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.

Merger celebration for tenants

Tenants are invited to register their interest to join Access Housing and Housing Choices Australia (HCA) staff to celebrate the merger of our organisations at a special event for WA tenants on Thursday 18 February 2021.

As you know, Access Housing and Housing Choices Australia merged in July last year to form one of Australia’s biggest Community Housing Providers, but we have not been able to properly celebrate the merger due to COVID-19 restrictions.



Please join us to celebrate and learn more about what the company is looking forward to achieving for tenants and the Community Housing sector in 2021 and beyond!

*** Event venue and time details are still being finalised and the event may be postponed if COVID-19 restrictions are re-introduced in WA. ***

If you would like to attend this event, please text Access Housing’s Tenant Engagement and Capacity Building Officer Alex Kepes on 0437 887 675 to register your interest. 

A message from Access Housing Executive General Manager Neil Starkie

What can you say about 2020 that hasn’t already been said? This year has thrown up disruptions, challenges and frustrations. It forced people physically apart but, at the same time, brought people closer together in other ways. 2020 is nearly at its end and we can look forward to 2021 together with a sense of optimism that a better year awaits us.

The team at Access Housing worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure we continued to deliver a high quality service to each of our valued tenants and residents, particularly during the height of COVID-19 restrictions in WA. We adapted to new ways of working as we supported each other, and each of our tenants, through a most challenging period. Our staff’s commitment to tenants and their wellbeing was as inspiring as the kind words from tenants about our staff’s efforts were humbling. We truly have a caring, compassionate team of staff at Access Housing and we hope you experienced that firsthand throughout the year in your dealings with the company.

A highlight for the year was when we were able to officially announce Access Housing’s merger with Housing Choices Australia in early July. The merger of our organisations now means we are part of the second largest Community Housing Provider in Australia, providing homes to more than 8,500 people across WA, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. We look forward to continuing our integration into the Housing Choices Australia Group of Companies in 2021. Watch this space in the new year for more exciting announcements about the merger and what it means for Access Housing and WA tenants.

Our offices will close from 2pm on Thursday 24 December through until 8.30am on Monday 4 January 2021 to provide our staff with some well-deserved time off. If you have any urgent or emergency maintenance issues arise during this period, please call our Maintenance Hotline on 1800 203 383.

We know that for some people this time of year can be particularly challenging. If you find yourself struggling and feel like you need to speak to someone, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

We look forward to seeing you again in the new year. In the meantime, please have a safe, relaxing and enjoyable festive season. Merry Christmas!

Neil Starkie
Executive General Manager
Access Housing Australia Ltd