Last week marked one year since Hume Community Housing began operating in the Hunter region.
On 2 September 2019, Hume’s Maitland office opened, signaling the successful delivery of the largest transfer of public housing in Australian history, in partnership with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and the Land and Housing Corporation NSW.
In this time, Hume have been warmly welcomed by customers, service partners, and the broader community, allowing them the opportunity to become part of the Maitland and Port Stephens communities.
Hume’s Chief Executive Officer, Nicola Lemon, said Hume welcomed more than 4,000 new customers in the Maitland and Port Stephens local government areas, with their Raymond Terrace office opening on 18 November 2019.
“During this time, we undertook our Housing Connect project, to introduce our new customers to the Hume team, and get a better understanding of our customers’ and their communities’ needs,” Nicola said.
Hume’s entry into the Hunter region delivered a boost to the local economy through the creation of more than 40 jobs, with the use of local trades and services. The business community has also warmly welcomed Hume to the region.
“Despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Hume has been able to ensure service continuity,” she said.
“In the last year, Hume has housed an extra 171 customers and their families, including 26 who were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and 120 customers who were on the waiting list for a home.”
Hume also engaged with 2,702 customers throughout the year through in-person and virtual events in Maitland and Port Stephens.
As part of its COVID-19 assistance package, the NSW Government provided funds for maintenance works and upgrades to social housing, including in regional NSW.
Hume identified properties where urgent, extensive maintenance was required in Woodberry, Rutherford and Raymond Terrace.
The program included remediation of 27 homes that were uninhabitable and had been sitting vacant for some time. The properties were then re-tenanted.
Hume provided 50 per cent of funding for this work, which in total was a boost of around $3 million.
“Hume partners with many wonderful local organisations, to provide housing assistance to our customers, as well as our wrap-around support services that help those most in need. Together we create opportunities for customers to prosper,” Nicola said.
In the Hunter region, Hume has also commenced their Housing Options Service, which includes provision of temporary accommodation for those experiencing homelessness, and access to private rental assistance.
One of their partners is Carrie’s Place, a domestic violence and homeless service.
Hume’s Housing Options Manager, Jenna Nadiotis, said this partnership means that those who really need housing support are given a safe space that they didn’t have access to before.
“Hume’s partnership with Carrie’s Place means that local people can access our Temporary Accommodation Program, receive support to maintain their new tenancy, while continuing to receive specialist domestic violence support so they can remain safely housed with a pathway to safe longer-term housing.”
Other organisations Hume have partnered with in the Hunter region include: The Benevolent Society, Maitland Interagency Group, NSW Department of Communities and Justice District Team, Hunter New England Mental Health Service, Maitland City Council, The Smith Family, Woodberry Family Centre, Port Stephens Council and Port Stephens Family Neighbourhood Centre.
Their team has aslo supported the Premier’s Priority to reduce street homelessness by 50 per cent by 2025.
More than 20 Hume employees in Maitland and Raymond Terrace assisted with Street Count, an official count of people sleeping rough. Supporting this priority allowed Hume a broader insight into those experiencing homelessness in our communities.
This enables their group to provide longer-term housing to those experiencing homelessness.
Customer and Maitland resident, Craig, said he appreciated the support that Hume offered him in his time of urgent need.
“They went above and beyond their normal job titles with empathy and caring enthusiasm [for which] I will always be very grateful.”
Kaylene, a new Hume employee said joining the team has been rewarding.
“I have found that community housing delivers widespread benefits, for employees, customers and other stakeholders,” she said.
“Hume has a unique way of focusing on each individual customer and what they need. We support each person to reach their goals including maintaining their tenancies and providing access to support services to ensure they have the opportunity to enjoy a brighter future.”
Nicola said that as they look to the future, they want to continue building a strong relationship with their local community and customers.
“In the coming year, we want to get even closer to our customers and use their feedback to help us further improve how we deliver a fantastic customer experience and ensure their homes and communities are great places to live,” she concluded.
IMAGE | Hume Community Housing customers and staff at their end of year celebration in December 2019.