Friday, March 17, 2017

2,200 "new" dwellings from the Social and Affordable Housing Fund

Last week the NSW Government announced the first new projects to be delivered by the Social and Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF). This follows a lengthy process after a short-list was announced just under a year ago.

Details of 2,200 new social and affordable housing dwellings have been announced as follows:
  • BaptistCare NSW & ACT – 375 homes for older people in housing stress and at risk of homelessness and 125 homes for single parent families with a focus on women impacted by domestic violence (@ 70% social housing, 30% affordable housing)
  • Compass Housing Services Co Ltd – 600 homes for tenants that are close to support services and infrastructure (@ 81% social housing, 19% affordable housing)
  • SGCH Sustainability Limited – 300 homes for tenants with tailored support coordination services and quality dwellings close to services and infrastructure (@ 70% social housing, 30% affordable housing)
  • St Vincent de Paul Housing – 500 homes to general and older aged tenants (@ 71% social housing, 29% affordable housing)
  • Uniting – 300 homes for people aged over 55 without children at home (@ 70% social housing, 30% affordable housing)
The projects include a number of regional sites but the announcement provides no clear insight into exactly who will be building what, and in which region. However an infographic provided with the Premier's press release (see below) gives some indication of where the projects will be located:
  • 696 dwellings in Hunter New England
  • 369 dwellings in Nepean Blue Mountains
  • 327 dwellings in South Western Sydney
  • 288 dwellings in Northern Sydney, Sydney and South Eastern Sydney
  • 84 dwellings in Western NSW, Murrumbidgee and the Far West
  • 80 dwellings in Northern NSW and the Mid North Coast
  • 63 dwellings in Southern NSW and Illawarra Shoalhaven
  • (Note - that doesn't quite add up to 2,200, there are 294 dwellings missing. But the infographic says St Vincent de Paul and St George Community Housing are finishing 294 sites across NSW. Does this mean the SAHF is also funding projects that were already under construction?)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Millers Point ... time to reflect

From Friends of Millers Point website

The start of a new year allows time to reflect upon what has gone before us. Here are two great references to earlier days in The Rocks and Millers Point.

Harvey Volke was awarded a posthumous Master of Philosophy from the University of Sydney following his unexpected death in 2005. He was very active in both Shelter NSW and the Tenants' Union of NSW. The first chapter in his Master's thesis looks at The Rocks and Millers Point in the years 1900 to 1939. Volke concludes:
This early experiment in public housing in New South Wales was clearly not very extensive, nor was it entirely satisfactory. A key reason for this is that it may well have been placed in the wrong hands.
Volke provides fabulous documentation. His thesis also looks at Daceyville and Erskineville. Read his thesis here.

And for a look at more recent times, one can’t go past Housing NSW, 'Millers Point Oral History Project: Summary Report', 2007, written by Frank Heimans for Housing NSW. Here you read:
Millers Point … has a very integrated community who love living there and have a sense of belonging and allegiance to the place. … The residents have a rich reservoir of memories of living at the Point, going, in some cases, as far back as six generations. They were born, worked, lived and died in the houses at Millers Point. They also have a strong sense of history and heritage. It’s a community within a community where everyone knew each other through work and place of living.
This publication was removed from the Housing NSW website around the time that the sale of all social housing in Millers Point was announced, but it remains in the public domain here.

And now to the present … 2017 commences with Gladys Berejiklian, our new Premier, reviewing some of the Baird government's more contentious policies. Read about this here. One decision that she also should revisit is the sale of all social housing stock in Millers Point. It is not too late to retain some of Millers Point and the Sirius Building for social housing, so that Millers Point remains a mixed community and not a ghetto for the wealthy.

Here’s an update for February 2017 on what is happening with the sales program and the social housing tenants being relocated. We update the previous blog.

McGrath has commenced 2017 year’s sales with 6 blocks each comprising 4 units that provide a selection of 2 and 3 bedrooms. The 6 blocks are 38 to 40A and 50 to 68A High Street. The price guide for each block is $4,800,000. For more information, check the media release here and McGrath’s website here

