CHASM Housing is a Queensland, community-based organisation that advocates for affordable housing solutions in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
We develop projects and conduct research to help increase the supply of affordable, quality, accessible, age-friendly homes to enable people to live in the neighbourhood of their choice.
We envisage a compassionate and sustainable community where everyone has a home they can afford.
CHASM Housing develops and implements solutions to increase the supply of small and affordable houses in Maleny and the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
Here's why we do what we do:
Early days of CHASM Housing and the Spare Rooms group, at Maleny Neighbourhood Centre, March 2016
CHASM Housing co-founder Julia Peddie receiving gifts from Maleny Rotary club president, March 2017
CHASM Housing co-founder Marg McKenzie receiving a $250 donation from Rotary for the Emergency Housing Fund during Homeless Person's Week, August 2017
Julia Peddie presenting at the Community Consultation session at MNC, September 2017
Julia Peddie, Cynthia Daniels and Margie Richter receiving $2000 grant on behalf of CHASM Housing for The Small House Project's solar panels, January 2018
HOW WE STARTED
In July and September 2015, the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre (MNC) conducted two Housing Conversations with over 50 attendees each (reports available from MNC). Attendees included many concerned community members, service club representatives, housing service workers, government officials, the local council member, and state MP. CHASM Housing emerged from this community consultation process, under the acronym of CHASM – Compassionate Housing Affordability Solutions Maleny, with the aim of addressing the issue of housing affordability in the area.
THE HOUSING CRISIS
Like many areas of Australia, Maleny township and adjacent rural areas experience high levels of demand for affordable housing which cannot be met by existing housing stock. In recent years as property prices have increased so too have rental rates. Escalating property prices lead to many dwellings that were previously part of the affordable rental pool no longer being available at modest rental rates. While this rapid ‘gentrification’ has increased the population of wealthy retirees, it has knocked first-home buyers, particularly young families, out of the affordable housing market.
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland has one of the tightest rental markets in the state, according to the state’s peak real estate body Real Estate Institute Queensland (REIQ), with a vacancy rate of 0.9%, as revealed in the March quarter 2016 Vacancy Rate Report. While this may be good news for landlords, non-home-owners are forced to pay high rents or must leave the area. Figures also show that in 2011, the Hinterland’s vacancy rate was 9.4% demonstrating a rapid shift in the Hinterland rental market over a five-year period. The group affected is predominantly made up of young families, low-waged and middle-income workers and single adults in their later years.
LONG-TERM LEASE AGREEMENTS
Australia has some of the weakest tenancy laws in the OECD (see table below). 6-12 month leases leave Australia's renters with no security of tenure, while no-fault terminations add to their housing stress.
Moving home is expensive, disruptive and exhausting. A lack of secure tenure further discriminates against an already vulnerable group of people paying exorbitant rents.
CHASM Housing encourages landholders to enter into long-term lease agreements to provide much needed security of tenure in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
ITS ABOUT SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY
Tourism and the arts are major employers in the region. Residents working in these industries often have fluctuating incomes making it difficult for them to afford the high rents which are now a reality in the region.
If they are forced to relocate, they take their labour, spending power and creativity to other locations where affordable housing is available, leaving Maleny’s reputation as a scenic destination with a vibrant alternative community under threat.
Because of the township’s geographic location and limited public transport options, these people must travel long distances and utilise private motor vehicles to maintain employment, school enrolments, and community connections vital for the economic and social health of the township.
NO GOVERNMENT SOCIAL HOUSING INTENDED FOR HINTERLAND
At an April 2016 Hinterland Welfare Network meeting it was determined that there are no plans at state or local government level to address the affordable housing issue in the Maleny area. The reasons given for this were that transport is inadequate and that Maleny is perceived as a wealthy area that does not need to be provided with any assistance.
The view at the planning level appears to be that it would be better for people who are unable to find moderately priced accommodation to relocate to areas with higher levels of service provision.
This view ignores and threatens the Hinterland’s social and economic sustainability.
Without affordable housing, Maleny stands to lose its service workers, creative industries, school enrolments, family ties and community connections. To maintain its social diversity the Maleny community are developing innovative housing initiatives to address the issues, beginning with a community home-building project to be distributed throughout the area.
 REIQ Residential Vacancy Rates, https://www.reiq.com/REIQ_Docs/Research/SEPTEMBER_2016_VACANCY_RATES.pdf
CHASM Housing acknowledges the Kabi Kabi & Jinabirra people, the traditional custodians, present, past and future, of the land where we live.