Minute with Magnus

Well, nobody saw that election result coming!01 Magnus

Within the social and affordable housing sector, it takes us back to square one and we may need to consider our advocacy strategies if we are to make any progress federally over the next three years.

Can we learn to speak the language of economics, infrastructure and return on investment?

And can we make for a compelling case?

I’m sure we can. There is already a large and robust body of research on this topic. It is a challenge when the wind appears to be taken out of your social and affordable housing sails, but for the many vulnerable people under housing stress and staring down homelessness we have no choice but to persevere.

Focusing on avoided costs (think justice, health etc), viewing housing as social infrastructure and as a public health intervention (see AHURI Report 312 – The Business Case for Housing as Infrastructure, May 2019) may connect with minds that have not been convinced by a social justice narrative.

This is me preaching to myself but I figure there are a few of you reading this who may feel the same way.

If you are, then I would love to know your thoughts on how we may prosecute our advocacy over the next few years.

And with that, I need to let you know that I am on extended leave for 4 weeks, returning to the hot seat on Monday 1 July.

During this time, my more-than-capable colleague and collaborator, Philippa Yelland, will be stepping up – no doubt able to change the world of housing in that time.

I wont be monitoring emails nor taking calls as I’ll be overseas. Bon voyage!

Join us in our research

Churches Housing is now engaging in two longer-term research projects which seek to inform how to build flourishing communities. If your organisation is interested in participating in any of these projects then we would love to talk with you.

02 researchBuilding Flourishing Cities: Faith-based engagement in Vertical Villages and the path to a better quality of City Life (A Salvation Army grant and locally led research from the Epping-Ryde-Macquarie Park precincts)

The input of people of faith into city and social developments has never been more urgent.

The world is experiencing rapid urbanisation with over half the population currently living in

an urban context.

This trend is set to rise steeply in the next 30 years, and by 2050 it is expected that over two-thirds of the global population will live in cities.

In Sydney, our current population stands at just over 5 million people, but this is anticipated to increase to 6 million in just 10 years.

Both globally and locally there are both enormous challenges, and tremendous opportunities for urban environments. With densifying centres and inner rings, and growing outer suburban rings, understanding and serving urban environments is a significant exercise for all faith communities.

Important question must be asked from a faith perspective:

What will be the quality of life for those living in our growing cities?

How will city dwellers in high-density towers engage in healthy spirituality and life giving


Where will urbanites gather to build meaningful connections with their neighbours?

What can be done to support and nurture sustainable communities in these vertical villages?


Faith-based engagement through housing: examining new forms of community development, service provision and place-making (An ARC Linkage grant proposal led by Macquarie University)

This project will bring together a well-matched set of industry, community and academic partners to investigate how faith-based for-purpose organisations active in the fields of social and affordable housing negotiate the rapidly changing housing environment in NSW to contribute to practices and outcomes that address entrenched patterns of housing stress, social disadvantage and poverty in NSW.

Faith-based for-purpose organisations play important roles in delivering current housing and welfare policy, which prioritises creation of communities that include a mix of social, affordable and market units in medium and high-density developments, often led by private developers and secured through public tender processes.

Faith-based groups are simultaneously charged with addressing the challenges of concentrated social and economic disadvantage characteristic of social housing locations. They increasingly deliver services and support once provided by the state.

Those roles are under-researched and poorly understood by many in the field.

Importantly, as the management of social housing is transitioned to the community housing sector, partnerships between community housing providers and faith-based organisations are becoming more important in managing communities and providing the required social, cultural and economic support.

We are interested in the diverse ways that housing (public, community and affordable) has been mobilised by faith-based organisations (often in partnership with housing providers) as a means of addressing social and economic disadvantage and this research will increase both understanding and efficacy in delivering outcomes that address the key issues.

Churches Housing farewells two directors

Two directors have resigned from Churches Housing’s board and we wish to thank them greatly for their input into our organisation.

03 Derek Yule

Derek Yule was the founding CEO of Churches Housing, says current CEO Magnus Linder. ‘When I took over the reins six years ago, I said that I would let him have a rest before returning as a director on the board.

‘Derek has had so much knowledge and experience, along with a very gracious and supportive attitude. He has some ongoing health issues which are preventing him from continuing his work with the board.

