Bridge Housing response to COVID19

Dear tenant community: The situation concerning the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Australia and across the world is rapidly changing. During this uncertain time, the health and wellbeing of you and our staff is our highest priority.

We will be posting weekly updates below about our service arrangements, or sooner if required. Please also visit our COVID19 Information Resources page for other advice and information to support you during COVID19.

I July 2020

It’s good news that today NSW further eases restrictions on the number of people allowed in indoor venues, community sport and on public transport. This shows that NSW has performed well in containing the COVID-19 Virus. However, it is still in our community and we must learn to live with it until we have a vaccine.

handSmVictoria provides a graphic example of how the virus can re-emerge and spread when physical distancing isn’t practised. I agree with our Premier Gladys Berejiklian that non-compliance poses our bigger threat to public health. Just because you can now do something, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Sensible travel arrangements, family gatherings and hygiene are essential in keeping everyone safe.

The Tenant Survey 2020 has gone out to all our residents last week. Please complete it and have the opportunity to give feedback about our services and relationship with you. You can also be in the running to win great prizes! Learn more or go to the survey.

We are currently developing a Phase 3 plan for tenant engagement (as it becomes safe to do so), and will commence with some face-to-face block meetings over the next few weeks. We are also planning to recommence our outreach office services in the coming weeks.

Together Home SmBridge Housing was one of the community housing providers recently selected by the NSW Government to participate in Together Home, a new COVID-inspired initiative for people experiencing homelessness. We will receive $4.5 million in funding over two years to house and support 45 residents in private rental leases. We will apply a Housing First approach and provide long term housing for these residents. Learn more about Together Home.

25 June 2020

B 4 square metre rule 0The recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, and the Victorian Government’s decision to restore some restrictions in that State, show just how quickly things can change during a pandemic and people become complacent when lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Despite being in the “recovery” phase in New South Wales, we are by no means out of the woods. The most basic hygiene and social distancing precautions remain critical. Indeed, they are even more important as we widen our pools of contacts in returning to socialising and work and enjoy life outside the home. B avoid close contact v2 0

We all have a responsibility to ensure that we stick to the measures to keeping our family, friends, work colleagues and our community safe through controlling the spread of Covid19. Please stick to the social distancing rules (left) wherever you go.

17 June 2020

On Monday, we began Phase 2 of our returning to the office Service Delivery Protocols, with more staff on each of the weekly rosters. Please continue to contact us by phone or email and not come into the office without an appointment.

Keep up the great work with hand hygiene and social distancing to minimise the risk of COVID-19 for you, your family and friends, and don't forget to get a flu vaccination this winter to protect you from seasonal flu.

We held our first virtual workshop for Northern Beaches tenants last week, welcoming 11 tenants by phone and video conferencing to hear their ideas for what a TAG (Tenant Advisory Group) might look like in their community.

You should receive your Tenant Survey by early next week so please have your say and provide us with your feedback.

10 June 2020

Next Monday 15 June, Phase 1 of our COVID Service Delivery Protocols wraps up and Phase 2 begins.

  • In Phase 2 from mid-June to 20 July, office-based staff numbers will increase in the two weekly rotating teams
  • In Phase 3 from 20 July, all staff will return to the office, still on a weekly rotational basis.

Please continue to contact us by phone or email (and not come into the office) until further notice.

It is still important that we continue to practice social distancing and hand hygiene wherever we go. These are the most effective ways of restricting further outbreaks of COVID-19. I also urge you as we enter winter to get a flu vaccination.

There was another slight delay in sending out our 2020 Tenant Satisfaction Survey but it will be out this week! You will receive an email with a link to the survey online. Be in the running to win great prizes for completing your survey.

The Communities Team is having a virtual workshop this week to explore setting up a Tenant Advisory Group on the Northern Beaches. It will be good to get the views of the community there on how a TAG could best support our residents in the area.

