The aspiration to grow community housing has formed a central plank of Australia’s post-2007 housing reform program. Underlying the shift, it has also been contended that community housing providers can deliver added value both to individuals as tenants (e.g. via a more responsive and personalised delivery model than public housing), and to communities (e.g. through a more resident-influenced approach and/or the provision of non-housing services).
The belief that Australia’s community housing providers generally achieve superior tenant outcomes appears borne out by 2010 resident satisfaction data showing, for example, that in NSW 77% of community housing tenants were satisfied with landlord services compared with only 64% of SHA tenants. While this contrast might reflect a more intensive – and therefore costly – community housing operating model, there is unfortunately no standard ‘housing management expenditure’ metric to inform such a comparison. The research provides an opportunity to calibrate these costs.
Beyond its contribution of new primary research, the project formed a vehicle for formulating and testing measures for possible incorporation within a modernised version of the official social housing performance framework. Having remained largely unchanged for over 15 years, this was overdue for reform to better align with contemporary policy priorities such as: (a) Increased policymaker expectations for landlords to promote economic and social well-being through ‘reconnecting’ tenants with relevant networks; (b) Enhanced policymaker interest in ‘outcomes’
This project investigated the extent to which different types of social landlords are operating programs, procedures and ways of working to promote resident wellbeing, including social and economic reconnection. It also devised a more tightly-focused metric for management expenditure and a wider range of measures on tenant cohort characteristics and tenant outcomes as well as probing the scope for more systematic procedures in generating tenant satisfaction ratings properly comparable across providers and jurisdictions.