Inside Housing - December 14/2018

Please read the latest edition of our fortnightly newsletter, Inside Housing

Inside this edition... 

  • Mould, which can cause serious health problems, is a particular issue among the findings of a new report from National Shelter, CHOICE and the National Association of Tenants Organisations, called Disrupted: The consumer experience of renting in Australia. 
  • Shelter WA has conducted three case studies to coincide with the Disrupted report release. See the videos and learn how the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 will be an important opportunity for issues to be addressed. 
  • The impasse between the State and Commonwealth governments over funding for remote housing has ended but Shelter WA is concerned a long-term commitment could not be reached.

Plus heaps more including our Housing the Dream workshop, the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness meet with stakeholders to find solutions covering homeless children and young people and how a new philanthropic initiative will help address homelessness.

Click here to read our newsletter.

Shelter WA is an independent peak body, based in Perth Western Australia, that advocates for social and affordable housing and ending homelessness.

WAAEH Stakeholder Meeting - Youth

Over 3,000 children and young people under the age of 25 were counted as homeless on Census night in 2016 in Western Australia. 

With alarming statistics such as these the 10-Year Strategy to End Homelessness in Western Australia outlines the need to develop Action Plans tailored to finding solutions covering children and young people. 

To assist in understanding this cohort better, youth homelessness was the focus of the Western Australian Alliance to End Homelessness (Alliance) Pulse Meeting on Wednesday, 5 December. These meetings are hosted by the Alliance to provide stakeholders the opportunity to share updates and work together on solving issues or new ideas.

Over 25 stakeholders attended from a variety of government and community organisations with knowledge in the space to discuss several issues. WAAEH Project Officer, Kai Schweizer who is also a peer educator at the Youth Affairs Council of WA helped to lead the group discussion.

 

“If you have a look at the strategy it says we need to write a cohort action plan for young people, this meeting today is getting people who are willing to be engaged in the process of contributing to an Action Plan,” said Mr Schweizer.

“The Strategy itself is quite overarching of what ideas we have for the broader homelessness solutions but in order to get that action going specifically for young people we need a very pragmatic document which commits all of us to making these changes happen.

“We can’t proceed with the action plan without young people so it’s important we engage young people as a large part of that process and have them supporting the writing of that document.”

 

From here several topics were split into group discussions.

• The benefits of using an Acuity Scale.

In this discussion participants were shown an Acuity Scale designed for use with homeless young people in another country. The Scale prioritises care by severity of illness and the homeless situation. Discussions resolved around if it could be used as part of the Strategy Action Plan if all community providers could agree to its use. An across-the-board Acuity Scale could bring benefits, such as assisting with a no wrong door approach, and cutting down on the amount of times an Acuity Scale needs to be performed on a homeless person if information were to be shared.

• The definition of young people.

The Action Plan could benefit with a concrete age definition of young people. Currently age is used extensively as an indicator of eligibility to access many supports from Government services and community organisations.

As an example, subject to the passage of legislation, Newstart1 allowance and Sickness Allowance entitlements will increase to 25 years of age (currently you need to be at least 22) for new applicants. How could this affect youth homelessness?

• Lived Experience

Much of the work the Alliance does involves those with lived experience. The Strategy continually encourages the need to consult and design with people with lived experience in order to reach the best outcomes.

 

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Can you assist? Pulse meetings are an opportunity to contribute to planning and development, project ideas, and addressing key challenges in an open space co-working format.

Check out our meetings in 2019 and register here.

1 Increasing the age of eligibility for Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance - Budget 2014-15.

Lendlease Initiative

Lendlease Initiative

Shelter WA would like to congratulate Lendlease for establishing FutureSteps, a philanthropic initiative to help address homelessness and rising levels of housing stress in Australia. 

This initiative builds on the belief that all Australians have the right to a safe and secure home. By providing grant funding and hands-on assistance to established expert not-for-profit organisations, they work to help prevent those suffering housing stress from falling into homelessness. FutureSteps also provide vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians in our communities with the tools they need to find a path to independence. 

