A Minute with Magnus

A minute with Magnus

Happy new year! We hope you managed to have a safe and refreshing holiday before getting stuck into a new year. Here at Churches Housing we are busy for a number of reasons:

  • After more than five years, Donna has moved on. We will miss her greatly and are very thankful for the contribution she has made with the joy and passion that bubbles out of her. We wish her every blessing as she commences at William Clark College next week.
  •  Philippa Yelland has commenced as our Research and Communications Officer. We are very excited to have Philippa with us and she has already hit the ground running. Please read a little more of her profile below and say hello when you get a chance.
  •  SAHF 2 is quickly approaching and we are having a number of conversations with potential bidders. If you are thinking about putting in an EOI then please let me know. We have also been able to link a few of our members together, none of whom would have been able to go it alone. Please read our summary below for some more information.
  •  We are excited to welcome our newest member in Muslim Care, the first entity within the Muslim faith that has registered as a CHP. Churches Housing is walking alongside to assist them in becoming established and hope that other members may also be willing to share knowledge and experience.
  •  Before the Christmas break, Churches Housing lodged a submission to the Greater Sydney Commission’s Draft Greater Sydney Region Plan and revised District Plans. We made a number of recommendations – please read our submission here.
  •  As part of our involvement with the Sydney Alliance, we are participating in an Affordable Rental Listening Day in Penrith on the morning of Saturday 17 March. We hope that this action will add to both the evidence base – through a survey conducted on the day – as well as demonstrating to local and state governments how strongly people feel about the affordable housing issue. Are you interested in joining us? Then please write to me and I will send you a letter of invitation with all the details.
  •  Our Networking Breakfast on Friday 16 February will be a unique opportunity to hear the latest on build-to-rent with a presentation from Ernst & Young’s James Brennan in the Sydney CBD. This won’t be just an ‘information dump’ – it’s a unique opportunity to network and build relationships. See your invitation in the next article or click here

I look forward to working with you in fulfilling our mission of Unleashing church resources for housing through collaboration, partnerships, education and capacity building.

Magnus Linder Executive Officer

SAHF Phase 2

Hurry – Registration of Interest due Tuesday 20 February 2018 for Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) Phase 2

Photo by Diana Parkhouse, Flickr Creative CommonsThe Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) is seeking Registrations of Interest for the Social and Affodable Housing Fund Phase 2 Expression of Interest.

This is to provide service packages that meet the SAHF objectives which include tailored support packages, asset and tenancy management and access to accommodation.

The aim is to provide 1,200 additional social and affordable dwellings across NSW.

The regions are: Far North Coast, Mid North Coast, New England, Central Coast, Hunter, Cumberland/Prospect, Nepean, Northern Sydney, Inner West, South East Sydney, South West Sydney, Central West, Orana/Far West, Riverina/Murray, Illawarra, Southern Highlands.

Go to https://tenders.nsw.gov.au/?event=public.rft.show&RFTUUID=AAAD5930-C921-124D-FCBCD35F67F0265F

You can then download participation instructions and lodge a response.

SAHF Phase 2 will be procured in a two stage process with an Expression of Interest (EOI) followed by a Request for Proposal (RfP) from applicants who are short-listed in the EOI process. The EOI will be launched in early February 2018. To register for an invitation to submit an EOI visit https://tenders.nsw.gov.au to complete and lodge a Registration of Interest and ensure you receive an EOI when it is released.

Please contact Churches Housing’s Magnus Linder for more information or help.

