Dr Geoff Lee, Member for Parramatta, on August 15 launched the Parramatta Housing Access Project, a collaboration between real estate agents, homelessness service providers and government agencies including housing and community services in Western Sydney.
The project will provide a way for real estate property managers operating in the Parramatta LGA and surrounding areas to identify tenants who are showing signs of financial stress or are struggling to meet their tenancy obligations, and to refer those tenants for advice and early intervention to prevent failing tenancies.
The service will not only assist tenants to maintain their accommodation and avoid blacklisting, but will also save landlords the costs of tribunal attendance, unpaid arrears and vacancies while replacement tenants are found.
Partners in the project are Community Migrant Resource Centre (CMRC), Settlement Services International, both lead agencies in settlement and housing support, and Mission Australia, Hume Community Housing, Department of Human Services, Family and Community Services – Housing, Uniting Hope, and local real estate agents.
CMRC Settlement Services Manager Aurelia Rahman said, “When we started this project, we had two objectives: developing stronger relationships with local real estate agencies and building capacity among CALD tenants and community leaders. However, the focus has also been on shifting the sector culture away from crisis management to early intervention and prevention.
“Supporting tenants at risk of eviction benefits everyone in the community, including the clients themselves, service providers and the government, by preventing people unnecessarily entering the homelessness service system.
“Averting tenant evictions also benefits real estate agents by saving stress, time and money to themselves and the property owners.”
The project had benefited from the wisdom of advisers from local real estate agencies and CALD communities, and from the expertise of Western Sydney Community Forum, the Macarthur Real Estate Engagement Project, Ken Barnard (who was involved in the Macarthur project) and Eva Gerencer from WSCF, who had a prominent role in the Macarthur Project, Ms Rahman said.
One of the community service organisations, Mission Australia, will host the referral service and will link individual referrals to member organisations to organise support around the clients facing difficulties.
Representatives from real estate agents such as LJ Hooker, Elders Toongabbie, Leroy McGee Realty and Everything Realty Wentworthville, together with representatives of service providers in the area participated in the launch of the project.