COVID19 is a public health crisis impacting all of us: the impact being greatest on those most vulnerable. It is important therefore to place any discussion about the impacts of coronavirus in perspective. Health experts inform us it is now inevitable that the incidence of COVID-19 will continue to increase, putting pressure on health and social services, which are currently preparing emergency responses.
Charities are being impacted by increased demands on their services and therefore on their financial circumstances. Government resources are being stretched to the maximum to provide public services, social safety nets whilst providing business assistance and economic stimulus packages. Inevitably this may impact the level of support that not-for profit organisations and charities receive.
In addition to managing the Centre, ARCO is committed to juggling these economic and health pressures and making its contribution in practical ways like the Food Pantry, maintaining a vital front- line nutritious, healthy food security service to our community’s poorest and most vulnerable. ARCO needs to say upfront that ARCO is itself a charity. ARCO is not a commercial landlord, making private profit. It is not financially possible for ARCO to further subsidise rents by deferring payments or making reductions.
I say further subsidise, because already rents are kept well below a very conservative estimate of market rent, with occupier concessions of 80%, 50% and 40% of market rates, depending on occupier category.
In addition to dollar value rent subsidies, ARCCO adds ‘in kind’ amenities: 24/7 resident caretaker, access for clients to public toilet facilities, mail service, parking for clients and staff, outdoor amenities, disability access, ARCCO reception area and staff, ARCCO public events and publicity.
Concessions such as subsidised rents are reliant on systematic regular rental payments by all tenants. Obviously failure to pay rent could result in the loss of rent subsidies for all and potentially, a critical increase in rents for all. ARCO, like everyone, is doing its best to manage in exceptional circumstances.
There are actions that the ARCO community could pursue individually and together:
- We could together advocate, as an ARCO community coalition made up of 43 sub licence and sub lease holders, for support from local, state and federal governments and from private corporations and donors to help prevent a deeper crisis caused by significant financial losses.
- Require direct financial assistance from government, by way of a special emergency grant.
- Consider whether you are comfortable working with ARCO media to create media interest.
- Consider whether there are other ways in which you could deliver your “product” or service, perhaps virtually and without compromising social distancing
- Advocate for governments to acknowledge the economic benefits of increasing the spending opportunities for the poorest in our community, significantly raise Newstart, and boost the funding of charities.
- Initiate or join a local common interest group to lobby all layers of governments to support local NGO’s and charities.
- As part of economic stimulus packages, the Commonwealth and State Governments have introduced several financial support programs to assist small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.
- Check insurance provisions for business interruption
I’m sure there are many creative and influential ideas amongst us that don’t require damaging one service, for the sake of another. This is a time when everyone needs to support each other. The situation is changing daily and ARCO will constantly review its operations and services.
Addi Road team