Community GroupsHousingNews

Raising standards and encouraging best practice

The Boarding House Outreach Service at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre (NNC) looks at life from both sides in an area of inner Sydney where the number of boarding houses and rough sleepers is high.

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Much of its work is ongoing support to people living in boarding houses who are at risk of homelessness or those who have just become homeless and are looking to move into a boarding house.

But on October 10 the focus was on the other side of the project – its support for boarding house owners and operators – with the inaugural Boarding House Good Practice Awards. “We believe working with and supporting boarding house owners and operators is crucial to the success and ongoing viability of the boarding house sector,” said Paul Adabie, manager of the Boarding House Outreach Service.

Over the years the project has developed a number of resources for boarding house operators, including a guide to day-to-day management of a boarding house, and holds regular forums for boarding house operators with guest speaker presentations.

This year NNC created the awards to raise the bar in the sector by showcasing the best boarding houses and their operators in the Inner West LGA, which were celebrated with a dinner for nominees and staff. The Sydney Street Choir, many of whom are boarding house residents, performed following the presentations.

Alicia Tindall was a dual winner on the evening (Community Connection Award and joint winner, Large Boarding House of the Year). She spoke of her memories as a young girl accompanying her father to the boarding houses he owned and has modelled his caring attitude in her approach to her residents – that everyone deserves a decent place to live.

“Boarding houses provide a place for people to stay when in crisis as they are open to anybody and rent can be more affordable. Unfortunately, some boarding house operators neglect the buildings and the residents,” said Liz Yeo, CEO of NNC.

“However, as a neighbourhood centre, we want to encourage professional and caring operators like Alicia because boarding houses are also many people’s long term homes. So good boarding house operators create stability and safety for the community as a whole, as well as the residents.”

Kris Mudd with Julie and Kevin Webster. Photo: Lyn Turnbull

Kris Mudd with Julie and Kevin Webster. Photo: Lyn Turnbull

Kevin and Julie Webster shared the Large Boarding House of the Year award with Alicia. With tears in her eyes Julie spoke with gratitude of the support and guidance provided by NNC’s Housing Partnership Officer when she and Kevin, as relatively recent migrants who were totally new to the boarding house sector, encountered unexpected hurdles as they established their Marrickville boarding house.

Irene Jackson. Photo: Lyn Turnbull

Irene Jackson. Photo: Lyn Turnbull

The final award for the evening was to Irene Jackson as winner of the Small Boarding House of the Year for homes with fewer than 13 residents.

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