SHMT – what do the results tell us?

This morning the successful organisations in the NSW social housing management transfers (SHMT) were announced. Here are some initial thoughts.

The biggest winners? Community housing providers across Australia. An extra 14,000 homes in the sector marks a dramatic shift. We might expect more of these ‘contractual outsourcing’ arrangements in future.

The transfers in NSW were good news for NSW providers. This wasn’t necessarily going to be the case. We did not see successful bids by large British housing associations such as Places for People, private sector facilities management companies like Serco or out-of-state providers. SHMT was a local tender for local organisations.

In terms of national rankings by tenancy numbers the top 3 – CHL, Compass and SGCH all won – and their positions are unchanged. However they are starting to pull away from the pack as Evolve and Housing Choices won no transfers.

With the exception of Housing Choices, 9 of the largest 10 community housing providers in Australia are those with a large foothold in NSW.

NSW Government arguably chose organisations known to be ‘safe pairs of hands’. All except Mission Australia Housing had operated in their core patch since the Community Tenancy Schemes of the 1980s. But the traditional geography is breaking down – Bridge Housing and SGCH crossed the Harbour bridge, and Hume has gone to the Hunter.

Homes North, Link Housing and Southern Cross all faced the ‘nuclear option’ of a transfer in their home patch. All three will be relieved to have won. They are some of the most important winners today as they are able to operate in the future at critical mass. Homes North rocket from number 29 in the national rankings to number 10 – a considerable achievement. Link rise from number 21 to 6, and Southern Cross from number 25 to 16.

I’ll be controversial and say Hume Housing is the biggest single winner. They audaciously bid outside their home territory and won the largest package, and in Compass’ backyard. Hume Housing now ranks number 5 in Australia. Bridge Housing also did well, and it is good to see their partnership with Women’s Housing paying off. All other bidders went alone.

Not everyone won a prize. Evolve, Argyle and Wentworth are all large housing providers in NSW without transfer packages. Medium sized providers such as the Housing Trust, Housing Plus and North Coast either did not bid or bid unsuccessfully. Compass, Link and CHL might all have hoped for more than one package, but there seems to have been a policy decision to spread the goodies.

Housing Action Network’s associates would like to congratulate today’s winning organisations – the lucky transfer tenants should be in line for high quality services. For other organisations, I can’t see the transfers ending in 2020 – so there should be more to bid for in the future.

Tony Gilmour,

Founder and CEO,

Housing Action Network