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Q Shelter Bulletin
Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Analysis of the Queensland State Budget and Housing & Homelessness Action Plans
From our Executive Director, Fiona Caniglia
The State Budget includes important measures to advance projects intended to grow social and affordable housing. The following analysis explores the measures in the Budget and the newly released Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2021-25. This analysis is compared to key headings in Q Shelter's Submission to the Queensland State Budget 2021-2022 and Housing Action Plan.
Overview
The considerable investment in social housing in this Budget brings forward growth activities which is welcome. The challenge with this Budget and Housing and Homelessness Action Plan will be to achieve growth activities with system reform. The Budget needs to be read in conjunction with the Action Plan to understand how investment and reform go hand in hand.
In some key areas, such as planning system changes and an improved community housing operating model, the impact of growth activities will be limited unless reform is advanced as urgently as specified in the accelerated growth initiative. The Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning (DSDILGP) are identified as lead to deliver social and affordable housing using planning and economic development tools. We will be working with the Sector to advance meaningful action that is transparently communicated and monitored.
This plan and budget are clear that there is an expanded role for community housing providers in growth projects. This is an important shift. With considerable and immediate demand for housing, we need multiple building starts through multiple stakeholders with the skills, capacity and determination to deliver results. The proposed new master agreement, longer leases, reduced insurance costs, and greater certainty for government and private investors are all vital if existing assets, leases and revenue are to be optimally applied to growth projects. It is essential there are no delays in this framework being released, tested and fully implemented.
There are various actions relating to homelessness responses including improved system integration and coordination across government agencies and in the sector. There is additional funding for focussed responses to Domestic and Family Violence.
While leveraging all existing resources including a focus on health services and support is important, Q Shelter knows that there is unmet need for assistance to sustain tenancies. We will work with Government to ensure the need for support is better understood and that there are escalation points to guarantee support to individuals and households who will be homeless without it.
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Housing Supply
Q Shelter proposed funding for an annual building program of 3,000 units of housing. The Budget and associated Action Plan is focussed on growth under the Housing Investment Growth Initiative which includes three key elements:
  • The Housing Investment Fund which will be invested to yield funds for growth projects to be achieved through partnerships with a target of 3,600 new homes
  • QuickStart Qld which is a state-wide accelerated capital program to commence delivery of new social homes with a target of 2,765
  • Help to Home which includes the priority sourcing of market head-leases to meet emergent need with a target of 1,000.
This is a total of 6365 new homes started by 2025 and an additional 1000 homes secured from adapting existing buildings and priority head-leasing options. This brings forward targets for growth from $1.6 billion and 5000 homes over 10 years under the previous Action Plan to $1.908 billion and 6, 365 homes over four years. This latter point speaks to Q Shelter’s continued advocacy that growth activities need to be accelerated with urgency because of the human cost of homelessness.
Need in Queensland is demonstrated in various ways including the Queensland Housing Register which currently lists over 26,000 households inclusive of 47,000 people. The last Census reported 21, 000 people were homeless in Queensland on Census night and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows substantial unmet demand for specialist homelessness services. The service system knows that this program of building will not meet identified need and it will remain under pressure to respond.
It is positive to see the Action Plan nominate specific responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, women and families experiencing violence, young people and older women.
The Department of Communities, Housing and the Digital Economy (DCHDE) delivers a range of products and services which aim to respond to that need. For the duration of COVID-19, the distribution of these products and services has increased and remains available.
There are now a number of challenges including how to ensure that:
  • the Growth Initiative advances with urgency where key challenges are identified and solved early
  • community housing providers are supported in their capacity to develop growth plans and deliver projects including through an enabling Community Housing Operating Model that reduces costs, increases certainty for investors and simplifies the relationship with Government
  • growth is transparently measured and reported in a collective impact framework so that every region can view progress and, as a State, we have an overview of impact
  • clear multi-agency service delivery protocols exist to advance tailored solutions to housing and support needs and that these are escalated for a response rather than applying that pressure to households that remain homeless or at risk of homelessness
More support to sustain tenancies
The Housing Action Plan identifies a range of measures related to the sustainable housing solutions:
  • Enhancing access to private rental housing and home ownership including ensuring people are aware of and can access products and services geared to accessing the private housing market
  • More integrated front-line responses including actions to house people in crisis and transition them to longer-term housing with support
  • Expanding coordinated housing and homelessness responses which deliver place-based care coordination activities that leverag multi-agency responses to homelessness-- including support with a focus on people with complex needs. The Service Integration Initiative has four years of funding under the plan to prevent exits to homelessness, provide cross-agency monitoring, and deliver integrated health and housing outcomes
  • Better coordination across State agencies including the development of a formalised service delivery framework between State Government agencies.
These actions are important. The challenge now is to ensure that all available system resources are fully synergised and leveraged to assist households while also ensuring that unmet demand is escalated with urgency for a response.
