For Homes North, 2020-2021 was a year of scrambling to maintain business continuity and essential services in an ever-changing pandemic, at the same time as managing growth... quite an ask!
This year has been such a different experience for organisations.
For us it has been hectic.
Our focus in 2021 was consumed managing essential housing and homelessness services during a pandemic whilst implementing the last stages of our project transferring social housing services management in the New England North West from the State Government to Homes North.
In many ways the pandemic gave clarity of purpose - we had to do what we had to do to keep our clients safe and our staff safe, and for much of the time everything else was secondary.
For us, keeping community members safe also meant finding shelter for people without a home. The threat of homelessness crept into the lives of people who thought they were immune from such a risk.
People lost incomes and could not pay the rent. Yes, the time limited moratorium on evictions helped, but just the recognition that a home is suddenly not a certainty in life (when you most needed it) caused significant angst.
The pressure in regional areas, including ours, increased as people moved to the country. We have seen properties for-let dry up and asking rents increase. We were providing housing and homelessness assistance to people who had not sought help before.
Through it all, our staff rose to the challenge, motivated to support each other and by knowing that very vulnerable people needed help at this critical time.
To top it all off we also implemented special intervention programs to support people and the local economy through COVID. We delivered $3 million of stimulus funding upgrades to social housing properties across New England North West in a three-month period.
We also rolled out the 'Together Home' project that provides intensive support to people sleeping rough during the pandemic.
People have responded incredibly to a little more attention and care, and we have had some move from rough sleeping to now being employed.
It will be a very special festive season for us - a time for an exceptionally well-earned rest!
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