Community housing merger set to shake up the sector
7 December 2020 at 5:55 pm
Two of Australia’s leading community housing providers are joining forces next year
Link Housing and Wentworth Community Housing have announced they are merging to form one of the largest community housing providers in New South Wales, amid growing demand for affordable rentals across the state.
The two organisations signed a merger agreement with the intention to formally become Link Wentworth Housing Ltd (Link Wentworth) on 31 March 2021.
Wentworth Community Housing CEO Stephen McIntyre said this merger was an exciting development for Wentworth and Link and the community housing sector.
“It will place us in a much stronger position to take advantage of opportunities that arise to expand the supply of housing and housing-related services,” McIntyre said.
“The most significant benefit of this merger is that we will be able to deliver more housing and services to the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
The providers said the decision to merge was based on a mutual understanding that they could achieve more by combining their operational scale and experience to help address the growing demand for affordable rentals in NSW.
This merger will make Link Wentworth one of the largest community housing providers in the state, managing more than 6,300 homes with about 10,000 residents and 200 staff.
The projected combined revenue of the new entity will be $85 million, while combined net assets sit in excess of $200 million.
Link Wentworth will be chaired by Mike Allen, an independent housing advisor who is the former CEO of Housing NSW.
Allen told Pro Bono News that while COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the sector, it was not a catalyst for the merger, with discussions underway well before the crisis.
“But what COVID has done is bring into sharper focus the housing needs of people in vulnerable situations, whether it’s the homeless or people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID,” Allen said.
“So it’s put a greater [emphasis] on the need for us to do even more than we’re doing now.”
Allen said the merger would also allow Link Wentworth to be a stronger advocate for vulnerable people on public policy issues.
He said this decision would have benefits not just for the organisation, but for the community housing sector in general.
“We want to leverage off our size and scale to have a bigger seat at the table and advocate more loudly for the needs of the people that we’re here to help,” he said.
“And the combined talents of the two organisations… we think will create some new energy for us and for the sector to help even more people.”