Local governments applauded for embracing their role as a key partner in delivering social and affordable housing supply

The recent landmark decisions by Brisbane City Council (BCC) and City of Moreton Bay Council (CMBC) to wave infrastructure charges for community housing providers are a game changer. It will directly help us, and other social and affordable housing developers, to bring forward the supply of more vital projects. 

Incentivising investment in new social and affordable housing supply is crucial to address the unmet housing need across our communities. It is incredibly challenging to make new developments feasible, and every lever – across every level of government – must be triggered to untangle the web and ultimately deliver more new homes, faster. 

Waving infrastructure charges for community housing isn’t a silver bullet- but it does remove a large barrier to project viability. In real terms, BCC’s Housing Supply Action Plan will save BHC $2 million in fees across our next three projects alone. These substantial savings will be reinvested towards building more new homes across the city – where more than 8,000 people are currently in need of social housing.  


Federal Budget 2021 fails to address Australia’s growing housing crisis

Over the past year, it has been incredible to see the support for a social housing-led economic recovery- from community members and a range of “unusual suspects”, including leading economists and the broader property industry. Never before have I seen such momentum and advocacy for increased investment in housing for those that need it most. Disappointingly, this did not translate to any real commitment in the recent Federal Budget.

Before I comment on housing, it is prudent to acknowledge the Federal Government’s measures to support women through increased investment in aged care, childcare, mental health and critical funding for services to assist survivors of domestic and family violence. The Budget also provides additional funds for frontline services and programs for migrant, refugee and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women, as well as a new scheme to support single parents to buy a home with a reduced deposit, which will largely assist women. These are all important initiatives that will undoubtedly assist their intended, specific target groups (although the single parent deposit scheme is not without issue). But what is missing is anything that even remotely begins to address the system-wide issue of a chronic under-supply of safe, secure, affordable housing for people on low or very low incomes.


Addressing homelessness in response to COVID-19

On any given night in Australia, one in every 200 people are homeless. That is 116,000 Australians who recorded in 2016 on census night that they do not have secure housing. These are sobering statistics and numbers that are only set to increase.

This year the drastic measures undertaken to contain COVID-19, including the rehousing of rough sleepers, has highlighted the essential need and basic human right for everyone to have a secure place to go to. The pandemic has created an opportunity for us to come together and start to change our housing system so that we can all be guaranteed a roof over our heads.


This health crisis must be a galvanising opportunity to change our housing system

Before COVID-19, Australia’s affordable and social housing system was in a perilous state, with rising homelessness, increasing demand for a decreasing number of affordable homes, and housing stress for renters surging.

Now that COVID is upon us, we have all seen the critical importance of having a safe, secure place to call home. To be able to self-isolate, to work from home and to home-school our kids. Our homes have always been important, but they have never been such a fundamentally essential part of our daily existence, and our future, as they are right now.


Jingeri exemplifies what can be achieved as calls grow for a social housing-led post COVID-19 recovery

Social and affordable housing construction could lead Australia out of recession and into recovery post COVID-19. Jingeri, one of our award winning Queensland developments, challenges perceptions about housing for people living with a disability, and has been hailed as an example of what can be achieved with continued investment in new affordable housing supply.


A city where everyone feels like they belong

I recently spoke at the launch of Brisbane’s City Council’s ‘A City for Everyone: Inclusive Brisbane’.   The plan outlines the Council’s commitment to ensuring that Brisbane is a place ‘where everyone feels like they belong’, a vision I strongly support.

In my address, I shared the story of Joe, a BHC resident whose story shows so clearly not only the value of inclusive design in affordable housing, but also the importance of a city that is ready to welcome its residents to participate fully in all aspects of city life.

Elevate Residential – Changing Brisbane’s real estate market for good

Last night we celebrated the first birthday of Elevate Residential, BHC’s fully licensed not for profit real estate agency. We are extremely proud of the Elevate team and the business they have built over the last year. Offering Brisbane property owners the very best property management and sales services, Elevate has one big difference to mainstream real estate agencies- 100% of its profits are given to BHC to help us deliver more homes and better outcomes for people in housing need across Brisbane.


Can CHPs Deliver Our Social and Affordable Housing Future?

I recently spoke at the AHURI National Housing Conference in Darwin. My co-panellists and I were invited to discuss the question “Can CHPs deliver our Social and Affordable Housing Future?”

This is a critical question given the recent AHURI research findings that by 2036, Australia will be facing an unmet need of 727,300 social and affordable housing dwellings.

My response to this question was, and still is, “Yes, emphatically they can”. To me, there are five key elements that would position CHPs to lead this charge: (more…)

What will happen to my child when I’m gone?

Under the NDIS, Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) funding is forecast to assist 28,000 Australians with their specialist housing needs by the time the scheme is fully rolled out in 2020. SDA has been specifically developed for individuals who live with extreme functional impairment or very high support needs, and this cohort represents just 6% of those who will access the NDIS. SDA has, rightfully so, been widely celebrated and welcomed by the disability and housing sectors as a desperately needed program. This is true despite a series of early implementation speed bumps and policy positions throwing a blanket over the confidence of both providers and participants seeking to enter the SDA marketplace. Reassuringly, these are issues which seem closer to being resolved as the scheme continues its roll out.


A budget that forgot that housing matters.

On Tuesday the 2nd of April, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down a budget that I had hoped I would be describing after the event as encouraging, or even catalysing, action to increase Australia’s supply of affordable and social housing. Unfortunately this was not that budget.