Housing - political and personal: these two aspects of public housing, or any other part of my life,are inextricably linked."
years ago I underwent very extensive - in fact quite audacious - spinal
neuro-surgery. At the time, I owned my own one-bedroom flat outright. My
recuperation meant that I had to live in supported accommodation: then
a hostel, an Abbeyfield House (which is like an English boarding house)
and when my mobility and strength was restored, a bed-sitter in a high-rise.
Later I moved to a two room (one bedroom) flat in the same tower-block
public housing estate.
The recovery of my health took me ten years. I
now live on the 9th floor in a high-rise tower in Northcote: this accommodation
is only for tenants who are over fifty-five years of age. My windows look
south over the Merri Creek valley: a million-dollar view.
are two political issues which, I feel, are a threat to my continued tenancy
- a very happy tenancy, because the flat meets my needs admirably.
first threat stems from the totally inadequate amount of money the Federal
government allots the State of Victoria for it to maintain and service
the public housing sector. This Federal funding shortfall in the Commonwealth-State
Housing Agreement gives the State government an excuse to run down public
must not focus on figureheads such as Bracks or Kennett, we must recognize
the economic and political forces at work and determine to reverse the
social trends in these forces, which threaten to destroy what public (government
owned and managed) housing there is at present.
brings me to the second issue, which undermines my confidence in my future
as a public housing tenant: the Social Housing Innovations Project, better
known as the SHIP Report. The Kennett government proposed to sell off
to developers the public housing estates on the desirable inner-city sites.
The SHIP Report of the Bracks government proposes not to sell these off
but to give them away - literally, Title and all - to private ownership
and management, to pass, for instance, to church groups.
the 1940's these church groups were among the slum landlords whose shameful
neglect led to public outcry, slum clearances, and the building of the
high-rise estates now to be handed back to them - what bitter irony. (From
Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG) 'HAVING OUR SAY' Forum, June
July 2004: HAAG daily receives calls from pensioners who are paying an
average 49% of their income in private rent while waiting up to fifteen
years, with two hundred and twenty five thousand others nationally, to
be offered public housing.