At the meeting of Millers Point Estates Advisory Board on 1 February 2017 Family & Community Services Housing NSW reported:
  • 399 tenancies in the portfolio. 
  • 368 have been vacated. 
  • Of the 31 remaining tenancies (numbering 43 tenant and household members) to be relocated: 
    • 8 (numbering 10 tenant and household members) are from FACS Housing NSW and involve 2 approved for moving into alternative accommodation within Millers Point and 6 approved for moving outside of Millers Point. 
    • 21 (numbering 30 tenant and household members) are from FACS Housing NSW and remain unallocated 
    • 2 (numbering 3 tenant and household members) are from Little Real Estate and remain unallocated. 
  • 4 of the 31 remaining tenancies (covering 6 tenant and household members) are in the Sirius Building and of these: 
    • involves 1 approved for moving into alternative accommodation outside of Millers Point. 
    • 3 remain unallocated. 
  • 28 properties in Millers Point were set aside for remaining tenants and household members. Of these, 12 are occupied by 11 tenancies, 2 are unoccupied but allocated, 5 are unoccupied but holding pending decision and 9 remain unallocated. 
At the beginning of the process 579 tenant and household members were to be relocated. Altogether 546 tenant and household members have either vacated or are committed to moving, with a further 33 still uncommitted to moving.

You will recall that, in the first half of 2016, Family and Community Services (FACS) Housing commenced making two formal offers to those residents who remained. If tenants refused these offers, they had the option of appealing to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC) for a recommendation that such offers were unreasonable. FACS Housing is not bound by HAC's recommendation.

Where the tenant refuses formal offers which are deemed reasonable by FACS Housing, then FACS Housing must follow the process set out under Sections 148 to 151 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. These sections are read together with the procedure approved by the Minister which may be found on FACS Housing website here. You will find a summary of this process here.
The Tenants Union of NSW understands that, as of mid- February 2017, a number of 'Notices of intention to issue a Notice of Termination' have been issued. Once this process has been set in motion, the subsequent steps set out in the procedure approved by the Minister follow within a short period of time.

[Updated 14 February 2017]

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Millers Point Update December 2016

Rev Fred Nile and local MP Alex Greenwich join Millers Point residents at their Christmas Party
This is an update on the previous blog.

On 31 October 2016 Shelter NSW and the Tenants' Union of NSW held a forum on 'Large-scale relocations of tenants in public housing - learning from tenants' experience'. You may check out the two main presentations on the Shelter NSW website. Professor Alan Morris spoke to his brief, entitled ‘A Contemporary Forced Urban Removal: The Displacement of Public Housing Residents from Millers Point, Dawes Point and the Sirius Building by the New South Wales Government’ and Paul Vevers from the NSW Government’s Family and Community Services replied to his report. You can read both presentations here.

On 26 November 2016 Millers Point residents and friends enjoyed a concert called ‘Sing for Joy’ with two choirs. The concert also saw the launch of a crowdfunding campaign for the film called ‘Forced out’.

Keep up-to-date on the campaign to save the Sirius building here. You can read about the pending court case here.

Update on the statistics...
You will find the breakdown of properties, tenancies and number of resident at the start of the sale process in SGS Economics & Planning, 'Millers Point and The Rocks: An alternative way forward', Final report, August 2014, Table 1 (Social housing breakdown), p 4. At the outset there were 293 properties, 543 tenancies, 410 occupied tenancies and 590 tenants and household members. Along the way, Darling House, an aged care facility, also was sold.

At 1 December 2016 133 properties have been sold for $348.56M with a median sale price of $2.39M and sales in the range $1.54M and $12.30M. (The top price was for a block of 12 one-bedroom apartments covering 7 properties sold in one line.) Based upon sales to date, an updated estimate of funds to be received from these sales is $677.21M.

The stamp duty owed to the NSW Government from existing sales is a further $18.13M or just under 5% of total revenue from sales and stamp duty combined.

There are still 161 properties to be sold, including 79 in the Sirius building. (This figure includes 28 units in a fewer number of properties where sales were ‘deferred’ and the remaining residents at this time given an option of applying for tenancies in these units.)

Here’s the NSW Government Property’s latest media release on Millers Point.

At the meeting of Millers Point Estates Advisory Board on 16 November 2016 Family & Community Services Housing NSW reported:
  • 399 tenancies in the portfolio.
  • 358 have been vacated.
  • Of the 41 remaining tenancies (numbering 59 tenant and household members) to be relocated:
    • 11 (numbering 17 tenant and household members) are from FACS Housing NSW and involve 5 residents approved for moving into alternative accommodation within Millers Point and 6 approved for moving outside of Millers Point.
    • 28 (numbering 39 tenant and household members) are from FACS Housing NSW and remain unallocated
    • 2 (numbering 3 tenant and household members) are from Little Real Estate and remain unallocated 
  • 7 of the 41 remaining tenancies (covering11 tenant and household members) are in the Sirius Building and of these: 
    • 2 involve residents approved for moving into alternative accommodation, with 1 within Millers Point and 1 outside of Millers Point.
    • 5 remain unallocated.
  • 28 properties in Millers Point were set aside for remaining tenants and household members. Of these, 15 remain unoccupied. 
Altogether 520 tenant and household members have vacated, with a further 17 committed to moving and 42 still uncommitted to moving.
Postscript ...
The principal real estate agency which has been helping the NSW Government empty Millers Point of its social housing tenants is McGrath Real Estate. You may recall that two years ago McGrath’s then chief executive, John McGrath, named Millers Point as his 'top pick' in the company's annual report. And, between August 2014 and December 2016 McGrath Real Estate sold 103 properties in Millers Point for in excess of $302 million. They are selling many more ... doing their bit to turn Millers Point into an enclave for the wealthy in a more and more divided city.