3 June 2020

We are drawing to the end of Phase 1 of our policy for a staged return to the office. From Monday 15 June, we will be operating under Phase 2 arrangements until late July. Social distancing and hygiene will continue to be practised in the office, including in meeting rooms and common areas.

Arrangements for residents and others to visit our offices remain the same: please contact staff by phone or email and only come into the office by prior arrangement.

Our 2020 Tenant Satisfaction Survey has gone out this week. Don’t forget to complete the survey online to be in the running for some great prizes!

In an exciting finish to National Reconciliation Week, today we launched a tenant video starring Elger St resident Eunice, who speaks eloquently of her own journey as a Gomeroi woman and social housing tenant. View this beautiful video here.

27 May 2020

Your local neighbourhood may be slowly coming to life after a long “hibernation” under COVID-19. Last week, the NSW Government announced still more relaxation of social restrictions, such as more people permitted in restaurants and cafes; regional travel from 1 June; museums, galleries and libraries to open next month, as well as nail and beauty salons!

While it’s welcome to see businesses starting to reopen on the long road to economic recovery, the recovery phase from the pandemic is fraught with health risks.

Our Phase 1 service delivery arrangements and three-phase timing for a return to the office remain unchanged. At this stage we will shift to Phase 2, with slightly more staff returning on weekly rotation in the two teams, as planned in mid-June.

Please continue the health hygiene practices that have helped Australia avoid the worst of the pandemic: socially distance, wash or sanitise your hands regularly, and avoid touching your face. I also encourage you to join the six million Australians who’ve downloaded the COVIDSafe app. While not without its teething problems and limited identifications to date, the NSW Government stresses the app is an important part of the mix of outbreak management tools.

20 May 2020

We hope you are well and safe and looking forward to socialising with family, friends and colleagues as Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease.

COVID-19 Service Delivery

In line with our plan for Phase 1, additional staff have returned to Goulburn St and Brookvale this week to ease the administrative burden. However, our service delivery arrangements remain in place, so please do not come into the office at Goulburn St or Brookvale. Contact us by phone or email in the first instance.

Our best defence against COVID-19 is to maintain social distancing, hand hygiene by washing our hands, using hand sanitisers and not touching our face. We are continuing to take all precautions to ensure the office is a safe environment. New social distancing markings have been set up in the office foyers and there is plenty of hand sanitiser available.

We strongly recommend you have the flu vaccination this winter, if you haven’t already done so While it won’t protect you from COVID-19, we know that the seasonal flu reduces your immune system and weakens your body’s ability to combat Covid 19. The vaccination protects you, your family and friends. The flu shot is free if you are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, over 65 , with a health condition  or pregnant

Tenant engagement

Our 2020 Tenant Satisfaction Survey has been delayed slightly but should be sent within the next two weeks. We are offering some great prizes for you to complete it!

The Communities Team is also working on resident and staff information and activities for National Reconciliation Week with its theme In This Together from 27 May to 3 June. More on this shortly.

The Orbit! Online facebook campaign will finish with this week’s craft activity. Thank you for your fantastic work and we hope it was a fun way to pass the time during lockdown. Please continue to connect with us and your community on Bridge Housing’s Facebook page.

Advocacy

We continue to support the campaign for the Community Housing Industry Association’s national housing stimulus plan, the Social Housing Acceleration and Renovation Program (SHARP), to build 30,000 new dwellings as part of an economic stimulus program. The issues of homelessness and housing affordability are once again in the limelight, so please like or comment on our social media posts to give the campaign traction.

Please refer to the weekly bulletins below for information on other COVID19–related topics.

12 May 2020

You are probably aware that on Friday and over the weekend both the Federal and NSW Governments have made some significant announcements about a national framework for coming out the COVID19 lockdown. National Cabinet announced a 3 Step Framework for a CovidSafe Australia for lifting restrictions, with a proposed return to work by mid-July. However the NSW Government, like other state governments, is free to develop its own approach within this national framework.