‘I will miss your regular input, Derek, but wish both you and Ellen the very best in “real” retirement.’


Sue King has also stepped down for personal reasons. Magnus Linder says Sue ‘brought a very strategic brain, great skills and knowledge in research and a passionate heart for relieving housing stress with many vulnerable people.

‘Sue was my former boss at Anglicare and her input has seen Anglicare’s Rental Affordability Snapshot become an annual report much anticipated by our sector.

‘We wish you all the best, Sue, and thank you for your input, especially in developing our strategy and business plans.’

Is your city making you sick?

04 Kent and Thompson

Photo: Jennifer Kent (left) and Susan Thompson (right)

Australia’s cities are contributing to chronic and costly diseases, according to Dr Jennifer Kent and Professor Susan Thompson.

Speaking before the launch of their book, Planning Australia’s Healthy Built Environments, the authors said health issues were not embedded in planning. ‘At present, the cost-benefit analysis is very superficial when discussing healthy built environments,’ said Dr Kent.

Professor Thompson added: ‘The data is there, but if it’s not convenient, then it’s disregarded.’

Published by Routledge, the book is the first in Australia to study the links between health and the built environment. For example, the speed of city life clashes with rising inequity to make it difficult for exercise, community involvement and healthy-food preparation.

Dr Kent is a Robinson Fellow at the University of Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, and Professor Thompson leads the City Wellbeing Program in the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW.

Churches Housing advises on CHP registration

05 St Maron cave

Photo: in Lebanon, the cave of St Maron, founder of the Maronite Church

Over the past couple of months Churches Housing has been involved in the CHP registration of three member organisations and one non-member.

All are looking to start building social and affordable housing in the near future.

FreshHope is increasing its housing team and has now completed its compliance review with assistance and training from CHI.

Anglicare NSW South, NSW West & ACT and the Maronite Church of Australia are both registering for the first time.

Churches Housing has been helping them in three ways: managing the process, developing policy and understanding the requirements of registration.

The fourth organization we are currently working with is the Aboriginal Land Council. CHI has been engaged to help develop policies and advise on the registration process.

Minute with Magnus

LINDER MagnusElections loom and Churches Housing, as an active member of the Sydney Alliance, has a key role in organising our Housing and Energy Assembly at the Sydney Town Hall next week on Thursday 14 March from 6.30pm.

With likely more than 2,000 people in attendance, a rousing choir performance and commitments to attend from major parties as well as crossbenchers, this promises to be a night not to be missed for those of us who feel we need to do much more to deal with housing affordability as well as accessibility to affordable, renewable energy for lower-income renters, who have largely been locked out of this market.

My role will be as ‘pinner’, meaning I get to clarify with our State politicians their exact commitment to our housing asks. Please click here https://www.sydneyalliance.org.au/housing for details. Call Sydney Alliance on 8007 6055 to register.

Vinnies and the national ‘Everybody’s Home’ campaign have partnered with the Sydney Alliance in a tripartite collaboration to push both Federal and State politicians for policy reform and commitments.

We recently held a networking breakfast where we facilitated a conversation around ‘Re-imagining Communities’ and there was a genuine buzz as participants really got into exploring this topic.

Partnering with Melbourne-based Centre for Building Better Community, we were excited to have Andre Van Eymeren and colleague Nigel Smith stir our imaginations beyond the bricks and mortar, exploring exactly what it means to create flourishing communities.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend or if you did and want to get a refresh of what we talked about, their full presentations are on our website. There’s also a news summary below.

Hope to see you at the Assembly next Thursday!

Vinnies and Sydney Alliance win on SEPP70

SEPP70 winIn a major win for Vinnies and the Sydney Alliance, the NSW Government has cut red tape by listing all local government areas in SEPP 70 Affordable Housing. This amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy No. 70 – Affordable Housing (Revised Schemes) (SEPP 70), means that:

  1. Councils no longer need to seek approval from the Minister to be listed in SEPP 70 before developing an affordable housing contribution scheme (AHCS).
  2. It is still optional for councils to develop an AHCS.
  3. Councils still need to develop an AHCS and amend their local environment plan before a contribution can be introduced.
  4. The definition of ‘affordable housing’ in SEPP 70 has been broadened to include Greater Sydney or the rest of NSW. A council can check the Australian Bureau of Statistics website maps to determine which definition it falls within.
  5. One Principle in Schedule 2 of SEPP 70 has been amended to ‘Affordable housing is to be made available to a mix of very-low, low- or moderate-income households, or any combination of these’.
  6. A guideline has been developed to assist councils to develop their AHCSs.
  7. The Minister has issued the Environmental Planning and Assessment (Planning Agreements) Direction 2019. The Ministerial Direction can be viewed on the planning portal.


