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Appropriate and sustainable social housing
- Key performance indicators
Access for most in need and sustainable tenancies
- Reshaping Public Housing
- Providing Social Housing
- Planning for the Future: New Directions for Community Housing in NSW
- Community Housing Rent Reforms
- Meeting the Needs of Older Clients
Housing People with a Disability
- Joint Guarantee of Service for People with Mental Health Problems and Disorders
- NSW Housing and Human Services Accord
- Disability Action Plan
- Disability Modifications
- Special Assistance Subsidy
- Isolated Carers Outreach Project
- Disability Reference Group
- Non-government Organisations Housing Partners Reference Group
- Meeting the Needs of Young People
- Meeting the Needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
- Meeting the Needs of People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds
- Dwellings suitable for client needs
- Improved environmental sustainability
- Well performing social housing sector
Providing appropriate and sustainable social housing means matching the changing needs of clients and planning different options for housing to fit those needs. Housing NSW provides appropriate and sustainable social housing through:
- directly providing public housing
- funding and regulating the community housing sector and
- managing Aboriginal Housing Office tenancies on behalf of the Aboriginal Housing Office.
Over the next three years, the priority areas for Housing NSW will be to:
- reconfigure properties from larger to smaller units to accommodate the growing number of smaller households, such as single parents, the aged (including the frail aged) and people with disabilities
- relocate stock to population growth areas
- expand community housing through the provision of new stock, continuation of
headleasing, stock transfers from public to community housing and leveraging private-sector investment
- shift to ‘universal’ house designs that are more flexible and adaptable to the needs of older people and people with disabilities
- improve coordination of support services through partnerships with human service agencies under the NSW Housing and Human Services Accord.
- Minister launched Planning for the Future with target of increasing community housing properties from 13,000 to 30,000 in 10 years
- 3740 fixed-term leases were reviewed under the Reshaping Public Housing reforms
- 82.9% of properties were allocated to better cater to households most in need
- 2427 properties transferred from public to community housing management under the Stock Transfer Program
- $9.75 million was spent on disability modifications in 3480 public housing dwellings
- Minister announced Compass Housing Services as successful tenderer to manage social housing in Broken Hill
- Minister released Environmental Sustainability Consultation Paper at the National Housing Conference in February 2008
- Australasian Housing Institute recognised Water Management Unit in 2007 Awards
- Housing Amendment (Community Housing Providers) Act 2007 passed by NSW Parliament in November 2007, providing framework for new system of regulation
Proportion of new tenancies allocated to households most in need
Rent arrears as percent of net rent
Vacant turnaround time:
The Reshaping Public Housing reforms announced in 2005 included changes to eligibility and income to ensure that access to public housing is targeted to those most in need. Previously, tenants could remain in public housing for life, providing they met tenancy conditions. In October 2006, Housing NSW moved away from tenancy for life to fixed-term leases that match a tenant’s need for public housing.
Fixed-term leases of two, five or 10 years apply to all new public housing tenants. Leases are reviewed before they end to determine whether the tenant is eligible for a lease extension of two, five or 10 years. Households that are no longer eligible are offered assistance to help them move from public housing to other forms of housing.
From 1 July 2007, Housing NSW began to review fixed-term leases, with 3740 leases reviewed. Of these, 3653 were offered a lease extension of two, five or 10 years according to their need. Only 31 tenancies were determined to be ineligible for a lease extension.
The implementation of the new eligibility and tenure arrangements was evaluated in November 2007. The evaluation found that the new arrangements were relatively seamless. Income limits for housing eligibility and lease review are to be annually reviewed and indexed. Further consultation with stakeholders is planned so that the criteria for determining fixed-term leases are regularly updated.
Planning for the Future provides a strategic plan for the whole of the NSW community housing sector. It is a five-year strategy for community housing in NSW and was launched by the Minister in November 2007. The key target for the plan is to grow community housing from 13,000 to 30,000 homes over the next 10 years.
