They won this award because, according to AHI, tenants benefit from a consistent well-informed and credible advice/advocacy service. In the past two years (2013-2015), in an environment of significant upheaval, there were over 20,000 calls through the phone service and post-earthquake, the call duration had risen significantly. TPA conducted 80 education sessions, prevented numerous evictions and stabilised a large number of tenancies at significant risk of eviction in a time of unprecedented rental scarcity in both the private rental market and the social housing arena. TPA provided 160 rental clinics in the eastern suburbs which were hardest hit by the earthquakes. They also organised 15 housing forums with an estimated attendance of over 2,000 participants. TPA has worked tirelessly to improve rental housing standards.
A man came into our office with a donation and reminded us that we had housed him in our emergency house (now long gone) for several months until he got back on his feet. He subsequently went to Bible College and was ordained a Minister and had never forgotten our kindness and support, vowing to give us a donation when he was in a position to do so. If we did not need the money we would have framed it!
When TPA was first formed they talked about working with anyone who lives in a home they do not own. They later talked about working with anyone who lives in a dwelling they did not own. Now they talk about anyone who lives in a shelter they do not own and increasingly they work with people who have no shelter at all.
Last year they provided tenancy advice to over 8000 calls through their advice line and this year’s statistics indicate that 15% of calls are from outside the Canterbury region. They offer face-to-face information and adviceat their offices and rental clinics at Work & Income offices in Linwood and New Brighton with outreach services to any community of need, upon request.
TPA’s Outreach and Supporting Vulnerable Tenancies (SVT) programmes are designed to work directly in local communities providing tenants with resources, advice, advocacy and support around issues. The SVT Programme is a “whatever-it-takes” approach and works with tenancies at risk putting supports and actions into place to maintain these tenancies. The outreach programme works with community groups and tenants to provide an on-the-spot tenancy service.
TPA provide a range of education workshops for tenants and for community organisations. Education is focussed to youth, first-time renters and new migrants into the city and also agencies who have clients who are tenants, usually delivering 40 education sessions per year.
In 1999 TPA established the Christchurch Housing Forum and it has operated continuously since then, meeting every six weeks and including representatives from all sectors. Covering a variety of housing topics it is regularly attended by 60-80 people at each meeting.
One of our first Supporting Vulnerable Tenancies (SVT) tenants was Jane and her four year old son. Jane suffers from long term illness and lived in a completely enclosed home: curtains closed, not answering the door and living in considerable chaos, and who faced eviction. She has maintained the tenancy we found for her for 10 years while raising a beautiful independent young man, now works part-time and able to celebrate her life and successes.
TPA staff left to right: Helen Gatonyi, Lisa Coulter, Di Harwood, Niki Smith and Ali Brunel
The current environment for tenants
TPA have been long-time advocates for affordability of housing, habitability of rental housing, security of tenure for tenants, and professionalism in the business of being a landlord. They have been asking for a rental housing warrant of fitness and a registration of rental properties for over 20 years.
Another client with a head injury and facing eviction and incarceration, was shut out from every agency in the city because of his illness and erratic behaviours. He is now maintaining his tenancy, has stayed out of jail, and doors previously closed are being opened.
·Strong diverse relationships
·Ethical and professional behaviours
For more on TPA view their website at www.tpa.org.nz.
Download the article:CHCH Tenancy Prtoection profile edited.pdf
The attached Parity article, from October 2007 from TPA staff, is also worth reading – as current today as it was then.TPA Parity Article October 2007.pdf