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Central Sydney Region High Rise Strategy

In 2004 the (then) Department of Housing commissioned the study “Managing our High Rise Buildings – A Framework for managing our high rise buildings in Central Sydney Division.” The study was undertaken by a consultant and documented the tenancy, building management and community engagement aspects of managing high-rises. REDWatch requested the release of this report. HNSW has declined to release the report but instead has released the report below which explains the process for development of the High Rise Strategy some years ago, the main conclusions of the Strategy and what has happened since then. It also includes the records of 3 consultation processes that took place in Redfern and Waterloo areas as part of the process.

Background

In 2004 the (then) Department of Housing commissioned the study “Managing our High Rise Buildings – A Framework for managing our high rise buildings in Central Sydney Division.” The study was undertaken by a consultant and documented the tenancy, building management and community engagement aspects of managing high-rises. It sought to provide a strategic framework for managing the 23 high rise buildings that the Department manages.

Study findings

The study concluded that:

  • High rise housing is a viable form of social housing in Sydney, particularly in well located and well serviced areas, provided it is appropriately managed and well maintained.
  • High rise housing has an important place in the Division’s portfolio now and into the future, in an environment of increasing demand from smaller and single person low income households.
  • The approach to management of buildings in a high rise context must be fully integrated.  This will require coordinated strategies and synchronised action across the core responsibilities of the Division: viz, tenant selection, tenancy management, community building and asset management.
  • It should be ensured that tenants are suited to high rise living. Any necessary support services must be put securely in place before the commencement of the tenancy or as needs change.
  • To increase the access of different client groups, alternative tenancy and service delivery models should be introduced
  • Tenancy management must be responsive to the particular demographic, social and physical circumstances of each building and its surrounding community.
  • Tenant involvement in management decisions for particular buildings enhances local “ownership” of the facility and builds community participation and support.
  • On site staff presence has proved beneficial in overseas and interstate situations and should be strongly considered.
  • In the case of large high rise complexes, a management approach, used increasingly in the private sector, is highly recommended.
  • A positive long term approach to community building in partnership with residents and service providers should be developed

The Strategy proposed that individual Management Plans for each of the high rise buildings be prepared, outlining an integrated approach to asset management, tenancy, building management and community engagement strategies for each building.

Response to the High Rise Strategy report

Subsequently, CSR staff undertook work to develop draft pilot plans for 3 groups of high rise buildings:

  • The 3 high rise buildings at Poet’s Corner
  • Matavai and Turanga in Waterloo
  • Marton and Slander

In developing these plans, staff undertook some consultation with residents in those high rise buildings and local organisations serving social housing residents and communities.

A corporate decision was then taken that the development of management plans for every building was not the best use of limited staff resources and that the recommendations of the High Rise Strategy report could be implemented in more effective ways. It was decided that high rise buildings could continue to be managed as part of a business as usual approach, using the tools already available, such as Local Allocation Strategies, the Human Services Accord and community development projects like HCP. Opportunities to implement the recommendations of the strategy would be identified as they arose.

Subsequent Actions

Subsequently, the Federal Government’s Nation Building Stimulus funding became available in 2008 and provided an opportunity to put significant investment in the upgrading of core services within high rise buildings in Redfern and Waterloo. Over $ XXXm has been spent over the last 3 years in upgrading lifts, sewerage systems, repairing concrete and painting.  

The High Rise Strategy report also made an important contribution to HNSW’s Long Term Asset Plan (LTAP) developed in 2008.

In addition, following the recommendations of the High Rise Strategy report, and representations from a number of sectors, work was done on a possible ‘concierge’ model for some high rise buildings. The Waterloo Green Neighbourhood Project was subsequently developed as a pilot project to significantly improve management and security in the 6 Waterloo high rise buildings. This will result in the investment of $12m over 3 years in an innovative pilot project. In announcing the project, the Premier and local Member, Kristina Keneally said that if the project proved to be successful it would be rolled out in other high rise buildings.

Consultation findings

The consultations that were carried out to develop the draft pilot management plans for the 3 groups of buildings, covering 7 high rise buildings in Redfern and Waterloo, during 2007 informed the development of subsequent initiatives.

A summary of the consultations findings for the 3 groups of buildings is set out in the Appendix.    

1. Matavai and Turanga

Key issues raised by tenants
  • Tenants raised the issue of improper allocations and how some residents are not suited to high rise living.
  • There is a lack of understanding of what is expected of the tenants and the roles and responsibilities. This highlights the need for proper induction and ongoing engagement / contact with DoH staff.
  • The tenants also raised the issue of residents with poor living skills and their inability to keep the units and common areas clean.
  • Alternative use of common rooms and better utilisation of the ground floor common areas for recreational activities was requested.
  • The need for a range of organised social and recreational activities was also raised.
  • Safety and security issues and general maintenance are the main recurrent issues cited by the tenants.

