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Wednesday, 25 November 2020

PUBLIC HOUSING LOSES OUT IN VIC GOVT'S 'BIG HOUSING BUILD'

DEAR SUPPORTERS OF PUBLIC TENANTS AND PUBLIC HOUSING
PLEASE READ OUR PRESS RELEASE.

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release 26.11.20

Friends of Public Housing Victoria welcomes the government's commitment of over 5 billion dollars to increasing Victoria's housing stock. However we are alarmed that, in spite of this being falsely advertised as a Public Housing build, it continues the disastrous government policy of replacing Public Housing with private 'Community Housing'.

The fact that this is being achieved by keeping public tenants in the dark, as well as the public more broadly, is a national disgrace.

The removal of Councils' input in this process and the speed with which it is being fast-tracked through the stages of Parliament make one suspect that the government is once again attempting to privatise public land and Public Housing without the openness and transparency that ought to be taking place.

Although there have been many behind-the-scenes machinations undertaken to get us to this point, there has never been a public discussion about such a major paradigm change.

We firmly believe that if the public were aware of the reality of the privatisation of Public Housing they would oppose it. The government and media continue to blur the issue by using the term 'Social Housing' to conflate the two housing models.

We urge all politicians to to speak out publicly on this matter and /or lobby energetically within their party.

END

Friends of Public Housing Victoria
housing.humanrights@gmail.com

Further information
Friends of Public Housing Victoria
https://www.facebook.com/FOPHVIC
http://savepublichousing.blogspot.com.au/

Monday, 2 November 2020

MASSIVE PUBLIC LAND-GRAB PLANNED - SEEKING COUNCIL SUPPORT.

Dear Followers of this Blog.

Thirteen councils in the East and South-East of Melbourne (representing over 2 million people) have signed a Charter advocating that a massive amount of public land be made available for Public Private Partnerships, which will have a component of 'Social' or 'Affordable Housing'. The rationale is that this will address homelessness.

Here is Friends of Public Housing Victoria's position statement regarding this housing strategy,which was sent to councillors and candidates before the Council elections.

Our position statement was the result of numerous drafts formulated within FOPHV( public tenants, activists and supporters),as well as members of Defend and Extend Public Housing and Hands Off Public Housing. We thank everyone for their collaborative efforts.

Of course the arguments and principles contained in our position statement apply not only to the thirteen councils but are widely relevant.

Thankyou for all the responses we received from councillors and candidates who were unaware of aspects of the Charter, and thanked us for explaining some of the nuances of the arguments. It was a successful political action on our part.

--------------------------------------------------

Re ‘The Regional Local Government Homelessness and Social Housing Charter 2020’

Friends of Public Housing Victoria (FOPHV) write to support and welcome 13 Councils' intention to tackle homelessness and housing stress, but have grave reservations about the current plans to sacrifice public land to support an endeavour which is unlikely to meet its objectives.

In particular, we urge the Councils to concentrate their support on Public Housing rather than on promoting so-called “Social Housing ” (read Community Housing) in Public Private Partnerships. Please note- the major Community Housing Associations are also property developers.

As you may be aware, the term Social Housing is being used as an umbrella term and misleadingly conflates two very different housing models - basically public and private.It is Public Housing which is the best solution to ending homelessness. The other options are expensive ways of not meeting that objective.

In our view, the issue of homelessness is being used here as an emotional hook to ensure the public’s blind support for this dubious change in housing policy direction.

In fact Community Housing does not have a good record in housing the homeless or in sustaining tenancies. It prefers working tenants and often shamelessly overlooks the homeless and is quick to evict, relative to Public Housing. This is a consequence of the Community Housing model itself, which requires it to make a surplus.

As we have already seen with the Public Housing Renewal Program ( PHRP ), which also involves Public Private Partnerships and the loss of public land, only a small proportion of the land ends up being used even for Community Housing and none for Public Housing. Private interests appropriate the rest.

Lack of transparency

The language used to discuss these issues lacks transparency.