Shelter WA looks forward to working with Lendlease, the WA Alliance to End Homelessness, and the sector to maximise partnerships in Western Australia. More information can be found here.

Community Housing – Collective Engagement

Shelter WA in partnership with CHIA WA and the Department of Communities hosted a Community Housing Workshop to discuss a draft Community Housing Engagement Plan. 

The aim of this plan is to facilitate good communication between the Department and the sector and a new way for the sector to collectively engage with the Department on systemic issues of interest. 

A draft Engagement Plan was presented at the workshop which includes a proposed shared activities register and governance framework. 

Shelter WA in partnership with CHIA WA is seeking feedback on the draft engagement plan by the end of January 2019. To view a copy of the plan please click on the attachments below.

If you would like to provide feedback  please email your comments to shelterwa@shelterwa.org.au or jennie.vartan@communityhousing.com.au 

Shelter WA and CHIA WA look forward to building on the strengths of the community housing sector throughout 2019 to deliver great housing outcomes for Western Australians.

Attachment 1:  Community Housing Engagement Plan - 29 Nov 2018.pdf  |  Attachment 2:  Community Housing Engagement Plan - Appendix A Sector Map.pdf Attachment 3:  Community Housing Engagement Plan - Appendix B - Shared Activities Register Governance Framework.pdf  |

McGowan Cabinet Changes

Shelter WA would like to congratulate Cabinet members on their new portfolios.

We look forward to working with the Attorney General John Quigley who will have carriage of the Commerce portfolio, Minister Bill Johnston on the energy portfolio and Treasurer Ben Wyatt on the lands portfolio. Shelter WA has written to the new Ministers seeking a meeting to brief them on critical areas of interest within their portfolios. Information on Cabinet changes can be found here.

ALGA Federal Election Policy

Shelter WA welcomes the Australian Local Government Association's (ALGA) Federal Election policy initiatives calling for the Commonwealth to support local government’s current work in addressing affordable housing and homelessness. 

Under initiative 11 ALGA outlines how a lack of affordable rental properties and affordable home ownership is causing significant social and economic impacts in Australia’s cities and regions. ALGA identifies that; “Homelessness and housing stress can profoundly affect the mental and physical health of individuals and families, as well as impact on their education and employment opportunities and their ability to participate fully in the community.” 

Shelter WA supports the two proposals ALGA makes to the Commonwealth for:
• Reinstating a national governance model to address affordable housing and homelessness, that includes local government; and
• Acknowledging local government’s role in housing with appropriate funding including for innovative partnership models on housing.

Chief Executive Officer of Shelter WA, Michelle Mackenzie said, local government plays a critical role in facilitating diverse, affordable housing supply and ending homelessness across a number of functional areas, including urban planning, community development, local laws, rating policies along with Council’s integrated planning and reporting processes. At a state level the review of the Local Government Act and the planning reform agenda provide an opportunity for positive change.

You can read the ALGA document in full here.

Make Renting Fair Campaign

This month through a collaboration between Tenancy WA, Shelter WA, WACOSS, CHIA WA and the Tenants’ Action Group of Western Australia (TAGWA) great minds came together to put some serious thinking around how the upcoming review of the WA Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) can be harnessed to ensure more safe, secure and affordable rental housing for all West Australians.

There has been a strong movement across the East Coast of Australia in response to reviews of State tenancies laws to make renting fair and in 2019, through our collaboration, we seek to do something similar.

The RTA has not been reviewed since it was established in 1987, so now is the time to seek changes that will benefit both tenants and landlords.

