COVID-19 Updates

Our communications to Tenants of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust regarding the COVID-19 pandemic

3 June 2020

Chief Executive’s Letter to Tenants of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust

On behalf of everyone at OCHT, thanks again for helping New Zealand stick to the COVID-19 rules. New Zealand has flattened the COVID-19 curve but we must continue to follow public health guidance – wash our hands, sneeze into our elbows, stay at home if unwell,  and if you have any symptoms of COVID or seasonal illness, please call you doctor or the COVID-19 helpline – 0800 779 997.

On Monday 25 May, the government announced we will remain at Level Two for up to four weeks but gatherings could increase in number, to 100. Today, 3 June, after 12 days without a new case of COVID-19, the government tells us that on Monday 8 June they will reconsider moving to Level One, and if the health information remains positive, New Zealand may move to Level One on 10 June.

This letter provides an update on OCHT services in Level Two, and a few things that some tenants have raised with our team.

Heat Pump Installations
OCHT’s Warm & Dry team and contractors are installing heat pumps between now and August 2020.

To make up for the four-week lockdown, we are focusing on the 909 priority homes first (our coldest homes), and then we will come back and install heat pumps in the rest of the complex. We really want to get those homes as warm as possible by winter. All but two complexes will have heat pumps by the end of July, and the last two complex installations will be completed in early August. We really appreciate your patience. You can follow our progress on Facebook @otautahicommunityhousingtrust

Ventilation and Draft Stopping
Stage Two of the Warm & Dry Initiative, a joint OCHT and Christchurch City Council project, is restarting. Our team is checking ventilation and draft stopping requirements in OCHT homes. Ventilation installations will start again in June and draught stopping where needed will start in July.

OCHT Rent Streams
A number of you have asked about the different rent assistance that is available for our tenants. There are two different rental assistance streams: one is the Assisted Rental, (tenancy agreements that pre-date OCHT and were between a tenant and Council); the second is an Income Related Rent subsidy. Some tenants receiving Assisted Rent support have raised the issue about the difference between the two as they pay more than tenants on the MSD Income Related Rent. OCHT has approached the government and asked them to consider changing the current system so that all tenants could access the Income Related Rent, which would help those who were in Council tenancies when OCHT was established in 2016.  Unfortunately, the response from the government was that a change in the policy is unlikely. Please be assured that we will continue to advocate at every opportunity for a change in this policy.  If you are on an Assisted Rental tenancy, please talk with MSD to make sure you can access the accommodation supplement if you meet their criteria.

Rent Freeze
Some Assisted Rental stream tenants have asked our team if their rent will go up now that they have had a new heat pump installed? OCHT has committed to an annual rent review for Assisted Rentals and generally increases the rent on 1 July each year. However, in March this year the Government announced a residential rent freeze that is in place until September 2020. OCHT will advise you in July if we are considering a rent increase.

Developments
As well as upgrading your homes with heating and ventilation, OCHT is building new homes. We have listened to your concerns that your homes have not always aged well. As we progressed our building specifications, we checked with OCHT’s Tenant Advisory Group (TAG) on design and quality of these homes. As well as thinking hard about specifications, new homes will be accredited as New Zealand Green Building Council Homestar 6. A 6 Homestar rating or higher means a home is easier and more cost effective to keep warm, dry, healthy, and more environmentally friendly than a typical new house.

Maintenance
OCHT undertakes minor maintenance and ground care around your homes and complexes. Earlier this year some media coverage suggested that OCHT has reduced the level of maintenance to make savings. In fact, we have achieved savings through efficiencies, not a reduction in service and we are completing more minor maintenance than two years ago. Because we are a small organisation, our procurement and inhouse teams are efficient, and if we do not spend the annual budget, it is re-invested into planned works on our homes. We are absolutely committed to bringing homes up to a better standard. OCHT and Council have started this with the installation of heat pumps to improve warmth and overall health and comfort of our tenants.