The five strategies to meet this target are:
- growth – facilitate growth and continued innovation in the community housing sector
- diverse and flexible responses – meet individual and local needs using local opportunities
- stronger communities – support individuals and their local communities to become more self-sufficient and resilient
- capacity and confidence – build the capacity of and confidence in community housing
- viability and sustainability – put in place financing and structural arrangements for longterm business sustainability of community housing providers.
Under each strategy, there are detailed actions, with Housing NSW leading some actions and the community housing sector leading others with the support of Housing NSW.
The strategy of ‘growth’ identified in Planning for the Future for community housing will largely be met by redirecting properties from public housing to community housing. In addition, new supply will address the strategy of ‘growth’ by:
- continuing to increase supply in high-need areas and
- providing additional crisis and transitional accommodation.
In 2007/08, the target to acquire 365 new units with a budget of $83.204 million was delivered with:
- 339 units for general housing and long-term supported housing through the Community Housing Assistance Program at $64.012 million
- 26 units through the Crisis Accommodation Program at $6.883 million
- $0.117 million to complete Crisis Accommodation Program works in progress and $12.192 million to complete Community Housing Assistance Program works in progress.
The Office of Community Housing is focusing its efforts to ensure the target of doubling the size of the community housing sector in 10 years is delivered on time and to budget.
Transfer of stock management
Under the current Commonwealth State Housing Agreement, Housing NSW is committed to transferring the management of 2500 public housing properties to community housing providers to manage. This will increase the choices that are available to social housing tenants while building the capacity of the community sector and therefore meeting the Planning for the Future strategies of ‘growth’ and ‘diverse and flexible responses’.
During 2007/08, 1038 properties were transferred from public to community housing management through the Stock Transfer Program. The total number of properties transferred since the start of the program is 2427 properties. As part of the growth targets in Planning for the Future, another 500 properties will be transferred in 2008/09. In early 2008/09, an evaluation of the program will begin to assess its effectiveness and recommend any future stock transfers.
In April 2008, the NSW Government approved changes to the Community Housing Rent Policy, leading to better maintained community housing properties and, over time, providing more community housing properties, delivered by community housing providers. These changes capture all the Commonwealth Rent Assistance to which tenants are entitled and increase the proportion of family tax benefit included in rent from 11 percent to 15 percent. Community housing providers will invest the additional rent revenue to provide more properties for use as community housing and ensure all properties under their management are at a good standard. The changes bring public and community housing rents into alignment.
Communication materials were prepared for providers and tenants to support the roll out of these new rent policy changes. A rent calculator tool was developed to support provider implementation. Housing associations will be the first group of providers to implement the new rent policy. Changes will apply to new tenants from 1 July 2008 and existing tenants from 1 August 2008. Other community housing providers implement the changes from January 2009.
As the demographics of the NSW population change, Housing NSW is responding with specific strategies to address their needs, including those of older clients. New Directions in Social Housing for Older People, a five-year strategy, was released by the NSW Government in April 2006. It identified a number of key initiatives for 2007/08 outlined below.
In 2007/08, nearly 37,000 older tenants lived in public housing, with 31 percent of public housing tenants aged 65 years or older.
The Office of Community Housing developed a strategy for older people in consultation with the community housing sector. The five broad aspirations for the community housing sector stated in the strategy are to:
- facilitate ageing in place
- expand the sector’s capacity to house older people
- encourage community housing tenants to participate in housing management and community activities
- assist community housing tenants to age healthily and sustain their tenancies and
- review approaches and results in housing older people.
To meet the targets of New Directions in Social Housing for Older People for 2007/08, Housing NSW:
- completed construction on 253 new dwellings and commenced a further 489 new dwellings suitable for older people constructed at a cost of $59 million
- spent around $9.75 million expenditure in modifications to 3480 public housing dwellings for older people or people with mobility difficulties
- identified a number of existing public housing complexes as Senior Communities (see below)
- incorporated purpose-built housing for older people into the design of five major redevelopment projects (see Redfern Redevelopment case study)
- contracted Australian Red Cross to deliver the Housing NSW Tenant Connect, a telephone monitoring service for older social housing tenants (to commence in July 2008) and
- introduced the Connecting Older Tenants pilot, in which nine local projects encouraged tenants to keep an eye out for older neighbours (see Outcome 3).
