Wellington City Council sweeps Social Housing awards

13 June 2017

The Council’s social housing team won all four award categories it had been nominated for in the New Zealand branch of the Australasian Housing Institute Awards.

The Council's City Housing team showing the awards they received from the New Zealand branch of the Australasian Housing Institute Awards.
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The Council’s social housing team, City Housing, was named a winner in all four award categories it had been nominated for in the New Zealand branch of the Australasian Housing Institute Awards held in Wellington on June 8. The win puts the Council in the running for the Australasia-wide awards being held later this year.

Deputy Mayor and housing portfolio leader Paul Eagle says it’s the combination of professionalism and compassion that makes City Housing exceptional.

“It rewards the hard work done on the ground by our staff. They’re out there every day all across the city assisting our tenants with their needs. 

“The Council made a vital decision 10 years ago to keep our social housing and care for our wonderful tenants.
“The decision then to enter into a $400m partnership with central government to redevelop our social housing stock continues to deliver outstanding results.

“Of particular note were the three awards given to the Community Action [asset-based community development] Programme. This is what differentiates our organisation from other providers and this was acknowledged with the clean sweep last night of all categories.”

Wellington City Council has provided social housing since the 1950s and is working towards growing its social housing provision and also the amount of affordable private housing for people wanting to live in this city. The foundation for this phase has been laid over the last decade, since the Housing Upgrade Programme and the Community Action Programme began in 2008.

Julie Rushton, Acting City Housing Manager, says City Housing’s integrated approach to wellbeing is a key to its success: “It’s about security of housing for tenants needing extra support; it’s working towards all of our housing being warm, dry and safe; and it’s about recognising the tenant community as having a unique contribution to make to our fantastic Capital City.”

Rosie Gallen, City Housing’s Community Action and Engagement Manager and recipient of the Inspiring Colleague award, acknowledged the work of the whole team. “For truly healthy social housing communities, the key is a team approach to covering all the bases – you have to look after buildings, the tenancies and the people in them, and that takes a mix of skills and passionate people all working towards one goal.”

These awards follow the NZ Institute of Architects awarding the Council-owned Kotuku Apartments upgrade as the Wellington region winner in the best multi-unit dwelling category for its tenant-centric design.

Awards

The award categories won by the City Housing team are:

Excellence in Social Housing

This award provides an opportunity for an organisation or team/division to showcase the outstanding and or unique way in which it has delivered social housing services.

City Housing has implemented multiple approaches to continuously improve and align its practices against the principle that tenant wellbeing is our first priority. This has meant, alongside working to improving the standard of warm and dry housing, initiatives such as standardising care for highest-risk tenants; creating smokefree tenancies; suicide prevention and post-vention training; recruiting for compassion; building staff resilience. 

Leading Community Engagement Practice

A project or initiative that demonstrates leading practice in encouraging and enabling and supporting tenant and/or community engagement.

The Community Action programme (CAP) aims to support the aspirations of the tenant community, build community spirit, safety and pride, and to engage with tenants affected by the Housing Upgrade Programme (HUP), enabling them to participate in decision-making. In practice this sees a dedicated team who are on-site with tenants every week to hear their interests, worries and ideas, and find or create opportunities for tenants to pursue their aspirations, improve their health and wellbeing and connect positively with their community. 

Tenant Led Initiative

Individual or a group of residents/tenants who have undertaken a project or initiative to benefit others in their community.

The City Housing tenant C.H.O.I.R (Creating Harmony Optimistically in Rhythm) began after a particularly rousing karaoke session at a tenant community event in 2015. A few tenants started getting together to develop and work on the idea of singing, many of them having no families living nearby. Their common interest in singing developed quickly into singing collectively as a choir. 

They noticed the positive energy that singing brought themselves and audiences, and they turned their attention to sharing this with rest home residents. The group now has semi-regular bookings at several rest homes as well as singing at events such as the Newtown Festival.

Inspirational Team Member

The winning candidate will be a person who is passionate about their role and understand how it fits into the strategic outcomes of their organisation and the values of social housing. They consistently demonstrate enthusiasm to add value to their role and motivate others within their team by the approach they take to their work.

Rosie Gallen has held the role of Community Action & Engagement Manager with City Housing since 2008. She was brought to the City Council to form an asset-based community development strategy and deliver a programme to support the tenant community as the Council prepared to begin major upgrade projects which have seen 1000 tenants moved from their homes in nine years.

The Community Action programme (CAP) aims to support the aspirations of the tenant community, build community spirit, safety and pride, and to lead engagement with tenants affected by the Housing Upgrade Programme (HUP). Its success is seen through tenants’ reporting (in annual surveys) that their feelings of safety, social belonging and their rating of their quality of life have all increased over the nine years of upheaval brought by huge upgrade projects.

Pictured above (left to right): Joanna Burleigh (Senior Advisor Community Projects) holding the award for Leading Community Engagement Practice, awarded to City Housing Community Action Programme; Cr Brian Dawson; Corrina McGregor (Senior Advisor Community Action) holding the award for Tenant Led Initiative, awarded to the City Housing Tenant Choir; Julie Rushton (acting Manager, City Housing) holding award for Excellence in Social Housing, awarded to City Housing; Deputy Mayor and WCC Social Housing Portfolio leader, Cr Paul Eagle; Rosie Gallen, (Manager, Community Action & Engagement) holding the Inspirational Team Member award she received.