NSW transfers 2,200 homes to community provider

The NSW government has completed its largest social housing transfer with the handover of more than 2,000 homes and some 4,000 customers to a community provider.

Management of the homes, previously in the hands of the Department of Family and Community Services, will be taken over by Hume Community Housing, one of the largest housing providers in NSW and the third largest tier 1 community provider in Australia.

“Today is the culmination of more than 18 months of intensive planning as we have readied Hume to double in size to accommodate our Hunter customers,” CEO Nicola Lemon said on Wednesday.

“Since we were awarded the transfer, we’ve been actively building relationships with community groups and local businesses.”

Hume, which manages 4,000 properties and 9,000 customers, provides temporary, social and afffordable housing programs for customers on very low to moderate incomes.

It officially opened its new Maitland office on Wednesday and has established working partnerships with local services providers to support delivery of service to customers, Ms Lemon said.

Community housing providers were better equipped to deliver more resources, services and programs that help customers to gain employment, participate in education and training and address complex individual needs, Ms Lemon told Government News.

“We will also undertake an extensive strategic asset management plan, which over time will see an improvement in property condition and amenity,” she said.

Hume will manage the properties and tenancies under a 20-year contract and lease agreement with the state.

Customers will be entitled to Commonwealth rent assistance and Hume will use rent to carry out property improvement and run social outcomes and community cohesion programs.

The state government aims to eventually transfer around 14,000 properties to nine registered community housing providers, saying this will provide upwards of $1 billion over the next 20 years to improve the experiences of people living in social housing.

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Communities and Justice Paul Vevers described the transfer of the 2,200 Hunter region homes to Hume as “a new era for social housing tenants”.

(L-R) MP Melanie Gibbons, Maitland Mayor Loretta Baker, Hume CEO Nicola Lemon, Robert Vine, Robyn Parker and James Wilson-Miller at the opening of Hume’s Maitland office.

Growth in community housing

The latest government statistics show that the number of community housing dwellings across Australia has more than doubled in the last ten years from 39,800 in 2008 to 87,800 in 2018, partly as a result of the shift of management away from the public sector.

“There has been a gradual but steady policy focus on growing the community housing sector and transferring ownership and/or management of public housing stock to community housing organisations,” the AIHW says in its latest Housing Assistance in Australia report.

Twenty per cent of the nation’s almost half a million social homes were made up of community-run dwellings.

NSW has the highest percentage of community housing with 35,345 community dwellings at June last year. Victoria had 14,486 and Queensland had 11,116.

NSW also has the highest proportion of community housing providers, with 147 organisations providing housing.

Meanwhile, the AIHW’s National Social Housing Survey found that Living in Community Housing is associated with higher tenant satisfaction, although there had been a small drop in satisfaction with day-to-day and emergency maintenance of community homes since 2014.

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