A minute with Magnus

Housing affordability is indeed the sexy new buzzword on the street and in parliaments around Australia. I am excited that there is a lot of talk, a lot of ideas and a dawning realisation amongst our political leaders that things cannot simply go on the way it has. I am excited that last week the Sydney Alliance Housing Assembly saw nearly 400 people from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds gather together in unity to ask the Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts for higher targets in inclusionary zoning, namely 15% on private developments and 30% on government land. This ask is consistent with what has happened in other world cities. I am excited that, although the Minister was not able to commit to these targets, he did declare that he had heard the ask and is prepared to meet with us again – and bring some of the Greater Sydney Commissioners with him! –  in two months. We are looking forward to gathering together with other Sydney Alliance partner organisations and supporters in two months time and hope you will consider joining us – the last one was a great demonstration of the power of ordinary people and a lot of fun to boot.

I am excited about the launch of Nightingale Housing projects in Sydney, a not-for-profit social enterprise that exists to support, promote and advocate for high-quality housing that is ecologically, socially, financially sustainable. Jason Twill from Urban Apostles came and spoke passionately about the potential of these projects and is seeking partnerships with churches and church organisations that may be interested in 30-40 unit developments. Although usually sold to owner occupiers at well below the market rate, there is potential here to include a % of units managed by a housing provider for affordable rental.

Excited may be too strong a word in regards to my reaction to this week’s Federal budget. However, in terms of affordable housing the access to lower interest rates by Community Housing Providers is a very positive move and welcomed by the sector. We may begin to see some movement in the next twelve months in regards to a greater appetite for development of affordable housing. Housing affordability was not meaningfully addressed with a few token measures that will do little to change the current affordability crisis.

I am excited about the number of housing providers that we have been able to assist in their renewal of registration as a community housing provider. This has been a great help to organisations that need upskilling due to staff turnover or some fresh input on policy and process or simply to assist in understanding what the Registrar is actually asking for. This is a fee-for-service support we provide at a discount to members, so if you think we may be able to assist you then please give our office a ring and ask for Rob.

I am also excited that a number of churches and church organisations have contacted me recently regarding the potential of using their land for affordable housing. We provide a free service to provide advice, information and a link to our network of trusted industry members, partners and professionals. If we can help you in any way then please do not hesitate to contact us, I would love to brainstorm possibilities with you.

Magnus Linder
Executive Officer

Network Breakfast Wrap

If you didn’t make it to our latest Network Breakfast, you missed a brilliant presentation from Jason Twill of Urban Apostles.
An Innovation Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer within the Department of Design, Architecture and Building at the University Technology Sydney, Jason is a proponent of responsible density and amenable city living.
In a recent article by Sandra Edmunds, Jason states that Australia is behind other major world cities in regard to the way we are dealing with population density and liveability, saying that we should learn from the mistakes of London, New York and others by “Leap frog(ing) the errors and maintain viability.”
The presentation that Jason Twill (Urban Apostles and the Nightingale Project) made at our Autumn Network Breakfast Please can be located at a Dropbox here.
If you would like to see more of Jason’s work-or to contact him – please go to his website here.

Sydney Alliance Housing Assembly

Oh what a night!
356 participants filled Eastwood Uniting Church to the rafters. Prior to the Minister’s arrival, CHI Executive Officer Magnus Linder (with Erin from Uniting Voice) paid tribute to prior Housing Team members that had put in so much work to get us all to the asembly on May 4th.
The Assembly was co-chaired by Donna Easthorpe from Churches Housing and Northwest Community Baptist Church, along with Leah Emmanuel from the National Tertiary Education Union and the Assyrian community. Once Minister for Planning and Housing, Minister Anthony Roberts arrived and the Alliance worked together to display collective community power.
This included powerful testimonies, the persuasive academic case put by Professor Bill Randolph, along with critical endorsement from Kathryn Greiner, AO.
Then a huge roll call of supporting organisations where over 50 organisations displayed diversity, listed local and people power, and showed unity, with every organisation supporting stronger targets for affordable housing.
The Minister then gave his response. He said he was personally supportive, he said he was “with us” and he spoke encouragingly.
The Minister;
Did not give a public commitment on 15%
Did not give a public commitment (as expected) on 30%
Did not give a public commitment (as expected) on moderate incomes
Did not give a public commitment (as expected) on unrortable guidelines
Did not give a public commitment (as expected) on the question of “uplift” vs whole development.
However, he:
Did say “YES” publicly- that he has heard us on these five items.
Did give a public commitment (resoundingly) to meet with the assembly of the Sydney Alliance within 2 months
Did give a public commitment (unexpectedly) to bring the Greater Sydney Commission with him.
The Minister then left, escorted by the drummers of Granville Boys High School.
Many of those present then committed to be involved on the IZ (Inclusionary Zoning) action team over the next two months.
It is well worth noting that the Minister had never seen a public display of support for targets as wide and diverse before. He now understands that a wide, large diverse constituency with real local power, knows the difference between specific targets for affordable housing and generalities like “housing affordability”.Please contact the Sydney Alliance here if you would like to know more about how YOUR church can be a part of the next Housing Assembly in 2 months’ time.You can access a fair portion of the video from the night thanks to the YouTube Channel of Pitt Street Uniting Church here.