Recent reports produced by National Shelter, CHOICE and NATO, the National Association of Tenant Organisations, have shown that renting is becoming more and more, the reality of many Australians in creating their home. However, there are aspects of legislation that needs reform across the country to improve the renting experience for consumers. A link to their latest report, Disrupted, The Consumer Experience of Renting in Australia, can be found here

This year, the BankWest Curtin Economics Centre also released two rental studies which demonstrated that renting is a reality for many older Australians who don’t own their home, those on income support and low incomes and young people, as achieving the Australian dream to home ownership becomes more and more out of reach. This report highlighted how legislative reform will assist renters to have more safe, secure and affordable homes.

With a Federal election looming in 2019 where taxation policy for property investment is front and centre, this coupled with the review of the RTA will present opportunities to make access to affordable renting a more of a reality.

Look out for further information on how we can make renting fair in Western Australia.

Family Violence Bill passes Legislative Council

On 5 December 2018 after much joint action and advocacy across the community services sector, the reform to the Residential Tenancies Act (WA) 1987 to enable victims of domestic violence to terminate tenancies quickly and make safety modifications to their home was passed by the Legislative Council. 

The Bill will now go to the Legislative Assembly for concurrence when State Parliament resumes in 2019. 

Shelter WA, Tenancy WA, WACOSS and the Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence joined forces to advocate for the swift passage of the Bill. 

This Bill will reduce homelessness by enabling victims of family and domestic violence to have greater control over their circumstances through more safe and secure housing options.

This Bill is supported by industry and the community services sector. It was developed through long and extensive consultation with landlords, the real estate industry and our sector. The Standing Committee on Legislation recently reviewed the Bill and were satisfied that the Bill reflects the policy intent for people experiencing family and domestic violence to quickly terminate their tenancy; and recommended the Bill be passed subject to minor amendments.

Congratulations to all parties involved in getting this important reform through the Upper House. We look forward to the Bill being re-considered by the Legislative Assembly in early 2019 and these reforms becoming a reality.

NDIS SDA Workshop

NDIS SDA Workshop

On 7 of December, Shelter WA in partnership with People with Disabilities Western Australia and the Summer Foundation organised the ‘Delivering NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) in Western Australia’ workshop and brought together a group committed to developing more housing for Western Australians with disability. 

Luke Bo’sher, CEO of the Summer Foundation Ltd, shared experiences and knowledge from the East Coast of Australia where SDA is starting to be delivered at scale. 

Luke Bo'sher - CEO at Summer Foundation Ltd

Together, with the participants - a diverse group comprised of CHPs, consumer groups, property developers, service providers and representatives from the government – potential avenues for WA providers to start progressing plans to develop SDA within existing policy setting and organisational resources were identified. Furthermore, the attendees shared their experiences and challenges with SDA and the new evolving market, and future directions and action points were discussed.

The next step leading on from the workshop is to facilitate centralised coordination and a collaborative approach bringing together different stakeholders in the sector, so that experiences and knowledge could be shared, as well as common action points being developed.

Housing the Dream

Housing the Dream

“Climate change." 

This issue came up in discussion at Shelter WA’s Housing the Dream workshop, designed to conceptualise what an effective housing system looks like for WA, and the pathways to get there. 

When asked what factors could affect a housing system in 2050, climate change was real. Identifying issues was one of several tasks which kept conversation and ideas flowing freely among participants, so much so they almost missed morning tea. 

The workshop, which explored the ingredients of an effective housing system, harnessed the energy of attendees to understand external and macro factors that will impact on their housing dream.

One of the scenarios from a group discussion questioned whether planning and zoning, an outcome of the Industrial Revolution, would be needed into the future, or could planning go the way of the dodo…and this came from an urban planner!

Other scenarios discussed included:

  • Population growth
  • Demographic changes
  • Changing household compositions
  • Metropolitan vs regional growth across WA
  • New technologies to match housing supply to need
  • New adaptive and responsive housing typologies
  • Housing in an urban context - well designed, diverse connected and interconnected villages close to amenities and services
  • The impact of new building materials
  • Culturally appropriate housing
  • A better society – with a stable and long-lived community vision based on sustainability and equity for all

After filling up a whiteboard of uncertain future elements participants were asked to craft what 2050 looks like by bringing the scenarios and vision together.    

