Community housing stalwart retires

Janet Goodwin will be retiring in December 2020 after 26 years as CEO of South Port Community Housing. Janet has been a stalwart of the community sector for that period and will be greatly missed.

Janet came from a background in local government and arrived at South Port in 1994 at a time of great change. The organisation managed a sizeable rooming house program, a youth housing program that did both tenancy management and support, and an emergency housing program, predecessor of today’s THMs. In recent years, the number of rooming house rooms had nearly doubled, the rooming house staff had gone from two to four, and the emergency housing worker position had gone from half-time to full-time.

It was clear that a part-time co-ordinator, who also ran a number of rooming house rooms, was no longer the best arrangement for the organisation and a review recommended the creation of a full-time manager (now CEO). Janet hit the ground running, quickly establishing a good relationship with housing bureaucrats, local community leaders and staff, and professionalising the organisation.

The coming years saw many challenges. The 1990s saw a great change in the demographics of rooming house residents. The population of single men with problems such as alcoholism was gradually being taken over by people with drug addictions and large numbers with mental illnesses as a result deinstitutionalisation. Along with the ongoing gentrification of South and Port Melbourne, this resulted in waiting times for vacancies going from two days in 1994 to two years for non-locals by 1996. The new demographic represented a huge challenge for the organisation, which now had to deal with residents with multiple issues but with no extra funding. Janet was a tower of strength for the staff who had to deal with numerous traumatic incidents during this time.

The following decades brought many changes to community housing  – the creation of the THM program to replace the previous emergency housing program, the introduction of the Housing Provider Framework (HPF,) which created a rent retention model, the introduction of new regulation requirements via amendments to the Housing Act and the creation of the Housing Registrar, the replacement of the HPF with the General Lease, the creation of the Victorian Housing Register, and new funding opportunities for growth of housing stock.

Janet steered South Port through all of these with great success, bringing the organisation and the staff along with her.

Throughout these times, Janet was a staunch advocate for the small and medium-sized community housing providers, which she believed represented the true spirit of community housing. She advocated for their interests strongly at public forums, including many organised by CHFV/CHIA Vic. She was also a strong advocate for the rights of tenants and the connection of people to their local community. She will leave big shoes to be filled in the community housing sector and the communities of South and Port Melbourne. CHIA Vic congratulates her on a very successful career and wishes her all the best in retirement.