Housing NSW will be implementing and further developing the above activities in 2008/09. In addition, Housing NSW will be implementing the NSW Government’s Interagency Protocol for Responding to Abuse of Older People during 2008/09.
Housing NSW participated in the NSW Government’s Ageing 2030 – Creating the Future Roundtable held in October 2007, which focused on changes that an ageing population will bring. As a result, a plan for demographic change and ageing, entitled Towards 2030: Planning for Our Changing Population, was launched by the Government in April 2008.
An evaluation of the New Directions in Social Housing for Older People will be conducted during 2008/09. The evaluation will monitor and report on activities as well as undertake surveys of older tenants and site-specific case studies as the strategy is implemented.
The Senior Communities initiative is a response to the NSW Government’s commitment to house older people with other older people. Senior communities will enable:
- older tenants to nominate to live near people with similar interests and needs so that they feel safe and secure
- informal systems of support and connection for older people to be established and
- more formal support services to be established.
During 2007/08, Housing NSW identified Senior Communities complexes across the state. In August 2008, older people will be able to nominate to live in public housing near other older people through the Senior Communities initiative.
Minister welcomes back seniors to Gallop Court
Housing NSW has a commitment to providing improved housing for over 55s in NSW. To meet this commitment, Gallop Court in Maroubra was identified as a pilot for the NSW Housing and Human Services Accord – Ageing in Place project. Work on the first block at Gallop Court was completed in December 2007. A complete upgrade of all apartments in this block was undertaken, including making modifications for residents with disabilities and mobility problems. A lift and an intercom security system were installed, making residents feel safer in their homes. On 18 March 2008, the then Minister Matt Brown helped welcome back the former tenants and new residents to the complex. This approach will be evaluated and where possible repeated in other locations where there is high demand for appropriate housing from older people.
Housing NSW recognises that providing housing that is accessible for people with a disability is about much more than bricks and mortar. It is about housing that is affordable, designed to suit individual needs, well located, allows people to interact and is linked to support services. It is also about consulting and involving people with a disability in the planning and delivery of services and providing information about these services that is friendly and accessible. Housing NSW helps people with a disability by:
- providing housing assistance to people with a disability
- participating in whole-of government initiatives that help tenants with a disability to live full lives in the community.
The Joint Guarantee of Service (JGOS) aims to coordinate services for people living in or applying for social housing, who have mental health problems and disorders and who have ongoing support needs. Housing NSW convenes the JGOS Strategic Partners Committee and the JGOS Implementation Reference Group. An evaluation of JGOS was completed in 2006/07. Following the evaluation, the Ombudsman advised Housing NSW of an investigation into the JGOS, commencing in November 2007, to review whether Housing NSW and NSW Health are meeting JGOS objectives. Housing NSW worked with the Ombudsman to:
- develop an implementation plan for key recommendations from the evaluation
- review and edit JGOS resource materials on the Housing NSW website and
- survey the JGOS committees to determine best-practice models of service delivery.
The NSW Housing and Human Services Accord (the Accord) released in April 2007 establishes a framework for cross-agency housing and support agreements to support social housing tenants with complex needs. The Accord produces formal partnership agreements and crossagency tools that are essential to maintaining successful tenancies.
During 2007/08, the focus was on developing partnership models and the policy and operational framework. Over the past year, the Accord:
- implemented a number of shared access trials, targeting priority client groups with complex needs such as young people leaving out-of home care, chronically homeless, and women leaving prison
- finalised the Shared Access Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and completed the Phase 1 evaluation of the shared access trials
- undertook consultation and finalised the Accord Evaluation and Monitoring Strategy
- trialled the Draft Client Information Sharing Schedule
- finalised the Building Stronger Communities Schedule, which was endorsed by the Human Services Chief Executive Officers Group
- rolled out the delivery of partnerships training for Housing NSW staff across NSW and
- developed an Accord Resource Kit for partner agencies.
In 2008/09, Housing NSW will:
- deliver training on policies and procedures for implementation of the Accord to Housing NSW services staff
- develop and deliver a joint training strategy with partner agencies
- evaluate the shared access model through the Phase 2 evaluation.