Look Out for Your Neighbours
During this time, it is really important that you let us know if you are worried about a neighbour. For example, if you don’t see their lights on when they normally would be, please let us know.

Wishing you all the best from everyone here at OCHT and remember, we are happy to answer your questions. Call us on 0800 624 456. OCHT will write to you again when we move to Level One.

Thank you and take care.

Kind regards

Cate Kearney
Chief Executive

OCHT Services in Alert Level 2
The OCHT office is open from 8.30 – 5.00 pm. The call centre operates 24/7. Visitors to the office will sign a contact tracing form. Please do not come to the office if you are unwell.

OCHT Maintenance
Ordinary maintenance continues. Please stay two metres away from contractors or go into another room in your home until they are finished. This is for your well-being and theirs.

OCHT Lawns and Common Garden Areas
Outdoor work around complexes continues as usual. Please stay two metres away at all times.

OCHT Housing People
Full steam ahead! Please welcome your new neighbours when you see them around your complex.

OCHT Community Activities and Lounges
BBQs and other community activities are paused. Lounges remain closed. OCHT will review in two weeks.


12 May 2020

Chief Executive’s Letter to Tenants of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust

On behalf of everyone here at OCHT, we want to touch base about changes to COVID-19 alert levels.  Please take time to read this letter and follow the recommendations.

COVID-19 Alert Level 3 (Restrict – until 11.59pm, 13 May 2020)
The Government has extended the Alert Level 3 Lockdown until 11.59 on 13 May. Stay at home if we can and please stay 2 metres apart from people not in your bubble.

COVID-19 Alert Level 2 (Reduce – 14 May 2020)
The Government will move New Zealand to Alert Level 2 in stages from 14 May.  The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains. There is a staged move to Level 2:

  • Thursday 14 May malls, shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds and public toilets open.
  • Friday 15 May The Art Gallery, Turanga and large community libraries open
  • Monday 18 May schools, universities, early learning centres and small community libraries open.
  • Thursday 21 May, bars reopen
  • Groups and social gatherings cannot be larger than 10 people. Other updates below:

Physical Distancing
You no longer need to stick to your bubble. Now, keep your distance and maintain physical distancing of 2 metres when outside.  You can have friends and family over to your home but the gathering can have no more than 10 people. Keep surfaces clean, wash your hands, keep the numbers low.

Personal Movement
Follow good hygiene practices, consider others around you and maintain 1 metre physical distance at cafes, restaurants and retail stores. Take care if you interact with people you don’t know as it won’t be easy to do contact tracing. E.g. playgrounds, parks, shopping malls.

Travel
You can travel around the country but make sure you do it safely. You will need to keep records of what travel services you use and keep track of all contacts. You should keep your distance from groups of people you don’t know and minimise the number of stops.  Here are some other tips:

  • Limit public transport use or travel off-peak. Avoid sitting by someone you don’t know.
  • If you’re taking transport that involve bookings, follow the physical distancing instructions.
  • You must not travel if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or awaiting a test.

Businesses and Venues
Museums, libraries, food courts, shops, markets, restaurants, cafes and other businesses can open. There will be restrictions such as keeping groups 1 metre apart. Groups are no larger than 10 people.

Sport and Recreation
You can do your usual exercise, sport and recreation activities, provided you can do them safely.

General Health Advice
Health services will operate as normally as possible.  Refer to OCHT’s first letter that included hints to stay well; regularly disinfect surfaces; wash and dry hands, cough into elbow, don’t touch your face. If you have cold or flu symptoms stay at home and ring Healthline or your GP.

You can call the COVID-19 Healthline number with any COVID-19 health-related concerns on 0800 358 5453. Contact your GP or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 for any other health concerns.

