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Tuesday, 30 September 2014



Letter to MP by Alma Ryrie-Jones

I write to you as my local MP to ask you to add your voice and your personal influence to defend public housing tenants against the Victorian Government’s planned housing policy, which includes disposal of valuable state assets and displacement or eventual eviction of some of our most vulnerable citizens.

It is a disgrace that in a wealthy community like ours the Government is turning assets over to private developers and non government organisations instead of investing in ways to make affordable housing available to those who need it most and the many thousands more who are in practical terms homeless – people who would be living in cars and on the streets but for the kindness of their friends.

The lack of affordable housing is a national problem and COAG has sought to address it through the national agreement on housing. I believe the Victorian plans and the way they are being implemented are a tragic distortion of the national policy intent and an appalling abandonment of the responsibility of government.

It is quite clear from what has happened already that the Victorian actions will not result in more public housing for poor and disadvantaged people. Redevelopment of the Kensington public housing estate, intended to be a model for subsequent inner-city housing management, resulted in a loss of 260 public housing units and was considered poor value for money in a research paper which the government refused to release.

Other projects undertaken have lined the pockets of operators in the market, but failed utterly to address the desperate need for more public housing. Instead public housing is being demolished, sold-off and privatised. And the government has stated its intention to dispose of a further 12,000 public housing properties in future to so-called ‘community housing’.

There has been a disregard for the individual rights of existing public tenants, and the scheme has co-opted and silenced those who traditionally speak up for the poor and look out for their interests: not for profit organisations have become involved and are no longer independent.

It seems that all the players can see their future in the new arrangements, except for the frightened tenants, who do not know whether they will have a home in future, and many thousands more whose needs go unmet.

It is very important that this becomes an electoral issue. I have not met anyone who, once they have looked closely at what the government is doing in the guise of ‘social and community housing’ is not appalled by it.

Public housing is a public good. Please consider advocating for more and better investment by government, for the direct benefit of the citizens who need it, and for the long-term benefit of the whole community.

All the research indicates that one of the most important social factors in general health and mental health is the quality and security of housing. If we lose the critical asset of the existing public housing stock, which the community and the tenants have already paid for, the community will pay a social cost, many times over.

Yours sincerely,

(Ms) Alma Ryrie-Jones

Thursday, 18 September 2014



Canada is experiencing a 'homelessness' problem now of massive proportions.

The following excerpts and quotes are from a research paper written by JD Hulchanski - Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto
"Canada stands out as one of the few Western nations that rely almost completely on the market mechanism to supply, allocate, and maintain its housing stock (Scanlon and Whitehead, 2004).

The market is the mechanism by which about 95% of Canadian households obtain their housing.
Canada also is one of the more inegalitarian Western nations. In fact Canada ranks near the bottom of the list in an eighteen-country comparison of net social expenditure by the OECD (Adema, 2001, Table 7).

Given Canada’s poor record on social spending, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in its 1998 review of Canada’s compliance with these rights, issued a highly critical and detailed report on Canada’s social policies (United Nations, 1998).
Households living in extreme poverty with an inadequate social safety net do not contribute to market demand for housing. Markets respond to market demand. If households have too little income or wealth to stimulate market demand for a particular good, the market will ignore them."



Thursday, 11 September 2014


In Australia we are following the UK housing model.

FOPHV has pointed out to politicians that it isn't working over there, and they simply changed the subject !

Let's take a close look at how 'social' and 'community' housing is not working in the UK.
Well, it's not working for ordinary people, struggling and in need of housing - or the destitute.

It's working just fine for the company board members of course.

'Housing Association profits have grown tenfold in the last five years to stand at £1.93 billion.
Yet at the same time their operating costs have increased by only 11 per cent overall, the study finds. Forecasts suggest profit margins will increase further in the next four years.'

"Housing associations need to follow their guiding principles and not become bedazzled by the prospect of greater and greater profits.

"Every board member of a housing association should consider their social mission – are they doing all they can to help the least well off after the deepest recession in recent times?"

Calum Mercer “It is not right that housing associations are cashing in to such an extent on their social tenants."

Of course by this time it's too late.  The UK Government has lost all power to rectify the situation, having handed over its responsibilities to 'social housing' businesses.

Homelessness doesn't just happen. It's the result of bad housing policies ...

Sunday, 7 September 2014


Just recently Friends of Public Housing Victoria worked closely with a refugee group to organise a very successful event. Refugee Rights is an issue we also feel strongly about, since many refugees live in public housing. They are our neighbours. Refugees are an integral part of our wonderful multicultural community.

Before the event, the local newspaper interviewed the convenor of the pro-refugee rights group, who told me later that he wanted the paper to acknowledge FOPHV and our role in helping to organise the event. Although he tried hard to do this, the newspaper refused to include us in the article. WHY?

This sort of thing happens to us often! An online-comment forum will publish post after nasty post of  'bogan-bashing' ( vilification ). When I add a post on behalf of Friends of Public Housing Vic, which is fair and balanced and seeks to debunk some myths, it doesn't see the light of day.