- consult on and implement the recommendations of the evaluation of the Draft Client Information Sharing Schedule trials
- distribute the Accord Resource Kit for partner agencies and
- continue to implement an approach to regional partnership planning with Accord partner agencies.
Hunter Youth Out-of-Home Care – Accord Pilot
This trial provides housing and support services to young people aged 16 to 18 leaving out-of-home care to assist them into independent living. The Department of Community Services is responsible for identifying and assessing clients for the trial. Housing NSW is responsible for finding a suitable property, and Department of Community Services is responsible for ensuring that the client has a case management plan and an assigned case manager/support provider. The initial target of 12 clients was reached and there is now a demand for this service.
During 2007/08, Housing NSW developed:
- the Readiness for Independent Living Checklist to assess the suitability of clients for participation in the trial
- a sharing information schedule between agencies and
- a tenant reward card to recognise tenants for positive behaviour.
The pilot was evaluated during 2007/08 and the results of the evaluation will be available in early 2008/09 once all parties have assessed the recommendations.
Other Accord shared access trials
A number of other shared access trials commenced implementation during 2007/08, including:
- Housing First – providing housing and support to chronically homeless people in the Inner City
- Homereach – providing housing and support to chronically homeless people in Western Sydney
- Independent Living Skills Program – providing housing and support to adults with an intellectual disability whose carers are ageing.
A number of other shared access trials will be fully implemented during 2008/09.
Under the Stronger Together: A New Direction for Disability Services strategy and the NSW State Plan Housing NSW is committed to delivering the most suitable housing for people with a disability. We continue to monitor and develop our Disability Action Plan by providing:
- social housing products and services for people with disability
- information about housing products and services for people with disability
- ensuring people with a disability are included in tenant participation activities
- partnerships for people with a disability under the NSW Housing and Human Services Accord.
In 2007/08, Housing NSW consulted staff, tenants, non-government organisations and government agencies on the development of a future Disability Action Plan. It is due to be released later in 2008 and provides direction for housing people with a disability.
During 2007/08, Housing NSW spent:
- $9.75 million on the Disabled Modifications Program for public housing
- $5.73 million on the Special Assistance Subsidy (Disability) and
- $3.79 million on the Special Assistance Subsidy (Special).
Housing NSW has an ongoing program of modifications to existing and new dwellings to house people with mobility related disabilities. Modifications include hand-rails and ramps for physical access and minor alterations to kitchens and doorways. In 2007/08, $9.75 million was spent on modifications in 3480 public housing dwellings.
This program is targeted rental assistance that subsidises eligible clients with a mental or physical disability, helping them to rent in the private market. As at 30 June 2008, 1354 households were assisted under this program, at a cost of $9.52 million. (See page 54 for special subsidies for people living with HIV/AIDS.) Isolated Carers Outreach Project Housing NSW established the Isolated Carers Outreach Project in line with the NSW Government’s Carers Action Plan 2007–12. The Project, which began in June 2008, improves access to support services for isolated carers living in social housing. The project will undertake a needs analysis of carers in social housing, map current support programs and develop new strategies to increase social support.
Housing NSW established the Isolated Carers Outreach Project in line with the NSW Government’s Carers Action Plan 2007–12. The Project, which began in June 2008, improves access to support services for isolated carers living in social housing. The project will undertake a needs analysis of carers in social housing, map current support programs and develop new strategies to increase social support.
In keeping with NSW State Plan commitments to increase employment participation for people with a disability, Housing NSW established the Disability Reference Group in 2007/08. The Reference Group will assist Housing NSW to increase employment opportunities for people with a disability, improve service delivery to people with a disability and support the Disability Action Plan.
Housing NSW reports annually to the Director, Equal Opportunity in Public Employment on employment outcomes for people with a disability, through the annual Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) report (see Appendix 6, page 82).
The Non-government Organisations Housing Partners Reference Group, established in September 2007, provides expert policy and operational advice and feedback on programs and initiatives to Housing NSW.