OCHT Services in Alert Level 2
The OCHT office opens on 18 May from 8.30 – 5.00 pm. The call centre operates 24/7. If you have an appointment with OCHT or our contractors are coming to your home, we will ask you some health questions. This is for your safety as well as the safety of our employees and contractors. We will ask visitors to the office sign a contact tracing form. Please do not come to the office if you are unwell. Thank you.

OCHT Maintenance
Ordinary maintenance continues. Thanks for calling in your jobs and please keep ringing them in. You will see contractors around your complex but stay 2 metres away or go into another room in your home until they are finished. This is for your protection as well as theirs.

OCHT Lawns and Common Garden Areas
Outdoor work around complexes continues as usual. Please stay 2 metres away at all times.

OCHT Heatpump Installations
Full steam ahead!  697 homes have heatpumps and we’re on track to complete installations in the 909 priority homes by winter. We will call our tenants 5 days before your heatpump installation is scheduled and ask your permission to enter your home for three hours to install your heat pump.  This allows us to speed up installations. Once the 909 priority homes have heatpumps, our team will come back and complete installations complex by complex. We will send a letter next week advising more on the heat pump programme.

OCHT Housing People
It is safe to have people move into their new home because COVID-19 is contained & New Zealand has contact tracing and testing in place. Please welcome your new neighbours when you see them around your complex.

OCHT Community Activities
BBQs and other community activities are paused. This is for your safety.  Many OCHT tenants may have health conditions or be elderly and they may be at risk if we gather people together. We will continue to make calls to people who live alone or have few supports. Please let us know if you would like us to call you weekly.

Community Lounges
Lounges will remain closed for now but this will be reviewed in two weeks.

Inspections
Inspections will restart. Please stay 2 metres away from your tenancy manager at all times.

Wishing you all the best from the OCHT Team and remember, we are happy to answer your questions and you can call us on 0800 624 456. Thank you and take care.

Kind regards

Cate Kearney
Chief Executive


21 April 2020

Chief Executive’s Letter to Tenants of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust

On behalf of all the OCHT team, I’d like to thank you very much for staying home and sticking to the rules of Alert Level 4. As the weeks roll-on we appreciate your efforts to keep yourselves and your neighbours safe. Also, a big thanks to tenants who have been so positive when the OCHT team call you or you call us. And to those of you who have asked our team how we are, thank you. We really appreciate this.

This letter follows on from earlier letters we have sent to you about COVID-19. Please take time to read this letter and follow the recommendations. This will help keep us all safe.

COVID-19 Alert Level 4 (Lockdown until 11.59pm, 27 April 2020)
The Government has extended the Alert Level 4 Lockdown until 28 April. This means there is no change to advice we have previously given you. Please stay home and be kind to your neighbours for the next seven days. Please be kind and considerate of others in your complex.

COVID-19 Alert Level 3 (Restrict Movement from 28 April 2020)
Under Alert Level 3 we will still have significant restrictions on our day-to-day lives. The risk of COVID-19 will have diminished, but not gone away.

Bubbles and Physical Distancing
At Alert Level 3, we must stay at home if we can. It is a simple thing we can all do to help each other. We must remain in our immediate household bubble, but we can extend our bubble to reconnect with close family or bring in a caregiver. This extended bubble must remain exclusive. Anyone who feels unwell must immediately self-isolate from others in their bubble.

Please stay 2 metres apart from other people outside your home (apart from people in your bubble).

Travel
Travel is allowed only for essential personal movement in your local area: accessing local services and businesses, • Going to work and school, • Low-risk recreation in your local area, • Extended bubble arrangements.

Those travelling on public transport should avoid peak times unless they are going to work or school. People at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (e.g. those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and the elderly), must take additional precautions when leaving home.

OCHT Maintenance
Ordinary maintenance at OCHT homes restarts in Level 3. Please ring us with any maintenance jobs and we will let you know if it is a job we can do right away, or whether it might need to wait until a later alert level stage. You will see contractors around your complex but please don’t approach them as you must both maintain 2 metres distance at all times. This is for your protection as well as theirs.

