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May 2017

Contents

  1. CEO’s Talking Points
  2. Centre for Training in Social Housing Update
  3. IPART Update
  4. Regeneration and Development in New York City – A different model to help facilitate
  5. New York City – Older Peoples Housing and a visit to Stuypark House Brooklyn
  6. Complex Conditions Capable Workshop
  7. Second Domestic and Family Violence Webinar 
  8. In the media

 

CEO's Talking Points

The Treasurer announced the 2017 Federal Budget on 9 May which contained a package of housing affordability measures. This Budget represented an important statement by the Federal Government about its continuing role in delivering housing and homelessness outcomes in Australia. Significantly there is a commitment to negotiate a new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement and funding for the establishment of a bond aggregator in the form of a new National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation. For the homelessness sector the inclusion of NPAH funding into the agreement and into the Government’s forward estimates is also a welcome step.

However, the scale of the package proposed to address housing affordability is small, representing a net cost to Government of $290m over the next four years. There was no commitment to additional funding to increase social housing supply, and although the Managed Investment Trusts proposed have some tax incentives for investment in affordable housing, how they will work, what quantum of supply they will actually deliver and what the role community housing will play is unclear. (para break).

What will be important in NSW will be the community housing industry’s capacity to influence negotiations for the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement given that the Federal Government has flagged that there will be bilateral agreements and ‘concrete targets’ that are State based for new supply. The Commonwealth has also proposed linking funding to performance and there will need to be more clarity about how this will work in practice.

There may also be some scope to strengthen the National Regulatory System in response to the new National Housing and Finance Investment Corporation – it will need an effective system that operates in all jurisdictions working alongside it to provide confidence to investors and this could prompt discussions about a national role for the Commonwealth in community housing regulation.

This edition of Housing Matters features some great reporting from CEO Wendy Hayhurst who is currently overseas and sending us back some really interesting case studies of how different community housing is organised and funded.

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Centre for Training in Social Housing update

We are currently accepting more enrolments in the Government subsidised Smart and Skilled program so please contact trainingenquiries@communityhousing.org.au for forms and further information.  Of course, you can still enrol in single Units at any time by following this link to our website and completing the Unit Selection Form B and the registration form if you have not previously completed one.

Further to this, we are in the process of introducing a course withdrawal form to be completed by the students and their Manager to help us further understand how we can improve our training services.  As always please contact our Training Manager, Kevin Saide with any specific requests for training and professional development.

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IPART Public Hearings

IPART has conducted public hearings in Dubbo and Sydney following the release of its draft Report: Review of rent models for social and affordable housing. The Dubbo hearings were attended by several members of the Aboriginal Community and there was significant discussion about how the rent setting proposals and also whether there were suitable options for people to move to given the issues of remote communities and access to services. In Sydney there was broad support for the report’s findings, with the twin focus on tenant affordability and provider viability being welcomed by many. Tenants attending the hearing, both public and community housing tenants, raised concerns about capturing additional income as rent (e.g. Family Tax Benefit and Pension Supplement), the market rent plus 5% option and the issue of moving people on if a property is no longer suitable for them.

The Federation’s submission was made with input from a number of providers and can be viewed here. IPART officers responsible for the Review also subsequently met with the Federation for further discussion about the submission.

IPART are aiming to deliver the final report to the Minister in early July. The Government is then responsible for public release.  

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Regeneration and Development in New York City – A different model to help facilitate

The Federation’s CEO, Wendy Hayhurst visited the New York City (NYC) office of Enterprise - a national non-profit social enterprise whose mission is to contribute towards meeting the housing needs of low to moderate income households. Since the NYC office opened in 1987 they have newly developed or modernised and upgraded almost 50,000 affordable homes.  Their role, while bearing some features of the Federal Government’s proposed National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, is unfamiliar to us here in NSW but arguably a similar model wouldn’t be unwelcome.

Enterprise invest capital into community development projects (housing and associated facilities such as health centres) delivered by community, supportive and affordable housing organisations. The investment takes the form of loans to cover all a project’s stages from feasibility through to site acquisition, construction and ongoing operations; the latter for up to 30 years. They source finance from multiple places including the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the US Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) bond program and NY specific schemes.  They are also one of the major providers of low income housing tax credits connecting affordable housing developers with equity financing and carry out sort of program management role to ensure projects meet financial and service outcomes.

Across the US Enterprise invest around $2.7B annually; with NYC receiving around $3B since 1987. In NYC it has three program types for which it supports funding ‘bids’ preservation which includes modernisation, new community resources and also includes new affordable housing to ‘preserve’ the population mix and mitigate gentrification effects; new development for the most vulnerable including the homeless and older people. They also provide support for the NYC’s public housing - funding and financing arrangements.