The Reference Group amalgamated the New Products NGO Reference Group and the Reshaping Public Housing (RPH) NGO Reference Group. There are representatives from Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association, Homelessness NSW, New South Wales Council of Social Services, People with Disabilities, Shelter NSW, Tenants’ Union of NSW, Youth Accommodation Association of NSW, Mental Health Coordinating Council Inc., NSW Federation of Housing Associations Inc., Network of Alcohol and Drug Agencies, Ethnic Communities Council, Association to Resource Co-operative Housing, Churches Community Housing, and Council on the Ageing NSW.
The Reference Group met seven times during 2007/08.
In 2007/08, Housing NSW continued to implement the NSW Interagency Guidelines for Child Protection Intervention and participated in initiatives, such as the Child Protection Watch Team Trial, which is providing a multi-agency approach to managing high-risk offenders in south-western Sydney. Housing NSW revised its child protection policies and introduced an e-learning program for staff to better understand their reporting requirements under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. As a member of the NSW Government’s Child Protection Senior Officers Group, we helped evaluate the NSW Interagency Guidelines for Child Protection Intervention. Under the NSW Housing and Human Services Accord, Housing NSW is working with the Department of Community Services to improve access to social housing for young people leaving outof- home care. Two shared access trials have been implemented to test this model.
Under Two Ways Together, the NSW Government’s 10-year plan to improve the social, economic, cultural and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people in NSW, government agencies and Aboriginal communities work together to improve outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities. Housing NSW is committed to improving access to safe and sustainable housing and related infrastructure for Aboriginal people – a priority for Two Ways Together and the NSW State Plan as well as the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement.
In 2007/08, Housing NSW:
- supported its Aboriginal Reference Group and a mentoring program for Aboriginal staff
- implemented formal support partnerships with other agencies, through the NSW Housing and Human Services Accord, that support Aboriginal people with complex needs
- engaged with the Aboriginal Housing Office to develop national Aboriginal policy
- worked with other agencies to deliver social housing services for Aboriginal people and
- promoted Aboriginal tenant and community participation.
The Director-General of Housing NSW reports annually on Aboriginal Affairs results and indicators to the Human Services and Justice Chief Executive Officers Group. In 2008/09, Housing NSW will continue to support Two Ways Together by working with Aboriginal communities and other government agencies to achieve outcomes for Aboriginal people.
The Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) engaged Housing NSW to provide tenancy and property management for its properties. The AHO has also engaged Housing NSW to provide housing related services. The agreement’s objectives are to:
- ensure Aboriginal people have equal access to mainstream housing services
- encourage participation of Aboriginal people in decisionmaking processes
- encourage and support innovation and improvement in how Aboriginal housing is provided and managed
- ensure programs are delivered to schedule
- ensure the quality of programs is high
- develop the skills of staff to meet the housing needs of Aboriginal people
- ensure Aboriginal housing assets are protected and
- increase employment opportunities for Aboriginal people under the agreement.
Work commenced on the Strategy in early 2008 to review best-practice initiatives of other government agencies and in other states and territories. Under the five-year strategy, Housing NSW will provide services and products to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. A one-year Action Plan will identify key actions which need to be undertaken in order to improve access to services, sustainability of tenancies and links to longer term housing solutions.
The Community Housing Aboriginal Access Strategy provides a framework to mid 2010 for increasing the number of Aboriginal people in mainstream community housing. It identifies ways that the Office of Community Housing, the Aboriginal Housing Office and the NSW Federation of Housing Associations can work with Aboriginal and mainstream community housing providers to improve access for Aboriginal people. The aim is to have seven percent of mainstream community households being Aboriginal households by mid 2010.
With the Aboriginal Housing Office, the Office of Community Housing has developed actions to make mainstream community housing a feasible option for Aboriginal people. This will mean not only increasing the intake of Aboriginal families but reducing the disproportionately high leaving rate of Aboriginal households. An advisory group will guide the implementation of the strategy.
The Office of Community Housing is working with providers on establishing appropriate target percentages of Aboriginal households for each provider. These targets will be monitored through the community housing data collection system and regional projects will be monitored by the advisory group. A number of housing projects for older Aboriginal people are under development.
