ACTION FOR PUBLIC HOUSING
Action for Public Housing (APH) is a new network of grass roots community groups committed to defending and expanding public housing in NSW.
APH believes that public housing should not be only a safety net for vulnerable people but should be a significant element of the housing system. Rather than cater only for the disadvantaged, public housing should be available to everyone who needs it, including low income earners.
Governments must plan housing development in response to social needs, not the wishes of greedy developers. Presently there is a public housing waiting list of 60,000.
Our immediate demands include:
« Government investment in building more new public housing.
« No sell off of public property or public lands.
« All current public housing stock to remain as public housing.
« No ‘no grounds’ evictions; no forced relocations.
« Security of tenure for housing tenants
« Proper maintenance and repair for public housing. No more ‘demolition by neglect’
« Protection of long standing communities
COMMUNITY HOUSING PROVIDERS
PRIVATISATION BY STEALTH
The NSW Government has passed legislation to make the transfer of management to community housing providers automatic. Tenants will no longer have an option to choose who they would like to manage their tenancy.
At June 2016, there were 82 registered not-for-profit community housing organisations. Housing NSW has transferred around 28,000 public housing properties to community housing landlords since about 2008. Community housing providers manage around 28,000 properties which accounts for approximately 19 per cent of the social housing in New South Wales.
The NSW Government has announced the transfer of a further 14 per cent of public housing properties to community housing providers. 18,000 properties will be transferred as whole of location transfers and 3,000 properties will move into the community housing sector in the next three years.
Action for Public Housing opposes the transfer of the management of public housing to community housing providers because:
« It is a form of privatisation of pubic assets
« It is another step in the NSW Government’s plans to divest itself of all responsibility for public housing
« It removes from tenants any right to choice of landlord
« Community housing providers are promoted as being more efficient than Housing NSW but they are replicating the government’s system, for maintenance for example.
« Housing NSW has clear policies controlling its powers over things like terminations and appeals. Community housing providers have a limited set of mandatory policies but outside these can adopt their own rules.
« At present title to land and buildings remains with the Land and Housing Corporation but community housing providers will pressure to get title to use as leverage for loans to expand their portfolios.
« Rents are usually enough to cover maintenance and wages but not fundamental repairs or the development or purchase of new properties by the private provider. This creates pressure for community housing providers to select fewer social and more affordable tenants.
WATCH OUT FOR THE IPART RENT REVIEW
The NSW Government has asked the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to undertake a review of social and affordable housing rent models.
This review is part of the government’s Future Directions policy which emphasises the need for public housing tenants to transition to the private rental market, what the government calls “housing independence”.
IPART’s review will identify changes to rent setting and eligibility criteria for social housing to achieve these objectives.
IPART will publish a draft report in March 2017, which will set out our draft recommendations and invite comments from stakeholders. Public housing advocates need to be ready to comment on this draft report.
IPART will consider the comments before making a final report in June 2017.
The myth of transition
The Government’s Future Direction policy wants tenants to transition out of public housing and into the private rental market.
People are staying in public housing because the public housing system is the only alternative to the uncertainty of tenure in the private housing market, particularly for people on low and moderate incomes.
Trying to increase the level of exits from public housing of people who are unable to sustain a private market tenancy is counterproductive.
The private rental market, particularly in Sydney, is a very difficult place for low income households. Tenancies are very expensive and often insecure, since most investors want to profit by buying and selling property and not holding it long term.
Public housing tenants face revenue risk (from uncertain employment), cost risks (from increasing rents) and eviction risks (from landlords who want to sell their properties).
NEW MINISTER NOT GOOD NEWS
Public housing advocates were angry when the new NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian appointed Pru Goward as Minister for Social Housing.
Ms Goward has made it clear that she does not support public housing and does not care about how tenants suffer when they are evicted.
She decided to remove all public housing from Millers Point, announcing that all buildings would be sold off and 400 tenants would be evicted, including the descendants of the original Millers Point maritime workers.
Although the Millers Point public housing, and its community, were under the protection of the NSW Heritage Act, Ms Goward did not consult the heritage office before announcing the sell-off.
JOIN THE FIGHT BACK!
Public housing tenants are fighting back. Not many are left at Millers Point but they have not given up! Tenants at Waterloo are organising to save their homes, their community and local small businesses. And resistance is growing in other places.
Action for Public Housing meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 6pm at 74 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills (5 minutes from Central Station & the Devonshire Street tunnel). Everyone is welcome. Join us and help the fight to save public housing.
Visit our website https://actionforpublichousing.wordpress.com
Why not affiliate to ACTION FOR PUBLIC HOUSING
and join the campaign to stop the NSW Government
selling off public land and public housing?
We are stronger when we unite and fight together
Contact Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org
or ring 0418 668 098