Churches Housing welcomes the release of the NSW Government’s eagerly awaited housing strategy for the next 20 years: Housing 2041: 2021-22 Action Plan, NSW Housing Strategy.
The Strategy contains many good concepts that may help deliver good housing outcomes. However, it is comprised of very high level broad statements with limited specifics. For example, no meaningful targets, modeling, or funding details are documented in the Strategy, so it is not clear how its objectives will be achieved. On the issue of funding, we are very much hoping that the 22 June NSW Budget will contain appropriate provisions to deliver the Strategy’s 2021-2022 Action Plan.
The Strategy does contain some encouraging initiatives. Without mentioning them all, encouragingly for the Church sector, we note some of the key initiatives.
- recognised that Government-owned land can contribute to more supply, particularly social and affordable housing;
- identified enhanced partnerships and cross-sector collaboration as one way to increase supply;
- has as a ‘Priority Area’: the enabling of access to, and promotion of, data and evidenced-based decision making;
- promoted the need for new sources of sustainable funding for affordable housing; and,
- committed to the establishment of an expert advisory panel and strategy implementation team.
On some of these points, our members/the sector, may have the following opportunities arise and contributions to make:
- A register of NSW Government Land will be established, to help stakeholders to identify opportunities and submit proposals for the use of NSW Government land for housing.
In addition to finding any such NSW Government land and pursuing identified opportunities, should a Church own adjacent land that could be ‘combined’ with NSW Government land for greater housing and social outcomes, it strengthens the opportunity. In particular, the NSW Government’s ‘Unsolicited Proposals’ requirements may be more easily satisfied in such ‘combined development proposals’ given their ‘uniqueness’ compared to just wanting to use NSW Government land.
We may be able help with a mapping exercise of Church and NSW Government land – please let us know if you require our assistance.
- Similar to the idea of leveraging NSW Government land for housing – land-owning organisations with an interest in housing (eg. Church Parishes) should proactively engage in dialogue with the NSW Government to encourage the exploration of what partnerships and cross-sector collaboration opportunities may exist, to increase housing supply. Churches Housing Inc. is available to assist with such explorations and negotiations.
- Church land that can be made available for social and affordable housing (at a concessional rate) may be prime candidates for the sustainable funding solutions championed by the Strategy.
- Regarding the focus of data and evidence-based decision making, WelcomeMat (an affordable rental housing portal incubated by Churches Housing) may also be able to contribute and help complete the NSW Government’s desired housing and demographic data sets.
Overall, as part of the NSW Government’s desire to think and operate innovatively to increase housing supply, it is likely that other possibilities will arise over time. Accordingly, we encourage all our members to keep a watching brief for the opportunities as they arise. Churches Housing will do the same.
In the meantime, as one of our priorities, Churches Housing has approached the NSW Government’s Housing Strategy Implementation team, with an offer to host an online forum for our members. It would include an overview and Q&A session for our members, plus provide an opportunity to show the NSW Government what our sector has delivered and the potential to do more. We will let you know once we hear back from them.
If you would like to download a copy of the NSW Housing Strategy, or Churches Housing’s earlier joint submission (with Anglicare, and with the endorsement of several members), you may do so here: Housing Strategy and Churches Housing /Anglicare Submission. [ROB: Hyperlinks to https://churcheshousing.org.au/churches-housing-heads-submission-to-nsw-state-government/ and https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Policy-and-Legislation/Housing/A-Housing-Strategy-for-NSW/Our-Vision]