Enterprise support pilot initiatives that are focused on environmental sustainability and design innovation; training and support to communities and brokerage of support services, the latter through Enterprise Homes Plus. Just a few more examples are below:

  • A landlord ambassador program that introduces owners of small rental blocks to programs that aim to encourage them to improve properties and rent affordably
  • An asset management university to train landlords’ staff and the facilitation of design excellence through an architectural fellowship
  • Supporting resident engagement in ex public housing units that are part of a federally funded scheme that allows access to resources to upgrade older homes.

Every year Enterprise conducts a social return on investment to better understand the impact of their work.  The impact is based on their community of opportunities index which bears a resemblance to the NSW social housing outcomes framework though also incorporates more neighbourhood indices – as illustrated below.


Graph of Model

In the next issue of Housing Matters we will include a feature on one development visited by Wendy in Brooklyn. In this issue we have focused on a senior’s project - see Item 6 in this bulletin.

What is striking about the model and the funding and financing Enterprise facilitates are the multiple sources government (Federal, state and council) and private that are combined or layered to make the projects viable.  Also interesting in the Australian context is that organisations of comparable size to community housing providers are able to lead the design and development using where necessary support from Enterprise. While Enterprise charges a fee for the service (which is recycled into new initiatives), whether the fee is comparable to the professional support services/tendering costs now incurred is a moot point.

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New York City – Older Peoples Housing and a visit to Stuypark House Brooklyn

The Federation’s CEO Wendy Hayhurst took the opportunity presented by her visit to NYC to learn and share experience with practitioners providing and managing subsidised affordable housing for seniors.  While the policy and political settings are different, the problems and issues are all too familiar. Research supported by Enterprise carried out for a leading US advocacy group, Leading Age New York, focuses on the consequences arising from the Baby Boomer generation reaching 65, a situation we are facing here in the NSW.

Outside area

Left: exterior of Stuypark House

Above: Stuypark House patio

 

 

 

The number of individuals aged 65 and older in New York state is forecast to grow from approximately 2.6 million in 2010 to 3.6 million in 2040, a nearly 40% increase. During the same time period, the 85+ population will grow by 48% from approximately 368,000 in 2010 to over 543,000 in 2040.

As in NSW, a growing proportion find themselves in housing stress and it is forecast to get worse by the US Congress watchdog  - the General Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO estimates that 29% of those aged 55-to-64 have no retirement savings and no pension, and that 58% of NY senior households (65 years or older) are rent burdened. Many find it difficult to hold onto their homes, and consequently the rate of homelessness among seniors is increasing. In addition, traditional planned senior housing has been in short supply in New York City for many years. More seniors are also facing isolation, living alone often far from or without family.

The small number of opportunities that do exist are often far removed from the neighbourhoods in which seniors have lived and built a social network. Older people, especially those who do not need or cannot afford the comprehensive services provided by nursing homes and assisted living facilities, desperately need additional housing options – or, where the accommodation is suitable, the services to help them age in place.

At the same time the Leading Age research noted that there is no clear source of information about the choices available to those working in the sector let alone potential service users.

Positively, the concerted policy and advocacy work seems to be bearing fruit in New York. Legislation has been introduced to establish the Affordable Senior Housing and Services Program, which will provide a source of capital for development of additional affordable senior housing and support for resident service coordinators.

Another issue is the need to preserve existing affordable homes in rapidly gentrifying areas such as Crown Heights in Brooklyn. Wendy visited one recently rehabilitated block, Stuypark House (see images), designed by John Louis Wilson, Jr. - the first black architect to graduate from the Columbia University School of Architecture.

It is an eleven storey building with 103 studio, one and two bedroomed units. It was constructed in 1973 and funded by a NYC state grant. Over the years the accommodation, while well managed, became shabby and out of date with the income received by its owner (a not for profit) insufficient to cover modernization.

The rehabilitation involved replacement of all the kitchens and bathrooms, new flooring, security systems, accessibility features throughout the communal areas and creation of a rear patio.  It all came to $26M US dollars (roughly $34M Australian) and involved layering of a variety of funding and financing sources and multiple partners.

The building went through a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Federal government program essentially designed to address the unmet capital needs of deeply affordable – essentially housing targeted at households on very low incomes, federally assisted rental housing properties in order to maintain both the viability of the properties and their long-term affordability. The rental assistance demonstration (RAD) program converts the funding models to enable private capital investment into rehabilitation and also for new development while maintaining rental affordability. This enabled Enterprise to arrange $8.1M US in low income housing tax credit equity along with other private financing via Chase Bank.

