DESPITE unprecedented disruption as a result of the Covid-19 situation, the Housing Executive has moved to reassure tenants that work is continuing in the Strabane area.
Area manager Eddie Doherty insists that while the organisation has had to change how it operates at this time, significant work is happening on the ground to keep tenants secure and protected.
Mr Doherty said, “Our whole focus at this time is keeping tenants safe in their homes – guidance on social distancing and the message of ‘Stay Home Stay Safe’ is paramount.
“We’ve published guidance on our website www.nihe.gov.uk which deals with key topics like repairs and what to do if you are experiencing homelessness.
“Also we moved quickly to reassure tenants that no one would lose their home due to Covid-19 – enforcement action has ceased and we will deal sympathetically with anyone who is experiencing financial difficulties during this period.
“We had planned a modest rent increase from April; this has now been deferred, and we are signposting people who need financial help to organisations that can provide this.”
Mr Doherty also explained that a new service has been implemented to check on elderly or vulnerable tenants via a phone call.
He continued, “We are very well placed to continue to connect these tenants with the outside world. We can link them to local groups providing food and basic hygiene items on the ground, we’ll help arrange pharmacy pick-ups and, in many cases, we will simply provide a friendly voice and a listening ear at this time to reduce any sense of social isolation.”
He added, “A particular concern has been around payment of rent and we have been working hard to assist tenants in making applications for financial support as well as reassuring them that we will help them to sustain their tenancies.
“We have also been continuing to carry out any repairs of an emergency nature to ensure that our tenants stay safe in their homes. Tenants should be aware that it may also be necessary to call out to a property, for example, if there is a statutory heating or electrical test due – we must do these by law – in order to keep everyone safe.”
If you need help with emergency housing please call the dedicated Homelessness line, 03448 920908. Further information is available at www.nihe.gov.uk.