Category Archives: Housing

House prices dip

The Age reports on Melbourne’s first dip in house prices “after 17 months of strong gains that increased the typical price for a house from $404,636 to $500,000”. The figures reflect a national downturn revealed in the latest RP Data-Rismark property index. The report also refers to new figures from the Reserve Bank which show that growth in housing credit slowed to 0.4 per cent in June – its slowest growth for any month since July 1984.

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‘Decent not Dodgy’ rental housing report

'Decent not Dodgy' report

‘Decent not Dodgy’ Report [Source: Victorian Council of Social Service]

The full report of the ‘Decent not Dodgy’ survey of 116 rental properties in Melbourne and Geelong conducted by the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) counters claims and concerns that legislating minimum standards for rental homes in Victoria would cost landlords too much.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of VCOSS Carolyn Atkins said, “Although more than one in ten properties inspected by VCOSS were uninhabitable and would require significant investment to guarantee they were safe, secure and affordable to live in, the majority of homes surveyed would meet basic living standards with the installation of one or two basic and inexpensive items like electrical safety switches, or deadlocks.”

“VCOSS analysis also showed that more than half of properties could be brought up to an acceptable standard with just two alterations or repairs, and 41 percent could meet VCOSS’ proposed standards with either no alterations or the installation of a low flow showerhead and/or a deadlock.”

“This winter tenants will struggle with high electricity bills and freezing homes. VCOSS’s report shows that minimum standards could save renters up to $363 a year on their winter energy bills if their landlords installed a gas heater and ceiling insulation and $336 a year if the property switched from electric to gas hot water heating.”

Information about the campaign launch and VCOSS’ policy position on rental standards is covered in a previous post.

Social Housing Audit

Access to Social Housing Cover, June 2010

Access to Social Housing Report [Source: Victorian Auditor-General’s Office]

The Victorian Auditor-General’s report Access to Social Housing highlights a number of key problems, particularly the failure to adequately house people of the highest need. The background summary provides a bleak opening:

“Victoria has an undersupply of affordable housing for those on low incomes … many low-income Victorians find it difficult to access public housing as it is increasingly targeted to those on the waiting list classified as having special needs. Waiting times for other tenants are up to seven years”

The report makes a number of recommendations targeting the three key entities involved in the provision of affordable housing; the Director of Housing, the Department of Human Services and the Registrar of Housing Agencies.

While housing associations are on track to meet the original target of 1,550 properties, perhaps one of the more disturbing elements of the report is the lack of clear guidelines to deliver equity of access for applicants on the public housing waiting list. Originally there was a requirement for 50 per cent of new vacancies in housing association properties to be filled from the waiting list. This has been modified to ‘up to’ 50 per cent. During 2008-09 only 17 per cent of new vacancies were filled by DHS referrals from the top of the waiting list. This implies that the current social housing model places pressure on associations to select tenants with an adequate income, thereby achieving favourable rent revenue and ensuring financial viability.

Full report and Summary (PDF)

HIA’s Population and Residential Building ‘Hotspots’

Victoria is the nation’s biggest building ‘hotspot’, according to a new report from the Housing Industry Association (HIA). The Population and Residential Building Hotspots report provides a snapshot of Australia’s fastest growing metropolitan and regional areas in the 2008/09 financial year.

A ‘hotspot’ is defined as a local area where population growth exceeds the national rate (2.1%) and the value of residential building work approved is in excess of $100 million. Victoria recorded 10 of the top 20 locations.

Whittlesea North had the highest figures with residential building approvals exceeding $484 million and population growth at 18.3%. This was followed by Wyndham South – one of Victoria’s fastest growing cities – with approvals reaching almost $284 million and population growth at 12.8%. The Southbank and Docklands were ranked 19th, recording $335 million of higher density residential approvals and 5.3% population growth.

Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project underway

Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project - information board

One of the information boards on display at PPHA’s local office at the Jordanville Community Centre [Source: Port Phillip Housing Association]

Work has started on the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project which will deliver a mix of 210 affordable rental homes and 72 private homes. The development will utilise six vacant sites in the Ashwood Chadstone area. The project is a joint partnership between the State Government and the Port Phillip Housing Association. Both parties are investing $70m each towards the total $140m development. Architects FMSA have incorporated sustainable design features to address water and waste management, solar access and energy saving initiatives. The project is expected to be completed by late 2012.

Cranbourne East – Melbourne’s newest suburb

Cranbourne East - Google Maps

Cranbourne East [Source: Google Maps]

The Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) for Cranbourne East has received planning approval. A 589 hectare site is projected to accommodate 20,000 people over the next 15 years. The masterplan includes 6,600 housing lots, local town centres, schools, kindergartens, retirement villages and amenity spaces. Discussions between the Growth Areas Authority (GAA), Casey Council and developers have resulted in Cranbourne East being the first plan to use concurrent land rezoning and subdivision approval processes. The subsequent time savings in subdivision and alignment of these processes is set to become a template for future PSP developments.

Precinct Structure Plans are part of the State Government’s strategy to accommodate population growth and housing demand. They are usually designed to accommodate between 10,000 and 30,000 people. Preparation of the plans is overseen by the Growth Areas Authority.

A map showing the location of Precinct Structure Plans is available here.

Public housing demand

Atherton Gardens, Fitzroy

Atherton Gardens, Fitzroy [Source: Google Maps]

March figures from The Department of Human Services reveal that nearly 40,000 applicants are on the public housing waiting list. The Federal and State Governments will attempt to address demand across Victoria by investing in the following:

  • The Nation Building Social Housing Initiative will build 4,500 new homes for low-income households.
  • The National Rental Affordability Scheme will deliver at least 7,500 new rental homes to be let at 20 per cent below market rents.
  • The State Government is set to acquire more than 3,800 new homes for low-income households in 2010-11 and invest $510 million to deliver 2,350 new public and social housing units.

A related report in The Age focuses on a proposal to provide hundreds of additional homes at three of Melbourne’s largest public housing estates; Atherton Gardens in Fitzroy, Elizabeth Street in Richmond and Malvern Road in Prahran.

Housing demand and supply gap widens

The National Housing Supply Council’s 2nd State of Supply Report was recently launched in Melbourne by Minister for Housing Tanya Plibersek. The report shows the gap between housing demand and supply increased to 178,400 dwellings at June 2009, whilst future projections indicate an underlying demand of 3.2 million additional households in the twenty years to 2029. Other key findings in the report reveal:

  • A decline in housing affordability including the number of households experiencing ‘housing stress’ (paying more than 30 per cent of their gross income in mortgage repayments or rent).
  • An expected increase in dwelling types which are appropriate for an ageing population.
  • The challenges in meeting infill housing targets, including land costs, specific planning and approval issues, commercial risk and community opposition.
  • The need for better planning and development assessment systems aligned with infrastructure delivery.

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