02 9633 5999 or 0417 487 052. Email Magnus

National Housing Conference 2017

National Housing Conference 2017 inspires some hope

Build-to-rent dominated the conference, according to Magnus Linder, Rob Powell and Rob Burnelek

 Magnus Linder, Executive Officer, Churches Housing, reports

The National Housing Conference is a key gathering of sector participants from government, NGO, developers, housing providers and academics and researchers. The once fledging affordable housing sector is still small but on the verge of quick growth – however only if given strong government support and policy. Here is a 10 bullet-point summary of some of the things that stood out from my own notes:

  • Housing rights are human rights (Trudeau)
  • Australia has so much space with 3-4 people per km2, yet the dream of home ownership appears to be fading fast
  • Canada’s National Housing Strategy aims to achieve transformational change with a total investment of $40 billion over 10 years – yet for every $1 invested it sees $1.50 trickled down.
  • Migration and the failure to decentralise our key cities (Sydney and Melbourne especially) have added to property price woes. Decentralisation ensures benefits of migration will be shared beyond two cities.
  • Australian migration was an average of 80-100,000 a year or 1 million per decade. Up to the 1990s, 2/3 were unskilled. Now migration is 190,000 a year but 70% are skilled – mostly in Sydney/Melbourne. Slowing migration may cool the housing market but may also crash the economy.
  • Middle Australia is worrying about our children – will we ever get them out of our home and into their own?
  • If house prices fall too quickly, then many investors and home owners may be exposed.
  • The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) is an important part of the national housing puzzle. Everyone working together will lower the price of finance.
  • NHFIC is an affordable-housing bond aggregator. Bonds are guaranteed by the Federal Government. There is an opportunity also to refinance existing loans.
  • Reducing barriers to downsizing is an important measure. Proceeds could be allowed to go straight into super at up to $300,000 per person as long as they have owned the house for 10+ years.

Rob Powell, Project Officer, Churches Housing, reports

When I went to my first housing conference five years ago, the mood was depressed and there was a set-in despondency that nothing would ever change.

More recently, as housing has become a hot topic in the public arena, there have been some glimmers of hope. The National Housing Conference in December confirmed the recent trend of hopefulness in the housing sector. There were more new initiatives and talk of finding solutions in a way that felt do-able – even from government!

The keynote address by Evan Siddall, President & CEO of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (Canada), was one of the highlights. Although Evan could not be there in person, his recorded message was engaging. Viewing the video gives insights into what could happen here if plans for a similar scheme (NHFIC) get the go-ahead.

Other highlights involved discussions on build-to-rent and a presentation from Dr Shann Turnbull on New Garden Cities approach to housing and social wellbeing.

What was somewhat disappointing was that a number of the sessions I attended were shallow and only just skimmed the surface of the issues and did not really approach possible solutions.

One of the things I noticed and had the opportunity to chat about with other attendees was that the sector is still seen in small silos – social, affordable and market rental.

The introduction of build-to-rent will add another much-needed opportunity to increase supply. It will also increase the complexity of the sector with questions such as whether this new supply could be used for affordable and social housing.

As I mentioned at ‘The Future of Social Housing in NSW: Consultation’ with the Hon Pru Goward MP in December, I would like to see more discussion on breaking-down the silos and seeing housing as a continuum from homelessness through social and affordable housing to market rental and ownership, focusing on a new sliding-scale rent subsidy policy and a system that does not require tenants to move each time their financial status changes.

Rob Burnelek, CEO, Axis Housing, reports

My main interest in the National Housing Conference was about the emerging build-to-rent discussions that have been occurring.

The conference had a large focus on build-to-rent, and I was trying to understand what all of the excitement was about. I was trying to work out whether there was something more complicated that I didn’t understand, or whether it was just a new trendy way of doing what the Church sector has been doing for years.

On the positive side:

  • I realised that there was not anything too difficult to build-to-rent – it really just means building a property, and rather than selling it, the owner holds onto to it to rent it out. The main difference is that now large institutions are looking at doing this.
  • It is starting to bring Australia into line with other housing markets where institutions supply a large amount of the rental housing.

On the negative side:

  • Aside from increasing housing supply (which is still desperately needed), it does not have anything directly to do with affordable housing. The organisations doing this are mainly focusing on full-market rentals.
  • There was also a continued cry-out from every speaker saying that the government needed to provide more money to subsidise the housing. Whilst this will help, there was little innovative thought as to how this was possible (and it can be done).