‘Social Housing’ in practice nearly always means Community Housing, although its definition extends in theory to Public Housing. ‘Community’ and ‘Social’ housing are warm fuzzy terms that disguise the cold hard reality of privatisation. Community Housing is a misleading term referring to corporate structures less answerable to tenants or to the general public than Public Housing. Commercial-in-confidence protects Community Housing from scrutiny. The public is unable to find out how public funds and assets are utilised. Even the term Public Housing is now being misused. eg Community Housing is being called by the Victorian Government the 'new Public Housing'. ‘Affordable Housing’ is another slippery term. Properties charging up to 80% of market rents (usually set at 75% to ensure charitable status and tax breaks) can call themselves ‘Affordable Housing’. This is hardly affordable for many people on low incomes.

In particular the term ‘Social Housing’ conceals the practice of ‘stock transfers’ - the gifting of Public Housing property titles, and the transfer of management which is often a precursor to title transfer. This bipartisan policy of privatisation has been going on for the last 10 years with little to no public discussion.

More background

The Victorian Labor Government is on record as planning to transfer the management of more Public Housing stock to Community Housing, with a view to title transfer at a later date. Labor has refused to divulge how many properties it intends to hand over. In 2017 Victorian State budget submission, the Community/ Social Housing Industry called for the titles of an additional 12,000 publicly owned properties to be given to them.

Unlike Public Housing, Community Housing requires a constant stream of Commonwealth Rent Assistance ( CRA ) in order for it to function. This makes Community Housing and their tenants vulnerable to changes in Federal policy. Rather than propping up Community Housing with CRA, this public money would be better spent in building public housing.

Should a tenant experience an adverse change in circumstances ( sickness, unemployment etc ) Community Housing businesses are bound only by a vague ‘hardship provision’ clause, unlike the Public Housing system which adjusts rents to 25% of the reduced income. It is this protection that literally keeps people off the streets!

According to ‘The Regional Local Government Homelessness and Social Housing Charter 2020’ the 13 Councils that are signatories are not bound to any specific actions. Friends of Public Housing Victoria therefore asks, in regard to such an important issue as homelessness, that Councillors will serve their communities rather than the policies of any particular party and will look at this issue with an independent eye.

In reality, it is unlikely that this ‘Regional Local Government Homelessness and Social Housing Charter 2020’ direction will have any significant impact on homelessness.

To make matters worse, irreplaceable public land will be gifted to private developers including Housing Associations, and the opportunity to solve the problem of homelessness by building public housing on public land will be lost.

WHERE THE CHARTER AND ITS BACKGROUND BRIEFING GET IT WRONG.

The Charter which has been signed by 13 Councils contains some serious errors and omissions.

In its definition it claims that ‘Social Housing is rented to ‘low income households’. In fact, middle income renters are also eligible for 'Social Housing' as defined in the Government Gazette. A single person without dependents can earn up to $62,600 per annum and still be eligible for ‘Social’ and ‘Affordable’ Housing.

Community Housing leases might begin at 30% of income, but there are no guarantees that this won’t change, especially as Community Housing Organisations are separate businesses with their own policies and procedures, and there are a great deal of variations across the board.

In the background briefing, the point is made that "experts agree that Social Housing is the best solution to preventing homelessness". In fact homelessness expert Professor Guy Johnson and AHURI have both conceded that Public Housing is superior to all other models,including Community Housing, in combating homelessness.

Friends of Public Housing Victoria would like to offer a platform to Councillors wishing to support Public Housing.

We are compiling a Report Card before the Council Elections and publishing the results widely on our social media platforms. Please answer the following questions for the benefit of your constituents.

REPORT CARD

Flag - please read carefully.

In the interest of clarity there has been a slight change in wording from the previous version of our Report Card.

1. Do you support Public Housing as an integral part of the housing mix?
2. In Victoria, Public Housing as distinct from Community Housing, makes up 2.7% of all housing. Is this too high? Is this too low?
3. Is Public Housing the best model for preventing and addressing homelessness?
4. Have you or anyone in your family or friendship circle ever been homeless?
5. Do you think the language regarding the various housing models should be more transparent?
6. Do you think the issue of Public Housing versus Community Housing has been sufficiently discussed in the public domain?
7. Should public tenants and those eligible for public housing be sufficiently informed of the differences between Community and Public Housing and of their rights and protections?
8. Do you oppose the transferring of Public Housing stock to Community Housing corporations?
9. Do you support a significant build of Public Housing in your area to address homelessness?
10. Would public land that is being earmarked for private and 'Social Housing’ be better utilised for Public Housing?

