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Affordable Housing Policy

Download Evolve Housing 'Affordable Housing' Policy (PDF)

Contents:

1. Purpose
2. Scope
3. Definitions
4. Policy statement
4.1 Eligibility
4.2 Income
4.3 Assets
4.4 Other criteria
4.5 Assessment of an application
4.6 Allocation of a property
4.7 Waiting list
4.8 Vacant properties
4.9 Tenure
4.10 Rent
4.11 Bond
4.12 Ongoing eligibility
4.13 Where an assessment finds a tenant no longer eligible
4.14 General information
4.15 Right of appeal
5. Responsibilities
6. Related resources
7. Where to get more information

1. Purpose

This policy will explain how Evolve Housing will manage applications, allocate properties and manage tenancies for Evolve Housing affordable housing programs.

2. Scope

This policy outlines the guidelines for eligibility, allocation and tenure to clients of Evolve Housing applying for affordable housing assistance.

3. Definitions

  • Applicant – the person who makes the formal application for housing assistance
  • Tenant – the person who signs the Residential Tenancy Agreement with Evolve Housing
  • Resident – a person who lives in the property on a permanent basis
  • Spouse – a husband or wife considered in relation to their partner
  • Household members – all people living in the home regardless of age or relationship

4. Policy statement

Affordable rental housing is housing that meets the needs of people on very low to moderate incomes and is priced so that tenants can afford basic living costs such as food, clothing, transport, medical care and education. Applicants must meet eligibility criteria to apply.

Evolve Housing’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:

Affordable housing applicants must:

  • Be a citizen or have permanent residency in Australia
  • Be a resident in NSW
  • Be able to establish their identity
  • Be able to sustain a tenancy without support
  • In general be 18 years of age or older

4.2 Income

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

Income limits are derived from the median income figures for Sydney and NSW and are set at the top of the moderate income band level. For National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) funded properties income limits are based on national median incomes, therefore depending on program type the income eligibility will be different.

Income limits are reviewed annually.

Generally, affordable housing tenants of Evolve Housing must receive income from regular paid employment.

4.3 Assets

Applicants should not have assets, such a substantial savings, shares or investments excluding savings towards a home.

Applicants should not have property which could reasonably be expected to solve their housing need.

4.4 Other criteria

Connection to local area:

At times, some affordable housing properties may require applicants to demonstrate a connection to the local area of the property.

Connections may include:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Family
  • Currently living in the area

Individual eligibility criteria will be included for these properties.

4.5 Assessment of an application

Evolve Housing will undertake an assessment of affordable housing applications and evidence provided by applicants to determine eligibility.

4.6 Allocation of a property

Affordable housing will be allocated to a mix of very low, low and moderate income households.

Allocation decisions will be based upon the following:

  • Achieving mix of income bands
  • Financial eligibility
  • Allocation on a priority need basis
  • Connection to area

4.7 Waiting list

Evolve Housing's waiting list for affordable housing was closed in March 2012, as vacancies in the affordable housing portfolio were scarce and therefore there was little chance that the applicants would be made an offer within a realistic timeframe.

4.8 Vacant properties

Vacant properties will be offered in the first instance to applicants on the existing affordable housing waiting list or, if appropriate, to a social housing applicant (via Housing Pathways) in the ‘very low’ income category.

When an applicant cannot be found on either of the above, Evolve Housing will advertise in appropriate media outlets detailing the eligibility criteria and property type.

4.9 Tenure

Affordable housing within Evolve Housing will be offered on a fixed term tenancy.

Leases will be reviewed annually to ensure continued eligibility.

4.10 Rent

Rent charges are in accordance with the relevant affordable housing guidelines.

Generally, rent is set at 74.9% of the market rate, but will not be less than 25% of gross household income.

Rent will be set in line with the program guidelines and to ensure that is its affordable to the tenant and also to ensure the program is financially viable.

Two weeks rent in advance is to be paid at the commencement of tenancy.

4.11 Bond   

Tenants are required to pay four weeks rent at the subsided rental rate as bond at the commencement of tenancy.

4.12 Ongoing eligibility

To remain in affordable housing, households must continue to meet all criteria as set out in Section 5 eligibility .

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 meet their housing need.

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

4.13 Where an assessment finds a tenant no longer eligible

Where it is found a tenant is no longer eligible following the review, Evolve Housing will terminate either under Section 143 of Residential Tenancies Act 2010, or at the end of the fixed term tenancy.

Evolve Housing will notify the tenant in writing of the intention to terminate the tenancy prior to issuing a tenant with a termination notice on the grounds they are no longer eligible (Section 143)

A tenant will be given a reasonable period to move to alternative accommodation, depending on their circumstances.

4.14 General information

Transfers to other affordable housing properties are not permitted.

Mutual exchange is not permitted.

Succession of tenancy may be approved if the tenant:

  • Dies.
  • Permanently leaves the property to live in residential care.
  • Serves a custodial sentence.
  • Is granted an Apprehended Violence Order prohibiting the tenant from accessing the property.

Persons eligible (to succeed tenancies) are:

  • The tenant’s spouse or de facto who has been living as an authorised occupant and;
  • Meet the eligibility requirements for the property program and has the capacity to pay the applicable rent for the property.

Evolve Housing has a no pets policy for affordable housing properties.

4.15 Right of appeal

If a client believes Evolve Housing has made a wrong decision they should ask for a formal review of the decision. To do this, the client needs to complete an Appeals Form stating why they disagree with the decision. Evolve Housing has an Appeals Policy, Appeals Factsheet and an Appeals Form.

If the client  is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Internal Appeal process they can proceed to make an appeal to the independent Housing Appeals Committee (HAC). Evolve Housing will advise the client how to lodge an appeal with HAC. Alternatively, they may access the HAC on www.hac.nsw.gov.au or free call on 1800 629 794. The HAC is an independent appeals agency for all NSW Social Housing clients.

This policy is subject to change from time to time at the discretion of Evolve Housing. Where an individual is observed to not be working within the scope of this policy, the breach will be addressed by a team leader.

5. Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the:

Chief Executive Officer to ensure this policy and associated procedures are applied and committed to by the Executive Leadership Team.

People & Culture Department to provide Team Leaders with timely policy-related support and guidance.

Leadership Team/Team Leaders to ensure familiarity with this policy and related procedures, to commit to following them accordingly and where relevant, promote the policy to their team.

Employees to ensure they comply with this policy, be responsible for their own behaviour and if required, attend relevant training as provided by the company from time to time.

6. Related resources

7. Where to get more information

Contact Evolve Housing on 1300 692 245 or 02 8862 1500 or info@evolvehousing.com.au

Document No:  HS198.2.0  |  Approved:  24/01/2014  |  Review Due:  24/01/2015