In 2008/09, the Office of Community Housing will finalise the integrated state plan, develop regional implementation plans, negotiate targets with providers to increase Aboriginal household proportions, and support regional initiatives.
Housing NSW has a long history of delivering a range of quality services to clients who are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. These include providing interpreters, employment of bilingual client service officers in high need areas and tenant and community participation activities. We also work with other agencies to better respond to new and emerging communities.
In 2007/2008, Housing NSW revised its data collection to enable more comprehensive data on our clients’ cultural background, including birthplace and visa category, in order to deliver a more targeted approach to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Another major initiative during this year was the retendering of our language services, which was awarded to the Community Relations Commission. Housing NSW is identified as a key agency for the implementation of the NSW Government Ethnic Affairs Priority Statement (EAPS) Program and the NSW Principles of Multiculturalism Act. A summary of Housing NSW key initiatives under the EAPS Program during 2007/08 is in Appendix 9, page 86.
Providing housing is only one aspect in delivering quality housing services to the range of clients that Housing NSW has. Housing NSW aims to ensure that the properties it provides are appropriate for clients’ needs now and into the future.
These guidelines were developed in 2007/08 to set out principles of good design and the built environment for older people. The guidelines focus on increasing social participation, access and safety for older residents in social housing. Early in 2008/09, Housing NSW will identify a number of demonstration projects which will use the guidelines in development work prior to finalising the guidelines for adoption.
In April 2008, the Minister for Housing announced plans for a partnership with a private aged-care operator to redevelop an unused parcel of land in Costata Place and Sapium Way in Macquarie Fields. As part of the plan, there will be a privately owned and operated aged-care facility and a seniors’ living complex. The plan as a whole will develop the area to look similar to the surrounding Campbelltown suburbs, with a diverse range of housing types, styles, and property ownership. There was a call for expressions of interest in July 2007 and three short-listed proponents were asked to prepare a detailed proposal in October 2007. A partner company was chosen in June 2008. The 119 townhouses on the sites have already been demolished.
In July 2008, Housing NSW will commence the development application and concept design for the seniors’ living complex and it is anticipated that the application will be submitted to council in December 2008.
The Small Dwelling Program, focusing on bed-sitter units, seeks to improve housing outcomes for clients, as well as the financial viability and efficiency of small dwellings. Although no bed-sitters have been built since the 1970s, Housing NSW has approximately 7000 of these units – nearly six percent of the property portfolio. There are problems with these small dwellings, particularly their size, limited internal facilities and not being suitable for tenants with complex needs. Many bed-sitter units are considered hard to let.
A pilot program in Greater Western Sydney has begun to develop the program to reconfigure these units as crisis accommodation.
The aim of this project is to reduce duplication between government agencies, have joint approaches for clients to move from homelessness to stable tenancies, improve services to Aboriginal clients and provide easier access to social housing for all clients.
Community and Aboriginal housing providers, and Housing NSW offices in Moree and Narrabri have developed integrated responses to homelessness. This has resulted in streamlined procedures between services, clients with more secure housing, reduction in clients becoming homeless again, and more accommodation providers staying with Housing NSW. A common access pilot in Tamworth has been developed for clients to receive the full range of information and housing solutions no matter which social housing provider they consult. In 2008/09, Housing NSW will expand the Tamworth Integrated Access Pilot and extend it to other locations in New England, and complete the Gunnedah Whole of Location Stock Transfer project.
In October 2007, tenders were called from community housing providers to manage over 100 homes for low-income families in Broken Hill so that all social housing stock in Broken Hill would be managed by one community housing provider. In February 2008, the Minister for Housing announced that Compass Housing Services was the successful tenderer in Broken Hill. In 2007/08, 103 public housing properties were transferred to Compass Housing Services. At the same time, Housing NSW planned to sell the remaining 46 public housing properties and vacant land to owner/occupiers.
At the end of June 2008, 39 public housing properties had been sold in South Broken Hill. In early 2008/09, Housing NSW will be completing the sales program, with the remaining four houses and three blocks of land going to auction.