Any further comments you wish to make are welcome,and will be published.
Please respond via our campaign email address housinghumanrights@gmail.com

FRIENDS OF PUBLIC HOUSING VICTORIA
DEFEND AND EXTEND PUBLIC HOUSING and HANDS OFF PUBLIC HOUSING

https://www.facebook.com/FOPHVIC http://savepublichousing.blogspot.com.au/

SOURCES

http://baysidenews.com.au/2020/09/14/councils-unite-for-social-housing/
The Regional Local Government Homelessness & Social Housing Charter 2020 (pdf, 1MB)
https://www.frankston.vic.gov.au/Your_Council/Advocacy/Tackling_homelessness_in_Frankston_City/Regional_Local_Government_Homelessness_and_Social_Housing_Group_Charter

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

CATHERINE NOONE -INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FOR YARRA

CATHERINE NOONE -INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FOR YARRA- 

RESPONDS TO OUR REPORT CARD

 


1. Do you support Public Housing as an integral part of the housing mix?
 

A.  Absolutely.

2. In Victoria, Public Housing as distinct from Community Housing, makes up 2.7% of all housing. Is this too high? Is this too low?
 

A. Too low

3. Is Public Housing the best model for preventing and addressing homelessness?
 

A. Yes, alongside other supports and systemic change.

4. Have you or anyone in your family or friendship circle ever been homeless?
 

A. Yes.

5. Do you think the language regarding the various housing models should be more transparent?
 

A. Yes.

6. Do you think the issue of Public Housing versus Community Housing has been sufficiently discussed in the public domain?
 

A. No. As with the previous question, language can be used as a tool to shape discussions to suit different purposes. Clearer communication about housing issues is needed.

7. Should public tenants and those eligible for public housing be sufficiently informed of the differences between Community and Public Housing and of their rights and protections?
 

A.Yes.

8. Do you oppose the transferring of Public Housing stock to Community Housing corporations?
A. Yes.

9. Do you support a significant build of Public Housing in your area to address homelessness?
 

A.Yes.

10. Would public land that is being earmarked for private and 'Social Housing’ be better utilised for Public Housing?
 

A. Yes
 

Further comments welcome and will be published

   Thank you for raising these issues and continuing to advocate for public housing. The voices of people in public housing must be heard and considered in decision making. While many of the issues highlighted by the current pandemic are not new for a lot of people, housing and social issues are going to need extra support, advocacy and planning. Council will have to work with the community and other levels of government to ensure better ongoing outcomes for people in Yarra, regardless of their type of housing.

Thanks from

FRIENDS OF PUBLIC HOUSING VIC

DEFEND AND EXTEND PUBLIC HOUSING

HANDS OFF PUBLIC HOUSING
 

GABRIELLE DE VIETRI - GREENS CANDIDATE FOR YARRA

GABRIELLE DE VIETRI - GREENS CANDIDATE FOR YARRA - 

RESPONDS TO OUR REPORT CARD

1. Do you support Public Housing as an integral part of the housing mix? 

A. Public housing is an essential part of the housing mix, and should be supported, improved and increased. In planning for the needs of our growing community, I will advocate for better and more public housing. I will advocate for increasing public housing in Yarra as well as maintaining and upgrading existing public housing and associated facilities. Every person should have enough space to live in, access to amenities that are in good, functioning order, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services available to them. In response to calls from public housing residents in Yarra, I will also advocate for the establishment of a charter of rights for public housing tenants, including the establishment of a dedicated Public Housing Ombudsman to handle issues, concerns and complaints from public housing residents. I will encourage and promote tenant participation in decisions about public housing services. I believe that in order to adequately service public housing communities, the function of Public Housing should be removed from the Department of Health and Human Services and into a new statutory Public Housing Authority. In advocating for new and existing public housing communities, I will promote the importance of significant open space and I will support the adaptation of public housing to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as heat stress.