OCHT Lawns and Common Garden Areas
Our contractors will also be working around complexes in level 3. Please don’t approach them as you must both maintain 2 metres distance at all times. This is for your protection as well as theirs.

OCHT Warm & Dry Initiative
The Warm & Dry Initiative restarts in level 3. We want to make up for lost time and install heat pumps in the 909 priority homes by winter. To assist us, please be ready for a call from our Tenancy Manager. We will ask your permission to enter your home for about three hours to install your heat pump. If you agree, this will allow us to speed up installations by winter (1 June). We will come back at a later date to check ventilation. If you have any questions please call your Tenancy Manager.

OCHT Housing People
OCHT can now let vacant homes because furniture movements are allowed under Alert Level 3.

Call Centre Hours
Our call centre operates 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. We have shortened our office hours during lockdown (8.30 – 4.00 pm). Call us for free on 0800 624 456 if you need us.

Wishing you all the best from the OCHT Team and remember we are here if you need us.

Kind regards

Cate Kearney
Chief Executive

Warm & Dry Initiative
Revised Programme for the Priority 909 homes

Complexes completed before 26 March – Heatpumps and ventilation
Concord Place
Berwick Place
Fletcher Place
Glue Place

Complexes that start again in Level 3 – Heat pumps only
Forfar Courts
Guthrey Courts
Haast Courts
Harman Courts
Innes Courts
Manse Place
Norman Kirk Courts
Pickering Courts

In May/June OCHT will send a letter to advise tenants in the remaining homes when your installation will take place.


6 April 2020

Chief Executive’s Letter to Tenants of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust

During Lockdown, it is more important than ever that OCHT keeps in touch with our tenants. We will share important information and updates on a regular basis while we remain in Alert Level 4 or Lockdown. Please take time to read this letter and information sheet and follow the recommendations. This will help keep us all safe.

Be Kind
We are all in this together. Lockdown is a new and unknown situation for us all. We know it is difficult, but if we get this right, we can save lives and stamp out COVID-19. If we are kind to our neighbours, and all those in our complex, we will get through this. Please be considerate and mindful of others in your complex.

Bubbles and Physical Distancing
During week one of Lockdown, OCHT received calls from concerned tenants across our complexes. Many of these calls were about the fact that some tenants are mixing outside, in groups. This is dangerous and could cause harm. You should only have contact with the people you live with. The more people that come in contact together, the harder it is to break the chain of this virus. Staying at home and in our bubble is a simple thing we can all do to help stamp out the virus.
Ministry of Health advise:
For people living alone, you can have a bubble involving one other household, but no more.

Essential Maintenance
Essential maintenance will continue during Lockdown. If you have any questions about one of our team, or contractors visiting your home, please contact us on 0800 624 456. We are monitoring lawns, but they may grow long before we can mow them. Please be patient. Our contractors will be back out there as soon as they are allowed to do so.

Wellbeing Patrols
Two of the OCHT team have started well-being patrols around our complexes. Bryan and Sam are very happy to have a chat with tenants and help solve problems you may have. They will stay in their car to chat and it is important that you stand 4 metres away from the car when talking to them.

Call Centre Hours
Our call centre operates 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. You can call us for free on 0800 624 456 if you need us. We have shortened our office hours during lockdown (8.30 – 4.00 pm) to allow our wonderful team to have some exercise while it is still light. Calls outside ordinary hours are answered but these calls should be emergency maintenance calls only.

Contact details
It is important that we are can keep in contact with you so we can share important information, quickly and efficiently. Our Tenancy Managers are ringing all tenants to check that we have the correct contact details for you and the best way to contact you e.g. phone, text or email.

COVID-19 Helpline If you have questions about COVID-19 you can call the free government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am to 10pm, 7 days a week).

