Opportunities Fund supports Dean’s artistic endeavors

Dean has been a Housing Choices WA tenant for more than five years and has participated in many of our tenant programs. A favourite Housing Choices WA initiative of Dean’s is the Tenant Art Display, to which he has contributed numerous creative pieces.

Dean’s art has been on display at Housing Choices WA’s office in Rivervale over the past year. Dean’s cheerful and colourful creative style has proved popular with staff, tenants and office visitors alike, prompting the sale of several of his pieces that were on display. Dean also featured as the Artist of the Edition in our Autumn 2020 Tenant Newsletter.

Dean was recently granted funds from Housing Choices WA through our Opportunities Fund. The Housing Choices WA Opportunities Fund provides funding for tenants that can be put towards activities, materials, fees and memberships that support mental health, wellbeing, education, training and social inclusion.

Dean received $500 worth of art supplies vouchers from Housing Choices WA and started painting right away.

“Thank you so much for supporting me,” Dean said.

“I started painting with my new supplies after I got home and it is like driving a Ferrari of paints.”

Dean said he has ambitions to have his own art exhibition to give back to the community.

“I want to have my own exhibition to raise money for mental health in the community and to continue to give joy to others that art has given to me,” Dean said.

For more information about the Housing Choices WA Opportunities Fund, please contact our Tenant Engagement and Capacity Building Officer Alex Kepes on 0437 887 675.

COVID-19 RENTAL EMERGENCY MEASURES END THIS SUNDAY

In April 2020, the WA Government passed the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020, which brought into law a range of measures to deliver protections for tenants suffering rental stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in WA.

The COVID-19 Response Act meant that between 30/3/20 – 28/3/21;

* No rent increases could be actioned.
* No terminations of tenancies could take place except in particular circumstances i.e. family and domestic violence, mutual agreement or refusal to pay rent.
* Fixed term tenancies would become periodic tenancies if they were not renewed during the emergency COVID-19 period.

The COVID-19 emergency period will end on Sunday 28 March 2021. This means ordinary residential tenancy laws in WA will once again become applicable.

Housing Choices WA staff have continued to complete annual eligibility and rent reviews as they became due during the COVID-19 emergency period. If a rent review resulted in a rent decrease, the decrease was implemented immediately. If a rent review resulted in a rent increase, the increase was postponed. In line with the end of the Residential Tenancies (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020, increases to rent that were postponed during the emergency period will become effective on the first rent due date on or after Sunday 28 March 2021.

If you are experiencing difficulties paying your rent, please contact our Tenant Accounts Team on 9534 0425. They will work with you to arrange a repayment plan that is right for you.

Access Housing rebrands and relaunches as a national entity

As of 18 February 2021, Access Housing will officially change its name to Housing Choices Western Australia (Housing Choices WA), as the merger between Access Housing and Housing Choices Australia reaches completion.

The two organisations officially merged on 1 July 2020, paving the way for Housing Choices to become one of the largest community housing providers in the country. In Western Australia, Housing Choices WA has 1,850 properties with over 3,000 tenants and a total asset value of over $175 million. Since the merger, Housing Choices (including WA) is now responsible for the management of nearly 7,000 social and affordable homes across five states in Australia, with assets valued in excess of $900 million and with annual revenue of nearly $70 million.

The merger’s completion puts the Housing Choices Group of Companies in a leading position to work with the WA Government and other industry stakeholders to help resolve the State’s current housing crisis.

Western Australia is facing one of the most significant housing shortages in the country, with 15,700 households currently on the social housing waitlist. The vacancy rate in the private rental market is now around 0.8%, whereas normally the vacancy rate should sit at roughly 3%.

The State’s housing shortage will continue to be exacerbated in the next few months, when the moratorium on rent increases and evictions provided due to COVID-19 will end in March 2021.

As one of the leading affordable housing providers in Australia, Housing Choices will be able to draw on a wealth of inter-State housing expertise and knowledge from across the business to assist the WA Government in resolving the housing crisis.

Housing Choices WA General Manager, Community Housing, Natalie Sangalli, says the organisation’s national breadth of experience, and best practice in property and tenancy management ensures Housing Choices is well equipped and ready to assist the Government with innovative solutions to provide housing for people on low incomes, through the 10-15% increase in market rent that is expected to hit in the coming months.

