5000 phone calls and counting – how Housing ACT is making sure tenants are coping in the coronavirus pandemic | The Canberra Times

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Housing ACT has made more than 5000 phone calls to vulnerable tenants as staff, who can no longer make home visits due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus work in other ways to ensure no one falls through the cracks. COVID-19 was placing unprecedented pressures on the community – particularly those who were feeling vulnerable, isolated and lonely, Housing ACT executive group manager Louis Gilding said. “In terms of implementing the social distancing requirements, we needed to change our field work, so we swapped it to phone work and we’re taking the opportunity to make 10,500 phone calls to tenants,” Ms Gilding said. “We’ve so far made over 5451 phone calls and managed to connect with 3781 households.” An example of one person helped so far had been an elderly woman, already battling health problems, who wasn’t able to see her family, due to social distancing, and who was struggling to get to the supermarket to buy groceries, especially at the height of the panic buying. She initially sent an email to the office of Health Minister Rachael Stephen-Smith, which connected her to Housing. A Housing ACT liaison officer contacted the woman and helped her get medication and groceries delivered within two days of her email being sent. After three phone calls in three days, the lady went from feeling “very down and unable to get assistance anywhere” to “a lot happier and relaxed”. She has also had contact with her family, and they had started eating dinner together over Facetime. READ MORE: Ms Gilding said it was not an easy time for many people. Staff had been set up at home to identify any issues facing Housing tenants and help to solve them, not just usual housing issues, but anything from coping with remote learning to not being able to get food. “I think everyone is frustrated by being cooped up, but they can also see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “I’m proud of Canberra as a whole in the way people have coped with social distancing. But we know it’s tough and making those phone calls has allowed us to check in with people and where they do need help, we’ve been able to connect with the right service, just to get through this time.” Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support. If you’re looking to stay up to date on COVID-19, you can also sign up for our twice-daily digest here.


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