Affordable Housing Policy

1. Purpose

The purpose of the Affordable Housing Policy is to outline how BlueCHP will manage applications, allocate properties and manage tenancies in their affordable housing programs.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all affordable housing applicants and tenants of BlueCHP.

3. Definitions

Applicant – is the person making formal application for housing assistance.

Market Rent – is the maximum rent a tenant will pay for a BlueCHP property. The market rent is based on how much the property could be leased for in the private rental market

Rent Subsidy – is the difference between the market rent and the amount of rent a tenant pays, based on the household’s assessable income.  If a tenant receives a rent subsidy this means they will pay less than the market rent. Eligibility for Rental Subsidy will be assessed a maximum of twice a year.

Tenant -  is the person who signed the Residential Tenancy Agreement

Household Members - are other people who have been authorised by BlueCHP to reside at the property

Employment Related Income – is income received for services rendered, including, but not limited to, superannuation, workers compensation, and child maintenance.

4. Policy Statement

BlueCHP is committed to providing affordable  housing which meets the needs of people on very low to moderate incomes, and who earn at least some of their income from employment related income. BlueCHP’s aim is to manage affordable housing properties in accordance with the NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines (2011).

4.1. Eligibility

To be assessed as eligible for affordable housing, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen or have permanent residency in Australia
  • Be a resident in NSW
  • Be able to establish their identity
  • Be, in general 18 years of age or older
  • Be able to live independently
  • Meet income limits as determined by the relevant affordable housing program

4.2 Income

For National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) funded properties income limits are based on national median incomes and are reviewed annually.

For non-NRAS, affordable housing properties, BlueCHP will derive income eligibility from the median income figures for Sydney and NSW which will be set at the top of the moderate income band level. Eligibility incomes will be reviewed annually.

Income limits vary across affordable housing programs and according to household size, with the maximum limit increasing with each additional person in a household.

Generally, affordable housing tenants of BlueCHP must receive employment related income. Employment related income, is payment received for services rendered and can include those who are self-employed, receive maintenance or superannuation payments or are in receipt of workers compensation payments.

The minimum income for affordable housing represents a level above pension/benefit levels for most household types:

a. Proof of Income

Tenants must declare all assessable income and must provide proof of income for themselves and other household members aged 18 years or over.  Income declarations will be required as part of the income review process, which will occur annually, as a minimum.

Proof of income can include the following:

  • Income statement from Centrelink or Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Payslip, letter or statement from an employer detailing the gross wage, applicable tax, deductions, pay period and payee details for salary or wages
  • Profit and loss statement completed by an accountant or taxation return for self- employed clients
  • Letter or statement from an Overseas Government detailing the amount receive
  • Letter or statement from an investment organisation about savings/investments etc providing details of the amount received
  • Letter from another organisation or income provider (not listed above) detailing the amount and type of income received

4.3 Assets

Applicants should not have assets, such as shares or investments. Substantial savings, will be considered if it can be substantiated that they are for the purpose of future home ownership.

4.4 Ongoing Eligibility

To remain in affordable housing tenants must continue to meet all eligibility criteria outlined in Section 4.1, and any relevant criteria defined by the special housing program.

That is, households must still meet the general eligibility criteria, demonstrate an ongoing housing need and not have assets or property which could reasonably be expected to resolve their housing need.

The exception is income, where existing tenants are permitted to earn 25% above the maximum eligibility income for moderate income before they become ineligible. This aligns with NRAS ongoing eligibility criteria for existing tenants.

4.5 Tenure

Affordable Housing within BlueCHP will be offered on a fixed term tenancy. Leases will be reviewed annually, and will include a confirmation of eligibility.

4.6 Exits

a. Over income

Where, as part of the annual review process, it is found that a tenants income rises above the eligibility level BlueCHP will:

  • renew their lease for a further year, to maximise the tenants opportunities to enter private home ownership or the private rental market. BlueCHP may, at their discretion extend this for a further year.
  • give tenants reasonable notice of BlueCHP’s intention to end their tenancy, issuing the tenant with a termination notice on the grounds that they are no longer eligible (Section 143)

b. Under income

Where, as part of the annual review process, it is found that a tenants income falls below the eligibility level BlueCHP will:

  • in the case of a tenant becoming unemployed, BlueCHP will renew their lease, for a further year, to allow the tenant to find new employment. If at the end of that year, the tenant is still unemployed, BlueCHP will transfer them to the first suitable Social Housing property.
  • in the instance that the tenant’s income will not increase, for example in the case of retirement or illness, BlueCHP will renew their lease, for a further year, and then transfer them to the first suitable Social Housing property.

Tenants will be given reasonable notice of BlueCHP’s intention to end their tenancy, issuing the tenant with a termination notice on the grounds that they are no longer eligible (Section 143).

4.7 Allocations

To ensure consistent, accountable and efficient decision making regarding the allocation of properties, BlueCHP seeks to:

  • promote sustainable tenancies by ensuring tenants are matched with properties that are appropriate to their needs and location
  • aim to maintain a compatibility mix within each development, while ensuring diversity
  • maintain accurate and appropriate records of our decision making, including for registration purposes
  • take into account the interests of other tenants, neighbours, and private owners (in the case of managed properties)
  • minimise unnecessary costs to the organisation (e.g in the form of delays to allocate and/or inappropriate allocations)
  • maintain and improve our reputation and relationship with partner organisations, stakeholders and the community generally

In general, offers will be made in line with the considerations outlined above, with the most suitable applicant, from the first four eligible applicants being contacted and made an offer of housing. This may be waived in order to match special needs requirements to housing availability or organisational need.

4.8 Special Housing Program Allocations

a. Connection to Local Area

Some affordable housing properties may require applicants to demonstrate a connection to the local area of a property. Connections may include:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Family connections, including the need to care for a family member
  • A current resident of the area

4.9 Wait list

BlueCHP will maintain an affordable housing waiting list, consisting of applicants eligible for both NRAS and non-NRAS affordable housing properties

Eligibility, need and family composition will be reviewed annually. Applicants can update their details at any time.

Applications will be processed within 21 days of receipt and applicants will be informed in writing of the outcome of their application.

4.10 Offers

Applicants will be made two offers of housing.

Applicants are able to reject the first offer for housing which meets the criteria for location and housing type they have nominated. They will be notified they have one further offer. An offer of housing is deemed to be when the applicant has the address of the property that meets their locational and other entitlements.

In the event of an applicant refusing a second offer, that meets their criteria for location and housing type, they will be removed from the waiting list for 12 months, after which time they will be eligible to reapply.

4.11 Legislative and Regulatory Framework

  • Residential Tenancies Act 2010
  • Community Housing Rent Policy – NSW
  • NSW Affordable Housing Guidelines (2011)

4.12 Complaints and Appeals

Tenants may appeal decisions made regarding their affordable housing application or tenancy. Refer to BlueCHP’s Complaints and Appeals Policies for further information.