2. In Victoria, Public Housing as distinct from Community Housing, makes up 2.7% of all housing. Is this too high? Is this too low?

A. 2.7% is much too low. I will strongly support opportunities to increase the amount of public housing in Yarra.


3. Is Public Housing the best model for preventing and addressing homelessness?

A. Yes. Other proposed private models lack transparency and are unaffordable for those who need it most.


4. Have you or anyone in your family or friendship circle ever been homeless?

A.Yes, I have supported friends through periods of homelessness and understand some of the complexities that accompany homelessness.


5. Do you think the language regarding the various housing models should be more transparent? 

A. See 7.

6. Do you think the issue of Public Housing versus Community Housing has been sufficiently discussed in the public domain?

A. No, there is little public awareness or understanding of the vast differences between the terms.


7. Should public tenants and those eligible for public housing be sufficiently informed of the differences between Community and Public Housing and of their rights and protections?


A. Yes, these differences must be clear and delivered in appropriate and diverse languages. Prospective tenants must be supported to understand the conditions of the tenancy and whether it is appropriate for their situation.

8. Do you oppose the transferring of Public Housing stock to Community Housing corporations?

A. Yes. I will oppose the sell-off of public housing sites in Yarra, and oppose the conversion of public housing to "social", "community" or "affordable" housing. I will oppose the privatisation of public housing by the State Government. I believe there is also the need for affordable housing stock, but it should not replace the provision of public housing.

 
9. Do you support a significant build of Public Housing in your area to address homelessness?
 

A. Yes. I will support opportunities to build more public housing in Yarra.


10. Would public land that is being earmarked for private and 'Social Housing’ be better utilised for Public Housing?
 

A. Yes, there is a dire need for more Public Housing to meet the needs of low-income earners and people facing homelessess.

 
Any further comments you wish to make are welcome, and will be published.


I am proud to be running for Council on a joint Greens ticket with Anab Mohamud, who is a public housing resident and a true leader of the community.The Yarra Green's public housing policies are can be found in our "Care for People" and "Built Environment" policies, here: https://greens.org.au/vic/lga/yarra

Thanks from

FRIENDS OF PUBLIC HOUSING VIC

DEFEND AND EXTEND PUBLIC HOUSING

HANDS OFF PUBLIC HOUSING


CARMEN LAHIFF-JENKINS, REASON PARTY CANDIDATE FOR DAREBIN

CARMEN LAHIFF-JENKINS - REASON PARTY CANDIDATE FOR DAREBIN - RESPONDS TO OUR REPORT CARD

1. Do you support Public Housing as an integral part of the housing mix?

A.Absolutely!


2. In Victoria, Public Housing as distinct from Community Housing, makes up 2.7% of all housing.
  Is this too high? Is this too low?

A.Too low!


3. Is Public Housing the best model for preventing and addressing homelessness?

A. YES!


4. Have you or anyone in your family or friendship circle ever been homeless?


A.Yes.


5. Do you think the language regarding the various housing models should be more transparent? 

A.Yes, I really do!


6. Do you think the issue of Public Housing versus Community Housing has been sufficiently discussed in the public domain? 

A. Absolutely not, people always confuse the two. People utilising public housing should be well informed and consulted. They are not. It’s disempowering and does not service this community appropriately.


7. Should public tenants and those eligible for public housing be sufficiently informed of the differences between Community and Public Housing and of their rights and protections? 

A. Of course! Again, people utilising public housing should be empowered within this service to influence it.

8. Do you oppose the transferring of Public Housing stock to Community Housing corporations?

A. Yes, Public housing stock needs replenishing.

 
9. Do you support a significant build of Public Housing in your area to address homelessness? 

A. Yes, absolutely.

10. Would public land that is being earmarked for private and 'Social Housing’ be better utilised for Public Housing?

A. Yes, public housing stock has been undermined and diminished while need has risen. Community housing is also important but they are not the same thing, for the same groups.

Thanks from

FRIENDS OF PUBLIC HOUSING VIC

DEFEND AND EXTEND PUBLIC HOUSING

HANDS OFF PUBLIC HOUSING

JESSICA SULLIVAN - INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE- DAREBIN

JESSICA SULLIVAN- INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE FOR DAREBIN -RESPONDS TO OUR REPORT CARD
 

1. Do you support Public Housing as an integral part of the housing mix?


A. Yes, Public Housing plays a vital part in supporting our community and it is too often overlooked when Council/State planning and development officials are designing our future infrastructure and amenities.

