Long term asset management planning – a must for Community Housing Providers

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Housing stress alarm bells

Across New Zealand and Australia, the social housing sector is under pressure. Findings from a new report by Equity Economics indicates that more than 9,000 more people in NSW will be homeless by June 2021 – a rise of 24.0 per cent in the homeless population. And that's just in NSW - some regions will see a 40.5 per cent increase.

Homelessness NSW CEO, Katherine McKernan, has stated that if the state wants to prevent those additional 9,000 people from needing homeless support, additional funding for social housing is needed. She's not the only one. Community Housing Industry Association NSW CEO, Mark Degotardi, said the Equity Economics report underscored the increasing need for investment in social housing.

"The large increases in housing stress and homelessness should sound alarm bells for the NSW Government," he said. "Tens of thousands of NSW families in housing stress need the Government to make urgent and significant investments in social housing."

According to the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), social housing needs throughout New Zealand are continually increasing, with more people experiencing a severe and immediate need. This demand is generated by a shortage of affordable housing driving up house prices and rents.

New Zealand has about 41,000 homeless, and of those, approximately 4,000 are rough sleepers out on the streets and in parks.

So what's clear is that the need for social housing is on the rise throughout Australasia. And it's not going un-noticed by government agencies. The Commonwealth and NSW governments have agreed to the rapid construction of more than 780 new social homes in Sydney, and the Victorian government will build 12,000 new homes designed for specific housing needs.

What this means for Community Housing Providers

While it's great news that government agencies across New Zealand and Australia have recognised and are responding to the need for increased investment in social housing, the various government responses will, however, create additional challenges for Community Housing Providers (CHPs). The new builds are essential, but CHPs still need to manage and fund the maintenance and upgrades of existing housing assets.

If their goal is to increase the value they deliver to the communities they serve, they must increase their focus on asset information management and longer term asset management planning. They need a clear understanding of how to choose the right projects at the right time for the right reasons, and achieving that requires a good methodology, data and systems.

Eight parts to effective asset management planning

With that in mind, we've recently developed a new white paper - A new era for social housing in Australia: is your CHP equipped for property lifecycle asset management? It looks at the eight parts a property lifecycle management system should incorporate to ensure effective asset management planning:

  1. Data is property centric
    Decisions are made, and work is planned at the property level. This means data also needs to be available at the property level.

  2. Component detail as a key to lifecycle forecasts
    This section looks at what your systems need to manage - typically, the components that can be maintained, renewed and replaced.

  3. Defect identification to drive repair programmes
    A look at what your system needs to manage in terms of defects, repair costs etc.

  4. Qualitative assessments - beyond condition
    Why your systems need to enable an inspector to assess non-condition standards.

  5. Developing a detailed scope with ‘schedule of rates’ for issuing work
    Inspectors can also scope the more immediate works needed using a separate reference library based on ‘schedule of rate’ work activities.

  6. Lifecycle Analytics providing insights into the future
    Why you need to be able to use the data in your system to conduct lifecycle analysis, condition forecasting, scenario modelling and qualitative analysis.

  7. Planning capability to move from asset level analysis to project level decision making
    How to use lifecycle information to generate an analysis, so you know what’s coming up over the next 10 to 20 years.

  8. Reporting using pre-formatted reports, dashboards and ‘telling asset-stories’
    This section looks at why the ‘story’ of your housing portfolio to your organisation is key to securing the right level of investment.

For some CHPs, these eight parts might not be familiar, because they go beyond maintenance and into assessments, analysis and planning. But it’s how CHPs can discover the information - and the tools - they need to better manage the lifecycle of their property portfolios - new and existing.

Looking ahead

SPM Assets are participating in a ground-breaking exercise to improve asset management in social housing across New Zealand and Australia. The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute is funding leading academic institutions including RMIT to develop a Social Housing Advanced Asset Management (SHAAM) framework. This framework will outline asset management processes and criteria for making decisions specific to the unique aspects of social housing. It will be designed to be used by different types of social housing providers, providing metrics to drive organisational excellence, and providing the basis for national regulation and policymaking.

The right tools for the job

Long and short term shifts in social housing across throughout Australasia are underway and their impact is being felt. If CHPs are going to respond effectively to them, managing the asset lifecycle of their property portfolio is essential. Like anything else, this is achieved by having the right tools for the job. Our asset management services and easy-to-use asset management cloud software help CHPs build a better understanding of their property portfolios and physical assets. Our solutions enable them to plan their projects and forecast more effectively, whilst achieving better outcomes for their communities.

To find out more about the eight parts of an ideal property lifecycle asset management software system, download our white paper -- A new era for social housing in Australia: is your CHP equipped for property lifecycle asset management?