~ Over 20 years CHL has provided affordable housing to over 200,000 Australians in need across the country~
After nearly 20 years of building an organisation from scratch to becoming a leading national and international community housing organisation with 4000 affordable rental properties in its portfolio of which half have been designed and constructed as new supply, Community Housing Ltd’s (CHL) Managing Director Steve Bevington has been awarded the Community Achievement Award by The CEO Magazine –Australia’s leading business magazine for CEO’s and high level executive professionals.
Since CHL’s establishment in 1993 the organisation has provided relief, a restored sense of worth and pride, and a return to a more happy and productive life for more than 100,000 people in need through assisting access to affordable housing where tenants pay between 60-75% of the market rent and providing services to the homeless.
“In leading CHL’s continued growth every house completed means another family or individual who has security of tenure that they have either never had in their lives, or haven’t experienced for many years – often decades. In many cases access to community housing has stopped families from becoming homeless, curbing the social problems that arise from the need to survive”, says Mr Steve Bevington.
Mr Bevington says the plan for CHL is still in its infancy.
“To achieve our vision of affordable housing for all those in housing need, we’re on a longterm plan. 20 years has been enough time to prove that a viable financial model for affordable housing can operate at the bottom end of the housing market, where tenants pay subsidised market rent and organisations managing that housing can cover costs and invest in future growth,” says Mr. Bevington.
The financial model is a collaborative, partner-based model in which all levels of government, local interest groups representing tenants in need, social service organisations, and the private sector work with CHL on a project-by-project basis.
To that end, CHL has become a national provider by satisfying the individual criteria of State governments in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia to develop affordable housing on a large scale.
Mr. Bevington characterises effective leadership as successfully engaging key stakeholder groups in a steady and sustained focus on the achievement of a vision. “For example, without being able to earn their confidence and the support of CHL directors of the Board to safely pursue long-term strategies, CHL would today remain a single state-based community housing organisation with limited capacity and ability to contribute to people’s needs”, says Mr Bevington.
Starting in Victoria in 1993 with a $63,000 grant, CHL is continually growing its stock with annual revenues from grants and rental income of $127 million, assets of $444 million and equity of $264 million in at the end of the last financial year.
Mr. Bevington’s journey with community housing began long before his tenure as Managing Director of CHL. As a young man, he was living in London when the national Government in UK cut the housing budget by 75%, resulting in a massive loss of funds to expand and renovate public housing properties that created mass homelessness, which also affected his family. Having experienced first-hand the devastating effect that the loss of housing security causes amongst low income households (often young families, single mothers, the disabled and the elderly) returning this sense of security to these vulnerable groups became his raison-d’etre.
“The fact is, affordable and sustainable housing should be available for all those in housing need wherever they are in the world. This is the vision that CHL pursues each and every day,” says Mr. Bevington.
“As part of our long term plan, my greatest responsibility is to ensure that CHL has established operations where there is a dire need and the surpluses generated are reinvested back into the creation of more housing. Currently we have international operations based in India, Timor Leste (East Timor), and Chile. After almost 20 years, I can say that in 2012 CHL is looking like the kind of organisation that can make our long term strategy become a reality.”
While these structural issues are vital to the organisation’s future success, Mr. Bevington says CHL has always been defined by the tenants that it serves.
“By keeping residents as our focus, I have empowered staff to invest themselves in delivering services as they need to be delivered. CHL has never taken the approach of delivering housing services as a ‘one-size-fits-all’, and it is because of this that CHL today has the organisational flexibility to structure its service offerings to local community needs. It is a point of pride for Mr. Bevington that 20% of CHL’s housing stock is tenanted by indigenous people”, says Mr. Bevington.
“While being a not-for-profit, CHL operates at the recognises that managing a charitable company still requires good business skills and financial discipline, delivering surpluses from services that enhance community well-being. We are a financially sophisticated operation constantly exploring new funding models that will resolve intractable social problems. As a Managing Director with a deep commitment to social justice, this is the journey of a lifetime, a legacy that paves the way for future leaders, and carries with it a rare leadership opportunity for which I feel grateful every day,” he says.
Community Housing Limited (CHL) is a national and international provider of affordable housing. CHL is a registered Housing organisation in Victoria and a growth provider in NSW, Tasmania, WA and SA. Its international operations are located in Timor Leste, Chile, and India.
CHL provides an end-to-end integrated operation that manages the entire housing lifecycle. This includes securing funding, locating suitable land, project managing, designing and constructing, then managing the tenancy for the long term that includes collecting rents and maintaining the property.
For more information on CHL, contact:
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t 03 9856 0021 m 0430 555 241