What does it means for you and Bridge Housing?

Bridge Housing is reviewing our Operating Guidelines and staff numbers in our offices to ensure they are fit for purpose for each phase.

This, of course, will be subject to health advice from the NSW Government and we will continue to take all precautions to ensure the office is a safe environment. It will mean, at a minimum, maintaining physical distancing to 1.5 metres and residents only visiting our offices for face-to-face meetings if absolutely necessary. You can contact your Housing Manager or other staff by email or phone.

As the COVID19 restrictions ease, it is critically important that we continue to practice physical distancing and hand hygiene, and we do not become complacent about these practices. More people mixing in social and work environments in the weeks ahead will carry the risk of more infections, so we all need to play our part in keeping everyone safe.

Tenant engagement activities

Our 2020 Tenant Satisfaction Survey, our 13th successive survey, goes live next Monday when we will be sending residents an email link to the survey online. Please complete the survey, which will help to inform our future service delivery to you.

We are also sending out the first TAG local newsletters to TAG members this week across our operating area to keep you up to date with local Bridge Housing and TAG news.

The Orbit! Online activity month is now in its 3rd week. We’ve loved your creativity! Look out for details of the 3rd activity on Bridge Housing’s facebook page tomorrow.

In this together

Like you, I have been horrified by the news reports of racist attacks on Australians of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background, particularly of Asian heritage, during the COVID19 pandemic. COVID19 does not discriminate between people and is a worldwide issue.

Racism is anathema to our culture at Bridge Housing and has no place in the Australian community. We value each and every one of our staff and residents - no matter what their culture, religion or skin colour – and we stand in solidarity with you at this challenging time.

Please refer to the weekly bulletins below for information on other COVID19–related topics.

6 May 2020

As you know, the NSW Government has begun to relax the social distancing rules as the State starts to slowly emerge from the COVID19 pandemic and the national Cabinet has agreed to a Safe Work Principles framework for businesses to return to work over time.

Bridge Housing is also planning how we will return staff to our offices when it is safe to do so. But for the time being, our service delivery arrangements will continue as per previous weeks.

Some 5 million Australians have now downloaded the COVIDSafe app on their smartphones. When in use, this app will detect people near you who are CODID19 positive. Please join us in downloading the app to help keep you, your family and friends safe.

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month. It is especially important to be aware of family, friends or neighbours who may be experiencing family violence during the social isolation of COVID19. Please refer them to the national 1800 RESPECT telephone line for help on 1800 737 732.

The City of Sydney has launched a COVID19 Community Hotline for anyone experiencing issues with accommodation, access to food, finance, isolation, personal wellbeing and community support. Learn more.

We’ve had some brilliant work from our resident community for Orbit! Online, such as this fantastic Lego creation. This week the activity is building a snow wonderland. Watch the Bridge Housing facebook page for more details.

On Tuesday 5 May, the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA)  released its Social Housing Stimulus Package. It calls on the Federal Government to deliver 30,000 additional social housing units and to renovate to high environmental standards many thousands more existing social housing properties. 75% of new homes should be completed within three years, with Community Housing Providers to play a significant role in delivering these developments. CHIA  has also developed a proposal for an expanded Housing First approach Rapid Housing Response  to be funded by the Commonwealth to meet the long-term housing needs of rough sleepers.

Please refer to the weekly bulletins below for information on other COVID19–related topics.

29 April 2020

Our Communities Team has collated a wide range of COVID19 support services available to residents living in the 19 Local Government Areas in which we operate. View them here.

Please consider downloading the Federal Government’s new COVIDSafe app on your smartphone. It will speed up contacting people exposed to coronavirus and help protect you, your friends and family. Download or learn more here.

While the NSW Government has announced a relaxation of the social distancing rules to allow people to gather in slightly larger groups from Friday, we encourage you to keep up the good work in practising hand hygiene and social distancing wherever possible to keep us all safe.

