Haven; Home, Safe quick to pivot

Haven: Home, Safe was quick to pivot its service provision when Covid-19 struck.

All employees who can, are now working from home for the foreseeable future. Those involved in, or supporting, critical operations have continued to attend their normal workplace with processes in place to help protect them and Haven’s clients. That includes operating robust protocols for health and hand hygiene, increased cleaning procedures, workplace access restrictions, social distancing, and the introduction of tele-consults.

A Virtual Concierge and tele-consult service has been installed at its Preston, Bendigo and Mildura offices.

‘The Virtual Concierge staff member welcomes clients, directs them to interview rooms, answers queries, provides assistance and schedules appointment,’ says Haven’s Communications and Marketing Director Sue Masters.

Haven’s website has been revamped, as has its intranet, HomeBase, which has a wide resource of state and federal government resources in web links and PDFs. There is tailored content for staff, with items for distribution for clients and tenants.

Staff contacted more than 500 vulnerable clients to keep them informed about Haven’s service delivery during the pandemic, using a telephone template to ensure the calls covered all required subjects in a consistent and informative way. Staff had to assess what information clients needed to ensure they fully understood the seriousness of the actions they need to take.

Haven has also launched a housing sector webinar series, Life in Lockdown, with the third  held on Friday featuring Canadian Jim Steele, the CEO of Windsor Essex Community Housing Corporation.

Windsor Essex CHC is the fourth largest social housing provider in Ontario with 4708 homes housing about 12,000 seniors, parents, children, singles, and persons with special needs. Click here to view the webinar or go to Haven’s Facebook page.

UK social housing provider to share COVID experience

Hear how one of the UK’s largest social housing providers is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic at a free webinar hosted by Haven: Home, Safe later today.

Haven; Home, Safe CEO Ken Marchingo AM will facilitate the webinar, featuring Incommunities’ Group Chief Executive Geraldine Howley OBE.

Geraldine leads one of the largest social housing providers in the United Kingdom with over 22,600 homes in Bradford District and West and South Yorkshire.

Since 2003, Geraldine has led an organisation which has invested over £400 million modernising and building new homes and transforming neighbourhoods.

Geraldine is a member of the International Housing Partnership and was made a Doctor of the University of Bradford for her outstanding contribution to housing across the district. She also received a national Women in Housing Landmark Achievement Award for her inspiring leadership.

Register in advance for this webinar.


VCAT hearings to be held via phone

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) yesterday announced it will begin conducting hearings via telephone due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

‘In the interests of public safety and in an effort to implement social distancing measures, VCAT has moved to conducting hearings by telephone. As a result, VCAT venues will be closed to the public until further notice.

‘No face-to-face hearings have been scheduled for Wednesday 18 March 2020, and all non-critical matters have been adjourned for the time being. Residential Tenancies and Guardianship matters (and a small number of other critical matters) will be heard by telephone.

‘We are working hard to expand the range of matters that can be heard by telephone as soon as possible,’ the announcement noted.

Why you need to care about the care economy

Images of jobs and the economy are overwhelmed by pictures of hard hats, half built bridges and tunnels, and even freshly built submarines and naval vessels. Our imaginations are full of jobs “for the boys”. Yet the fastest growing part of the economy is the care economy that is dominated by women: jobs in health care and social assistance are now the largest industry segment, by a long way. And they are tipped to grow just as rapidly in the years ahead. These jobs don’t just include work in hospitals and health care centres. They also involve work in disability, aged care, child care, family services, mental health services, and so on. Critically, they also involve the social housing sector.

This training session on the care economy is vital for managers and directors, and aspiring leaders, who will discover how to think strategically about their organisation…including recruitment and retention.

The session will be led by David Hayward, Emeritus Professor of Public Policy and the Social Economy  at RMIT University.

Click here for details and to book.

Wed 1 April 2020

9.30 AM – 11 AM  
CHIA Vic, 1/128 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Consultation on Melb affordable housing begins

CHIA Vic’s CEO Roberta Buchanan attended the City of Melbourne’s Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting on Tuesday to speak in support of the council’s draft Affordable Housing Strategy. With the meeting endorsing the draft, a period of public consultation on the draft Affordable Housing Strategy has begun and members are encouraged to take part.

The strategy’s goal is to increase the supply of appropriate and accessible affordable rental housing in the City of Melbourne.

