HOUSING THOSE IN NEED

Here at Project 4 Change we have been reviewing our work over the past few months on where we can best direct our efforts toward some better solutions.

The first issue was to challenge the “norm” in what type of housing to provide.

We have reviewed the Queensland Housing Register (waiting list) and broken down each category of applicant on the register in each local government area. On one hand this has produced some surprising results and on the other the results are obvious. Please refer to the attached chart below for the Brisbane City Council as an example.

What we have found across all regions is that Singles under age 55, make up in the order of 50% and Singles over age 55 up to a further 15% to 20% of all applicants. A further 20% are Single Parents with one to three children.

Currently there are approximately 15,000 applicants on the register with an average waiting period of 18 months. The real number is probably double as people fall off the register because they get sick of re-applying and still not moving forward.

What becomes obvious then is the standard three-four-bedroom house, townhouse or unit, is not the solution for these clients.

As the maximum combined assessable annual income for entry to the register is in the order of $50,000, the we are dealing with little capacity to pay and stay under the accepted housing stress level of 30% of income.

Given that our main emphasis has been housing through ownership we have responded to this information by adding further models to our range to provide a “whole of life solution”.

We have developed a five-bedroom house that provides an en-suite for each bedroom. The bedroom is also larger than average to allow personal space. The remainder of the house includes community shared space for cooking, recreation and laundry as well as vegetable and herb gardens in the back yard.

At least one of the bedrooms is gold/platinum level LHA design to cater for disability and aging in place. This means 20% of our rooms accommodate disability.

The client mix can also be quite wide ranging or specific for a need.

The big advantage for us is that the house is exactly that, a house.

We do not need Development Approval and the associated costs such as Headworks Charges and Application Fees.

We can house five people far more efficiently with the (always) limited funds available, as all of our work does not involve government funding of any type.

Compared to the cost of a one-bedroom unit it also comes out well in front.

The leases for our clients in this model are long term (3-5 years) which provide security of tenure and help create a sense of a tribe for residents.

We are also considering providing two rescue animals as “house pets”.

During the extended lease period, those of our clients who wish to move onto owning a property through our Integrated Community Model, can with our help and tuition, work toward being able to move on.

The financial structure of this model can be positive in its cash flow, while still delivering accommodation at a realistic price for our clients.

The rent structure can be as a percentage of income or other methods that reflect their capacity to pay.

The management of these houses will be undertaken in collaboration with selected organisations who have proven support programs.

We are now restructuring our Impact Investment Fund under an Australian Financial Services License to allow us, along with our Gift Fund to accelerate the delivery of these houses, throughout the nation.

We openly invite anybody who may be interested in working with us on this program to contact us, via Linked In or our website, www.project4change.org.au

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Greg Cree