Foot in the door

21 January 2021

In a fitting collaboration, property managers and specialist homelessness services are working together to find positive outcomes for tenants in distress.

Foot in the Door: Partners in Tenancy is an initiative of Yfoundations, the NSW peak body representing youth homelessness.

The program aims to complement the role of property managers by providing links to local housing and community services for tenants, as well as professional guidance to navigate some of the difficult social challenges we’re all facing, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the Foot in the Door program, free training and information sessions for property managers are held within agencies to understand:

  • How local support services can assist existing tenants that may be facing challenges
  • How to connect with qualified potential new and already supported tenants
  • How to sustain positive tenancies through understanding a trauma-informed approach.

Rent Choice subsidies

The Foot in the Door program is backed by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice, and includes additional investment in existing Rent Choice subsidies.

As part of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 support, an additional $20.02 million has been committed to deliver additional support for private tenants, enabling eligible people to keep or access private rental during this challenging time.

Rent Choice subsidies have already produced positive outcomes for those whose tenancies are at risk, including those affected by COVID-19.

Currently, support is available for:

  • Young people up to the age of 24 years
  • Tenants experiencing domestic violence
  • Australian veterans
  • Those who have faced a destabilising life event (such as unforeseen medical issues) that directly impacts their ability to maintain their tenancy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created an extreme challenge for all Australians,” Pam Barker, CEO at Yfoundations, said. “However, young people have been hardest hit. Forty-one per cent of those aged between 20 and 24 years old are in casual employment and unemployment rates for this age group are at an all-time high at 17 per cent.

“These figures illustrate why it’s essential for property managers to have knowledge of the Rent Choice subsidy.”

Under the subsidy, the tenant continues to pay 25 per cent of their weekly income towards their rent, with the subsidy paying the remainder directly to the property manager for the first 12 months (and up to three years).

“The real advantage of renting to tenants under this subsidy lies in the fact that there’s a support worker who engages directly with the property manager and they work together towards the long-term sustainability of the tenancy,” Pam said.

Case study

That property managers are already referring tenants facing challenges to support services, highlights the need for this initiative.

Consider the circumstances of Nicola. Moving from Forbes in regional New South Wales to Western Sydney for university, she experienced hardship when her employment hours at a local eatery were significantly reduced. She fell into rental arrears and had no family support.

“Nicola’s property manager had attended Foot in the Door training and referred her to a local specialist homelessness support service where Nicola was able to access immediate support for food and electricity,” Pam explained. “Importantly, the support worker started the application process for the Rent Choice Youth subsidy. Nicola is now supported with the financial subsidy and she’s on track to graduate from university next year.”

Nicola said: “If my property manager hadn’t put me in touch with the youth service, I might have ended up homeless. She treated me like a person, not just a number and I won’t let her down.”

To find out about free Foot in the Door training for your agency, email lauren@yfoundations.org.au

For more information Rent Choice subsidies, go to facs.nsw.gov.au/rentchoice

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