Our History

1986: The Early Days

PPHA has its roots in the political activism of a local community wanting to retain affordable housing options in a rapidly gentrifying city. Compared with the neighbouring suburbs of South Melbourne and Port Melbourne, St Kilda had a relatively low level of public housing but a high level of housing need.

In the mid-eighties, over 60% of St Kilda residents were tenants, many of them low-income, elderly and vulnerable to eviction, particularly as flats were progressively strata-titled. St Kilda had virtually no public housing and its 120 rooming houses, one of the highest concentrations in Australia, were closing rapidly.

Groups like the St Kilda Resident Action Group, Save St Kilda and Turn The Tide were born out of concerns that traditional residents were being forced out and changing the character of their beloved suburb.

Community pressure was applied to the former City of St Kilda to stop the loss of affordable housing. In 1985 the St Kilda Community Housing Program was established to provide secure and affordable community rental housing for local residents with long-term links to the area and who were eligible for public housing. The program became a tangible expression of a community culture supportive of social diversity and inclusiveness.

The success of the Program led in 1986 to the establishment of St Kilda Housing Association (now Port Phillip Housing Association) with one part-time employee and two properties, to manage the properties and tenancies of the council housing program. The Association was an initiative of the St Kilda Council (now Port Phillip Council) and its aim was to take positive action to counter the shrinking supply of affordable housing available to long-standing, low-income residents of the municipality.

PPHA, as it is known today, is that product of massive social agitation around housing affordability in St Kilda.

800 9.09 Karen Barnett early c 1990sWhen Karen Barnett started work for the St Kilda Housing Association in 1990, she had a table and chair, a portable typewriter and a second-hand, four drawer filing cabinet but for a while, she used only one drawer.



In 1994 the former Cities of St Kilda, South Melbourne and Port Melbourne amalgamated, becoming the City of Port Phillip and in 1996 the Council resolved to continue its direct provision and development of community housing..


In 2001 the St Kilda Housing Association changed its name to PPHA reflecting its role across the amalgamated City of Port Phillip.

Also in 2001 PPHA purchased John Cribbes House, a revamped RSL nursing home, it was opened by Bronwyn Pike, the Minister for Housing, despite a concerted campaign from some (but by no means all) of the neighbours who appealed unsuccessfully to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

800 AlbionStreet Ripponlea2001

Launch of John Cribbes House in Albion Street, Ripponlea in 2001. John Cribbes’s widow, Janet, in centre with daughter Grace. Cr Liz Johnstone holds Harmonie Cribbes. 


In 2004 Council established the Port Phillip Housing Trust as the ownership vehicle for Council’s community housing assets.  


In 2005, newly registered and one of only 5 affordable housing agencies in Victoria, PPHA was appointed Trustee of the Port Phillip Housing Trust.

Having established PPHA as a company to allow for expansion opportunities outside the City of Port Phillip, at the time of registration, PPHA owned and managed a total of 331 properties: 254 properties through the Port Phillip Housing Trust and 77 properties through ‘the company’ (PPHA Ltd).

800 4.07 PPHA 20th anniversary 2006 Paul Bolt Gary Spivak John Broderick

PPHA celebrated its 20th birthday in 2006. Paul Bolt (Chair), Gary Spivak (Port Phillip Housing Development Officer) & John Broderick (Board member) cut the cake.

2007: PPHA’s first venture outside the City of Port Phillip 

The Association successfully tendered to own and manage 82 of the units at the ex-Commonwealth Games Village in Parkville.


The Association spread its wings even further, extending out to McKinnon with the purchase of land from Glen Eira Council. Part of the 27 unit development involved a partnership with the MS Society to develop accommodation for people in the advanced stages of multiple sclerosis. 


PPHA was awarded the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway project tender – the first time in Victoria’s history that a housing association had taken the lead in the development and delivery of a large-scale social housing and community regeneration project involving Director of Housing-owned land. 

800 AshwoodChadstoneGateway2009

Premier John Brumby officially launched the Ashwood Chadstone Gateway in 2009. Pictured here with Karen Barnett (PPHA CEO), Anne Tuohey (Board member) and Bob Stensholt (Member for Burwood).


Six new development projects were completed and the development at Ashwood was well under way. It was a particularly busy time for PPHA delivering 289 new affordable homes across 4 municipalities. The Association’s total property portfolio grew to 822 units.


PPHA completed the largest housing development by a not-for-profit in Victoria. The Ashwood Chadstone Gateway Project totalled 288 units: 78 units were sold privately and 210 were retained for community housing.  

2016 and beyond...

PPHA celebrates 30 years of housing locals, publishing HOUSING FIRST a path to social justice, the story of community activism and the Port Phillip Housing Association.

Following the purchase of City Gate Apartments and 13 new apartments under the Rapid Housing, Family Violence and Homelessness initiatives, PPHA is continuing to seek opportunities to expand its portfolio of affordable housing for people in their local community.

PPHA’s current property portfolio of 1146 properties is valued at over $300 million.