\ NSW Achieves Social Housing Breakthrough – Committee For Sydney

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NSW Achieves Social Housing Breakthrough

January 27, 2016

Wednesday 27th January

Eamon Waterford
Head of Advocacy & Strategy

2016 has begun well with a significant policy victory on housing on which we have been working for over 3 years: the Committee’s patient and persistent advocacy around stock transfer has had some impact on the Government’s announcement that a third of public housing stock will be transferred to community housing providers – bringing in significant new investment and benefits both for existing tenants and new occupants of the mixed tenure developments that will be enabled as a result. We’d like to thank our CHP members and other members involved in the sector or supportive of it – for their part in this breakthrough – and to stress our warm welcome to Government itself for this bold and innovative initiative. It will have a big, positive and lasting impact of the kind we have seen with a similar development in the UK.

Crucially, it’s great that the announcement on stock transfer is bi-partisan – and long term. A 10 year strategy removes social housing as a political football, and will achieve good outcomes for existing tenants – and people stuck on the social housing waitlist.

The Committee for Sydney has been clear that policy reform is needed to expand this sector – market housing alone will not fix the Sydney affordability crisis. So, we were very pleased to see that this announcement reflects the recommendations we put to Government in our Issues Paper A City for All – including transferring public housing stock to Community Housing Providers; social housing estate renewal; creating funding measures to encourage investment by superannuation funds into housing; recognising the need for affordable housing (providing a much needed step between social and market housing); and better maintenance of properties.

Some of the key policy changes as a result of this announcement:

  • Transferring 1/3rd of public housing to CHPs. This will mean better management, better wrap-around services for tenants – but also provides an opportunity for financial models to deliver more social housing.
  • Providing a long-term, stable investment in housing will be very attractive to the $1 Trillion in Superannuation funds – offering a good return for investors but also a good social outcome.
  • Removing work disincentives for tenants is a welcome shift – previous systems had a catch-22 where the gap between earning too much to remain eligible for social housing, while still not earning enough to afford market rental – removing some of these disincentives will help people transition out of social housing.

This can also be looked at as a niche version of Inclusionary Zoning – zoning social housing estates for 30{49a7e38090d84b81a7ba1bb67cd1b3b0d9cda4ef54936562ea834556eae8bfc9} social housing. Let’s use this as the first step in expanding inclusionary zoning – if we can do 30{49a7e38090d84b81a7ba1bb67cd1b3b0d9cda4ef54936562ea834556eae8bfc9} on this form of Government land, there’s little reason we can’t achieve 30{49a7e38090d84b81a7ba1bb67cd1b3b0d9cda4ef54936562ea834556eae8bfc9} social housing for all government land – and, at a lower rate, potentially for private land as well.

We do need to see more detail on how tenants will be treated during the Estate transformation process, and more detail on regulatory reform to ensure a level playing field between the CHP Sector and public housing. But I hope you would agree that this is a significant step forward.

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