So it is interesting to hear what McGrath's chairperson, Cass O'Connor, told investors at their recent Annual Meeting: ‘When our society's teachers, nurses, police and emergency services personnel cannot afford to live in the communities they serve, housing affordability can very quickly become a factor in social and economic dislocation.’

Monday, November 28, 2016

Proposed rezoning of Arncliffe, Banksia and Cooks Cove

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment is seeking feedback on their proposed Bayside West Precincts Land Use and Infrastructure Strategy, including through an online survey here.

From the Planning and Environment website:
The Bayside West Precincts Land Use and Infrastructure Strategy is now on exhibition until 28 February 2017. We are keen to hear more about what you think is important for the precinct and the strategy.
And in a media release today, Social Housing Minister Brad Hazzard suggests this includes plans to "boost social housing in Arncliffe" with the proposed redevelopment of a Land and Housing Corporation site. The proposal would see 142 one, two and three bedroom public housing dwellings demolished to make way for up to 600 new private, affordable and social housing dwellings, using the Communities Plus renewal model.

The full media release is reproduced below:
More social and affordable housing and new private housing is on the way with the proposed redevelopment of a Land and Housing Corporation site in Arncliffe. 
Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard said sites big and small across the state were being redeveloped under the Communities Plus program. 
“We are taking tired old housing in Arncliffe, partnering with the private sector and community housing providers to redevelop it at no cost to taxpayers – and getting 30 per cent more new social housing, along with affordable and private housing. 
“It’s a win-win for existing tenants who will get the new homes and for vulnerable families and individuals on the waiting list needing new homes. 
“All the evidence is that mixed communities deliver better social outcomes and residents of Eden Street, Arncliffe will benefit from the new opportunities coming their way.” 
The proposed rezoning of the site is part of a larger exhibition by the Department of Planning and Environment of a proposed rezoning to precincts within Arncliffe, Banksia and Cooks Cove. 
The site currently has 142 social housing units, a mix of studios, 1, 2, and 3 bedroom homes. Under new proposals, the site could be re-zoned and replaced with a mix of up to approximately 600 private, affordable and social housing dwellings. 
Mr Hazzard said housing officers had great experience helping vulnerable tenants through temporary relocations, before tenants moved back on site into new homes. Tenants will be assisted and kept informed of timelines, and are encouraged to view the draft plans and give their feedback. 
Communities Plus will deliver up to 23,000 new and replacement social housing dwellings, 500 affordable housing dwellings and up to 40,000 private dwellings over a 10 year period, in a $22 billion investment program with the private and not-for-profit sectors. 
Other major sites already announced as part of the Communities Plus program include Ivanhoe, Telopea, Riverwood and Waterloo.

Tenants money builds affordable housing

A recent media release from the Minister for Social Housing, Brad Hazzard, refers to the NSW Government committing $270million to affordable housing projects during the first four rounds of the now discontinued National Rental Affordability Scheme.

A portion of that $270million comes from tenants' money.

Pages 28 and 29 of the Rental Bond Board's 2015/16 Annual Report show grants and subsidies in the amount of $2.5million going to NRAS in both 2015 and 2016.

The Minister's media release is reproduced here in full:
Some Sydneysiders who have been struggling to rent have been able to move into brand new affordable housing in Sydney’s west, paying rents at least 20 per cent below the market rate. 
Minister for Family and Community Services and Social Housing, Brad Hazzard has officially opened the new Bridge Housing development at the Bungarribee estate in Blacktown. 
“The NSW Government has forged very close ties with the Community Housing Sector, both in the provision of social housing and affordable housing, and I am delighted that Bridge Housing has been able to support so many people with this development,” Mr Hazzard said. 
CEO of Bridge Housing, John Nicolades, said “We are delighted to have completed our first major affordable housing development, providing 65 well designed and energy efficient homes to families struggling in Sydney’s difficult housing market.
“We have another two projects that will deliver a further 47 affordable homes by December 2016.”
Bridge Housing’s $25 million development has been built on land purchased from UrbanGrowth NSW in 2013, with the support of $1.8 million in FACS funding and incentives and funds from the Commonwealth through the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS). 
New figures from FACS shows that a record 1,252 new affordable rental homes were delivered under the NRAS in 2015-16, bringing the total number to 4,653.
NSW committed around $270 million during the first four NRAS rounds, with NSW’s contribution attracting over $1 billion in additional funding commitments from Community Housing Providers and private sector investors.
Thirty-one of the homes owned by Bridge will be permanent affordable housing; thirty-four have been sold to private investors to help fund the project, and are leased as affordable housing for the next 10 years.

