Letter from our CEO

31st March 2020

To all our tenants,

Firstly, I want to let you know that we are thinking of you and hope you are safe, taking care of yourself, your loved ones, your neighbours and your pets.

The current COVID-19 situation has made all of us a bit confused and worried and it is clear the current uncertainty will last for a little while longer. But we must remember that Australia and Victoria have strong governments, an experienced and sophisticated medical profession and an enviable public health system. All these entities are working, day and night, to protect us all and to bring this situation under control.

We also have a long and strong tradition in Australia of pulling together in a crisis as a community, and that we will do.

The understandable worries and concerns you may be feeling now are ones we all share. In this, no one is alone. But the best way to proceed is to stay calm, look out for each other, trust our medical and government authorities as they guide us, do as they ask of us, and above all, work together as a supportive community. If we all do this, we will get through.

HousingFirst Is Still Operating – Just Slightly Differently

Please take comfort in the knowledge that HousingFirst is still very much operating. Our job as your community housing provider, and our responsibility as your landlord are ones we take very seriously.

  • For the moment both our St Kilda Road and Ashwood offices are closed to all visitors, including our tenants. The official government health experts are very clear in their advice: the safest place for everyone, including our staff and you, is at home.
  • But - we are all at work and working for you.
    To keep our staff safe and healthy, we have set up systems so that nearly all our staff can now work from home. It has been a big job getting this organised and operating in less than two weeks, but the support and commitment of our staff has been incredible.
  • Your Housing Officers are still working for you and available for you to contact - by phone and email.
  • Our staff will be making regular contact with you by phone, SMS and email - more regularly than usual - to check you are ok and find out if you need any assistance. It is very important that if we cannot contact you by phone or via email, there is another way we can keep in touch with you; perhaps through a friend or a neighbour?
  • Our maintenance people are still able to attend to essential service maintenance tasks. For the next little while, we have had to put on hold any non-essential maintenance tasks.
  • Our cleaning contractors will continue to service all our sites and have stocks of all the necessary products to ensure the highest levels of sanitation and hygiene are maintained.
  • If a HousingFirst staff member or a contractor needs to come to your home, we will contact you and you will need to provide certain information beforehand, to ensure everyone’s safety. That information is set out in the attached FAQ sheet.

Because of the current COVID-19 health emergency, which restricts the gathering of people in groups, our Tenant Advisory Committee meetings and some of our Community Development activities have been put on hold for a while. See the attached FAQ for detailed information about these, and also about the services we are still offering.

What Should You Be Doing?

There are some very important things you can do to help yourself and your community. Currently, the Government Health Departments are asking everyone to stay at home as much as possible while this difficult situation is brought under control. Home is the safest place for you and for your friends and neighbours. If you do leave the house, to get food, exercise, walk your dog, work, check on a friend, or attend an important appointment or seek assistance, make sure you follow the experts’ instructions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water;
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitisers where soap and water are unavailable;
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow, or a tissue; and remember to properly dispose of all tissues;
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces around your home and in public areas;
  • If you are sick, stay at home, call your doctor to seek advice and avoid contact with others; and
  • Stay more than 1.5 metres away from other people. This is called ‘physical distancing’ and it will help save lives.

The Government is updating these rules and guidelines on a daily basis, so it is important that you know where and how to get the right information you need. The link to DHHSs site is listed on the attached FAQ.

Please continue to pay your rent. It provides us with the financial resources so we can continue to deliver the best possible services to you, and to retain our wonderful staff to support you. They are the ones that will ensure that your needs are looked after, and your home is safe and comfortable. If you are concerned, or are having financial difficulties, contact us and we will help you as much as we can.

Don’t be spending all day focusing on the news and social media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a fast-moving story and honestly, it can all just get too much. So, take a break from the endless news, spend time outside or in the garden, read a book, listen to some music, get some fresh produce and do some cooking, call up your friends and check on your neighbours – from a distance!

Your Housing Officers will be in continued contact with you over the coming days and weeks. It is important that you eat well, get some gentle exercise and take good care of yourself, and that you contact us if you have any concerns or inquiries about your home, or our services. You may find that many of your questions are answered in the attached FAQ.

I will be in touch again soon. Keep well.

 

ceo signature

Haleh Homaei
CEO-HousingFirst