2017 Federal Budget responses

Budget 2017-18 Fact Sheets
Federal Government

Infographic: Budget 2017 at a glance
The Conversation – Jenni Henderson & Wes Mountain

Homelessness will continue to rise under unfair Budget
Homelessness Australia

Budget 2017: government still tinkering with housing affordability
The Conversation – Richard Holden

Another lost opportunity for housing affordability

Budget needs a sharper policy scalpel to help first home buyers
The Conversation – Rachel Ong

Budget’s housing affordability measures welcomed
CHIA – CEO Peta Winzar

Is this the budget that forgot renters?
The Conversation – Emma Power

Making Super Available To Buy A House Is A Terrible Idea
Manager of policy at the McKell Institute- Edward Cavanough

Bond aggregator helps build a more virtuous circle of housing investment
The Conversation – Julie Lawson

Federal budget 2017 lacks the silver bullet needed to slay Australia’s housing vampire
ABC – Michael Janda

PwC Australia Partner, Infrastructure and Urban Renewal Amy Brown explains how the Federal Budget 2017-18 will affect our housing market and the affordability in a quick video explainer here and for the fuller text breakdown, click here

Federal budget 2017: Will Scott Morrison deliver more housing for Australia’s poorest?
ABC – Norman Hermant

Have your say

What can be done to improve housing affordability?
The New South Wales Government recognises housing affordability as one of the most important issues for the future of the state. To help address this issue, institute for active policy Global Access Partners (GAP) is hosting an online consultation on Open Forum to give the community an opportunity to voice their opinions and suggest possible solutions.

We invite your comments on the following:
Q: What can be done to improve housing affordability?

The housing affordability consultation is open to the general public including homeowners, future homebuyers, tenants, developers, real estate agents, lawyers and academics who have experience and understanding of the issues facing those seeking to purchase property. Larger organisations and key stakeholder bodies are also invited to contribute.

Please submit your comment here. Contributions close Thursday 8 June, 2017 at midday AEST.


ChildStory is on track for implementation throughout NSW in 2017.
The ChildStory IT system will be introduced to the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) districts and state-wide services, including the Child Protection Helpline, over a five-week period in October–November 2017. E-reporting for mandatory reporters will also become functional through the Reporter Community at this time.
ChildStory’s Partner Community will be introduced to non-government child protection service providers, police, and the health and education sectors in early 2018. It will replace the Contracting Portal for all service providers with some additional functionality for out-of-home care service providers and targeted services (Brighter Futures, Youth Hope, Intensive Family Preservation and Intensive Family Based Services).
Other functionality to come on board in early 2018 includes:
•    a mobile application for FACS caseworkers
•    interactivity for young people through YOU
•    interactivity for family and carers through the Caring Community.
The timing is later than previously predicted but this will ensure the system is the best it can be, including rigorous testing, before caseworkers start using it. The child protection work we do is critical to the lives of children at risk of significant harm, so we need to make sure any new system is robust before we implement it.
At the same time as the ChildStory IT system is being built, we will continue our awareness briefings with FACS staff, non-government service providers and other government agencies. These briefings will become a series of ChildStory training experiences in the run up to implementation.
There will be dedicated support services for ChildStory from implementation.
More information is available here

Upcoming Events

Unaffordable Sydney: a crisis housing situation (FREE)
SGS, National Shelter, Community Sector Banking
Tue. 16 May 2017. 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm
377 Sussex Street, Sydney

Community Housing Transfers – what’s it all about? 
A joint Tenants Union NSW and Shelter NSW Forum
Want to register? Click on the approriate link below.
•    Coffs Harbour (22 May)
•    Sydney (14 June)
Who should attend? We strongly encourage public housing tenants, community housing providers (and potential providers), government agencies involved in the transfer, and those with an interest in consulation and social housing policy to attend.
Cost: $30 (social housing tenants are free of charge)

New housing checklist to help older people into right homes

Minister for Ageing, Tanya Davies, today announced the University of Newcastle will receive $25,000 from the NSW Government to help older people choose suitable housing.
The funds will enable the University of Newcastle to develop an easy-to-use housing decision checklist. The list will help seniors identify housing features that foster better health and wellbeing, while also maintaining greater community connections for older people.
“The checklist will be piloted and evaluated with older people living in the Newcastle area,” Mrs Davies said.
The grant is part of the NSW Government’s Liveable Communities Grants program, which will provide $4 million over four years for innovative, locally driven projects that make communities more inclusive for older people.
Organisations with ideas that foster a more liveable community for older people are encouraged to apply for the next round of Liveable Communities Grants.

Applications open on the FACS website mid-2017. For more information visit facs.nsw.gov.au.

First tranche of social and affordable housing fund homes ready for tenants

The first homes delivered as part of the first phase of the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) scheme are now ready for tenants to move in, Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward announced today.
In March Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Ms Goward announced the five successful providers to deliver homes and wraparound support services in metropolitan and regional NSW under the first phase of the fund.
This first tranche of homes consists of 33 dwellings owned by Uniting for people aged over 55 without children at home. These homes are in 18 different local government areas across NSW, and will be made available to tenants who will be drawn from the NSW Housing Register.
“This is an important first step and milestone towards providing more social and affordable homes for vulnerable people and families across NSW while also enabling increased independence, which is a key focus of the SAHF,” Ms Goward said.
“It will be a wonderful moment when the first tenants move in over the coming weeks and they will be the first of many under this great initiative.”
Uniting has committed to providing 300 homes for people aged over 55 without children at home under the SAHF scheme.
The SAHF is one of the key priorities of the Future Directions social housing reforms, and will deliver an additional 2,200 social and affordable homes in metropolitan and regional NSW over the next four years.
The SAHF fund was set-up with $1.1 billion in seed capital from the NSW Government. The Government’s investment arm, TCorp, is investing the money to provide a stable income stream for up to 25 years to boost social and affordable housing across the state.