3 May 2023

New Build-to-Rent-to-Buy pilot scheme to give young women a 'fair crack at happiness' and home ownership

| Claire Fenwicke
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Build to Rent to Buy pilot program announcement

Federal Housing Minister Julie Collins, CHC CEO Andrew Hannan, ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry and Ginninderry Project Director Stephen Harding at the announcement of the Build-to-Rent-to-Buy pilot program. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Employed single Canberra women under the age of 45 will soon have another pathway into buying a home under a new pilot program.

The ACT and Commonwealth governments announced up to 22 affordable long-term rentals will be built in Ginninderry as part of a jointly funded Build-to-Rent-to-Buy scheme.

The mix of one, two and three-bedroom homes will be made available to single women in secure work, whose incomes mean they have little or no deposit to buy a home.

Rents would be capped at less than 75 per cent of the market rate, with the option to buy the home at the end of the 10-year lease.

Housing Minister Yvette Berry said the number of women who fit this category in Canberra was “significant”.

“What we’ve been doing over the years is focusing on those different groups of individuals who have had the most need,” she said.

“We’ve identified that for young women who are in a job, getting the equity that they need to purchase a home is just beyond their means.

“Particularly for key workers who might not be earning the same kind of incomes that people need these days to get a decent loan to get into a home and have that fair crack at happiness.”

When asked what kind of working women this could help, Ms Berry said it could include frontline workers.

Negotiations have been continuing with publicly paid workers, including Transport Canberra city workers, teachers and building service officers.

“We’re looking forward to having those agreements agreed to by those in that workforce, and there will be wage increases,” Ms Berry said.

“However, a single woman on a lower to moderate income, for them to be able to build that equity, they need a hand up, and that’s what this provides.”

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Community Housing Canberra (CHC) conceived the idea and put it forward for government funding, with the Ginninderry making the land available.

CEO Andrew Hannan said what made this project unique was that it included an inbuilt pathway for a renter to one day own the home they were leasing.

“In terms of what ‘good’ looks like for this pilot, it’s eligible women entering the program, then for a period of five to 10 years they benefit from safe, secure, affordable rental accommodation, enabling their own savings to grow, and then are able to exercise an option to purchase and are equipped to do so with a 20 per cent deposit,” he said.

“This deposit will comprise of their own savings, with a target of any gap to be met by the program through its design, which has occupied a lot of our time over the past 12 months.”

Build to Rent to Buy render

The pilot program consists of up to 22 one, two and three-bedroom homes for employed women under the age of 45. Photo: Mather Architecture.

Mr Hannan said CHC had come up with the concept due to the struggles they saw young women, particularly with children, were experiencing when trying to enter the housing market.

“It’s just the scale of need. For this particular cohort, it’s very challenging for them to get into homeownership,” he said.

“To have the ability to support that, to make it happen, and get some learnings from this pilot, and to then be able to apply it more broadly across the country – both ourselves and others – that was a big driver.”

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The project received $7.14 million from the Federal Government through the National Housing Infrastructure Fund (NHIF) and a $4.5 million grant from the ACT Government.

It’s the first project in the Territory approved under the NHIF scheme.

The development application is still being considered, but construction’s expected to begin in December.

Federal Housing Minister Julie Collins said this was the type of project that could be made possible and more widely available through the Housing Australia Future Funding Bill, which is before the Senate.

“If you can imagine where we’re able to have projects like this coming through each and every year, as that fund is there in perpetuity, with returns going into more social and affordable rental homes across Australia [if the Bill passes],” she said.

“Too many women across Australia don’t have access to safe and secure housing. This is the first step in changing that for women in Canberra.”

Ms Collins confirmed this project was not dependent on the Bill passing the Senate.

The announcement couldn’t come at a better time, with the Reserve Bank yesterday increasing the official cash rate by 0.25 per cent to 3.85 per cent – an 11-year high.

State and territory housing ministers are meeting with their national counterpart today (3 May) to discuss renters’ rights and create more consistency across the country.

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Big announcement to help just 22 women. Are we supposed to be impressed? More people need help.

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