Established in 2005, HousingFirst Victoria is a not-for-profit Community Housing Provider that provides social and affordable rental homes for people identified with high housing needs. The organisation’s mission is to:
increase the supply of secure, high quality, social and affordable homes; provide exceptional property and tenancy management; support tenants to achieve personal well-being; build cohesive communities in collaboration with tenants; and develop partnerships to achieve these outcomes (HousingFirst Victoria 2020).
To assist with the delivery of housing and wrap-around support services, HousingFirst Victoria works in collaboration with a range of partner organisations, including the City of Port Phillip; National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs; Victorian Office of Housing, Department of Human Services; Major Projects Victoria; National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).
HousingFirst Victoria was awarded the Leading Housing Development Project at the Australasian Housing Institute’s (AHI) Awards for Victoria in recognition of the successful impact the housing programs have made in the community.
HousingFirst operates 1,203 properties located across 50 sites within the Melbourne Metropolitan area.HousingFirst homes comprise of multi-unit medium- to high-density residential apartments (65%), townhouses (35%) and stand-alone dwellings (2%).
The Botanical Apartments development in St Kilda is one example of the type of housing provided by HousingFirst. Scheduled for completion in 2021, the $9.5 million, medium-density dwellings will include 50 architect-designed permanent homes for mothers with young children. The complex will include on-site social and clinical support services which will be managed by Launch Housing.
The dwelling design is focused on creating liveable homes with natural light, private and generous sized open spaces, and environmentally sustainable design features to minimise future running costs. Further design details about each HousingFirst owned and managed property can be accessed through the organisation’s website.
 As at June 2021
HousingFirst Victoria’s $365 million property portfolio represents a fundamental component to delivering housing services in a way that is financially viable. A core feature of the organisation’s asset management approach includes capital leveraging, of which $205 million is currently in pipeline development.
Additionally, Government grants constitute 34 per cent of HousingFirst Victoria funding model, according to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC). In March 2021, HousingFirst Victoria secured a new funding agreement with the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) that will accelerate the delivery of 316 homes for low-income Victorians with a core focus on accommodating women over 55 years of age who areexperiencing or at risk of homelessness. The agreement allows HousingFirst to access more than $18 million in NHFIC loans and grants for infrastructure works through NHFIC’s National Housing Infrastructure Facility (NHIF).The infrastructure funding will support four HousingFirst development projects in the Brighton and St Kilda areas of Melbourne.
For HousingFirst Chair Janine Kirk:
“We know that a stable, affordable home is the best possible base from which to build, and in some cases, rebuild lives. These homes must be in good neighbourhoods with access to utilities, transport, schools and opportunities. NHFIC’s Infrastructure Facility (NHIF) model is a brilliant way for experienced, not for profit housing providers like us to access affordable finance and get on with the job of delivering homes for people in need.” (HousingFirst 2021).
Property and tenancy management
HousingFirst has provided homes for 1,800 tenants as of May 2021, including 82 per cent in social housing and 18 per cent in affordable rental housing. Social housing tenants pay no more than 30 per cent of gross income on rent. Tenants in affordable rental homes also pay no more than 30 per cent of gross income on rent which is capped at 74.99 per cent of market rents.
In terms of the social mix, 40 per cent of residents are aged over 55 years, 45 per cent of residents are women, and 69 per cent of residents are single people. Approximately 10 per cent of residents identify as being from a non-English speaking background.
HousingFirst maintains an ongoing planned asset repair and maintenance program to ensure each dwelling remains in good condition. This includes a three-year cyclical maintenance scheme, a 24-hour emergency repair line as well as an open client feedback channels for early identification of concerns and areas for improvement.
For further information about HousingFirst Victoria, please visit: https://www.housingfirst.org.au/
Additional resources for this profile
HousingFirst Victoria ‘Building Strong’ Annual Report 2019-2020: https://www.housingfirst.org.au/images/annual_reports/HousingFirst-Annual-Report-2020.pdf
Key Quotes: “HousingFirst’s holistic, locally-focused approach is leading the way in how community housing is designed, financed, built and managed”(HousingFirst Victoria 2020).
“We believe social and affordable housing is the foundation on which we build strong communities. Securing housing first allows us to then support the well-being and full participation of low income, disadvantaged Victorians. The service we provide is more than just a safe, secure place to call home. We know that homes transform the lives of our residents. HousingFirst helps our residents put down roots which means home becomes community” (HousingFirst Victoria 2020).