.

July 21 2017: Social housing: Publicly funded beds left empty, while waiting list grows, new data shows
Almost 200,000 Australians are on waiting lists for housing but a large number of them can't find accommodation because larger homes are being occupied by single, elderly people. Wendy Hayhurst, NSW Federation of Community Housing, said that means many properties are not "strictly empty, it's just not well used". Read the full article here.

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