The Delphi methodology involved survey questions and qualitative interviews with a panel of CEOs from 14 not-for-profit housing organisations.
Expansion in the not-for-profit housing sector over the last three years was due mainly to Government programs, such as the Social Housing Initiative (SHI) and National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS); new specialised regulatory arrangements; transfers of former government owned and/or managed stock to not-for-profit organisations; and restructuring of social housing rents to capture Commonwealth Rent Assistance to improve rent revenue.
Social purpose is a very strong internal driver of decision making and strategic positioning for all organisations. However other widely shared values include having a professional approach, being entrepreneurial, setting one’s own priorities and adopting a private sector ethos.
Over the last three years, Australian not-for-profit housing organisations have undertaken a range of strategies to pursue expansion including broadening their service remit to include moderate income households. In this sense Australian not-for-profit organisations appear to be following in the footsteps of other countries in pursuing models that use commercial real estate ventures to cross-subsidise social housing.
However, the example of places like the Netherlands shows that if the sector becomes too independent of government it could be adversely affected if there was declining government support or deteriorating housing and capital market conditions.
Future development of the sector in Australia will remain dependent upon: longer-term certainty of government policy settings; funding to support a pipeline of housing production; an inter-governmental policy framework; governments co-funding arrangements to attract a predictable stream of private finance; and increasing interaction between governments and the not-for-profit housing sector.