Housing Choices Australia’s (HCA) staff may have been working from home since the end of March but the organisation is still working together to assist tenants during the pandemic.
HCA is utilising Microsoft Teams to continue its workflow and connectivity. Some teams are hosting ‘Virtual Friday Night Drinks’ via video conferencing, and the Melbourne office is having a ‘Zoom Trivia Night’ tonight with exciting prizes to be won.
Although ‘walk in’ appointments aren’t going ahead at the moment, residents can still meet with the Housing Team by scheduling an appointment and several staff are coming into the offices on a rotating roster.
Emails and letters have been sent to residents notifying them of changes to the organisation during this time. To keep connected with our residents, we are still publishing the ‘Home Stories’ resident newsletter for all of the states. The newsletters include useful COVID-19 links and resources, puzzles and brainteasers to keep things fun, as well as resident stories of how they are getting creative and managing social isolation.
Housing Officers have also been contacting all residents in their portfolio to touch base with them and to see how they are coping in these difficult times. We have increased engagement with our support partners and the NDIS, and linked residents with varied support agencies (new and old).
This week the ‘Darebin Food Share Program’ kicked off. HCA Victoria’s Community Development Team partnered with The Bridge (Preston Neighbourhood House) to enable us to distribute pre-cooked meals to our residents in Darebin.
The meals are being provided by FareShare, a community organisation that rescues surplus food and turns it into nutritious meals for people doing it tough. Their motto is ‘Rescue, Cook, Feed.’ On Monday 11 May, a group of HCA staff collected, packed and delivered over 200 nutritious, pre-cooked frozen meals to support our residents at over 60 different addresses.
We are also providing food vouchers, offering to cover medical bill costs and making payments of up to $200 for utility bills to help residents impacted by the pandemic.
The organisation has introduced COVID-19 Special Leave, which grants up to 10 days additional leave for staff who are dealing with the impacts of Coronavirus. Our Intranet page is updated with a ‘COVID-19’ panel where staff can find useful resources. There, information on COVID-19 Special Leave can be found, resources for working from home, a link to the Employee Assistance Program which offers free counselling, and a content bank of all the communications sent to staff and residents.