How to be a great advocate for tenants: Helen Gatonyi on tenant advocacy and 25 years with TPA

Jun 30, 2016 | News

Working shoulder-to-shoulder with people, respecting them, giving them the opportunity to share their stories and access their own abilities and knowledge is the best way for successful negotiations and outcomes.

It’s also necessary to have a thorough understanding of the Residential Tenancies Act and the other Acts that sit around families and individuals in housing. Developing networks and relationships that help with quick and direct access to resources and outcomes helps. So does a strong understanding about community development practice and social justice. The type of advocacy used is really important with the correct information and practical options based on the actual situation. Some well-meaning advisors will give the answer they want to hear or their client wants to hear and can do the client a disservice by doing so.

“You can learn the law and its application but, in this arena-keeping people in homes-you can’t make judgements about people only the situation they’re in. Nothing is ever what it appears to be. And after 25 years of adversary you learn how to get people to the table.”

At its best, says Helen, tenant advocacy is a significant form of homelessness prevention.

What irks her still, though, is the thousands and thousands of dollars of unclaimed bonds, effectively tenant’s money, sitting in Government coffers while tenant advocacy groups scramble for funding – taking valuable time and resources away from direct support.

Helen recently told The Press reporter Emily Spink (Stuff,June 5, 2016) that the job of tenant advocacy, which has included laughter, tears and threats against her, involves fighting to help people keep a roof over their heads. Finishing up with TPA on July 1, Helen says, “There’s always been a new opportunity to fight another battle or make a change that’s going to affect change for others in a positive way. And I’ve just got tired.”

Some things do not change, Helen told The Press reporter Emily Spink, including the fight against homelessness and the need for a rental warrant of fitness. She is frustrated by the inaction of successive governments. “Everybody is just a couple of steps away from homelessness. Anyone of us could possibly find ourselves without a roof over our head. We have had some spectacular success with people, for people, but it is really demoralising to say the least, to see there is still so so much to be done.”

Read the Press interview with Helen here.

Recent articles

Community Housing Aotearoa newsletter 27 June 2022

Community Housing Aotearoa newsletter 27 June 2022

Our CEO Vic Crockford reflects on our past, while looking forward, Dwell Housing Trust's board is recognised for their sterling efforts, new research highlights NZ's ongoing housing challenges. Upcoming events include; the Community Housing Aotearoa MSD Training...

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 13 June 2022

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 13 June 2022

Kaupapakāinga: The potential for Māori cohousing, The Shift Directives - Leilani Farha, IN THE NEWS, EVENTS, National Volunteer Week, Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu, Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) | MSD Training Series - Session 3: Emergency Housing, Community Housing Aotearoa...

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 30 May 2022

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 30 May 2022

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 30 May 2022, 2022 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards now open for nominations, Community Finance takes out Innovation in Finance award, Budget 2022 panel discussion, Two new Pacific roles at CHA, NRHCC - winter wellness and...

Annual Report

CHA’s 2020/21 Annual Report

CHA’s 2020/21 Annual Report

Strategic Plan

CHA’s 2022-2023 Strategic Workplan

CHA’s 2022-2023 Strategic Workplan

Featured Network

Residential Tenancies Act Community of Practice

Residential Tenancies Act Community of Practice

Our Place

Our Place Report 2017

Our Place Report 2017

Case Studies

Media Releases

News

Anti-Social Behaviour notes Nov 21

Tenants Protection Association (Chch) Inc. Notes for presentation at Tenancy Management Community of Practice Nov 2021 Anti-Social Behaviour notes Nov 21

Tenancy Management COP November 2021 summary

tenancy-management-cop-november-2021-summary The final Tenancy Management Community of Practice for 2021 was held via zoom on 11th November 2021. This Community of Practice is relevant for advocates, practitioners, navigators and tenancy managers involved in...

Newsletters

Community Housing Aotearoa newsletter 27 June 2022

Our CEO Vic Crockford reflects on our past, while looking forward, Dwell Housing Trust's board is recognised for their sterling efforts, new research highlights NZ's ongoing housing challenges. Upcoming events include; the Community Housing Aotearoa MSD Training...

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 13 June 2022

Kaupapakāinga: The potential for Māori cohousing, The Shift Directives - Leilani Farha, IN THE NEWS, EVENTS, National Volunteer Week, Te Wiki Tūao ā-Motu, Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) | MSD Training Series - Session 3: Emergency Housing, Community Housing Aotearoa...

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 30 May 2022

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 30 May 2022, 2022 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards now open for nominations, Community Finance takes out Innovation in Finance award, Budget 2022 panel discussion, Two new Pacific roles at CHA, NRHCC - winter wellness and...

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 17 May 2022

Māori, Pacific needs left out of one size fits all approach to high-density developments, HUD and CHA Online Engagement on draft Public Housing Design Guidelines, In the News, RESOURCES, 2022 updates to healthy homes standards regulations take effect today,...

Community Housing Aotearoa (CHA) Newsletter 2 May 2022

Human Rights Commission releases troubling indicators on habitability, COVID-19 RESPONSE, First funds released from council housing reserve, Seven-point plan released to tackle cost of living, Community Finance nominated for top industry award, In the News, Events,...

Submissions

Legislation

Reports

Research

Community Housing Aotearoa

Contact Us

Contact Info

Level 11, Ranchhod Tower,
39 The Terrace /
102-112 Lambton Quay
PO Box 11543
Wellington 6142

+04 385 8722

support@communityhousing.org.nz

Follow On