Portway Housing Association is beginning a new chapter as it transitions to become UnitingSA Housing Ltd. We sat down for a cuppa with Manager Con Hadjicostantis to talk about his career in the housing sector, the reasons behind the changes and what lies ahead for UnitingSA Housing.
Q: What services does UnitingSA Housing provide?
A: We provide affordable rental properties for a whole range of people, including those on low incomes, refugees, people with a mental health disability, and over 65s. The housing is the foundation and then everything else builds on top of that. Our aim is to get a roof over someone’s head to help stabilise that person’s life. Then we are able to link them with other services to provide wrap-around support. That might be support around mental health or help to live independently. We want to make sure our tenants are able to maintain a successful tenancy.
Q: Are most of your tenants long-term?
A: We have more than 700 tenants and a lot of them have been with us for years. We’ve had a few examples of late where people have lived in one of our properties and over time they’ve chipped away and eventually been able to afford to move into private rental or even buy their own home. That’s the ultimate. Our whole team celebrates it because we aren’t just landlords – we have a relationship with our tenants. We add that personal touch and that’s what UnitingSA Housing is all about.
Q: Why have you changed from Portway Housing Association to UnitingSA Housing?
A: We are very proud of our past but this change brings about real confidence for our future. The rebrand brings us all under the one umbrella of UnitingSA with a shared Board, which is very exciting. The name better reflects our presence beyond Port Adelaide and positions us for growth. It also allows us to strengthen our tenant referral pathways because we are more closely aligned with other UnitingSA services. This helps with the housing continuum, such as people moving from homelessness services through to community housing and then one day, into aged care. It really means we can provide a one-stop-shop for tenants.
Q: What changes will tenants or other stakeholders notice?
A: It really is business as usual, so the services we provide tenants and our relationship with stakeholders remains unchanged. The only difference people will see is the new name and colours on our signs, brochures and any information we send out. Our staff and contact details are also the same, so it’s a pretty smooth transition.
Q: What path led you to the role of Manager at UnitingSA Housing?
A: My career in housing spans over 32 years and I have worked in both government and the not-for-profit sectors. I started back in 1985 as an Internal Audit Officer with the SA Housing Trust. What started off as a casual work placement ended up being a working relationship for 28 years in various roles. I then came to Portway Housing as a volunteer for a few weeks, which led to a three-month appointment and then the role of Operations Manager. I now feel very privileged to be the first Manager of UnitingSA Housing. I don’t see myself doing anything else. I come to work each day and know I will be working with amazing people to achieve positive outcomes. It sounds crazy but I look forward to Mondays. I guess housing is in my blood.
Q: What does the future hold for UnitingSA Housing?
A: Our change in name and legal structure increases our capacity to grow our supply of affordable housing. We have just completed two new developments in Pennington and Kidman Park, which have been fantastic. Pennington was the first official opening attended by the Hon. Michelle Lensink MLC when she was appointed Human Services Minister. Kidman Park was the first development delivered by a Tier 2 provider under the Government’s Asset Renewal Program. Now we have to keep being innovative. We are working on a development in Kurralta Park next, which will create at least eight new properties. We always said Portway Housing Association was the best kept secret in housing. That is being lifted now and as UnitingSA Housing we are becoming more visible.
Q: How does someone find out more about UnitingSA Housing or register for a property?
A: They can visit our website at unitingsa.com.au/housing or call us on 8440 2244.