FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: COVID-19
Is HousingFirst still in business?
Yes, we are.
Most of our staff are now set up and able to work from home, but as an organisation we are still working as normal, in order to deliver services to you. The best way to be in touch with us is by phone or via email.
Your Housing Officers can be contacted directly by phone or email.
Can I visit HousingFirst offices at St Kilda Road or Ashwood?
No, not at the moment. In line with the current Government health directives, our offices in St Kilda Road and Ashwood are temporarily closed to all visitors, including tenants and contractors, in the best interests and health and safety of our remaining staff and all our visitors.
How do I contact HousingFirst if I need help or I have a query?
- Call or email your Housing Officer directly
- Or call: 9534 5837
We are still operating our tenancy and property management services, however some services will be run a little bit differently for a while, so we can best support the government’s requests to not encourage the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
We will be limiting face to face contact meetings and will instead communicate with our tenants where possible by telephone and email. We strongly advise you to do the same.
Are all HousingFirst’s usual Community Activities still operating?
Our community programs are designed to physically bring residents together. Right now, the health experts advise is this is not a good idea. To best support and protect your health and wellbeing, from now till 1 June 2020, we’re changing the way we deliver some of these programs.
Our Tenant Advisory Groups will convene their meetings via phone and Skype. We’ll be sending out regular updates to members and keeping you all informed about their work.
Regretfully, Fun Food Fridays (Ashwood), Social Meals (St. Kilda properties), Art Programs, Community BBQs (across Melbourne) and our Community Excursions program will be postponed until 1 June.
Our beloved Pocket Park will be unable to operate its usual fresh produce markets at Ashwood and Box Hill, but we will continue to offer our Fruit and Vegetable Box delivery service during this period.
Call us on (03) 9536 7888 to place your order for a top value $5.00 Fruit and Vegetable Box, to be delivered to your home between 1-6pm on the appointed delivery day.
What about maintenance, or if a problem arises with my property, or the services at my home?
In line with advice from the Victorian Health Department, responsive maintenance tasks associated with essential and emergency services will continue as planned. We are placing a hold on any non-essential maintenance works for the time being and will contact you in the coming weeks and months to re-schedule. However, please do not hesitate to log your request.
Our after-hours emergency maintenance service is still operating during this time - (03) 9534 5837
With people required to spend more time at home during this time, we want to make sure that all emergency detection and suppression systems are fully operational. Currently, Blue Fire Systems are undertaking extra maintenance checks across some of our properties of:
- smoke detectors,
- apartment fire doors, and
- occupant warning systems.
If a HousingFirst staff member or contractor needs to come to my home, what will happen?
We will contact you in advance and ask you the following questions:
- Do you or your family members have any COVID-19 symptoms? (Fever, sore throat, cough etc.)
- Have you returned from an overseas trip in the last 14 days? If so, have you self-isolated for 14 days?
- Have you been in contact with anyone from an overseas trip in the last 14 days? If so, have you self-isolated for 14 days?
- Before the contractor enters, please advise if you are feeling unwell in any way.
We will be unable to visit your home, or to authorise a contractor to visit, unless you have responded appropriately to the above questions.
Is HousingFirst still providing cleaning services at my property?
Yes. Our Cleaning Contractors are stocked with the appropriate cleaning products to continue servicing our sites. They will be disinfecting hard surfaces and heavily touched areas (doorbells, intercoms, handles, lift call buttons, lift floor buttons, light switches, door handles, handrails, including wooden surfaces and wooden handrails etc.)
Hand sanitizer liquid and dispensers are installed in our Older Persons Units (OPU) Housing in a convenient location, generally by the front door, or in the foyer/lobby of the building.
Hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed at other identified priority sites by the 31st of March and we will refill them on a regular basis.
What about the ongoing upkeep of the common areas outside, gardens etc.?
These services will continue unchanged at this stage.
I may have difficulties paying my rent as my circumstances have suddenly changed.
All Centrepay recipients should continue to pay their rent as normal, as their income has not been affected.
If your working hours have been reduced but you are still receiving an income, you may be eligible for government assistance and HousingFirst can then reassess your rental payment. Your Housing Officer will work with you on this process.
HousingFirst may enter into a Payment Plan with you, so you can pay your rent and any arrears in a manner that is affordable and sustainable for you.
I have heard that I may not have to pay my rent while the COVID-19 situation continues.
This is not true. You should continue to pay your rent as normal, so that we can continue to provide you with all our services, take care of your home and retain our wonderful staff to support you. The Government is looking at various ways to support people on low incomes through this period and we will keep you updated on any important announcements in this regard. Information on income support can be found in the attached list of information sites.
What should I do if I develop a sore throat, cough or flu-like symptoms?
You should first telephone your local GP and seek immediate advice. Or call the Victorian Department of Health Coronavirus Hotline. It is a free call and is open 24 hours.
1 800 675 398
What can I do to best protect myself from the COVID-19 virus?
There are lots of things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones and neighbours. For practical and up to date information go onto the Victorian Health Department website:
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue, dispose of tissues properly
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating, after going out and returning home, and before and after going to the toilet
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitisers when soap and water is unavailable
- Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home and in common public areas.
- Wash towels and face washers daily
- Avoid congregating in the small communal spaces
- Practice ‘physical distancing’ by staying more than 1.5 metres away from another person. This will save lives.
- Eat well, sleep well, drink water, get gentle exercise and fresh air.
I am worried about being isolated or stuck at home for long periods.
Being confined to your home for an extended period can be stressful and boring. Here are some ways to occupy your mind, calm your senses, and make you feel better and more connected:
- Keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media.
- Where possible, keep up normal daily routines, such as eating well and exercising.
- Look after your pets.
- Arrange to work from home.
- Learn about covid-19 and talk about it with others.
- Reassure young children using age-appropriate language.
- Don’t sit glued to the news all day. Take a mental break from it all!
- Ask your child's school to supply assignments or homework by post or email.
- Do things that help you relax.
- Make a list of all the things you don't usually have time to do at home and use this as an opportunity to tick some items off that list!
- If you don’t quite understand the rules relating to staying at home, please call (03) 9534 5837 as we would be happy to help you to find this information.
What about if I live in shared accommodation?
If you live in shared accommodation (for example, a rooming house):
- Only use the communal kitchens, bathrooms and living areas when necessary
- Avoid using a shared kitchen while others are using it
- Take your meals back to your room to eat
- Use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry your used crockery and cutler. If this is not possible, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel