Argyle Housing is a community-managed not-for-profit that works with all tiers of government – local, state and federal – to support vibrant regional communities with more affordable housing.
As one of the 10 community housing providers to benefit from NHFIC’s latest bond, Argyle Housing’s CEO Wendy Middleton shared with us how the lower-cost funding will provide more opportunities to support regional tenants on low to moderate incomes.
We have a different role to other community housing providers – we’re quite versatile in that we respond to the unique needs of regional communities.
One of our projects is in Griffith NSW, a major agricultural area known for its cotton and fruit growing industry. Many of the key workers in these industries have been priced out of Griffith, living in private sub-standard rentals with six to 10 people in a property. There just isn’t enough affordable housing.
Every week, you have busloads of workers coming into Griffith to work on the cotton farms, in the chicken factories, the seasonal fruit industry – leaving behind their families in neighbouring towns up to an hour away.
The local Council has been working with the community to develop an affordable housing strategy, and that’s where we’ve come in.
We’re contributing $3 million of our $12 million NHFIC loan to build 28 new houses in Griffith.
We’re also looking at new products around shared equity, giving people a chance to own their own piece of land.
These new dwellings will be a mixture of two and three-bedroom town houses, and we’re targeting those key workers in neighbouring communities, particularly those with families so they can relocate and establish themselves within the Griffith community.
Another project we’re working towards is Tolland in Wagga Wagga – an area with 95 per cent public housing and a complex mix of social issues including domestic violence, crime, drug and alcohol abuse.
There are children there up to 13-years-old who’ve never been through a school gate. We hope to be working with various providers and services, the local council and state government in this area.
With the loan from NHFIC, there will be the provision to provide supported housing for youth in the area, where youth unemployment sits at around 35 per cent.
Our vision for Wagga Wagga is very different to what we’re doing in Griffith – they both have unique community needs.
But what they have in common are committed councils who are working in partnership with the community and local service providers. The councillors are understanding more about what affordable housing is – in particular, in that it’s not just social housing – and once they understand that and appreciate the benefits of affordable housing, it makes the process of building a lot easier.
When you have a Council that’s really keen to work with a community housing provider, who looks at leveraging state/federal government funding to build and sustain better housing for people in their community – meaning they can stay in these regional areas and contribute to their local community – it just makes sense.
It’s a really good outcome for these regional areas – they’ve been through drought and more, but to have a Council that understands makes a real difference.
For me, working in regional areas is more rewarding than working in metro areas. At Argyle Housing, we’re about making small differences and that’s what this loan from NHFIC allows us to do – we want to provide affordable housing that we would want to live in ourselves and we aim to be an integral part of a community that impacts positive change.