Our current office arrangements remain in place, including to contact Bridge Housing staff by phone or email, or to make an appointment prior to a face-to-face meeting. Please get in touch if you require any support during this challenging time.

You can read earlier updates below for more information on our service delivery arrangements.

22 April 2020

Homelessness services

Bridge Housing has issued a joint statement with our partner organisations in Sydney’s northern region outlining how we are delivering responsive housing and support services to rough sleepers during COVID19.

If you are worried about someone who is experiencing homelessness or rough sleeping in Northern Sydney please contact us. We are here to help people have a safe home.

  pdf Read the statement with contact details here (234 KB) .

Engaging with our tenants

We are holding our first online Orbit! as a month-long campaign on Facebook. There are fun games, and activities for residents to do with their children at home, with materials supplied by Bridge Housing. Learn more about this popular event.

As Tenant Advisory Group meetings are suspended during COVID19, we are working with Tenant Representatives to produce local TAG newsletters to connect with residents at the local level between the quarterly Our Place newsletters. 

Please read earlier updates below for more information on our new service delivery arrangements.

15 April 2020

Our new service delivery arrangements, now in their third week, appear to be working well and we would like to thank our resident community for supporting our work by helping to practice social distancing wherever possible.

This week all tenants should receive the letter we mentioned in the last update, which confirms Bridge Housing’s changed service delivery arrangements. You can also read the information in the 6 April update below, as well as helpful links to COVID19 information resources.

We have already conducted 225 Tenant Wellbeing Checks by phone, starting with older residents and those with high support needs to see how you are coping with the pandemic and provide any additional assistance. We are planning on contacting all households in the coming weeks so, your call is coming if you haven’t yet heard from us!

You may have seen the NSW Government’s announcement on Monday of a rental support package for six months for tenants facing financial stress due to COVID-19, including an interim moratorium on applications for forced evictions due to rental arrears. Social housing providers, including Bridge Housing, have their own processes for dealing with rental arrears and are not covered by the new provisions. Remember, if you are struggling to pay your rent contact us immediately so we can review your rent payment.

Bridge Housing is with you at this challenging time.

6 April 2020

What we are doing

Bridge Housing has just completed the first week of operating under our updated Service Delivery Protocols and new Work from Home procedures. These protocols and procedures have been adopted to keep residents, staff and other stakeholders safe while ensuring we comply with all NSW and Federal Government social distancing and health and safety requirements during the COVID19 situation.

We are open for business. Both the Goulburn St and Brookvale office continue to be staff by small teams, while the majority of our staff work remotely from home. Your Housing Manager is available to you by phone or email, no matter where they are working.

We are sending letters to all our tenants this week outlining the key things they need to remember when dealing with Bridge Housing under our changed service procedures at this time.

What you should do

Please remember:

  • To continue to pay your rent. Bridge housing will not include the COVID-19 Jobseekers Supplement and the one off Economic Support Oayment of $750 from the Government in the Rent Review. Go to Services Australia for information.
  • If you, or a household member, lose your job and are struggling to pay your rent, contact us immediately so we can review your rent payment. Please check with your employer to see if they are eligible for Jobkeeper payment which will help keep you employed.
  • To contact us by phone or email and only come to the office by prior appointment.

We have started Tenant Wellbeing Checks by phone to gain a better understanding how our older vulnerable tenants are coping with the pandemic and provide any additional assistance.

Please keep up social distancing and self-isolation. They’re helping to keep you, family, friends and the community safe. The NSW and Federal Governments have reported promising signs about containment of the COVID19 virus, though it’s still early days. Your efforts will help!

Please refer to the weekly bulletins below for information on other COVID19–related topics.

30 March 2020

New service delivery arrangements come into force today as Bridge Housing responds to the COVID19 situation and adopts new measures to keep our staff, residents and other stakeholders safe.

