Community Housing, An Introduction:
Community Housing Providers (CHPs) are non-government organisations that provide social and affordable housing for people on low to moderate incomes. For people on low incomes, community housing represents a viable alternative to public housing that has traditionally been provided by state and territory governments.
Across Australia, CHPs manage a housing portfolio of over $30 billion comprising more than 100,000 rental properties to people who have difficulty accessing affordable or appropriate housing in the private rental market. In some states, almost one half of all social housing is provided by CHPs. In the Northern Territory, the share is far less (approximately 7%) and the growth of the sector is a current priority for Government.
The community housing model makes sense because CHPs are non-government organisations with charitable status from the Australian Charities and Non-for profits Commission. This enables them to be exempt from GST and stamp duty as well as attracting Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) revenue for tenants that are not in state-managed public housing. Community housing providers are registered under the National Regulatory Scheme for Community Housing which requires adherence to strict governance and operational standards in addition to normal regulatory requirements under the Residential Tenancies Act and other legislation.
Community housing providers are mission-based organisations that are in the business of providing housing for purpose, not for profit. This means that operational surpluses are reinvested into maintaining and improving existing housing stock and community amenity as well as borrowing against rental income to build more housing. Their charter is to make a difference to peoples’ lives. Tenants consistently report higher satisfaction with CHPs as their landlord compared to public housing authorities. For key workers and those who are not able to afford to pay market rent, CHPs across Australia provide affordable housing for rent at a discount to market rate (typically about 75% of market rent).
Ensuring the financial sustainability of the community housing sector requires investment and operational subsidies from the Commonwealth and state and territory governments. This is because governments generally transfer existing assets for long term lease which are typically greater than 30 years old and are not in good condition. By nature, rental income obtained through sub-market housing is not sufficient to meet operating costs. This is where CRA, partnerships with philanthropists and government capital and operational subsidies (or contributions in the form of land packages) make the community housing work. Ultimately, over time and done well, it leads to a stock of social and affordable housing that is greater than what would have been possible under a standard public housing model.
NT Shelter strongly supports the Northern Territory’s commitment to providing opportunities to grow and support locally registered CHPs, consistent with their commitment to local decision making and Aboriginal community control of Aboriginal housing.
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Webinar - Community Housing: How it Works and Why it Matters:
What are registered community housing providers and how do they work? Why do they matter when it comes to social and affordable housing? Hear from experts from across Australia’s registered community housing sector:
Community Housing Growth Strategy 2021-2030 Discussion Paper
Read NT Shelter’s submission to the Community Housing Growth Strategy 2021-2030 Discussion Paper.