CHIA Vic is recognised as the voice of the community housing industry in Victoria and provides input to government via regular consultations, submissions, input into pilot programs and through organising member consultations with government representatives.
In the lead up to the 2019 Victorian State Budget, CHIA Vic provided input via a submission to the Treasurer, Tim Pallas MP, requesting he build on the re-elected government’s momentum and tackle the bleak picture for those in housing need.
We were also involved in forums and in creation submissions to the review on the National Regulatory Scheme for Community Housing; provided a submission to the Housing Registrar on Corporate Groups and to the City of Melbourne in relation to the West Melbourne amendment C309.
Mental health submission
CHIA Vic made a submission to the Royal Commission into Mental Health that called on the commission to include housing – particularly social and affordable housing – in its inquiry, and to consider the interactions between housing and mental health. The submission included reference to CHIA Vic’s research paper: Impacts of a changing mental health sector on community housing tenants.
This paper looked into the impact of the NDIS on the community housing sector and subsequent loss of mental health supports outside the NDIS ecosystem. Up to 6,500 community housing tenants in Victoria may be living with severe mental ill-health and most are unlikely to be eligible for services under the NDIS. This is creating significant support gaps for people with mental ill health.
DELWP Inclusionary Housing pilots
CHIA Vic worked with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on the design and tendering of the inclusionary housing pilots to increase understanding and awareness of the DELWP team, and interested developers, in the community housing operating model. We also worked with DELWP to raise awareness of the community housing sector’s ability to add value in the context of Affordable Housing Agreements.
Transitional Housing Management Program Review
DHHS’s review of the Transitional Housing Management (THM) program continued during the year. In early 2019, DHHS appointed several members of CHIA Vic’s THM Sector Group to its newly formed Reference Group. The group was tasked with considering and providing advice on future directions for the program, particularly in relation to assessment and allocation arrangements, the support models for clients, property and tenancy models, exit pathways for clients into stable housing, data collection and evaluation, government oversight and expected outcomes for clients.
Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018
After three-and-a-half years of public consultations, during which CHIA Vic attended numerous meetings and briefings and produced eight submissions on the sector’s behalf, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act was passed on September 6, 2018.
Overall, CHIA Vic was happy with the changes, which include additional protections for staff and contractors; many changes recommended by the Family Violence Royal Commission; and, the ability for the Minister to declare a building owned by a registered housing agency to be a rooming house.
The amendments remove the 120-day notice to vacate for no specified reason and allow a notice to vacate only at the end of the initial fixed term for tenants on a fixed term rental agreement.
All the provisions of the Amendment Act have to be proclaimed by July 1, 2020, but the State Government is doing this in stages. They have already enabled leases to be longer than five years and limited rent increases to once a year for new rental agreements only. It is currently working on proclaiming changes around pets. Most community housing organisations (CHOs) have pet agreements in place already so the impact should be minimal.
The rest of the changes are unlikely to be implemented before June 2020 as they require the development of a whole range of regulations and Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) guidelines. CHIA Vic will be involved in all the relevant consultations