As the largest landlord in Australia, Housing NSW has the potential to cause a negative environmental impact or, by modifying its housing assets and tenant community behaviour, to improve on environmental outcomes. Over time, Housing NSW will ensure that all housing assets incorporate some environmentally sustainable elements in a systematic and strategically planned way.
On 21 February 2008, the Minister for Housing released an Environmental Sustainability Consultation Paper as an important first step in developing a strategy to help Housing NSW reduce its carbon emissions and resource consumption. The paper encouraged organisations with a role or interest in social housing and the environment to join the discussion and work with Housing NSW. Forty written submissions were received during the consultation period.
The strategy will provide a context for policy and program development in environmental sustainability. Not only will there be actions for Housing NSW to accomplish but it will assist social housing residents, the Aboriginal Housing Office, community housing providers, and maintenance and building contractors to adopt environmentally sustainable practices. The Environmental Sustainability Strategy will be launched later in 2008.
In 2008/09, Housing NSW will conduct energy and water audits at its 10 largest offices. An energy rating of these buildings will also be conducted in accordance with the National and Built Environment Rating System. Housing NSW will introduce programs to reduce office paper use and increase the use of paper with recycled content.
In 2008, Housing NSW joined the Department of Environment and Climate Change’s Sustainability Advantage Program. Over the next 18 months, this program will assist Housing NSW to improve its environmental sustainability and build stronger relationships with stakeholders.
Water usage charges for tenants, which had been introduced under the Reshaping Public Housing reforms, continued in 2007/08. Since the water usage charges, Housing NSW tenants are using less water. On average, residents have reduced their water usage by nine percent or 20,000 litres per annum, equating to 2.5 billion litres of water – enough to fill 2500 Olympicsized swimming pools.
In the first half of 2007/08, the installation of water-saving devices was completed in properties in the Sydney water catchment area. Housing NSW also formed new partnerships to undertake similar work in the Hunter Region, on the Central Coast and in a number of regional locations. During 2007/08, water-saving devices were installed in 18,000 homes, bringing the number of homes where this work has been completed to over 88,000. All remaining public housing dwellings will have water-saving devices installed over the next two years.
During the year, the Water Management Unit was recognised by the Australasian Housing Institute through the Institute’s 2007 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Change – Increasing Environmental Sustainability (see Outcome 5).
By structural integrity, Housing NSW is referring to maintaining the structure of a building to safety standards. We have introduced an ongoing inspection and risk management regime to preserve buildings as well as the safety of tenants, staff, contractors and the general public. The program examines all structural risks by assessing buildings according to when they were built, and their environment, construction and maintenance history.
In 2007/08, we:
- developed a method for assessing three-to-seven-storey buildings, of which there are over 8800 across NSW
- introduced a three-level approach to risk assessment
- inspected 106 buildings, using structural engineer and Property Assessment Survey Plus (PAS+) assessments
- commenced repairs on high-risk items identified in 14 buildings and
- monitored maintenance on 148 medium-to-low-risk items which are being handled by the divisions.
In the future, we will:
- inspect a further 1000 buildings in 2008/09
- continue assessing the structural risks of all Housing NSW properties
- inspect the remaining buildings at the rate of approximately 1000 per year.
Building of new Redfern development for seniors and families
Work commenced in April 2008 on a new development to build a specifically designed complex for seniors and families.
The complex will feature:
- 66 seniors living units, 8 units adaptable for people with a disability
- 40 terrace homes with family-friendly backyards and 10 terrace homes adaptable for people with disabilities
- community rooms as well as landscaped common areas and gardens.
The whole development will be based on environmentally sustainable design. Once completed, the complex will recycle grey-water, reuse rainwater, have gas-boosted solar hotwater systems and solar lighting of common areas. There will be increased cross-ventilation and native plants in the gardens. The buildings will incorporate thermally sensitive materials to reduce energy costs.
This will be a low-maintenance, visually appealing and energyefficient development, designed to give low-income residents, and particularly seniors, quality accommodation to meet current demand for inner-city housing.
The performance of the community housing sector has been monitored through the Performance Based Registration System. In addition, the Office of Community Housing has offered a voluntary accreditation system to improve organisational performance.
