www.housinginstitute.org 11 May 2009 Australasian Housing Institute The stimulus package – community housing responses As announced in recent speeches “One concern is making sure that by Minister Tanya Plibersek, the the houses that are being developed federal government has initiated match the need that the providers are a massive swing towards the servicing. If we’re going to hold the community housing sector as product as a long-term asset then we need to be sure it’s the right asset in part of its Economic Stimulus the right place,” Mathew adds. Plan (ESP). Up to 75% of the new stock will eventually be owned Jan Berriman recently became the and managed by community Chief Operating Officer at Housing Matthew Woodward providers. Choices Australia after her former organisation, Melbourne Affordable HousingPeople contacted two of Housing, merged into its group those growth providers to get their structure. initial responses to the ESP – and what it will mean for the future of the “I expect exponential growth,” sector. says Jan. “Community housing organisations have provided a listing “We have put in a bid for a portion of about 1700 units – everybody has of the ESP dwellings,” says Matthew been geared up and ready to go.” Woodward, CEO of Unity Housing, “our aim is for at least one hundred, Jan is confident that the Victorian A Unity Housing property but our hope is for hundreds.” community sector, with eight registered housing associations, can Unity is a major specialist provider of take the bulk of the state’s quota. boarding house and low-cost rental accommodation in Adelaide which is “We in the community sector have moving into affordable housing in a been requesting this for some time big way. as we believe that the state housing authority model has been problematic “The role that community housing for many years,” she says. “We providers are being asked to fill is are very positive that the federal timely,” says Matthew. “I support the government has moved to reform Commonwealth Government looking public and community housing and to for selected community housing ensure there is choice – real choice – organisations who want to step into for people.” that role and have the capacity to step up to the mark.” And the future? But he cautions that the ESP has to “A decade from now I’d expect we’ll be kept in context: be offering a variety of products for a range of customers who “In South Australia it’s about 1500 require housing solutions – from new dwellings – it wasn’t that many homelessness and disability to years ago that the SA Housing Trust affordable housing and shared equity was making more starts than that products in integrated and inclusive per year. And the big question is can environments.” they make the numbers? In SA they’re doing all they can to achieve it.” HCA CFO Jan Berriman 2 Australasian Housing Institute Spotlight on women H o u s i n g Pe o p l e • 11 M a y 2 0 0 9 • w w w. h o u s i n g i n s t i t u te .o r g It may have been two decades in the making, but social housing professionals will this year finally get their chance to attend a conference specifically devoted to women’s housing issues. To be organised by Women’s Housing Limited (WHL) in Melbourne, it aims to inform policy development and planning to better anticipate and address women’s housing requirements in the short and long-term. CEO of WHL Judy Line promises the meeting will strike a balance between issues facing women housing workers and those facing their female clients: “As in most professions with a female dominant workforce, and despite advances towards equality in the workplace over a number of decades, few women advance to senior positions in the housing sector,” she says. Judy explains that the conference intends to build on the landmark AHURI report Too Big To Ignore published in September 2007. With the recent revelation from the AIHW that teenage girls are more likely than any other age group to access homeless shelters, it could hardly be more timely to re-focus on the causes of female disadvantage. “With an ageing population and high rate of relationship breakdown, many women are sandwiched between the high cost of housing, which reduces affordability, and the low rental Conference organiser Judy Line vacancy rate, increasing the cost of rent,” says Judy. The experience of WHL shows women are extremely vulnerable to changing market conditions and increasing unemployment. Housing Futures for Women Conference Those most at risk include older women nearing retirement age Date: Tuesday 4 August 2009 with limited or little superannuation; women with young children who struggle to access appropriate childcare to enable them to Time: 9.00am – 4:30pm participate in the labour market; and women who are forced to Venue: ZINC at Federation Square, leave their home as a result of domestic violence. Melbourne Judy Line says that while this is not yet a grand national Subsidised Early bird rates: $90 (registration conference “it is the start of the road to achieving one.” Cost: before 23rd June) “Everyone is welcome,” she adds “we want to bring all the key players together to have this discussion.” Full rates: $115 The Women in the Community Housing Sector: Building a For further information and booking please Workforce for the 21st Century report will also be released at the contact Holly on 9654 6077 or holly.mullaney@ conference, along with other new research. The full program will chfv.org.au be distributed soon. For the diary Event Location Date Lunch with Owen Donald: Does Australia have enough housing? MELBOURNE 13 May Mental Health First Aid Training LIVERPOOL 3 June To register online visit the Events and Seminars home page at the AHI website 3 Australasian Housing Institute The national H o u s i n g Pe o p l e • 11 M a y 2 0 0 9 • w w w. h o u s i n g i n s t i t u te .o r g conference – our perspective Mike Pelling Today it may feel a fair while “A program that is simultaneously and individuals on key ideas for the away, but before you know it – it stimulating, that canvasses a range program.” will creep up on you and be on of key policy, research and practice These ideas include suggestions again! The 6th National Housing issues and integrates them where for workshops on growth and Conference, organised jointly by possible, and meets the expectations governance and Indigenous housing. of broad housing interests, is a big the Victorian Office of Housing “With major changes occurring in the call and very challenging,” says Mike. and AHURI, will this year be held industry, one of the other big things “The dream is that it will happen!” in Melbourne between the 24th we are highlighting for conference and the 27th of November. Mike says that the context in which sessions is the workforce – its needs the conference will be held is and its challenges.” Planning is well underway and as the unique. The global financial crisis co-hosts point out, the event’s theme There is however still some time for has prompted the $6 billion housing – Housing in a new era: building the AHI members to put forward more stimulus package, and “despite the connections – is designed to provide key suggestions for the conference unfortunate pre-cursor, is close to a platform for exploring the essential working sessions. “If you are excited the best news for housing in Australia connections between housing, by this prospect [!], please send them since WW2.” Linking these big people, place, community and nation. to me ASAP by email to: mpelling@ picture items together will be part of swin.edu.au ” The organisers have established a the conference agenda. 