Welcome to Week 13 of 40 Stories in 40 Weeks

 Tenants have a stake and a say in social housing

In this extract from our History co-authored by Sarah Harris and Don Baker, we meet one of our long-serving Tenant Reference Group members. Our Tenant Reference Group is a powerful example of the collegiate approach to social housing. By giving the tenants themselves a stake and a say in the organisation’s direction and future planning, the relationship between HHS and its client base is strengthened. HHS isn’t an absent landlord or abstract concept. Its tenants are not disenfranchised from the process simply because they don’t have equity in their homes.

Here one Tenant Reference Group member Neil Arnott shares his story:

“More than anything else it was the uncertainty and the insecurity in the private rental market that worried us. We are in the situation where we don’t earn enough to invest in our own home, and we really didn’t want to get ourselves into debt in that way. I am a TPI pensioner, but even so, we were well above the normal Housing Commission earnings criteria. We meet the Haven criteria of being under $60,000 a year so we got a house.

“It was a brand new house when we moved in. Me and Judi were the first tenants. They got us to look at three or four different houses. This one suited us down to the ground. It was nice and roomy inside. We don’t have too big a yard to worry about, we are a few doors down from a major supermarket and transport, and about five minutes to walk into town. It is brilliant. We really appreciate the security of being in this house. We treat it like it is our own house and, hopefully, we are going to live here till they cart me out in a box.

“I think a lot of people still have that Housing Commission idea that when they move in this should be done for them or that should be done for them and it is not the way this system works. We actually put a verandah on the side of this house to make it better for ourselves. We paid for that because we are the ones who benefit.

“There is a whole section of people like ourselves who are retired, don’t own our own homes and we don’t qualify for Housing Commission, so all that is really out there was the private rental system. But there is always that insecurity. And as you are getting on it becomes very worrying. So we can’t afford our own home, but now we have something that we can call our own home for the rest of our lives.”