CEO of of Homes North Maree McKenzie said social housing in the State’s north-west was set for a big change, with new levels of communication, responsiveness and opportunities for social housing tenants when the company tripled its size following the NSW State Government handover of 1700 social housing properties across the region in May.
The handover will take the number of properties Homes North manages up to about 3000.
It is a game-changer for social housing and regional NSW.Maree McKenzie
“Social housing has been run by the State Government since the creation of the Housing Commission during the middle of the last century,” Ms McKenzie said.
“What’s happening now is that they are transferring the management of the residencies and properties over to community housing sector. It’s been a minor trend in the past in NSW and other states, but it has been picking up and there has been more and more transfers happening and it’s getting bigger and bigger.
So, in the New England - North West all social housing is being transferred from Family and Community Services to Homes North Community Housing to manage. It’s a 20 year lease, now that is a significant thing about this program. Unlike a lot of initiatives it’s long-term, which means we can do long-term planning and that’s a bonus for this region.”
Ms McKenzie said information packs containing all the important forms, which needed to be filled out and returned to Homes North, would be sent out to all tenants. One of the biggest changes explained in this mail out would be about how the rent is paid.
“All of our tenants will have the information packs by the middle of January,” Ms McKenzie said.
“As Homes North is a community housing provider, tenants are now eligible for Commonwealth Rent Assistance. Basically, tenants will be charged a bit more rent, but will get an allowance through Commonwealth Rent Assistance to cover that extra amount.”
She said the new system brought more Commonwealth funding into the social housing system in NSW and tenants should make sure they have returned their forms by March 2019 so as not to fall behind in their rent.
“Nobody would want that to happen,” Ms McKenzie said.
“We see this as a wonderful opportunity for the community”.