As Shelter WA Consultant, Advocacy and Policy Lisa Kazalac put it, “The aspirational vision you created, how are we going to achieve that in 2050 when we have all of these uncertainties?” she said.

“We might need policy, regulatory changes, I want you to think what the priorities are and how do we change the current system to achieve our aspirational vision and provide solutions.”

Given the challenge the groups went back to work to navigate pitfalls which could come in the way of achieving their housing dream. This would become the most challenging part of the session.

In the feedback session some participants argued a disconnect between state and local government as a key challenge, expressing concern the relationship limited progress in several areas. For example, stamp duty costs every time a person moved around multiple locations was determined as a hinderance, along with and lack of vision when it comes to planning provisions. A key concern raised was community values around the need for an effective housing system for all people.

Watch the Video Here

Shelter WA is consolidating feedback from the workshop into a narrative for an effective housing system and a roadmap to get there. The Housing the Dream workshop will be travelling to regional WA in 2019.

Look out for these workshops where Shelter WA will harness more ideas and inspiration to develop an effective housing system for all West Australians.

Disrupted Case Study | Security Issues

Hope | Private Rental | Single Pensioner 

Hope Alexander would be the first to say she is one of the lucky ones when it comes to paying rent. 

During her 20 years as a resident in West Perth the rent has remained reasonable. But in the last few years a spate of security issues has made her feel vulnerable within the block of units where she lives. 

Renting in Australia is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Shelter WA has sought case studies to coincide with the release of Disrupted: The consumer experience of renting in Australia report. For Hope, a single pensioner, safety is important. These are her private renting experiences. 

• The man with a pitchfork

“It all started three years back,” Hope says. “We had a very unpleasant tenant, who was running around the property with a pitchfork.

“He was being a menace to a young woman with a baby, and he would sneak around the place in the middle of the night, and we couldn’t go out after dark. All the women tenants were just too nervous.

“We wrote a letter to the strata company, but my landlady said she never got it, and nobody would lift a finger to do anything and the police just told me to move. I didn’t want to move as this was my home. I persevered and went to the restraining order court several times, but they could never find this bloke, so this situation dragged on for over a year.

Hope Alexander

“He would scream, and he yelled at me and he said he would lock me up. And the young women with the baby had to leave as he would bang on their front door and yell at them under the bathroom window when they were trying to have a shower.

“We collected photographic evidence but still nothing happened.”

In the end it was the non-payment of rent which got the man evicted.

“That was what it took,” Hope shakes her head, “Not paying the rent is serious but terrorising women, well that didn’t count.”

• The broken laundry door.

In Hope’s block of units some of the apartments are so small there is no space for a washing machine. Behind the units sits a small washhouse. Some machines belong to the tenants and one coin-operated machine is for communal use.

“Somebody broke into the laundry, it was a cheap door which you can easily put your foot through it,” explains Hope.

“They stole the money, probably a few dollars to buy you know what. The strata people put up another door and three times in three months the door has been broken.

“We don’t have a secure laundry and lately we have had men appearing from nowhere using those machines. We don’t know where they come from, they just appear, they don’t live on site and it’s a worry and an inconvenience.

“I’ve asked strata management for a proper door with a keypad so only tenants can get in, but nothing has been done yet.”

• Hope’s solution, but do owners want to pay?

It is Hope’s belief many issues in her block can be managed with an electronic gate across the drive. Located on an L-shaped block with only one entrance a gate could keep the block secure.

“I have noticed other places have a gate with a PIN pad,” Hope said.

“We just can’t stop people from coming in on the property,” she said. “One night somebody dug up my shrubs which I had planted and then somebody nicked the silver beet. I mean who steals silver beet?

“This is what happens when you have private landlords, they used to put down a smaller deposit expecting the tenant to pay all the outgoings, and they didn’t want to pay for maintenance or anything. This, I believe, is the issue .

If you are a landlord, you can make a difference. You can make renting a better experience for people by responding to maintenance in a timely way and by listening to the concerns of your tenant when it comes to issues of security like Hope’s.

The upcoming review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 will be an important opportunity for these sorts of tenant issues to be addressed. We need rental reform so people who rent can have a safe and secure home.

Watch the Video Here

  


Disrupted Case Study | Landlord Lying

Klaudia | Private Rental 

Renting in Australia is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Shelter WA has conducted case studies to coincide with the release of Disrupted: The consumer experience of renting in Australia report. 

For Klaudia, her landlord lied to her about the strata management company allowing pets. 

Klaudia

"Our landlord was telling potential tenants it was fine to have pets in a complex when it was not," said Klaudia. "This put tenants in a precarious situation."

The upcoming review of the  Residential Tenancies Act 1987  will be an important opportunity for these sorts of tenant issues to be addressed. We need rental reform so people who rent can have a safe and secure home.

Watch the Video Here


Disrupted Case Study | Snooping Landlord

Johanna | Private Rental 

Renting in Australia is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Shelter WA has conducted case studies to coincide with the release of Disrupted: The consumer experience of renting in Australia report. 

For Johanna, her landlord would appear without permission. 

Johanna

"He would come onto the property randomly without asking us," said Johanna. "He also used to send his mates over, to do the maintenance and they would dob on us." 

The upcoming review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 will be an important opportunity for these sorts of tenant issues to be addressed. We need rental reform so people who rent can have a safe and secure home. 

Watch the Video Here

 

 

 

 

 

Impasse Resolved

Impasse Resolved

Shelter WA has welcomed the end of the impasse between the State and Commonwealth governments over funding for remote housing but is concerned a long-term commitment could not be reached. 

Under the agreement the State Government has accepted the Commonwealth's $121 million offer for 2018-19, which is more than double the federal government’s original offer of $60m over three years, which was to be matched by the state. 

Mr Tinley described it as the “least-worst outcome”. 

The one-off payment covers a gap in funding left by the end of the 10-year National Partnership on Remote Housing, which expired in July 2018. 

Shelter WA contested Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments that the 10-year agreement was for “a couple of years” and that remote housing was a state responsibility.

Shelter WA Chief Executive Officer Michelle Mackenzie said the Prime Minister was “wrong on several levels”.

“The Commonwealth has funded remote housing for decades. This history amounted to the Commonwealth accepting responsibility for remote housing,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“This funding announcement will provide welcome short-term relief but does not replace the need for a sustained, longer-term funding agreement.”

The State Government has indicated it reserves its right to negotiate with any future Federal Government.

“I look forward to revisiting this issue and reopening joint funding discussions with any future Federal Government,” Mr Tinley said.

“Access to appropriate, safe and secure housing has an enormous impact on the health, mental health, and education outcomes for people living in remote communities," said Ms Mackenzie. ‘Also, if we’re smart, housing can become a major driver of social and economic development, providing real jobs and training opportunities from the construction phase through to property management and maintenance services.”

Shelter WA calls on all spheres of government to work with communities to resolve this issue.

Inside Housing - November 30/2018

Please read the latest edition of our fortnightly newsletter, Inside Housing

Inside this edition... 

  • The Rental Affordability Index (RAI) has just been released - what does it mean for Western Australians?
  • Shelter WA has conducted two case studies to coincide with the RAI release. We look at affordability and pet issues in private rental.
  • Shelter WA CEO Michelle Mackenzie writes about our social housing crisis in WA.

Plus heaps more including a snapshot of the current strategic initiatives to end homelessness in WA and how Shelter WA is supporting the Everybody's Home campaign in the lead up to next year's federal election.

Click here to read our newsletter.

Shelter WA is an independent peak body, based in Perth Western Australia, that advocates for social and affordable housing and ending homelessness.