These changes reflect consultation and feedback from communities, councils and industry.

For the full announcement, go to https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Housing/Diverse-and-affordable-housing/SEPP-70-Affordable-Housing-Revised-Schemes

Image: Google Images

And the SAHF2 winners are …

SAHF2Once again, faith-based CHPs are at the forefront of creating more community and affordable housing. In the latest Social and Affordable Housing Fund round (SAHF2), two of our members accounted for 850 of the 1330 housing units to be built.

Our congratulations to Anglicare Sydney and Uniting. This follows on from the success of BaptistCare, St Vincent de Paul and Uniting in SAHF1. Faith-based CHPs now account for 60% of SAHF housing.

Here is what Anglicare’s Ryan Miller announced recently. ‘Excited to finally be able to announce that Anglicare Sydneyhas been successful in Phase 2 of the $1.1 billion Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF) and will partner with the NSW government to build 550 affordable dwellings over the next 3 years.

‘These new dwellings, particularly designed to meet the accessibility needs of older people, will be constructed in locations across Sydney, the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. Tenants will also receive a high level of tailored support to foster community connection and improve personal wellbeing. Glad that all the hard work and late nights have had such a positive outcome, and that we can continue to make a meaningful, tangible difference in the lives of the people we serve. Our first SAHF dwellings should be completed and tenanted by mid-2019.’

Similarly, Uniting is proud of its record and achievement.

‘Inflated house prices and a severe shortage of affordable rental properties are pushing more people into housing stress. For those who are older and on low to moderate incomes, finding a secure, affordable home in a welcoming community can be beyond their reach.

‘Uniting welcomes the opportunity to continue our work with the NSW Government on the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF), with the second phase of this important initiative enabling Uniting to add another 300 affordable homes to the program.

‘We are already seeing the powerful potential for this initiative to transform the lives of some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our community, with Uniting having already provided approximately 130 residents with a secure and affordable place to live under the SAHF program since 2017.’

‘Uniting has a proven track record of providing safe and affordable housing to older Australians, with over 10,000 people in NSW and the ACT calling a Uniting retirement or independent living village, or aged care service, their home.

‘We take pride in providing vibrant, diverse and inclusive communities, and we look forward to welcoming more residents to a Uniting home under SAHF2.’

Go beyond sustainability – residents should flourish

Patricia Morgan and Andre Van EymerenSustainability does not go far enough as a housing goal says Andre Van Eymeren, Managing Director, Centre for Building Better Community, and we should instead be asking how people can flourish in good housing.

Speaking at Churches Housing’s networking breakfast in early March, Van Eymeren outlined the framework for flourishing:Nigel Smith and Andre Van Eymeren

  1. Residents’ basic needs are met
  2. They feel a belonging to land and others
  3. Their contributions are valued
  4. They have meaning or purpose
  5. They can lament and celebrate
  6. Residents have a growing sense of meaning or spirituality

The full presentations are on our site. See links below:

‘Re-imagining Communities’, Andre Van Eymeren, Managing Director, Centre for Building Better Community


‘Housing ideas for a flourishing city’, Nigel Smith, Urban Strategist, Centre for Building Better Community


‘New ways of living spiritually’, Dr Patricia Morgan, University of NSW


Photos: Dr Patricia Morgan with Andre Van Eymeren

Nigel Smith with Andre Eymeren

Sun rises on investor-financed tenure

Garry and Stina KeransGarry and Stina Kerans (pictured) have developed a new model of homeownership by bringing together buyers with as little as $10,000 and investors who have a self-managed super fund (SMSF).

The Kerans’ first development in Young Street, Queanbeyan, is underway, with expressions of interest invited for the next two phases of Sun Villages WISE Housing (Working to Implement Social Enhancement through housing).

Go to http://www.sunvillages.com.au/