To create stronger communities by:
- Reducing social and economic disadvantage for people in high need by providing housing and related resources.
- Building the capacity of our tenants to effectively participate in their communities.
- Developing and sustaining effective partnerships by making strategic links and working collaboratively with other housing providers and community service providers.
- Ensuring Metro operates within the highest standards of governance, performance and corporate citizenship.
A Snapshot of our Organisation
Metro Community Housing is one of 30 registered community housing providers in NSW that receives funding from the Community Housing Division of Housing NSW.
Metro was established in 1983 under the Community Tenancy Scheme program to provide subsidised housing to people living in the Marrickville Local Government area. From its inception until January 2007, we were called Marrickville Area Community Housing. The name was changed to Metro Community Housing following a merger with Resamen Men’s Housing.
Where do we operate?
We have properties in 19 local government areas of Sydney but the majority are located in the inner west metro area – primarily in Ashfield, Canterbury, Leichhardt, Marrickville and City of Sydney Local Government areas.
How are we accountable?
- Metro is a Registered Class 2 Housing provider. Registration is undertaken annually to demonstrate that all aspects of our operations comply with the performance standards set by the independent Registrar of Community Housing.
- As a Co-operative we provide detailed financial and governance data to the NSW Registry of Co-operatives, (Department of Fair Trading) annually, hold an Annual General Meeting at which members of the co-operative are able to nominate and elect the members of the Board of Directors.
- We report to our funding body on a quarterly and annual basis in relation to key performance data such as the management of arrears and vacancy rates (tenancy management), maintenance planning expenditure (protection of our assets) and our overall financial position.
- Metro has also undertaken independent external accreditation and has been fully accredited by GlobalMark, a specialist quality assurance organisation, for a three year period from January 2010.
What do we do?
Metro provides affordable, secure housing to people on low incomes who meet income eligibility criteria set by Housing NSW. We manage 90 properties owned by Housing NSW and 260 leasehold properties rented on the private market and sublet by our tenants. We also provide fee for service tenancy management to two organisations.
Who do we house?
- Metro is a generalist social housing association but our Objects of Association were amended in 2007 to include a requirement to allocate approximately 113rd of our tenancies to single men.
- On average, 70% of tenancies are for tenants housed on a permanent or long term basis with the remainder allocated to transitional tenancies (maximum term 24 months) for people nominated by our support partners.
- Transitional tenancies assist clients who require short-medium term assistance to prevent homelessness when exiting in-patient psychiatric services, crisis refuges, drug and alcohol programs, or the criminal justice system.
- Our Strategic Plan for 2011-16 commits us to increasing tenancies offered through support partnership nominations for those in high need from 25% to 40% by 2014.
How are we governed?
- We are incorporated as a not-for-profit, Co-operative with Public Benevolent status. Membership of the co-operative is made up of persons with an interest in community housing or the provision of housing to low income earners, including our tenants who wish to be “active” members.
- The elected Board of Directors oversee strategic planning and ensure we meet our fiduciary and regulatory responsibilities to the public and to our funding body.
- The day to day management of the organisation is the responsibility of the Manager with oversight from the Chairperson.
About the Board of Directors
- Metro’s Board consists of 8 independent Directors, half of whom stand for election at each Annual General Meeting. Our current board members have a mix of skills in law, disability advocacy, public administration, community support, financial and strategic management, property development and project management.
- The Board meets every month to monitor the implementation of the Strategic, Business, and Risk Management Plans which provide the framework for our operations. Their role is to ensure the good governance and financial viability of the organisation.
Our Strategic Objectives
The Metro Board and Management began 2011 by undertaking a comprehensive review of the organisation, its competencies and our future strategic direction. Directors were satisfied that Metro was a well-run, financially sound organisation, but the board wanted to enhance Metro’s prospects and ensure we were well positioned to take advantage of the growth opportunities available in the community housing sector.
The Board agreed that our organisational vision is to “house more people in need” and our target for the period 2011-2016 is
- to house 3 times the current number of people by 2016
- to increase by 3 times the surplus funds we generate for re-investment
The outcome of the review helped the board to clarify its vision, identify achievable targets and put in place the right strategies to achieve these objectives. The analysis of our operations by NFP Consulting identified several areas in which Metro demonstrated considerable expertise and building on these core competencies, our current operational plan focuses on growing these areas of our business.
When we developed the current Strategic Plan in early 2011, 25% of Metro tenancies were allocated to clients nominated by support partnerships. Throughout 2011 Metro put significant resources into improving processes for collaboration with partner agencies as an essential component of our objective to increase the number of supported tenancies by 5% per annum (40% by 2014). Metro is on target to meet this objective and believe we have in place the appropriate structures to work effectively with partner agencies to house those in greatest need.
Metro Community Housing has increased the number of our capital properties by 10% since determining our future strategy for growth. This increase came largely through the Lease Transfer program where smaller community support providers with Housing NSW properties indicated their willingness to form a partnership with Metro and obtain approval from Community Housing Division to transfer the leases to us.
Metro is currently examining opportunities to purchase a small number of properties on an annual basis, with the purchase costs being met out of existing cash reserves and through bank financing. We have developed an acquisition brief and are currently reviewing acquisition strategies. We will engage consultants to identify and conduct the initial negotiations in relation to the purchase of suitable properties.
Metro has a clear vision, an identified set of targets and a strategy to achieve these targets. Our board is committed to ensuring we remain a financially sound organisation, focused on moderate achievable growth and providing high quality tenancy management.
Metro Community Housing Co-operative Ltd
Opportunities and Initiatives
Helping our tenants to gain employment
In 2011 we introduced a tenant scholarship program allowing tenants to obtain financial assistance to enrole or continue in vocational training programs and a number of tenants have utilised this scheme for course fees, textbooks and materials.
Metro was successful in our submission for a community development grant offered by the Community Housing Division of Housing NSW and these funds are being used for a collaborative project with Fair Repairs, a subsidiary of Fair business Australia. Fair Repairs is a social business enterprise that provides training, support and employment opportunities for individuals who have been long term unemployed.
Fair Repairs will provide the mentoring, training and support to encourage a successful transition back into employment and Metro will provide work opportunities for Fair Repairs and further training options through our preexisting scholarship program. We recently held a successful information session with tenants interest in employment and are in the process of developing a MOU with Fair Repairs.
Helping our tenants to sustain their tenancies
The other component of the partnership with Fair repairs is the provision of an early intervention program to tenants in at-risk tenancies including a mentor and support model to enable tenants to develop better property care, and a targeted tenant employment scheme to help meet the maintenance/cleaning and gardening needs of Metro Community Housing.
Helping the environment
During the 2010/2011 we have been working in partnership with Sustainable Action Values Everyone (SAVE), and our local government partners – the City of Sydney and City of Canterbury – on a pilot project called ‘Sustainability on a Shoestring’ targeting low income and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. The program has provided information, education, support and mentorship in order to reduce participants energy usage.
Amy McMurtrie, Metro Housing Project Officer, says of the Sustainability on a Shoestring project
A recent evaluation of the project to date has shown that not only are tenants engaging with the information at a high level, but they are also becoming peer educators in their communities. The tenants have created strong connections within the group, supporting and modelling other skills and knowledge outside of group workshops and making substantial energy savings.