At the end of November 2018, all regional TPRS and the place based Housing Communities Program (HCP) services around the state end. Charmaine Jones explains the change and ISV’s concerns.
For the last 23 years, Inner Sydney Regional Council / Inner Sydney Voice has managed, on behalf of the NSW Government, the delivery of the Tenant Participation Resource Service (TPRS).
A very different program, the Tenant Participation and Community Engagement (TPCE) program will start in December. The details of the new provider will not be known until late October so there will be very little opportunity for any transition between the old and new programs.
From the information to hand, we are concerned that tenants will find that many of the supports they have enjoyed will no longer be available to them. There was quite a strong reaction, for example, from FACS to the inclusion of any advocacy in the TPCE program.
While TPRS was evaluated, FACS did not consult with any tenants or tenant organisations during the process. FACS did not ask what tenants wanted from their tenant participation program! HCP providers were not consulted at all and HCP was not evaluated before a decision to scrap the program was made.
There was also a strong desire by FACS to minimise the number of providers and to prefer larger providers, which are not necessarily well connected on the ground. Even though ISV was an existing regional service provider, ISV was not even interviewed for the TPCE program. The existing place based HCP providers were worse off as TPCE is a regional program. Place based providers found it difficult to substantiate they could service an entire region. The new program has support for large public housing concentrations delivered by the regional provider rather than a local provider.
Another casualty from ending TPRS will be the tenants in housing transferred from FACS to community housing providers (CHPs). Previously these tenants received tenant participation (TP) support at arm’s length from their housing provider through TPRS. The new TPCE program will only deliver services to FACS public housing tenants and FACS expects CHPs to fund and organise their own TP services. We have major concerns that CHP tenants will no longer have arm’s length TP support. There are too many conflicts in having the landlord responsible for encouraging its tenants to have a voice about what happens in their CHP.
The new program aligns with the state’s Future Directions housing policy so there will now be a greater emphasis on activities that meet these objectives especially for the “opportunity cohort” that FACS believe can exit public housing.
While ISV will not be funded to deliver the TPRS program we continue to have some projects working with public tenants and have an ongoing interest in public housing issues. We encourage tenants to monitor the introduction of TPCE closely and to document any loss of service they may experience. Tenant participation is about making your voice heard and that includes making your voice heard about any loss of a service or lessening of tenant participation support.
Practically, David White, our CSNTPRS worker will finish up at the end of November. We thank him for his diligent TP work over many years and wish him well into the future. We are sure tenant groups will farewell him in their own way.
As ISV will no longer have a worker regularly attending tenant meetings, ISV magazine will no longer be hand delivered to tenant groups as it has been in the past. The magazine is available in PDF form or online through our website. We have an email alert that will tell you when there is a new issue. Unwaged individuals can get a copy posted to them for $5.50 for four issues and we can consider posting out copies in bulk to interested groups.
Regional organisations like ISV, as well as state organisations like the Tenants Union, Shelter NSW and the Local Community Services Association (LCSA), will keep a watching brief on the new program as it rolls out and try to identify the gaps that emerge. So, let us know what happens and ISV will work with other organisations to identify and address the gaps.