Attachment: Tenant Information Sheet  

Kind regards

Cate Kearney
Chief Executive


26 March 2020

Warm & Dry Programme – COVID-19 Update

We are sending you this letter to advise that the four week lockdown against the COVID-19 virus spread will unfortunately impact on progress with our Warm & Dry initiative.

On Thursday 26 March New Zealand went into level 4 of our COVID-19 alert system. Level 4 measures mean that New Zealand is in lockdown for at least four weeks. Level four means that everyone must now stay home, except those providing essential services. People can access essentials including medicine, food and other home supplies.

Public Health advised OCHT late on Wednesday 25 March to stop the heat pump installations to ensure everyone’s safety. While we are disappointed, OCHT accepts this decision is the right thing for you and OCHT’s contractors.

We are not wasting time, and the Warm & Dry Team is already reworking the programme so that once the COVID-19 lockdown is lifted, we can restart the installation programme as quickly as possible.  Once OCHT has the all clear from the Government (lockdown is over), we will be back out in your homes scoping and installing heat pumps and again targeting the 909 highest priority homes.

To date we have been making great progress and had installed 340 heat pumps into your homes. OCHT and Christchurch City Council remain absolutely committed to this programme.

In the meantime, we urge everyone to be safe, stay at home and follow the requirements of the COVID-19 level 4 alert.

While we are in lockdown OCHT will continue to provide health and safety essential maintenance – you may know this as an urgent maintenance job.

We appreciate this is a difficult time. Please call us any time. We have more of our wonderful team supporting the call centre and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have.

Warm & Dry – Frequently Asked Questions

Kind regards

Cate Kearney
Chief Executive


25 March 2020

COVID-19 Alert Level 4:  Update for OCHT Tenants and their whānau

Lockdown from 12.00am 25 March 2020

On Monday 23 March 2020, the New Zealand Government announced that we are all to go into lock down from midnight on Thursday 25 March 2020 for four weeks. While this may concern some people, it is a good decision and is aimed at slowing down the spread of COVID-19. We each have a part to play in doing our very best to keep ourselves, our families and our neighbours safe and well.

Below is some essential information for OCHT tenants.

1. We are here to help

Our offices are closed but we’re still working.

You can call us for free on 0800 624 456 if you need us. You can also call your Tenancy Manager.

From Monday 23 March, Otautahi Community Housing Trust (OCHT) Tenancy Managers are calling tenants that we have identified as vulnerable due to their age or health issues. We will continue to have increased contact with this group of tenants.

2. Essential Maintenance

OCHT as a housing provider is an essential service.   Essential maintenance will continue as usual. If you have any questions about one of our team or contractors visiting your home, please contact us on 0800 624 456 before they are due to visit.

3. Warm & Dry Initiative

OCHT and Christchurch City Council want to continue with the heat pump installations – our tenants are absolutely top priority, both warm and dry wise, and also regarding Covid-19. It is unclear if upgrading heating to heat pumps is considered an essential maintenance task. We have asked for clarification from Government, and once we have that, we will know where we stand. We are hopeful we will be able to continue with a reduced programme if contractors are available for the next four weeks.  We will let know you as soon as we know.

4. $30 Pak’n’Save Voucher

The supermarket chain that agreed to provide us with care package supplies for tenants, advised us on Monday 23 March that they could not honour the order. We’re really sorry about that. Instead we have sourced a $30 Pak’n’Save gift voucher for each home.  If you need assistance with your shopping call us and we will see what we can suggest.

Christchurch City Council and OCHT are very grateful to Pak’n’Save for helping us out at very short notice.

5. OCHT Focus Right now

Our office is closed and the call centre is operating 24/7 on 0800 624 456

Tenancy Managers will stop visits and instead will support our tenants by phone and text.

Essential maintenance will occur for the next four weeks but gardens and lawns will not be done.

We are waiting to see if the Warm & Dry Initiative is considered essential maintenance and will let tenants know as soon as possible.

