AHI Member: Bettyanne Crawford (Compass Housing)

Name: Bettyanne Crawford

Title: Tenancy Relations Office, Compass Housing

Joined AHi: 2018

Residence: Auckland, New Zealand

Years in housing: 11

Current project or activity:

“At the moment, I’m  working  on quite a number  of things. I run the operations here in Auckland for Compass Housing. We have 90 studio apartments across South Auckland . I’m responsible for the tenancy management, property management, and tenancy engagement, and anything I can squeeze in beetween that.

What made you choose a housing career?

“I started out in housing many years ago, as a contractor.I’d just returned from overseas and a friend of mine was working with Housing New Zealand, and she advised me about a few project contract roles that were going.  I applied,  I secured a contract role as an analyst doing research into legislative and internal policy obligations around what we put in the property, and that escalated into several projects as a subject matter expert about property assessments, gathering survey data and turning data into information. So housing definitely chose me.”

What are you particularly proud of having accomplished?

“I was the maintenance responsive manager for a sizeable portfolio from the centre of Auckland to Northland. I managed a budget of a sizeable budget too but I don’t see that as an accomplishment, so to speak, because, for me, it was a job. I had to do it. I see doing a good job as more of an accomplishment. I know it sounds terribly cliched but I like to make things work, and my sense of accomplishment is making it work.”

“Seeing the community  we have built on our development come together is really satisfying. Compass recently took over 18 apartments. We had an existing presence on this particular development. The tenants who were already there as public housing tenants threw a welcoming barbecue for the new tenants. That, for me, was a sense of accomplishment – that we built a community that felt empowered to do something else for the new tenants.”

What makes you motivated or inspired in your career?

“Firstly, I embrace the ethos that housing is a basic human right but there’s also a Maori proverb which sums up  who I am and my personal motivation: He aha te mea nui i te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata (What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people).”

“I have watched several of our tenants’ life trajectories change because they have a whare, a roof over their heads. I’ve seen their lives change and what it’s done for them as people in terms of confidence, going out, socialising with their community and being in their community . We have quite a few older tenants and, because they’ve got a secure roof over their heads, they’re able to babysit their grandchildren, their mokopunas. For me, it’s lovely them. It gives the older people something to be valued for.”

What attributes make a great housing or advocacy worker?

“For me, it’s communication, collaboration, empathy and listening. I could wax lyrical about it but that’s pretty much it.”

What are the biggest challenges facing housing professionals today?

“I think the most challenging thing that faces us as housing professionals is how we embrace market forces. Housing affordability has become out of reach for most people. The thing that gripes me most as a housing professional is affordable rentals for our working poor.”

What do you believe are the future directions for the housing profession?

“I hope I’m not being too political here but I really believe that government has a key role in the delivery of housing. It’s the glue that bonds the market, the social sector, the service sector and all those people who participate in housing in some shape or form.”

“I really believe there needs to be a bipartisan approach  to housing to ensure that successive governments build on previous governments’ undertakings. We have a housing crisis here in Auckland. We should hold some things  as sacred  and say,  ‘This is important to us, as a country.’ Government has a duty to us to bring these things together.”

What do you hope to achieve from your AHi membership?

“In my view, the social housing sector in New Zealand is not a ‘mature’ environment – you kind of fall into it, like I did, or you become a tenancy manager and you stay in the business. For me, I’m looking forward to promoting and growing our sector.  Part of that is ‘professionalising’ what it is that we do, and how we do it,  and leveraging off a membership – the AHi membership – helps make people feel part of a profession.”

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