19 January 2022

Ginninderry joins innovative housing initiative for vulnerable women

| Ian Bushnell
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Aerial view of Ginninderry development

The Ginninderry development is taking shape in West Belconnen and will eventually cross the border into NSW. Photo: File.

Canberra women struggling to keep a roof over their heads could soon benefit from an innovative housing proposal in Ginninderry that might eventually lead to them owning their own home.

The proposal involves a Build-to-Rent-to-Buy (BtRtB) model for at-risk and vulnerable women, one of the most needy groups in the ACT.

A deal between the Federal Government’s National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), the Ginninderry Joint Venture (the ACT Government’s Suburban Land Agency and Riverview Developments) and community housing provider Community Housing Canberra (CHC) will enable them explore the feasibility of the model during the next six months.

NHFIC, CHC and the Ginninderry Joint Venture will review and identify potential sites in Ginninderry – being developed in West Belconnen and across the border in NSW – and explore an appropriate funding model to support the initiative.

Should the pilot proceed, construction could commence later in 2022.

Under the proposal, a woman living in rental housing would pay affordable rent (at 74.9 per cent of market rent) to a community housing provider during a 10-year rental period.

In that time, the woman could benefit from a savings plan, created on her behalf and potentially funded by NHFIC’s lower cost of financing combined with the CHP’s operational efficiencies.

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At the end of the period, the woman has the option to buy the property, adjusting for her share in any capital growth, and also benefiting from the savings plan accumulated over 10 years.

NHFIC CEO Nathan Dal Bon said that if successful the model could be extended across Australia.

“With vulnerable women’s housing needs increasingly in focus, this initiative provides a great opportunity to explore affordable pathways to home ownership for at-risk women,” he said.

“We’re particularly excited that this bold initiative puts NHFIC at the forefront of housing finance innovation and could be leveraged more broadly to support vulnerable and at-risk women across Australia.”

Community Housing Canberra CEO Andrew Hannan said the model aims to provide employed women on low but secure incomes – who often have little or no deposit – with access to a safe, secure and affordable home with a built-in pathway to home ownership.

“The bundling is the key difference, and we believe we can deliver a greater and potentially generational impact for these women and their families,” he said.

“We see new enquiries every day from women of all ages, and it’s fantastic to think we can better address this massive unmet demand.”

ACT Minister for Housing and Suburban Development Yvette Berry said the initiative is a fantastic opportunity and supports the ACT Government’s commitment to putting housing first for people who need it.

“Our government has a long-held commitment to intervening where the housing market fails to provide for people in our community, and this MOU [memorandum of understanding] directly illustrates that,” she said.

“I am excited to see the new opportunities this collaboration will bring for this part of the community housing sector.”

Ginninderry Joint Venture project director Stephen Harding said the Joint Venture has always been committed to creating environmental, economic and social benefits for the community, and this partnership is a great way to continue that commitment.

“More importantly, we are pleased to partner with NHFIC and CHC to investigate how Ginninderry can assist in providing housing security for at-risk women,” he said.

NHFIC is a corporate Commonwealth entity that provides long-term and low-cost finance and assistance to registered community housing providers (CHPs) to support the provision of more social and affordable housing.

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