If you need to talk to anyone about how you’re feeling, there is help available through the National Telehealth Service. Call or text for free to 1737.


20 March 2020

Chief Executive’s Letter to Tenants of Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust

I appreciate this is a very difficult and challenging time for you, as it is for many in New Zealand. On behalf of everyone at OCHT, we want to touch base about how we will operate while COVID-19 (coronavirus) requires us to do things a little differently.

COVID-19

COVID-19 is a new virus and it is impacting all across the world. Today (Friday, 20 March 2020) there is no evidence of it being passed from person-to-person in New Zealand as all cases involve people who have been overseas. However, we must be prepared for that to change and there to be more cases in the future.

The Ministry of Health is leading New Zealand’s response and OCHT is following their advice, checking daily for any changes. I have included fact sheets to help you stay well at home, and two useful website addresses at the end of this letter if you’d like further information.

A Gift for You……OCHT and Christchurch City Council Care Packages

We’re really pleased to let you know that we have sourced some essential items for you, and we will distribute OCHT and Christchurch City Council care packages before Easter. The package contains tissues, anti-bacterial soap, Spray and Wipe for surface cleaning, rubbish bags, disposable gloves and cleaning cloths. We will text you when we are due at your complex.

How is OCHT responding to COVID-19

The health, safety and wellbeing of you, our tenants, and our team (including contractors) is our first priority. There’s a lot of work happening at the Trust to make sure that we are well prepared to work through these challenging times. We will regularly share updates on any action we take to protect your health, our team and contractors.

Today’s OCHT Plan

Based on the Ministry of Health’s advice to reduce the chances of catching the virus, OCHT is likely to reduce our face-to-face visits.

Routine Inspections

We will pause routine inspections for the next few months so that our Tenancy Managers can better support our tenants who are most in need, while also supporting the call centre and our Warm & Dry initiative.

Warm & Dry Initiative

At present, we are continuing full steam ahead with Warm & Dry and heat pump installations.

Look Out for Your Neighbours

During this time, it is really important that you let us know if you are worried about a neighbour. For example, if you don’t see their lights on when they normally would be, please let us know by calling us.

Taking care of yourself

Please remember to wash your hands with soap and water often and if you are feeling unwell, stay home! We have enclosed some useful posters to remind you how you can protect yourself and those around you (see links below). Here are some other things you can do that will help:

  1. Keep in communication with people – whānau, friends and workmates
  2. Keep to usual routines – mealtimes, bedtime, exercise and so on
  3. Keep active – continue enjoying your leisure activities, seeing friends
  4. Look out for our care package that you will receive before Easter (Good Friday 10th April)

Reporting illness

Healthline has a dedicated COVID-19 number– 0800 358 5453. It’s free and 24/7. You should call that dedicated number:

  • to register if you have self-isolated yourself
  • for any coronavirus health advice and information and any questions you have about coronavirus, self-isolation, your symptoms etc. They can advise about how to get

Let us know if you are unwell

In the unlikely event that you test positive for COVID-19, you must let us know by calling 0800 624 456. If you are self-isolating as a precaution, we would also like to know. Thank you!

Our communications with you

Things are changing quickly and with more change almost certain, please check our Facebook page if you can: https://www.facebook.com/otautahicommunityhousingtrust/ or OCHT’s website www.ocht.org.nz. We will communicate with you there as often as possible. If there are any other changes, we will text you or send you a letter.

You can call us on 0800 624 456 anytime 24/7 or call your Tenancy Manager during office hours. Wishing you all the best from the OCHT Team and remember we are here if you need us.

Kind regards

Cate Kearney
Chief Executive

             

Useful Websites:
https://covid19.govt.nz/
www.health.govt.nz

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The Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust
61 Kilmore St,
Christchurch.

Hours: 8.30 am-5.00 pm, Monday-Friday.

Postal: PO Box 53, Christchurch 8140

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