Q Shelter has developed and promoted a Tenancy Sustainment Framework and we will continue to advance this with Government as an integrated approach to delivering housing, support, law reform, service integration and brokerage.
Improved planning system
The Action Plan includes lead responsibilities for generating social and affordable housing solutions through the planning system and economic development. There is a long history in Queensland seeking planning system reforms to generate enough housing supply and diversity to meet community needs. While lead agency status is identified in the plan, the actions could be much more focussed and determined. We need to see statements of intention to ‘explore and investigate’ planning system solutions become assertive statements reflecting determined reforms and clear actions with delivery. Q Shelter will be focussed on ensuring sector involvement in these actions and that there is clear progress that is monitored and reported. Without planning system reform, we will never achieve housing supply adequate to meet community needs and there will be increasing downward pressure to deliver social housing solutions at high cost.
Reduced operating costs and optimal use of community housing assets
The Housing and Homelessness Action Plan more clearly articulates and enshrines the role of Community Housing Providers which is an important shift. Additional documentation as part of this framework promises a new master agreement, longer leases, greater certainty for investors enabling debt financing of growth and reduced operating costs such as insurance on DCHDE owned properties.
To realise the full potential of funding in the Budget, Community Housing Providers need certainty and an enabling policy framework. Q Shelter ,with CHIA Qld and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Queensland, will work with determination to achieve their implementation. DCHDE has stated:
We are working with Q Shelter, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Queensland and the Community Housing Industry Association (Qld) to engage with Community Housing Providers (CHPs), including Indigenous Community Housing Organisations. Together, we will ensure you are able to maximise use of the 2021-22 State budget measures and Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2021-2025 to encourage a vibrant and sustainable community housing sector and increase supply of social and affordable housing across the state.
Governance will be through a newly formed Queensland Community Housing Steering Committee and this mechanism needs consistency of effort and authoritative leadership to ensure growth is unimpeded by known barriers to reform.
Peer leadership and capacity
Q Shelter proposed a funded peer leader program strengthening the voices of people with lived experience of homelessness and housing need.
The Action Plan references the involvement of people with lived experience in co-design activities and Q Shelter will be working to understand the scope for this and what resources may be available to support participation. We will also continue to advance the training program for people with lived experience of housing need and homelessness to strengthen their role in policy reform and program design.
Workforce capacity and capability
Q Shelter invests significantly in workforce capacity and capability together with other key peak and industry bodies. The Action Plan does refer to equipping the government and community sector workforce to develop the skills, practice and tools needed to deliver person-centred, coordinated outcomes focussed on housing and support services. It will be vital to operationalise this action and expand the combined offering of peaks through additional resources. We will be working with the Queensland Housing and Homelessness Peaks Partnership to advance this action through collaboration and through identifying resources to support the sector to access and afford the training needed to be supported in roles that are increasingly complex.
Service integration
The Budget and Action Plan focus significantly on service integration and coordination. There are actions for senior officers in Government to ensure cross-agency responses preventing homelessness and developing a shared service delivery framework. There is budget to enhance the funded Service Integration Initiation providing care coordinators in identified regions for four years. This funded initiative is currently reporting outcomes from the initial pilot as a basis for co-designing its future including priority regions and program design. This is a huge win for the sector which will continue to have regional coordinators support service integration. Through front-line care coordination groups, services are integrated and most importantly gaps are identified for escalation to achieve tailored, individual solutions and system improvements.
Law reform
The Action Plan identified residential sector reforms inclusive of retirement villages, manufactured home parks and boarding houses. Under 1 Roof, which is auspiced by Q Shelter, advanced discussion about improvements to boarding house accommodation and the need for reconsideration about the use of this tenure as part of a housing response. Similarly, Q Shelter facilitated a meeting with the Office of the Registrar and the Department to respond to concerns about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples being evicted from boarding houses without adequate protection and accountability.
Q Shelter has identified residential tenancy law reform as critical to a tenancy sustainment framework for Queensland. The Action Plan commits to delivering rental law reform including minimum housing standards and improved stability for people renting. With such reliance on private tenancies to house disadvantaged Queenslanders, these households will remain vulnerable to poverty and homelessness without better protection and improved security of tenure. We will be working hard within the ‘Make Renting Fair’ campaign to ensure adequate protection for tenants. 
For more information, see The new Queensland Housing Action Plan and access the full Budget Speech and Regional Action Plans.
Over the past week, Q Shelter has been releasing some of our key budget recommendations and analyses across social media.
Read more on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Read more about Q Shelter policy statements
 
Contact Q Shelter: 07 3831 5900
Fiona Caniglia
fiona.caniglia@qshelter.asn.au
0400 196 492
Emma Greenhalgh
emma.greenhalgh@qshelter.asn.au
0402 927 243
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