The issues were prioritised as  

  • Safety & security
  • Housing elderly with elderly
  • Adaptability & Amenity of bathrooms/kitchens
  • Reducing social isolation
  • Increasing social and recreation activities

 

2. Marton and Solander

 

Building Maintenance

 

  • Lack of Lighting in the hallway and other common areas.
  • Unreliable lift facilities
  • Efficiency in responding to maintenance required to be improved
  • Open access to Laundries enables non residents to enter &, occupy,
  • Perception of concerns related to poor timeliness of Housing Contact Centre services
  • Tenants on higher floors are disturbed by the noise from water pumps
  • Carpets in common area are difficult to maintain
  • Windows are not cleaned externally/

Common Area Cleaning

  • Management of pets 
  • More effective Graffiti cleaning methods are needed
  • Cleanliness in security car park area
  • Improved management of rubbish rooms and garbage bays required
  • Cleanliness of carpets in common areas

Safety

 

  • Perceived personal safety in common areas and in the immediate vicinity of buildings particularly at night
  • Security for personal belongings
  • Security in the security car park
  • Security in lifts, common areas, entrance and the immediate vicinity of buildings
  • Compatibility of tenants with high-rise living
  • Tenants knowledge of their duties and obligations as tenants, neighbours and citizens
  • Presence of Graffiti generates a feeling of a threatening environment
  • Attentiveness of security guards
  • Improved response times to tenant requesting from the Police assistance is required

Information and

Service

  • The practice of accessing the Housing Contact Centre by tenants via the Team
  • Tenants access to information on roles and responsibilities towards making their immediate environment is safe, clean, and comfortable 
  • Access to information for tenants on high-rise living and basic information needed to live in the inner city
  • Cleanliness, maintenance, disability access and equipments in Community Rooms
  • Opening hours and frequency of Outreach office

Community Cohesion

  • Social events for tenant interaction
  • A tenant mix that is conducive to better harmony among tenants
  • Lack of organised activities for tenants
  • Limited opportunity to nurture neighbourly relations
  • More services catering for CALD groups  is needed
  • Garden seats are old, broken, pain peeled off, and not maintained and located at uneven surfaces.

Relationship with Team

  • Follow up action in response to issues raised by tenants 
  • High staff turnover inhibit the development of relationships between respective tenants and CSOs

3. Poets Corner

Tenancy Issues

Residents Kit

  • No residents kit for new tenants
  • Rubbish removal - do new tenants have key? 
  • Contact details for new tenants
  • Follow up household members

Pets

  • Pets – lack of care / noisy
  • Pets - large dogs living in units

Recycling

  • Recycling - should be floor by floor

Graffiti

  • Graffiti
  • Vandalism is reported to team but slow response time

Illegal occupants

  • Short term conditional leases
  • Illegal tenants

DoH related

  • Complaints aren't followed up
  • Not enough DOH presence
  • Managerial presence at meetings
  • Team service provider liaison

Allocation

  • Tenant screening / selection
  • Allocations of new tenants
 

Building Maintenance

Lights

  • Security should advise if lights are out

Foyers

  • Phones used in foyers MCC
  • Front doors vandalised
  • Carpet damage in foyer
  • Roof leaking onto foyer carpet
  • Rubbish left in foyer

Balconies

  • Balconies need to be upgraded
  • Plumbing leaks, over balconies

Car parking

  • Car parking

Fire Stairs

  • Fire stairs – graffiti
  • Fire doors broken - used for anti-social behaviour
  • Slow response to fire door repair (12 months)

Bathrooms

  • Air vents in bathrooms

Inspections

  • Inspections don't happen
  • Spot checks - no notice

Lifts

  • Lifts functioning, but dirty / buttons burned out
  • Lifts break down
  • Cameras in lifts
  • Complete overhaul / replacement of lifts

Laundry Room

  • No lock on laundry room - items stolen

Security Screens

  • Security screens scratched on

Pests

  • Rats in concrete holes
  • Pigeons

Open space/ Grounds

  • Noxious / allergy weeds in gardens

Cleaning

  • Cleaning to be improved

Intercoms

  • Good - intercom is working

Laundry/ Bin

  • Replacement of keys for laundry / bin

Roof/ Ceilings

  • Roof upgrades - pitched zincalume clad roofs
  • Sealing between floors to prevent water from sprinklers leaking downstairs

Walls

  • Painting of external building wall
  • Painting of internal walls / removal of graffiti
  • Painting of garbage and laundry rooms
  • Breakdown of membrane and cracked sealant on external building surface, due to building Movement allowing water penetration to internal unit walls

Feedback on Maintenance

  • Feedback on preventative maintenance programme following property assessment survey by Hi-Tech Inspect  - nova 2005
Community Building

 

 

Community activities

  • Community activities - build on making it a community to live in

New tenants

  • New tenants - no interest in being responsible for part of the community

Things I like about living here

  • Good - Doctor
  • Some good neighbours
  • Good access to shops and transport

Community Centre

  • Need community centre like Northcott

Tenant Reps

  • More defined roles of tenant rep

Regular contact with elderly

  • Regular home phone contact for elderly living alone (Redfern inner city home support service or Blue cross tele-call service)

Tenant consultation

  • Tenants need communication/ feedback and the opportunity to comment on projects before final decisions are made that impact on all the community of the estate.
Safety and Security

CCTV

  • Monitoring of CCTV not happening
  • Need more CCTV

 Vandalism

  • Front doors vandalised

Fire doors

  • Fire doors left open / alarms removed during fire upgrade, not replaced

Youth issues

  • Younger tenants causing problems

Graffiti

  • Anti-graffiti paint

Nuisance & Annoyance

  • Nuisance and Annoyance yelling over balcony

Security guards

  • Security guards not doing jobs
  • 24 hour monitored emergency service (e.g. Vital Call (a subsidiary of Chubb)
  • Security cameras installed in GFLR mail room, entrance lobby and inside lifts - vandalism etc responded to rapidly
  • Need better security
  • Security guards not doing jobs

Police patrols

  • More local police patrols / drive around / exercising stop and search

Common grounds

  • Misuse of common grounds

Theft

  • Clothes stolen from dryer

Drug Use

  • Drug use in common areas

Unauthorised entrants

  • Unauthorised entrants waiting at doors to enter
  • Building open at the rear

Source: This document has been supplied to REDWatch by HNSW on 31 January 2011