28/01/2009 - 22:00

Bethanie’s new neighbourhood

28/01/2009 - 22:00

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CLAREMONT-BASED The Bethanie Group has become the state's latest certified community housing provider.

Bethanie’s new neighbourhood

CLAREMONT-BASED The Bethanie Group has become the state's latest certified community housing provider.

The certification will help the residential and community aged care provider undertake a number of property developments in an agreement where the government will provide 85 per cent of the construction costs, with Bethanie providing the land, remaining construction costs and the management of the housing.

Under the agreement, the Department for Housing and Works will provide the names of prospective tenants from the public housing waiting list, which stands at 19,000 people.

The department is negotiating the final equity in the housing developments with Bethanie, which plans to develop 96 apartments in Mandurah.

The Bethanie Group is the fourth community housing provider to be certified since the initiative was launched in 2007, following Southern Cross Care (WA) Inc, Access Housing Australia Ltd, and Foundation Housing Ltd.

The Bethanie Group chief executive Wayne Belcher said it was a natural progression for the organisation to move into the social housing sector, particularly amid growing concerns over stringent government regulations regarding residential aged care capital raising capacity.

"This formal agreement will enable us to undertake many more projects which will also facilitate our delivery of community aged and home care packages directly into the homes of tenants, where it is most needed," he said.

The Bethanie Group has established a wholly owned subsidiary company, Bethanie Housing Ltd, to undertake the public housing work.

Housing and Works Minister Troy Buswell said registered community housing providers such as Bethanie had access to government funding under the State Community Housing Investment Program (SCHIP) and the Public Housing Leasing Program.

In 2007, the Carpenter government announced a funding boost of $413 million over four years for more affordable public, community and social housing.

About $210 million of this funding has been directed to SCHIP, which provides the community housing sector with an opportunity to grow, and to perform a more significant and strategic role in the delivery and management of housing within an integrated social housing system.

SCHIP operates under a government-regulated framework of the community housing sector, which aims to ensure key service outcomes are achieved, that public and private money is used effectively and efficiently, benchmark service standards are achieved, and that there is transparency and accountability among community housing providers.

"By registering, organisations are able to apply to participate in housing projects with the department, effectively creating a partnership and a dual source of funding for the social housing sector," Mr Buswell told WA Business News.

Under the program, non-government not-for-profit organisations have the ability to leverage private finance on their equity share of projects, allowing them to access additional funding that will be used for the social housing sector.

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