Community Housing Organisations (CHO) or Community Housing Providers (CHP) are not-for-profits, (NFP’s) community-based organisations and generally registered charities.

They provide social and affordable housing to people on very low, low or moderate incomes or people with additional needs.

Historically the terms CHO and CHP have been used interchangeably to refer to not-for-profits that provide community housing, with CHO more specifically being recognised as an organisation that only provides community housing e.g Housing Choices Australia and CHP as an organisation that provides community housing as part of a suite of other services e.g Uniting WA.

Need for Consolidated Sector Term

Shelter WA has been asked by the Department of Communities whether CHO or CHP should be used as the agreed sector representative term going forward to reduce discrepancies between government and sector policy and communication.

The Shelter WA Industry Strategy Group – Community Housing were consulted and indicated that they were not attached particularly strongly to either term thus it was decided that we would look more broadly at what term the sector was using at an Australasian level.

National Term Adopted

The Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) have adopted the term CHO over the past number of years to be a representative term for the Community Housing sector as whole. Some of the background influential factors behind this include;

  • In some jurisdictions such as Victoria ‘providers’ is used to describe smaller organisations i.e Tier 2 and Tier 3 registered not-for-profits that provide community housing so the Victorian sector strongly opposes the use of CHPs as a whole of sector representative term.
  • It has been widely accepted that in commentary CHO is a better suited term and flows better instead of saying Community Housing Providers (CHP’s) provide Housing when the acronym is not used.
  • Other commentators in the space have also expressed that ‘organisations’ better reflect the professional status of not-for-profits that provide community housing who develop and manage housing whereas ‘providers’ can sounds like they are gifting something.

Shelter WA’s View

In practice it is clear that across jurisdictions both terms may continue to be used interchangeably however Shelter WA has made the decision to align with the CHIA National Position and adopt the term ‘CHO’ in our communication and key messaging to represent not-for-profits that only provide community housing along with organisations that provide housing as part of a suite of services going forward.