The work was coordinated by Shinda Management Corporation for the owner; a for profit real estate agency specializing in preserving older homes and with a focus on affordable homes for seniors and families. They worked with the owner and then Enterprise to put together what by Australian standards is a fairly complex funding model though at least the options exist. Shinda managed the renovations without relocations  - except for a couple of the more vulnerable residents. An onsite tenant liaison officer made this possible and although disruptive for tenants, this was preferred over having to move even if only temporarily. Certainly the residents met on the visit seemed to be happy with both the process and the outcomes.

From a NSW perspective it is a high density model but it makes good use of the space while at the same time having wide corridors for accessible access and certainly feels non institutional. Communal space is primarily external recognizing that most residents didn’t feel the need for (or want) lounges.

Given the land values in NYC, if older people are to live close to transport and community facilities it is probably the only option.

Stuypark

Above: interior corridors of Stuypark House, Brooklyn.

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Complex Conditions Capable – Supporting community housing providers to work with tenants with complex conditions

The NSW Federation of Housing Associations has commenced the next phase of the Complex Conditions project which will provide housing practitioners with practical and targeted resources to get better tenancy outcomes for people with complex conditions, including mental health and drug and alcohol issues.

The project is being done in partnership with Q Shelter, the peak body for community housing and homelessness in Queensland. On the 18th of May the NSW Federation of Housing held a workshop to support housing managers to work well with tenants with complex conditions. The workshop was a huge success with at-capacity attendance and involvement from a range of practitioners from across the sector.

The ‘Complex Conditions Capable’ resource is being developed to support community housing providers and their staff to get better tenancy outcomes for people with complex conditions including mental health and drug and alcohol issues. The project is being led by Sue Cripps and Associates, who recently designed the Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit for community housing providers. 

The Project will pilot a set of resources with around 3-4 providers in both Queensland and NSW to test what practices work, including change management and workforce development strategies, and the resource will then be made available to housing and homelessness agencies in both States.

For further information about the project please contact Deborah Georgiou at deborahg@communityhousing.org.au.

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Strengthening Practice in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence within Community Housing Providers: A Toolkit 

The NSW Federation of Housing, in partnership with NSW Family and Community Services, joined forces with Domestic Violence NSW and Homelessness NSW to develop a toolkit designed for community housing providers to help strengthen practice in responding to domestic and family violence.

The Strengthening Practice in Responding to Domestic and Family Violence within Community Housing Providers: A Toolkit is available here: http://www.communityhousing.org.au/DFVtoolkit.html

To ensure the toolkit makes a difference, a reference group facilitated by the Federation and composed of community housing providers, the peak bodies, public housing and expert advisors, has been overseeing its implementation and evaluation.  The reference group would like to encourage community housing providers to develop an implementation strategy to embed the toolkit into your organisation’s practice.

The toolkit has been designed to give practical assistance to community housing providers.  Such practical tools include:

  • A policy template – to guide practice across community housing providers.
  • A series of pathways – that provide direction to housing professionals.
  • Guidance tools and checklists – to support housing professionals develop consistent service delivery practice across community housing providers.
  • A tenant and applicant resource – on domestic and family violence available for all tenants as part of the lease sign up. 
  • A tenant and applicant resource on men’s behaviour change services – available for all tenants as part of the lease sign up.
  • Case studies – to provide examples of how housing professionals might work with different tenant groups.
  • Resource for employers – to guide their support of staff working with domestic and family violence.
  • Information resource – to assist staff understand domestic and family violence.
  • Toolbox talk – power point presentation that can be used as part of staff induction and staff development sessions.

The Federation has also started work on a follow up project to assist housing professionals effectively work through issues relating to perpetrators of domestic and family violence. The intention is for this project to complement the Toolkit by addressing a difficult and challenging area of housing policy and practice for providers.   If you would like any further information, please contact Deborah Georgiou at deborahg@communityhousing.org.au

For a more in depth exploration of domestic and family violence in the context of the housing sector, the Centre for Training in Social Housing also offers the CHCDFV001 Recognise and Respond Appropriately to Domestic and Family Violence unit. This unit will give you an opportunity to explore domestic and family violence further in the context of housing. More information about this course and enrolment is available at: http://www.communityhousing.org.au/T1_training.html

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In the Media

Over the past month the Federation has been mentioned in the following news articles:

10 May 2017:  Federal budget round-up: how the built environment sector reacted
The bond aggregator to attract institutional investment and provide community housing providers with access to cheap finance was applauded, however whether it will lead to greater stock depends on governments meeting the funding gap of what it costs to run this housing and how much can be gained from rental payments. “Cheap financing on its own will not build social and affordable homes,” NSW Federation of Housing Associations head of policy and communications Deborah Georgiou said.  Read full article here.

 

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