Friends of Public Housing are proudly supporting a conference organised by Fair Go For Pensioners entitled "Up In The Air"
This is not the usual in-house conference which costs hundreds of dollars to attend and where the influential decision-makers all gather round behind closed doors. No - this is a free conference for all people. The conference will be addressing the outsourcing and privatisation of many essential 'welfare' services which have traditionally been in the government's domain. The privatisation of Public Housing will be addressed as part of this.
We are pleased to say that attendees for the conference is now at full capacity. Places were limited and have now been filled.
THE THREAT FACING VICTORIAN PUBLIC HOUSING
- WHERE TO NOW?
Exacerbating the problem,the government is planning to transfer management of 4,000 Public Housing properties to the private Community Housing Industry. A reliable source has informed us that a further 10,000 is being proposed. In the past, management transfer has often preceded title transfer. This is wrong, since Public Housing belongs to the people of Victoria and should remain in public hands.(3)
The terms and conditions are unclear,but what is clear is the strategy of the government to abrogate its responsibility for providing Public Housing to all who need it, and to privatise it instead by handing it over to ‘Community Housing’ businesses, also known as ‘Social Housing.’
There is a distinct difference between Public Housing and Community/Social Housing.
Over the last 25-30 years Community Housing groups have evolved from small organisations responding to community needs ( and government neglect ) into huge bureaucracies, embedded very much in their formal structures, utilising heavy-handed powers to manage their tenancies, pressuring and lobbying for major government funding and additional financial windfalls,and exhibiting the behaviour of “just another” large corporation. As individual businesses they have their own policies and procedures that differ from Public Housing. Community /Social Housing organisations can cherry-pick their tenants and a lot of the protections of Public Housing are missing. (such as flexible rents linked to household income.)
The Churches are very much a part of this paradigm shift - the privatising of Public Housing.
Community / Social Housing needs an ongoing stream of Commonwealth Rent Assistance - CRA -to prop them up. It is being used as an operating subsidy. Public Housing, being outside market forces, does not need CRA at all. This is public money which would be far better spent on building more public housing to address homelessness and the housing crisis.
THE PUBLIC HOUSING RENEWAL PROGRAM (PHRP)
The PHRP was announced in December 2016 to redevelop low-rise properties at eleven Public Housing sites:
Nine sites covering Brunswick West; North Melbourne; Heidelberg West; Clifton Hill; Brighton; Prahran; Hawthorn; Northcote; and Ascot Vale. Two further renewal projects at Flemington and Preston to be managed under the PHRP but budgeted for under previous arrangements.
The design point for the PHRP is to deliver an increase of at least 10% in Public Housing dwellings. This has not in fact been the outcome. The scheme also includes massive development of apartments on the estates for private sale.
In March 2019 contracts were signed for the first three estates in North Melbourne, Northcote and Preston.It was announced that the Victorian Government was joining with development partners MAB Corporation and ‘Community Housing’ Association, HousingFirst, to completely rebuild these sites. As you can see in the table below, the end result will be that Public Housing units will be replaced by ‘social housing’ units.
The outcome for Nth Melbourne, Northcote and Preston is that there will be NO Public Housing at all - zero. (4) It will have been transferred to Community Housing.
OUR CONCERNS REGARDING THE PUBLIC HOUSING RENEWAL PROGRAM
- That there will be NO Public Housing on the redeveloped estates, as we have seen in the first tranche to go across. The replacement 'social housing' will be either owned and/or managed by private Community Housing organisations.
- An increase in dwellings does not necessarily equate to an increase in the number of bedrooms. The end result can be a decreased capacity to house people in need.
- The shift to smaller sized dwellings will lock out many tenants who might want to return after the developments are finally completed. Families especially will be locked out. This was the situation in the two previous developments at Kensington and Carlton.
- The PHRP is unsustainable. It will result in an irretrievable loss of public land, sacrificed to cram towers of apartments for private sale.
- Dereliction of Duty by the government to maintain and increase Public Housing stock.
- Public tenants are being denied genuine consultation and natural justice. They have been promised that everyone can return and they are leaving their homes in 'good faith.' Yet evidence gathered by the Upper House Inquiry, the Federation of Legal Services and RMIT research indicates otherwise. “The evidence shows that relatively few residents will be able to return.”(4)
- In fact the 'Right to Return' is calculated at 20%. Factors include a reluctance by those displaced to go through another major move, long redevelopment periods (from 3-5+ years ) and, as stated, the decrease in bedroom numbers in the new units, which will not meet the needs of many tenants and their families.
- The ‘Public Housing Renewal Program’ is a misnomer. These ‘redevelopments’ are an exercise in social engineering, displacement and gentrification.
- The PHRP is just the tip of the iceberg! Other Public Housing 'redevelopment' projects are already underway.
- The sell-offs and privatisation of Public Housing ( largely unreported and unknown to the general public ) is happening right across Australia. For example, the NSW State Government is currently continuing to transfer the management of 18,000 Public Housing properties to Community Housing businesses.
(3) Allocation,Eligibility,Rent Setting CHFA 2014
(4) Understanding the assumptions & impacts of the Victorian PHRP, Kelly & Porter, May 2019, RMIT University Centre for Urban Research