July 14, 2016
Last updated on April 3, 2018
Jobs created: 6 full-time and 24 part-time and casual employees in 2015
Stage of the enterprise: Sustainable
Proportion of revenue that comes from trade: $100k surplus p.a. from $400k revenue
Geographical reach: St Kilda, Melbourne
ABOUT T2M MAINTENANCE
T2M providing employment for the long-term unemployed in community housing
T2M maintenance services is a social enterprise developed by St Kilda Community Housing (SCH), which has been providing affordable accommodation options and promoting social inclusion for single people in the St Kilda area for over 32 years. SCH currently houses more than 330 residents (over 80% of whom currently receive government benefits). T2M emerged as a way to maintain SHC’s properties to an appropriate standard and provide training and employment opportunities for tenants in cleaning and property maintenance. The social enterprise’s beneficiaries have been able to re-engage with education and employment and form closer ties with the community. Without these opportunities many of these individuals would be long-term unemployed and perhaps homeless.
Evolution of T2M
After changes to its funding arrangements and status in 2011, T2M went from maintaining 3 to 20 properties which prompted the organisation to start looking at how residents could share the increased investment. In 2014, a new lease agreement gave T2M full responsibility for the maintenance of SCH properties.
T2M divides its maintenance workforce into three categories: unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled. Tenants receive training in OH&S, electrical and plumbing, environmental cleaning, and maintenance skills in a training environment that is sensitive to their needs.
T2M have experienced rapid business growth, providing more opportunities for skilled labour. Employees are also paid up to 40% above the industry average which has contributed to very high rates of employee retention. As a result the social enterprise now employees 10% of the tenant base to perform value for money building maintenance and cleaning services to SCH and the broader market.
T2M’s firm commitment to its community and employees has been at its heart since inception. “We’re first and foremost a community housing provider and we believe in community,” says SCH General Manager John Enticott. “We are in the business of improving residents lives.”
Social Traders involvement
In 2013 Social Traders provided mentoring that generated a big change in direction for T2M. “We thought we were doing everything well, but Social Traders helped us see some deficits. ” says John. T2M participated in Social Traders’ Thrive program and partnered with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Over 12 months, key T2M staff were mentored pro-bono by a PwC partner.
“We were extremely lucky to get a mentor who understood community housing as well as business,” says John.
“We didn’t know who are client group was, our marketability, how we should price our services externally, and forward projections for 5-10 years’ time. So Mark helped us narrow our focus from 80 items on the list to three: finances, capacity building and the separation of T2M from SCH.”
T2M is working to gradually to build up contracts with external organisations (such as other housing providers), with a view to keeping people on low incomes in paid work. They are now looking further afield to disability and other job providers to help fill roles as they grow.
Employment to the future
With such a firm footing in both housing and employment, T2M is well placed to work on new programs that create further jobs. Adding to their pool of skilled and semi-skilled employees, T2M plans to employ skilled tradespeople with a view to launching an apprenticeship program for tenants. A long-term solar energy program in the making will involve tenants in auditing and warehousing. At the same time, with more self-contained housing (as opposed to the traditional shared model), T2M can cater better to their younger tenant base as well as women in need of safe, secure and affordable housing.
T2M engaged a part-time Business Development Manager in 2015, who is helping plan out the next 5-10 years of growth in providing work for their tenants amongst other social housing providers, community groups, and homelessness services in the region.
“We are happy to partner with organisations where there is a shared philosophy about giving people an opportunity,” says John. “But it’s still growth at a steady pace that will support people in need of employment.”