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Social impact

Social impact

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Housing affordability is spiralling out of control but winner of the 2024 HIA Australian Professional Medium Builder/Renovator award, St Joseph Affordable Homes, emerges as a beacon of hope. It’s pioneering innovative solutions combat homelessness and housing stress.

Liz Barrett

Senior Content Producer

The word ‘changemaker’ is thrown around these days, but St Joseph Affordable Homes fits the title when it comes to creating meaningful change. This remarkable social enterprise has a dual purpose: to provide substantial and sustainable employment opportunities for young, Tasmanians with barriers to employment while simultaneously addressing the pressing need for affordable housing.

Launched in association with the Catholic Church in Hobart in 2020, St Joseph Affordable Homes has received national recognition for various initiatives. So, it's unsurprising that the company was awarded 2023 HIA Tasmanian Professional Medium Builder/Renovator at a regional level and at the HIA Housing Awards in May, taking out the title of 2024 HIA-CSR Australian Professional Medium Builder/Renovator.

Through its innovative training programs and collaborations with community housing organisations, St Joseph Affordable Homes is building homes and laying the foundations for a more equitable and sustainable future for all Australians. Commenting on the company and its ethos, the HIA judges noted that staying true to its mission and values is the cornerstone of its success. And it's evident that they clearly understand why the team is in business and the impact they want to make in the world.

St Joseph Affordable Homes team.

When speaking with Cody Burdon, Acting Chief Executive Officer of St Joseph Affordable Homes, he said of the win, 'The team are overwhelmed with pride and excitement in receiving this award. It's a phenomenal achievement after just four years of operation.'

To date, the organisation has built more than 300 quality residential homes and employed 85 staff members, including 40 apprentices and trainees across nine trades. 'In such a short time, we have created a unique and successful social enterprise model. We are very proud of what we have achieved so far.'

Cody Burdon, Acting CEO, St Joseph Affordable Homes.
In such a short time, we have created a unique and successful social enterprise model. We are very proud of what we have achieved so far.
Cody Burdon, Acting CEO

St Joseph Affordable Homes was established in 2020 during the peak of COVID-19. The pandemic was the catalyst for the dual purpose. Cody recounts, 'At that time, access to skilled trades was a significant challenge. To help mitigate this risk into the future, we expanded our directly employed trade base.’

They have since implemented various initiatives, including a partnership with the Build Up Tassie program, which provides coaching, mentoring and employment opportunities for young Tasmanians.

St Joseph carpentry apprentice, Lukas.
St Joseph Affordable Housing Solutions.

However, supporting young people requires dedicated effort. Cody explains, 'Some of the young people have overcome homelessness and housing stress, become disengaged from education, involved with the justice system, turned to drug and alcohol use, suffered from gender inequality or cultural discrimination before becoming engaged with St Joseph Affordable Homes.'

Providing stable employment, support and training became the ultimate solution to combat the skills shortage. 'We are so proud of the people working within our organisation. We currently employ 40 apprentices and trainees, not only providing the construction industry with skilled workers from a previously untapped workforce but also positively changing the lives of the young people and those around them.’

Apprentices (L-R): Max, Amaya, Jackson and Kwot.
Working hard onsite is plumbing apprentice, Shanyqua.

Additionally, their collaboration with community housing organisations and the launch of their Environmental Sustainability Plan reflects their commitment to tackling the affordable housing challenge from multiple angles. 'Our mission and purpose are what drives our work. We have dual priorities and are committed to providing employment opportunities for young people, as well as affordable, sustainable and accessible homes. But this dedication feeds into the fabric of the workplace culture as well,’ says Cody. 'We are a welcoming and inclusive organisation. We focus on creating positive outcomes in all we do.'

Having seen so much success in such a short time, Cody advises on how to thrive in our industry: 'Relationships with trades, suppliers and industry are crucial to a successful operation. Since day one, we have invested significant time and effort into building strong relationships with our partners and looked to hire the right people for success.'

Apprentices at the St Joseph Affordable Homes quarterly industry breakfast.

Not one to rest on its laurels, the company has begun some exciting new plans. 'We are set to diversify in the near future to continue providing positive outcomes for Tasmanians. We are in the process of acquiring and setting up a joinery workshop and exploring opportunities in modular construction,' Cody shares. 'This will not only deliver more high-quality social and affordable homes into the market but provide further opportunities for young people looking to enter diverse areas of the construction industry.'

For more information, visit St Joseph Affordable Homes.

First published 1 July 2024

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