Central to Eveliegh: urban transformation strategy released

UrbanGrowth NSW has released a strategy document outlining a vision for the Central to Eveleigh corridor:
UrbanGrowth NSW has developed an Urban Transformation Strategy for around 50 hectares of government-owned land in and around the rail corridor from Central to Erskineville Stations. 
After two years of studies, assessments and conversations with the community, we’ve finalised the Strategy as an important reference document to help guide development over the next 20 to 30 years. 
The Strategy contains an ambition, vision and the ten key moves that set the framework for the future delivery of more homes alongside better public transport, new parks and community facilities. 
During the development of the Strategy, a number of major NSW Government policy and infrastructure announcements have been made, including new Sydney Metro stations at Waterloo and Central, the new Communities Plus initiative to renew social housing and the establishment of the Greater Sydney Commission to lead district planning across Sydney. 
The purpose of the Strategy has changed, from 2014 to now, in response to these announcements. It now informs the Greater Sydney Commission’s draft Central Sydney District Plan and will also be used as an important reference document for future planning in the area. 
It will not be a statutory document, or a re-zoning proposal. The Strategy takes a smart city thinking approach to sustainable growth for Sydney’s future and outlines the contribution that government-owned land can play in this future.
The strategy countenances 10 key moves:
We have developed 10 key moves, shaped by consultation with the community and our partners, that we think can help us achieve the vision for the area. Together they will contribute to the long term success of the city and improve the way people live, work and enjoy life, as well as create new homes and jobs.
1. Renew Redfern Station and connect Redfern to Wilson Street
This key move will see Redfern Station Precinct as more than just a place to catch a train. Redfern Station will better connect the University of Sydney with Australian Technology Park to drive economic development.
2. Create a green network
Under this key move, a green network in a busy area of Sydney will encourage people to get active and enjoy an abundance of public open space, all networked around green, leafy and more attractive streets.
3. Create walking and cycling connections across the railway corridor
Under this key move, the rail corridor will be less of a barrier for pedestrians and cyclists – it will be easier to connect across neighbourhoods. Community and education facilities will become more accessible to all the communities.
4. Connect the city with surrounding places
This key move is about the design and layout of the local road network, which can better balance the need for local activity and regional movements.
5. Deliver a new metro station at Waterloo
This key move reflects the NSW Government’s announcement that Waterloo will be the location of a new Sydney Metro station. This will provide a high-frequency public transport service that directly links to jobs at Barangaroo, Martin Place and north-west Sydney.
6. Create centres of activity around stations
This key move will give the local community access day-to-day and community services and employment right near the stations – with shops, services, cultural places and work environments promoting activity in public areas that are safe day and night.
7. Create a centre for Sydney's growing economies
This key move will better connect the University of Sydney, Australian Technology Park, University of Technology, Sydney, Ultimo, Redfern and Surry Hills. It aims to establish an exciting centre, with a cluster of new, innovative and creative jobs that will benefit from links with education and medical facilities, easy connections to the CBD, and dynamic new workplaces in adaptively re-used heritage spaces.
8. Strengthen arts, culture and heritage
This key move will bring the area’s unique culture and heritage to life, often in beautifully restored, older buildings that will attract visitors to an exciting, revitalised arts and cultural hub that also emphasises the area’s Aboriginal history.
9. Integrate new high-density mixed use buildings with existing neighbourhoods and places
Transformed neighbourhoods will set a benchmark for integrating different types of buildings and structures, old and new, and will promote a variety of uses. Excellence in design quality, density done well principles including sensible transitions from taller buildings around stations and key locations along the rail line, down to existing one or two storey buildings, will respect everything that is great about the traditional character of surrounding neighbourhoods.
10. Deliver a diversity of housing choice, tenure and price points
This key move will provide more options for different people who want to live in this area. This will help retain its unique diversity, attracting different types of people and enabling long-term residents to stay in their local communities.
Find the full strategy document here.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Who is the landlord in this brave new world?

With the foreshadowed, large-scale transfers of public housing stock to the community housing sector, the question arises as to who is the landlord.

Read our answer to this question here.