Meet the Members – Helen Wood

Meet the Members – Helen Wood, Uniting with Donna Easthorpe

I met Helen Wood, Director of Independent Living and Affordable Housing for Uniting NSW/ACT, late in 2017. Helen is currently tasked with the leadership, management, and realignment of the Uniting portfolio of an impressive 79 communities, spanning seniors’ housing, retirement living and affordable housing for over 55s. Until 2016, Helen also spent 14 years as a volunteer director of Bridge Housing.pic WOOD Helen headshot

Helen grew up in the UK and did an undergraduate degree in psychology. She worked in real estate then property management at British Rail. She found her passion at Notting Hill Housing Trust where she worked closely with councils to clear West London slums and begin a rolling program of new and refurbished housing.  During this time she qualified as a chartered surveyor and later became CEO of the Soho Housing Association in Westminster, where she worked in partnership with the GLC and developers to build social and supported housing in the centre of London..

Community housing providers have been a huge part of the housing continuum in the UK for the last 50 years. Helen and her family migrated to Australia in 1998, but as a Housing Association developer, she found there was almost none of that type of work here. So, Helen took a stint as a project director for Housing NSW, which she found rather personally unsatisfying. Following this, Helen began working for Catholic Health Care developing age-appropriate housing for seniors, and managed retirement villages until a redundancy saw her take a position at Uniting – where she has served in various capacities, including developing and operating retirement living and seniors’ housing, ever since.

Due to her psychology degree, Helen has long looked at humans and their needs. A great part of why she does what she does is to address people’s most basic needs in the hope that it will give them a stable base for more interesting and socially productive pursuits. She explained to me that according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safe, secure, affordable housing will underpin the ability to satisfy all five of the hierarchies of human need (physical, safety, belonging, esteem, self-actualisation). With this basic need met, people can move through to the peak level, self-actualisation, and become productive members of society. See simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
pic Maslow for Helen Wood
Community housing funding in the UK has had good bipartisan support for decades. In Australia, areas for which we need to cater include LGBTQI+, young people exiting care, people living with a disability and older hidden homeless – especially women. Helen is advocating levels of 15-20% affordable housing across all jurisdictions to promote a more equitable society. NRAS (National Rental Affordability Scheme), SAHF (Social and Affordable Housing Fund), matching federal funding in the 1970s –all enabled churches’ involvement in housing and aged care villages. Using the Residential Tenancy Act allows Uniting to provide for a mixed tenure community in all retirement villages – Helen has so many wonderful stories about its ability to change lives and is very proud of Uniting’s Rainbow Tick accreditation.

Uniting has had a long association as a member of Churches Housing, culminating in the recent advocacy with the State government in partnership with many other faith organisations and the Sydney Alliance. Helen said Uniting is well-resourced in assets and has many opportunities to develop so-called ‘lazy’ land and property holdings for housing. The future is full of opportunities and challenges, with densification and rezoning constantly providing opportunities for new developments.

Uniting is using development surpluses to cross-subsidise affordable housing, although there is a struggle to balance floor size for Liveable Housing Design Standards, versus break-even or profit-ratio. Uniting currently has 10 NRAS projects fully occupied and ticking over very well. Looking at greater scale for development into the future, Helen expects to see 20% of 1,000 units in the pipeline being devoted to affordable housing.

Uniting is working to provide health and wellbeing services, along with tailored support coordination to assist in personal issues and sustaining tenancies. The organisation also provides support services for people living with disability. Uniting has already housed 66 SAHF clients, and is looking at experimenting in one of their villages with piloting a shared village-car scheme (like GoGet) to reduce the need for individual residents to own vehicles. This may work by charging residents a nominal fee to access a well-maintained car and petrol.

