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Bridge CEO tells Middle East sector how to reach for the sky

Mon 04, Dec 2017

Bridge Housing CEO John Nicolades was a keynote speaker at the major annual housing sector conference in the Middle East over the weekend.

Speaking at the 7th Annual Nonprofit Sector Development Forum in Dammam ,Saudi Arabia “The Role of the Third Sector in Delivering and Improving Public Services:  Education, Health and Housing”,  John delivered a paper entitled: “Reach for the Sky: The emergence of the community housing sector in Australia.”

He outlined the housing affordability and supply crisis facing moderate to low income earners in Australia and the shortfall of housing to meet projected population growth in the coming years.

“Large state sector agencies are unwilling to divest housing to Community Housing Providers, and this goes to an absence of government policy at the federal and state level about the role of the CHO sector and questions about its capability,”he said.

“The challenge is for the sector to go beyond its current 1% of all residential dwelling supply and encourage governments to increase access to public land and make more effective use of the planning mechanisms.”

Despite the constraints, Bridge Housing has innovated to sustain growth and its future viability by:

  • Managing properties owned by the state housing authority
  • Leasing in the private rental market and subleasing to low income tenants
  • Owning properties through the Social Housing Initiative
  • Developing social and affordable properties for rent and sale (using NRAS funds)
  • Managing affordable housing for other agencies, such as the Sydney Olympic Park Authority and local councils
  • Undertaking community development and building.

The conference was organised by the Center of Excellence in the Development of Nonprofit Organization, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Attendees included Saudi Government officials, CSR executives, bankers, CEOs, administrators, employers, and volunteers of NPOs and NGOs.

The new 2030 Saudi vision sets a new agenda for a thriving and diversified economy in Saudi Arabia and emphasizes the role of the Saudi nonprofit sector and the importance of expanding the number of NPOs operating in Saudi Arabia by building their capacity to conduct programs with profound and long-term social impact.

Achieving this vision requires: 1) developing new legislative and regulatory frameworks that empower the nonprofit sector in Saudi Arabia, 2) promote the growth of the nonprofit sector and diversify its services 3) building a strong workforce for the Saudi nonprofit sector and endearing the nonprofit market to fresh graduates and 4) leveraging the Saudi philanthropic capital and utilizing it to generate strong social and environmental impact.  


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