VOX POPS: What’s the best thing that’s happened in the Australasian social housing industry in the last 10 years?

Jacob Edwards, Commercial Lending Manager @ Bank Australia
When I took a moment to properly consider this, I was surprised at my own response… because it’s rather boring. It’s not stock transfers, NRAS, sexy debt facilities, NRSCH or increased scale. No, I think that improved governance is the best thing that has happened to the industry over the past decade.”

“Bank Australia began lending to community housing organisations about 11 years ago. Having had the benefit of detailed insight into many providers over that time, I have been able to consider all matters that have led to industry growth, scaling, project delivery, industry or broader recognition, social return on investment or other positive outcomes, and it’s apparent that it all stems from a point of origin: improved governance.”

 

“Governance is the framework of rules and practices by which a board of directors ensures accountability, fairness and transparency in a company’s relationship with all its stakeholders (financiers, customers, management, employees, government and the community). While some of the big ticket events may have seemingly brought about positive change, these actions only occurred due to the unwavering trust that government, investors, banks, partners and regulators have in the sector.”

 

“While I enjoy a number of relationships with relatively new C-suite executives who have been brought in to add skill and experience to an organisation’s capability, I note that many senior managers and directors have a long history in the sector. The education, improvement and excellence each one of them has shown is outstanding and, in my opinion, is the basis for what the sector has achieved to date. Long may the trend continue.”

 

Michael Lennon, Chair @ Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA)
“The most important achievement for community housing in the last decade is that we have doubled in size to over 80,000 dwellings, representing 18.8 percent of the entire social housing sector. As a consequence, we are neither marginal nor incapable, as was often the observation of the past.”

“We now own or manage over $30 billion of housing assets, including 17,500 permanent dwellings run by Indigenous community housing organisations. So what do we need now to move forward? A national 10-year strategy, efficient funding models, better tax and financing arrangements, supportive planning policies, and national regulation and high standers of prudential supervision.”

“In particular, CHIA would welcome working with the sector to develop a plan to grow the sector, which, among other things, would build standards and capabilities, and strengthen governance. In doing so, with these settings, we would be able to double again – or more – in the next decade.”

Leonie King, Chief Strategy Officer @ Evolve Housing
“It is difficult to identify just one thing: the growing recognition by state and territory governments –and the Commonwealth – that government has a role to play in alleviating housing stress for a range of households; the willingness to try different approaches; and the acceptance and encouragement of private industry to work with not-for-profit housing providers has been a significant step forward. For example, the National Rental Affordability Scheme was a catalyst for housing development and created many homes that could be let affordably to low to moderate income households.”

“We have an increasingly mature housing industry that places financiers and developers, as well as housing providers, at the same table. The more we all partner, the greater the understanding and the greater the likelihood that industry will come up with innovative solutions to address housing affordability.”

“As a community housing provider, the recognition by government that this sector has an important role to play in the market is also significant. I strongly believe that governments now recognise the role the sector can play not just in managing properties and tenancies but also in delivering affordable housing supply and partnering with a range of other services to ensure that people living in social and affordable housing can improve their lives.”