The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has published the new Commissioners Interpretation Statement for Housing.
The statement has defined poverty as the ‘inability to provide, from within one’s own resources, a modest standard of living in the Australian community’.
It also acknowledges the 30/40 ‘rule’ is a reasonable measure for assessing housing stress. It accepts that setting an individual’s rent according to this rule is ‘likely to be consistent with a charitable purpose of providing housing for the relief of poverty and not unjustified private benefit’.
This helps remove some of the grey areas for affordable rental housing. Also it has provided guidance on what the ACNC will consider when determining whether a shared home ownership (or ‘shared equity’) scheme would be considered charitable housing. The previous version left the interpretation to the discretion of the individual ACNC analyst. The Commissioners Interpretation Statement (CIS) also makes the link to the Public Benevolent Institution (PBI) status. It notes some charitable housing organisations will also be eligible for PBI status if their business ‘is organised, conducted for, or promotes the relief of poverty, sickness, disability, destitution, suffering, misfortune or helplessness’.
It remains unclear what, if any difference, there is in housing considered charitable and that consistent with PBI status. The PBIS CIS is under review provides an opportunity to engage with the ACNC so that the new version is informed by an understanding of housing needs and the policy and funding environment.
We would like to acknowledge the work of the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) in this area.
Read the full Commissioner’s Interpretation Statement here.