The NSW Community Housing Performance Based Registration System (PBRS) assesses the performance of not-for-profit community housing organisations. It focuses on results achieved in service delivery, governance and financial viability. In 2007/08, the Office of Community Housing assessed 73 community housing providers, with 78 percent showing good or sound performance. Most of the registration assessments were reassessments and 18 were assessed for the first time. Currently, registered organisations represent 85 percent of government funded properties. Organisations not demonstrating at least sound performance over a period of time are deregistered and not eligible to continue to manage housing on behalf of Housing NSW.
The Office also monitors organisations throughout the year. There were 11 on-site visits for organisations to demonstrate their achievements against PBRS outcomes and benchmarks. There were two re-assessments because of earlier poor performance. Of the 76 fully registered organisations, 84 percent showed good or sound performance. The Office of Community Housing also began the transition to a legislatively based regulatory system. The PBRS assessments will continue until the new system commences.
In 2007/08, 34 providers were accredited under the NSW Community Housing Standards and Accreditation System. The system, based on national standards, promotes improvement and quality assurance, and helps organisations deliver housing services that are flexible and responsive to clients’ needs. Although it is voluntary, there is a high participation rate by housing providers.
In 2007/08, the Office of Community Housing:
- evaluated seven organisations seeking re-accreditation and awarded them full (three-year) accreditation
- implemented a user-pays fee structure and payment of fees to peer evaluators
- completed the tender documentation to commercialise the accreditation system by an expert non-government service provider in early 2008/09.
The user-pays structure, introduced in 2008, means that housing providers are now paying the accreditation service at subsidised rates. Peer evaluators who participated in the onsite assessment of organisations, are paid a fee for their role.
A non-government provider will be contracted via an open tender process in July/August 2008 to commercialise the accreditation system from 2008/09. The successful service provider will operate without government financial support once their establishment phase is completed.
The national customer satisfaction survey in 2007 showed that 87 percent of community housing tenants were satisfied (up from 78 percent in 2001). NSW is the leading state in customer satisfaction in the community housing sector (national average was 82 percent in 2007).
The Housing Amendment (Community Housing Providers) Act 2007 was passed by Parliament on 1 November 2007 to recognise, register and regulate community housing. The legislation provides the framework for a new system of regulation. It is likely the new system will be introduced by the end of 2008.
The amendments provide for:
- a Registrar of Community Housing
- the registration of community housing providers and
- assistance to registered community housing providers to provide housing for people on very low, low or moderate incomes.
A Regulatory Code sets out the requirements that community housing providers must meet for registration. The new system will support the vision, target and direction in Planning for the Future for community housing.
In 2008/09, the Office of Community Housing will be:
- consulting with stakeholders on the draft regulation
- finalising the regulation
- establishing the Office of the Registrar of Community Housing and
- amending funding agreements, leases and other documents to align with the new regulatory system.
The Affordable Community Housing Strategy includes projects designed to increase housing stock and to strengthen the sector. Highperforming housing providers, known as growth providers, have been selected to take on a development role. These providers may need support in areas such as financing, development and construction. The capacity building initiative is a program to support individual growth providers. In 2007/08, two designated growth providers, St George Community Housing and Affordable Community Housing were assessed by a panel of experts.
- a report and individual capacity building plans will be prepared for the assessed growth providers
- support and development initiatives will be offered for the assessed growth providers
- five additional growth providers will be assessed.
Community housing provider praises accreditation process
When the Board of Churches Community Housing Ltd decided to establish a new church based supported housing company in 2003, a major consideration was if it was benefiting the tenants. Derek Yule, Chief Executive Officer of Churches Community Housing Ltd (CCH) said ‘Our first attempt at accreditation was an invaluable experience’. CCH was awarded a three-year accreditation. The tenant feedback process used in the accreditation evaluation allowed CCH tenants to come together to comment on community housing managed by CCH. This process also established a sense of belonging for many tenants who had not met before. Mr Yule concluded ‘Overall the accreditation process was very helpful and informative and is seen by all at CCH as a positive and affirming tool’.