“Now that the merger is complete and we have welcomed Housing Choices WA to our Group of entities, it’s about leveraging what we as a large, national organisation can do to help the WA Government during a critical time in the State’s housing shortfall,” says Michael Lennon, Managing Director, Housing Choices.

Housing Choices WA looks forward to working with the Government on bringing to life its key strategies, including the WA Housing Strategy, and the 10 Year Strategy to End Homelessness, which incorporates two Common Ground facilities; one in the inner-city and one in Mandurah. Housing Choices’ Common Ground program’s success in South Australia, where it currently operates in both Adelaide and Port Augusta, will be leveraged and drawn upon to ensure the success of the Common Ground program in WA.

COVID-19 Update

Access Housing’s offices will reopen to the public on Wednesday 10 February.

In response to the evolving COVID-19 situation in Western Australia, Access Housing temporarily closed each of our offices on Monday 1 February.

We are pleased to reopen our offices on Wednesday, with the following COVIDsafe measures being in place:

  • Staff based in our Rivervale and Mandurah offices will wear masks at all times until at least 14 February (in line with WA Government directives) in our offices and when completing tenant and property visits;
  • When completing property visits, staff will screen all residents for COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Staff will continue to adhere to 1.5m social distancing in our offices and when completing tenant and property visits;
  • Staff will ensure office visitors register their attendance using the office QR Code (if they have a smartphone) or the manual register; and
  • Staff will continue to adhere to COVIDsafe hygiene measures.

Maintenance
All non-emergency and non-urgent maintenance will recommence. Contractors will adhere to COVIDsafe hygiene measures while they undertake works at your home. This includes wearing a mask at all times, washing their hands and maintaining a safe physical distance.

Further to this, Access Housing is safely sourcing and distributing masks to tenants in need during the evolving COVID-19 situation. Please contact your Tenancy Officer if you need a mask.

Access Housing continues to advise tenants to refer to the following websites for up to date COVID-19 information:

WA Government Department of Health
Australian Government Department of Health
World Health Organisation 

For the most up-to-date information about Access Housing’s business operations during the evolving COVID-19 situation, please continue referring to our website.

Please continue to stay safe and healthy by following the directives given to the community by our State-based COVID-19 experts.

COVID-19 Update

In response to the evolving Covid-19 (Coronavirus) situation in WA, on Monday February 1 Access Housing temporarily closed our offices until further notice.

Access Housing continues to work diligently to ensure our tenants are supported and our services can continue to be delivered. Most of our staff will be working remotely / out of the office to encourage physical distancing and minimise contact between staff and tenants.

Our decision to change the way we work is guided by the Federal and State Government Health Department and aims to assist the ongoing health and safety of our staff, tenants and broader community.

Telephone calls to our offices will be diverted to voicemail and passed over to the appropriate staff member for actioning. Tenants are encouraged to leave their name and number and the name of the person they want to contact. Access Housing staff will also continue to be available via email.

Access Housing has cancelled all scheduled routine property inspections temporarily. Tenants who had an inspection scheduled are being contacted by Tenancy Staff to advise of the cancellations.

We will continue to provide essential housing services and have put work-arounds in place so we can continue to undertake viewings, assessments and allocations into any vacant properties we have available, including to our lodging houses.

All planned tenant engagement activities have been postponed until further notice. Tenancy Officers and Tenant Engagement staff are conducting welfare check-ins over the phone to ensure tenants are safe and well during this period.

Tenants are encouraged to report maintenance as per normal to our Maintenance Hotline on 1800 203 383. However, the types of maintenance we will be actioning have been amended to reduce the potential spread of the Covid-19 virus. Only emergency and urgent repairs will continue to be actioned. All routine and priority maintenance will be deferred until further notice.

Our contractors will adhere to hygiene practices while they undertake works at your home. This includes wearing a mask at all times, washing their hands, and maintaining a safe physical distance.

Further to this Access Housing is safely sourcing and distributing masks to tenants in need during the evolving Covid-19 situation. Please contact your Tenancy Officer if you need a mask during this time.

Access Housing continues to advise tenants to refer to the following websites for up to date Covid-19 information:

Australian Government Department of Health
WA Government Department of Health
World Health Organisation

For the most up-to-date information about Access Housing’s business operations during the unfolding Covid-19 situation, please refer to our website – www.accesshousing.org.au

Please continue to stay safe and healthy by following the directives given to the community by our State-based Covid-19 experts.