Paying your rent

Our priority at Bridge Housing is ensuring that all tenants sustain their homes and that we continue to deliver our essential services to applicants and tenants,

It is critically important that all tenants continue to pay their rent. Any tenant who is struggling to pay their rent as a result of COVID-19 should contact us. We will work with all households to tailor arrangements based on their needs.

For our customers in social housing, where rent is assessed based on income, we will not include Coronavirus Supplements, Special Payments or the Government Stimulus Payment as assessible income. This means around 95% of our customers will have more money in their household budget to meet expenses whilst continuing to pay a social housing rent.

What we are doing

As an essential service provider, Bridge Housing remains open for business.

However, from Monday March 30, some Bridge Housing service arrangements are changing:

  • Both the Goulburn St and Brookvale offices remain open for all our services during normal business hours
  • Offices will be staffed by smaller teams, while other staff work remotely from home. The teams will rotate each week.
  • We will be practising social distancing to keep everyone safe. Please contact any Bridge Housing staff member that you deal with by phone or email or make an appointment prior to coming in. 
  • We will continue to work with support service providers to ensure our residents can access the supports they need.
  • Face-to-face Community activities, including Tenant Advisory Group meetings, have been suspended for the time being to keep you safe.

What you should do

  • You can contact your Housing Manager by phone or email in the usual way. 
  • If you need to come in to the office, please make an appointment beforehand by phone: 8324 0800
  • Please visit the NSW Health website for the latest information on how to recognise the symptoms of COVID19, get tested for COVID19, self-report or keep yourself safe.
  • Please visit our COVID Information resources page for links to COVID health, social distancing and travel advice, and other useful information.

Please read our March 20 update below for current information on our:

  • Repairs and Maintenance and Property Inspection arrangements
  • Wellbeing checks with elderly and Aboriginal residents.

Photo: Unsplash

20 March 2020

What we are doing

In the coming weeks, we will be updating tenants via social media, tenant newsletters, phone and email on how this impacts our services to you. 

At Bridge Housing, we have introduced some precautionary measures to limit your and our staff exposure to the virus. 

Our Head Office in Goulburn Street and Northern Beaches Office in Brookvale will remain open for normal office hours. Our outreach services at Bondi Junction, South Coogee and Glebe will temporarily close, in order to reduce opportunities for the virus to be transmitted.

Current Bridge Housing Service Delivery Guidelines:

  • Staff have been asked to minimise physical contact with others including maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres and cease physical greetings, such as handshakes.
  • Prior to any home visits or meetings in the office, staff will check with you that no-one in your household is ill with flu-like symptoms or has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. If you or a family member is ill, we will reschedule the appointment for two weeks later.
  • Property inspections will be postponed, unless required for a safety reason. If we need to attend your home we will give you the option to stay outside while the inspection is taking place to ensure that the 1.5m rule is adhered to at all times.
  • We will advise our maintenance contractors if we are aware a tenant has been exposed to the coronavirus to avoid their attendance at the property in all but emergency cases
  • Wherever possible, we will seek to conduct meetings by phone or, where possible, by video conference
  • Over the coming weeks we will conduct a wellbeing check on the phone with our elderly tenants over 80 years of age or 65 for Aboriginal residents
  • As a precaution, block meetings and other tenant and community events run by Bridge Housing are postponed until further notice.

We are monitoring the situation continuously and will keep you updated on any changes that impact our services to you.

What you should do

HealthIconEnsure you maintain good hygiene at all times by ensuring you:

If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of overseas travel, seek medical attention. Call your GP, visit the emergency department or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember to check

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx for the most up to date information.

If you have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, please let us know by calling or emailing your housing manager. This will ensure we can advise staff and contractors and help to contain the spread of the virus.

If you are concerned about your wellbeing or the wellbeing of your neighbours, please let us know immediately by contacting your housing manager on 8324 0885.

Please tell any family members or friends who speak a community language that they can access information on our website using the Google Translate function on the home page and visiting this page.

Thank you for helping us to keep our community safe.

Photo: Elizaveta Dankevich at Unsplash