In closing our interview, I asked Helen what her perfect world would look like, and she said that the issues are simple – there is currently not enough housing or funding. If Helen were Queen For A Day, these items would be on her wish list:

  • social housing seen as essential infrastructure and properly funded
  • bi-partisan support for a predictable and long-term funding stream
  • negative-gearing targeted to low-value properties with tenants on low incomes as in US, and
  • compromise on over-sized dwellings, but without opting for tiny houses.

Practically, the government does not have to do it itself, but it does have to fund it. Housing our citizenry must be essential infrastructure, viewed in the same way as schools, roads, sporting stadiums and hospitals.

Thank you for being so generous with your time, Helen.

Check in our next newsletter to meet another Churches Housing member organisation.

Residency Rights

Residency rights for people with disability – submissions due Friday 2 March 2018

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

The NSW Government has begun public consultation regarding people with Disability, Protecting the Rights of Residents in Supported Group Accommodation.
The proposal is to provide residents of long-term supported group accommodation with resident rights equivalent to those that are available to people in private and social rental accommodation and residents in boarding houses.

Public consultation began on 12 January 2018 and will close on Friday 2 March 2018.

FACS has published the following documents on the NSW Government’s Have Your Say and FACS websites:

1. Consultation Paper (in plain English)
2. Technical Issues Paper
3. Easy Read Summary

The Consultation Paper outlines the policy position in plain English and the questions in the Consultation Paper are also repeated in the online survey to provide a simple option for people to provide feedback.
The Technical Issues Paper provides more details of the proposed policy position and follows the criteria in the Residential Tenancies Act.
People can give feedback in various ways:

1. complete the online survey
2. write via e-mail or letter – this is the preferred way to provide comment on the issues raised in the Technical Issues Paper
3. phone 1800 379 284

FACS invites you, your organisation and your members to comment and give feedback on the proposal. Please visit the websites listed above to access the documents and detailed information on how to respond.
The NSW Government will publish a final report in June this year, based on feedback received.
If you have any questions regarding this process, please email Nancy Tan, Project Manager on residentrightsconsult@facs.nsw.gov.au or call 1800 379 284.

New Staff

pic Yelland Philippa red top lkng rightPhilippa Yelland – Research & Communications Officer (BA)lkndflkngfd
Philippa joined Churches Housing in January 2018 with deep experience in journalism, publishing and research. Her most recent work was as communications and marketing manager for a large, Sydney-based public company that specialised in financial services. From practical experience, Philippa knows that housing security, peacefulness and affordability are crucial for all people if they are to live good and satisfying lives. Her plea to political decision-makers is a rephrasing of John the Baptist: ‘If you have two houses, give one away.’ While Philippa currently attends C3 church, she has also been part of Anglican and Uniting congregations.

“Open Expression of Interest” – Release

Open Expression of Interest (FACS.15.34) was released to the market via the NSW Government’s eTendering website on 24 July 2015, seeking expressions of interest from organisations or consortia interested in establishing a new and independent-from-Government structure for The Collective NSW. https://www.communitybuilders.nsw.gov.au/building-community/the-collective-nsw

Expressions of Interest close 2pm, Tuesday 18 August 2015.

Questions about the EOI should be directed to TheCollectiveNSWtender@facs.nsw.gov.au.


About The Collective NSW

  • Protecting the most vulnerable
  • Break the cycle of disadvantage

Instead of government, the community leads the way to help solve problems for some of the community’s most vulnerable

What is It About?
The Collective NSW is a model which aims to protect the most vulnerable in our society and break the cycle of disadvantage through cross sector and community collaboration.

It reduces government’s prescriptive role clearing the path for the local community to lead the way, supported by the corporate sector, government and the community. See our story.

Who Is Involved?
Communities and individuals, big and small business, all levels of government. Non-Government Organisations and academics.

The Collective is about everyone joining forces to create social impact.

Working together is much more effective than working alone. The Collective brings everyone together to support projects and ideas. It is about pooling time, talent and resources to bring about positive change. It is about floating new ideas and encouraging new ways of thinking to tackle age old problems associated with disadvantage.