2. In Victoria, Public Housing as distinct from Community Housing, makes up 2.7% of all housing. Is this too high? Is this too low?


A.Far too low, the wait lists for Public Housing were so long that it was unsustainable before the pandemic. Post-pandemic the demand is only going to increase further.

3. Is Public Housing the best model for preventing and addressing homelessness?
 

A. Yes, in conjunction with increasing the rate of social support payments and making sure that other social service programs are sufficiently funded and easily accessible.

4. Have you or anyone in your family or friendship circle ever been homeless? 

A. Yes, I'm grateful that they did not have to sleep rough but I know several people who have been without stable housing and had to sleep in their cars, "couch surf" amongst friends and stay at shelters. Sleeping rough is the most confronting form of homelessness and naturally requires the most support, but governments choose to overlook the statistics of other forms of homelessness to downplay how prevalent homelessness is in Australia.

5. Do you think the language regarding the various housing models should be more transparent?

A.Yes, people need to understand that there is a big difference between public housing (state run), community housing (NFP run) and 'affordable housing' (arbitrary concept). All levels of Government blur the line between these housing models when it is convenient to them.

6. Do you think the issue of Public Housing versus Community Housing has been sufficiently discussed in the public domain?
 

A. No. The State Governments advertise Community Housing as being similar to Public Housing with rents capped at 25-30% of income, except that CH is run by not-for-profits while PH is run by the States. However many people would be shocked to learn that CH providers often charge tenants additional fees on top of rent which can greatly increase the percentage of the tenants' income that goes to housing and push them into rental stress.

7. Should public tenants and those eligible for public housing be sufficiently informed of the differences between Community and Public Housing and of their rights and protections?


A. Absolutely, it is shocking that this is not already standard procedure.

8. Do you oppose the transferring of Public Housing stock to Community Housing corporations?
 

A. Yes, this is a bell that cannot be unrung. First and foremost, we must remember that PH isn't just a bunch of building 'Assets' on the State's Balance Sheet, but peoples' homes where they have formed a connection to the local community.  When the Public Housing is sold off to Community Housing operators, the costs to tenants can go up and the rules regarding their tenancy can change without their consent, this puts these people at a risk of being evicted and displaced. Community Housing does have a place in the housing mix, but it should be in addition to Public Housing never as a replacement.

9. Do you support a significant build of Public Housing in your area to address homelessness?
 

A. Yes, and I will strongly oppose any further sell-off off PH within Darebin as it will negatively affect the wellbeing of our residents.

10. Would public land that is being earmarked for private and 'Social Housing’ be better utilised for Public Housing?
 

A.Yes. 

Further comments welcome and will be published.

 "Hi FOPHV team,
Thank you for your email and the opportunity to answer your questions. I appreciate all the advocacy work that FOPHV has done to support people in public housing, to educate everyone about different housing models and to keep everyone informed about the State Government's sale of Public Housing."

Thanks from

FRIENDS OF PUBLIC HOUSING VIC

DEFEND AND EXTEND PUBLIC HOUSING

HANDS OFF PUBLIC HOUSING

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

MINWEN WU - INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE - WHITEHORSE

"VOTE FOR WHO? MR WU!"  says Mr Wu 

who has assured his electorate that he is not a Chinese spy!

 Mr Wu did not respond to our Report Card, but wrote to us with this message. 

Hi FOPHV,

My apology for not being able for now to delve into the world of social housing, public housing and community housing etc. 

All I can say for now is: 

1. I promise I will research extensively and consult you on this issue in detail if elected. 

2. I've met & made friends with some homeless people in Box Hill central. 

3. Housing is basic human rights to each and every Australian. 

Who cares? WU cares!

Best Regards

Minwen Wu
    

Thanks from
FRIENDS OF PUBLIC HOUSING VIC
DEFEND AND EXTEND PUBLIC HOUSING
HANDS OFF PUBLIC HOUSING.