Property market is ‘Game of Homes’

07 Game of Homes Photo courtesy Creative CommonsDelivering the second of Shelter NSW’s 4-part housing economics lectures, Professor Peter Phibbs describes the Sydney market as a ‘game of homes’.

Speaking at the second of a four-part series, Phibbs – from the University of Sydney’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning – likened the shifting blame-games of all three levels of government to the TV series based on George RR Martin’s saga.

‘A lot of stakeholders like to say the housing shortage results from a supply bottleneck – they won’t admit it’s tax settings and the setting of interest rates at 40-year lows.’

Phibbs says that inclusionary zoning is a better idea than zoning uplift/bonus schemes ‘as long as developers are given lots of notice’. He also commends the idea of build-to-rent for industry super funds that want to put such investments in their ‘ethical option’ for members with a long-term investment horizon.

In the first of the four lectures, Dr Ben Spies-Butcher, outline five possible solutions. Dr Spies-Butcher, who is Senior Lecturer, Economy and Society, in Macquarie University’s Sociology Department, said these are:

  1. Addressing tax concessions – the Commonwealth spends around $5bn a year directly on housing, and more than $30bn in concessional tax arrangements
  1. Increasing rental supply – social housing stock is cheaper than subsidising private alternatives and pushes private market down
  1. Helping renters – if more people rent for longer, then they need similar protections to those in other tenure forms
  1. Acknowledging political obstacles – large proportion of people own their home, a growing proportion invest, these groups are relatively wealthy and politically organised
  2. Overcoming economic barriers – housing stock has developed over time and its value is large, private housing is important for consumer confidence and jobs



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

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 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
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 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.



It is with great pride that we congratulate 3 members of Churches Housing Inc. who have successfully been awarded contracts for the first phase of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) – a key initiative of Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW.


Combined, they will provide just over 1300 affordable units of housing for vulnerable people across the State. You can read the press release here.


  • BaptistCare NSW & ACT – delivering 375 homes for older people in housing stress and at risk of homelessness and 125 homes for single parent families with a focus on women impacted by domestic violence;
  • St Vincent de Paul Housing – delivering 500 homes to general and older aged tenants;
  • Uniting – 300 homes for people aged over 55 without children at home.


A Minute with Magnus…

A Minute with Magnus…

Happy new financial year! How are you and your organisation feeling about the future, particularly in regard to housing? I admit to feeling a little muddled and mixed up about the future. There are some great initiatives commenced by our State Government in pursuing their “Future Directions” program for social housing; Communities Plus is set to deliver new and rebuilt social housing (much needed as the average age of social housing approaches 50 years) along with considerable private market housing (which will pay for the rest) and a sprinkling of affordable housing. The Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) is in the final stages prior to announcing the winning bidders for delivery of 3,000 new mostly social housing units. Despite this great news I cannot help but wonder if the overall problem will still just get much worse, as these programs will deliver only 9,500 new units of social and affordable housing over the next ten years. A very modest increase that will do little do reduce the waiting lists and the housing stress experienced in our communities. However, it is a bold start and we applaud the government for having successfully turned the public housing ship from an ever increasing decline in stock to now at least a small increase. One interesting development for the sector is the emergence of contracts that will be measuring not just housing provision but social outcomes. We will discuss this a lot more in the future.

What else needs to be done? There are many things that could and even should be done and no one thing will solve all the issues. It would be wonderful for the federal government to become involved in proactive policies too (click here to read our latest Federal submission). A missing plank of housing has rapidly become housing for key workers, particularly those who earn a moderate wage and are being priced out of being able to live anywhere near the key places of employment. This is bad not just for them and their families, who live in housing stress, but also begins to strangle businesses and institutions as they struggle to retain workers within their communities. One key task that we have become involved in asking our State Government to implement is that of Value Sharing, otherwise known as Inclusionary Zoning; a mandated minimum percentage of affordable housing that MUST be included in every large development. Churches Housing has engaged with other like-minded church groups, community organisations and trade unions in campaigning for Value Sharing. What we are asking for is that the incredible value uplifts, often in the millions of dollars, that are seen through zoning uplifts on new and proposed developments, are shared not just between developer, business and government but also shared with the community by including a minimum percentage of affordable housing in these developments. This will see affordable housing built all across Sydney, rather than just further and further out west. This policy has seen other world cities struggling with the same issue of housing affordability mandate that up to 30% of new developments must be set aside for affordable housing. Our own city of Adelaide has had a 15% inclusionary zoning policy in place for a decade. I recommend a recent article by former Premier Nick Greiner published in the Sydney Morning Herald which discusses this ask. If you would like to become involved we encourage you to speak out, especially to your local MPs. If you would like some resources in order to support such a meeting then please do not hesitate to ask me.


Magnus Linder
Executive Officer