Such is the political climate at the moment. The privatisation of public housing and the planned transfer of 12,000 public housing properties in Victoria is a very hot political issue.

On the 31st of August I attended the Rally at Parliament House with three refugees. Recently arrived in Australia, they had never been to a demonstration before in their lives. It is far too dangerous or simply forbidden to demonstrate in their countries of origin. The experience was an eye-opener for them.

Friday, 5 September 2014



Friends of Public Housing Victoria -FOPHV- would like to thank City of Yarra for supporting and defending both Public Housing and public tenants - by granting FOPHV  an amount of $ 5,000. We are indeed fortunate to have such a progressive Council with a strong commitment to Public Housing and public tenants. Public Housing in Australia is under threat of privatisation nation-wide. In Victoria there is a proposed plan to transfer 12,000 public housing properties to so-call 'community housing' companies, aka 'social housing'.  Community Housing does not protect the rights of public tenants.

Special mention and many thanks go to
Cr Roberto Colanzi - ALP - who liaised with us and helped us to secure this grant
Cr Amanda Stone - The Greens - who was instrumental in helping us obtain a unanimous resolution by Council to stop all further transfers of public housing to 'community housing'.

Our thanks go to all Yarra councillors from all political parties who voted against any further loss of our irreplaceable and desperately needed public housing. Below is a version of our submission which has been slightly shortened and altered to improve readability.

Dear Councillors, City of Yarra,

On behalf of public tenants, Friends of Public Housing Victoria - FOPHV - would like to put in a community submission, pertaining to the 2014-15 council budget.
As you know, around 13% of all Yarra’s dwellings is Public Housing, and public tenants make up a sizable proportion of your constituency.
The proposed transfer by the Liberal State Government of 12,000 public housing properties ( public tenants’ homes ) to ‘community housing' will result in higher rents on average than in Public Housing, no protections against periodic rent rises, and sometimes the introduction of fixed term contracts.
Traditional Public Housing rights and protections, such as flexible rents based on a percentage of income, and security of tenure are desperately needed by people on low incomes and those experiencing disadvantage. This is especially true following the release of an exceedingly harsh and unfair Federal budget which will disproportionally impact on our diverse and multicultural public tenant community. The growth of community housing should not be at the expense of Public Housing.
Without these protections, it is only a matter of time and many public tenants will be squeezed out of the inner-city by rising rents, food insecurity and even harsh eviction policies.
Taken from City of Yarra publication
A large proportion of Yarra’s population are public housing tenants. There are just under 5,000 public housing dwellings in Yarra comprising 13% of Yarra’s dwellings, and 7% of all Victoria’s public housing stock. Significantly, 33% of Victoria’s high-rise public housing is in Yarra. Yarra is Victoria's most socially and economically diverse community – a large very-disadvantaged population lives alongside significant affluence. Yarra has more high and more low-income households than the Melbourne average. Yarra is the only municipality that has a high proportion of its population living in very disadvantaged neighbourhoods – 9% of residents live in a collector district with a disadvantage index value below 700 (a value of 1,000 is the average for Australia).
Yarra Council has proven itself to be a forward thinking and progressive council, committed to social inclusion and justice as demonstrated by its unanimous resolution in June 2012 which opposed further transfers of desperately needed Public Housing to Housing Associations and Community Housing Providers.
Publicity for our campaign to save Public Housing is sorely needed, and we request that City of Yarra consider banners on libraries and municipal buildings which say ‘Save Public Housing’, ‘Yarra Supports More Public Housing’ or ‘Stop the Privatisation of Public Housing.’
We also have in mind a celebration of Public Housing. We would like to stage a multicultural singing and dancing event. Refugee public tenants who are also members of FOPHV,and have experience working for the Arts Council, have offered to put on a show for free to support this cause. Some well known comedians and artists have also expressed interest in being a part of this.
Support for our cause is growing all the time. Some prominent people strongly support FOPHV’s position, as well as local authorities including Moreland Council and Trades Hall Council who have also made resolutions opposing any further transfers of public housing stock.
Thankyou for your consideration,
Fiona Ross, Eileen Artmann, Jeremy Dixon
Friends of Public Housing Victoria

Monday, 1 September 2014



Friends of Public Housing Victoria is a grass-roots community organisation made up of public tenants, supporters and academics who believe that public housing is an essential public asset which must remain in Government hands.

We believe that only public housing will prevent a far greater crisis of homelessness happening here in Australia than we already have. Public housing is working and our communities are by and large good places to live and raise families. In the present political climate, and its covert implementation of the government's 'privatisation by stealth' agenda, our communities are being unfairly stigmatised and vilified.

Friends of Public Housing Victoria receives no public funding and we voice our concerns as an independent group.We are not aligned with any political party. We meet and communicate with politicians across the political spectrum on this issue. We work closely with the public housing communities we represent.