Communities are closest to the issues affecting them, so they are usually best placed to offer a solution. Under the Collective NSW model government lets the community direct the path allowing for a joint response from the community, government and business, big and small.

Our Online Community
The Collective is on social media where like-minded people wanting to disrupt inequality can gather, connect and work together to create outcomes to improve life for our most disadvantaged.

NSW Housing Affordability Crisis

Housing and homelessness peaks in NSW today issued a joint statement outlining their position on the housing affordability crisis in NSW.
There is an increasing public discourse on the housing system and in particular the availability of accessible and affordable housing. Clearly the system is failing many individuals and families. We have considerable experience and expertise in understanding the housing markets and call on all levels of government to work to ensure a fairer housing system.
A lack of affordable housing has both economic and social consequences. Without safe and secure housing women and children can’t leave violent situations, recidivism increases, homelessness will not be solved and essential service workers will increasingly be unable to live in the communities they serve.
We reject claims that increasing supply will solve the affordability crisis. In recent years NSW has seen strong increases in supply, but affordability has only worsened. Increasing supply will only make a difference if it is specifically targeted to the lower end of both the home ownership and rental markets.
Changes in employment that have resulted in greater levels of casualization, contracting and insecurity have had a serious impact on first home owners capacity to sign up to long term mortgages with confidence. Workers under the age of 30 are more likely to be casual than ever before. If the trend continues into the prime working age years it will come at the cost of income security. Almost a quarter of all employees in Australia (23.9 per cent, or 2.2 million people) in 2012 reported as casual employees. The proportion is even higher after adding more than a million contractors and the hundreds of thousands employed through agencies. In addition wages growth is almost flat.
In much of NSW attempts to assist people on low incomes into the private rental market is an almost impossible task. This is clearly evidenced in the Anglicare Rental Affordability Snapshot. Additionally at the 2011 Census over 86,000 households in NSW were in rental housing stress, paying  more than 30% of their income in rent. This is unsustainable.
Tax reform is necessary. We would urge all parties to re-examine the findings of the Henry Tax Review. There is clear evidence that negative gearing and the capital gains tax discounts drive speculation, increasing house prices. There is scant evidence that making adjustments to negative gearing will cause rents to increase.
While the New South Wales government has made a start in establishing an incentive fund for social and affordable housing, more needs to be done. There is an enormous gap between government sponsored housing and the private rental market. We would support direct investment by the state government to increase affordable housing supply. Private investors need encouragement to provide affordable housing.
The New South Wales laws need to change to allow increased security of tenure for tenants as well as fairer laws on rent increases. We believe that the Boarding House Act, while a step in the right direction has failed to ensure an adequate standard of accommodation for many people who are marginally housed.
We would support moves by local councils to increase the supply of affordable housing and urge them to work with communities to encourage new development, by highlighting the significant social benefits of secure and affordable housing.

For further information:
Churches Housing: Magnus Linder – 0417 487 052
DVNSW: Moo Baulch – 0400 936 192
Homelessness NSW: Katherine McKernan – 0425 288 446
NCOSS: Laura Maclean – 0412 867 658
Shelter NSW: Mary Perkins – 0419 919 091
Tenants Union of NSW: Ned Cutcher – 0405 433 996
YFoundations: Michael Coffey – 0425 228 758


Network Breakfast

OldGovHouseParraDear members and friends,

We would love to invite you to our next Churches Networking Breakfast, to be held at Lachlan’s Restaurant, Old Government House in Parramatta Park. Apart from catching up with your own network, we have invited our own Parramatta MPs, Federal (Julie Owens) and State (Geoff Lee). They represent two different sides of politics, but both sides are making progress in affordable housing policy. So come along and do some quality networking with your colleagues along with a nice buffet breakfast.

Date: Friday 19th June, 8:00am – 9:30am

Cost: Members $30, Non-Members $35

Location: Lachlan’s Restaurant, Old Government House, Parramatta

Register: Online Registration and Payment

Magnus Linder