14-member Program Advisory Group That’s all for now from Mike Pelling. “As the AHI rep, it is my hope that to assist with the theme, session we can embed participation and For more information visit: http:// topics and identifying speakers. ‘practice’ issues particularly in www.nationalhousingconference.org. The AHI’s ‘man on the group’ is the working sessions,” explains au/melbourne2009 Michael Pelling, Principal of Business Mike. “To this end there have been Development at the Swinburne limited discussions with groups Institute for Social Research. AHI NOTICES Engage! Engage! is a new mechanism for the AHI’s members to become involved with hot housing issues, the current policy agenda and the key policy makers of our time. Your feedback will directly shape the institute’s activities. It’s an innovative way to take your views to the right people at the right time. The topic for this edition is the federal government’s strong turn towards the community hosing sector. Poll Question: Should the bulk of the dwellings delivered through the Economic Stimulus Plan be managed by community housing organisations? Why / Why not? Send your replies to: firstname.lastname@example.org 4 Australasian Housing Institute The Master Builders and energy H o u s i n g Pe o p l e • 11 M a y 2 0 0 9 • w w w. h o u s i n g i n s t i t u te .o r g efficiency – an expert responds The Master Builders Association He’s right in claiming that the It’s a pity that the six star energy (MBA) of Victoria is reported as government should target the efficiency requirement is based on condemning the recent Council huge existing portfolio of housing if building a better air-conditioned they are serious about making big box. Double glazing and smaller of Australian Governments reductions in emissions. It will cost, openings are good for cold climates, (COAG) decision to increase the but there are quick returns in energy but not right for many Australian energy efficiency of new housing savings (governments please note). environments. Politically, it is easy as “environment symbolism” The UK’s scheme to fund energy to regulate higher energy efficiency and “one of the most significant efficiency upgrades by using energy standards for new dwellings through blows to housing affordability in savings should be copied here. the Building Code of Australia. the past decade”. It’s a real pity so little thought has The hope is that legislating for gone into working out cost-effective new dwellings might alter market The MBA spokesperson, Radley ways to retro-fit housing for energy expectations of existing housing. de Silva, claimed that the new six efficiency. star energy efficiency requirements The debate highlights our values and will cost an extra $10,000 for a But for new housing, the MBA is off priorities as a community. Is the MBA new house, and proposed that the mark on affordability. It’s not saying the planet’s and our children’s government should instead improve hard to save $10,000 in a new home future is less important than the third the sustainability and energy design – that’s 5 square metres of bathroom? Is COAG going for the floor area, about two per cent of a efficiency of existing homes. symbolic in its six star requirements? typical new house. And that $10,000 That’s worrying. There is some truth in Mr de Silva’s figure is loaded up with the costs of comments – and some spin. double glazing. Mark Singer MAHI Meet a new member… To be entirely truthful, CEO of ACT Shelter Jeffrey Dalton is not quite yet a member of the AHI... but he is about to become one. He leaves no doubt however as to his political point of departure in the job: “I see housing as a human right – the “For many people in Canberra on low whole issue needs to be approached incomes paying a discounted market from a social justice perspective,” he rent is not going to make the housing says. “We have been ratcheting up affordable because we deal with extremely shortfalls in supply for many years so high rentals.” we now have such a backlog that it’ll “We have evidence of people who are take us 20-30 years to catch up – and paying as much as 80% of their income only if we get the political will to invest in rent and living off food packages from in social housing.” Jeffrey Dalton charities. There are many aged pensioners A broad-based umbrella group such in the private rental market who are paying as Shelter needs people with wide well above 50% of their income. Our In relation to the ESP money, Jeffrey horizons and a big picture approach problem at a national level is that poor thinks that the small number of small – and Jeffrey certainly fits the bill. people can’t get decent housing.” providers in the ACT means that “we He points to the recently-released may need to bring in one the interstate One of the key functions of Jeffrey National Housing Supply Council organisations.” Dalton’s job is to facilitate a monthly report and concludes that it only tells half the story: forum for all the social housing players “One of the most important things in across the ACT. “We try to make sure the development of community housing “The danger here is to presume that our members have the opportunity to will be a regulatory framework to what we had in 1996 was adequate. contribute to the housing policy debate.” protect both the tenants and the public The reality is that we are more than investment,” he explains. 300,000 properties short.” He believes that the tensions between public and community housing provision A lawyer by trade, Jeffrey Dalton “You can’t look at social housing are “unfortunate” and that the real issue somewhat ironically spent a decade unless you look at the general area is the best way of delivering safe, secure, representing social housing tenant clients of affordable housing,” Jeffery says. affordable housing to people on low in disputes with their landlords – the very incomes. landlords who are now his stakeholders.