The strategy has identified four priorities:

  1. Advocate for mandatory inclusionary zoning.
  2. Develop affordable rental housing on City of Melbourne land.
  3. Strengthen internal affordable housing processes.
  4. Advocate and partner for affordable housing.

Learn more in the draft strategy overview and have your say in the online survey. You can also attend one of the pop-up feedback sessions or email a written submission.

The consultation closes Sunday 5 April.

Maximise your income

There has never been a more challenging time to be a social landlord. One in eight adults in Australia experienced severe or high financial stress during 2017.  Rent debt is increasing across the sector and escalation procedures for arrears recovery are leading to a higher volume of evictions.

CHIA Vic will run a workshop that asks two valuable questions:

  1. Are we using the most effective means possible to encourage our tenants to engage with us?
  2. Are we using the most cost-effective means possible to increase income?

Attendees will consider best practice from both Australia and abroad in respect of developing a rent payment culture, sustaining tenancies, maximising the rent we charge and maximising the rent we collect and will be provided with the framework to evaluate existing processes and formulate new strategies for maximising income

Date :          Tues 10 March 2020
Time:           9.30 AM – 4:00 PM (morning tea and lunch provided)  
Venue:        ChiaVic, Level 1, 128 Exhibition St, Melbourne 3000
Trainer:       Jo Leckie
Cost:            $319 inclusive GST- members   $ 330 inclusive GST – non members

Book here

Pets rule – new tenancy changes in place

As part of the sweeping changes to residential tenancies law, the laws around keeping pets in rental properties have now changed.

 What you need to know about the law changes on pets:

  • The changes came into effect on Monday 2 March 2020.
  • Tenants can keep a pet with the written permission of their landlord.
  • A pet includes any animal (other than an assistance dog, for which there is no need to seek permission).
  • If a tenant requests to keep a pet using the approved form (the form provided by Consumer Affairs and available on their website), consent cannot unreasonably be refused.
  • If a landlord wants to refuse a request after receiving the form, they have 14 days to apply for a VCAT order.
  • If such an application is made, VCAT will determine if refusal is reasonable (in which case the tenant will not be allowed to keep a pet at the property) or that the tenant can keep the pet.
  • In considering applications, VCAT will consider (amongst other factors) the type of pet, the character of the property and whether refusal is allowed under any Act.
  • If the landlord doesn’t apply to VCAT within 14 days of receiving the written request, consent is taken to have been granted.
  • If a pet damages the property, the tenant must repair any pet-related damage that goes beyond fair wear and tear.
  • These changes do not apply to rooming houses.

More housing for family violence survivors in Dandenong

Family violence support service, Wayss, has added 16 new properties to its housing stock available for women and children escaping the horrors of family violence.

The properties are in addition to 14 properties Wayss secured under the DHHS funded head-lease program in 2019.

Wayss Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Thomas, says head-leasing, where a private rental property is rented from a landlord by a third party and
then sub-let to the tenant, is a great opportunity for Wayss to directly access private rental stock in the local community for families in need.

‘Stable housing is the first step in empowering a family violence victim survivor to take control of their life and recover. Once the family has secure accommodation, we can then coordinate specialist support services to help the woman and her children rebuild their lives,’  Ms Thomas says.

‘In just over 12 months, we’ve increased our housing stock to 30 head-lease properties under our management and that will result in some incredibly positive outcomes for families living in our local community. That’s 30 families that now have the chance to build a positive rental history to support future tenancy applications – it’s access to a critical first step that they may not have been able to take without this program.’

Before linking the family with their new home, Wayss conducts a full safety and risk assessment of the property and works closely with local real estate agents to ensure the right property for the right family. When they move in, the tenant pays only 33 per cent of the rent for the first six months, then 66 per cent for the remainder of the 12-month tenancy. The goal is for the family to then take over the lease and maintain the tenancy. The subsidised rent is a particular advantage when a woman is escaping a financially abusive relationship and needs time to get on top of their finances.

Ms Thomas says Wayss wholeheartedly supports the continued development of the head-lease model across Victoria.

‘Head-leasing is an extension of the housing first model which focuses on getting people housed in safe, secure accommodation and then supporting them to stay housed by access to dedicated case-management. Safe, secure housing is essential to support families to plan pathways for living their best life,’ Ms Thomas says.