May 28, 2020

Meeting the challenges of providing community housing during COVID-19

Foundation Housing has adapted well to an operating environment radically altered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Driven by the principle that the safety of staff and tenants is always the overarching priority, the organisation moved swiftly to ensure it could continue to deliver its services as normally as possible while eliminating all unnecessary physical contact between people.

Foundation Housing closed is offices, arranged for staff to work from home and suspended all non-essential tenant contact such as routine property inspections.

With restrictions gradually being lifted in Western Australia, some face-to-face contact between staff and tenants is now being resumed.  From June, staff will recommence visiting tenants in their own homes, but with strict protocols in place.

Management of Foundation Housing’s lodging houses continues to be a complex challenge because of the communal facilities, the close proximity of people to one another within these buildings and also because many lodging residents have compromised immunity due to their age or medical history.  For this reason the lodges remain closed to visitors and still have strict hygiene protocols in place. In view of this, Foundation Housing’s Community Development team have worked with a range of partners to safely deliver additional practical support to lodging residents during this time such as prepared meals, food and clothing.   To date, the team – working alongside community volunteers and lodging residents – has delivered over 2000 meals to Foundation Housing tenants and residents in need.  This is an amazing outcome and one that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of local partners, especially from the Fremantle community.

CEO Chris Smith says he is proud of how the organisation has responded over the past three months. “We have never been more conscious of the responsibility of providing safe and affordable homes than during this crisis where housing security is so important.

“From the outset, our staff worked quickly to keep tenants informed of changes that could affect their tenancy and to reassess their rent if they lost income due to the crisis.  We have also been able to continue to allocate vacant homes to people on the joint housing waitlist as we normally would, ensuring we continue to respond to housing need with our fullest capability.

Foundation Housing will continue to provide updates on how the current situation is affecting its service through email updates, social media and our website.