Voices of residents missing in a time of crisis for public housing

The 30% increase in the number of homeless people between the 2006 and 2016 censuses is likely to continue in the absence of evidence-based public housing policy. We need to rapidly extend public housing and services, according to housing and homelessness research.

Despite this research, the common approach by governments, in Australia and overseas, is to adopt a program of “renewal” and “regeneration” funded by the transfer of public lands to private hands. Housing estates are sold, transferred or redeveloped in partnership with a private developer. This often results in a shift of social housing dwellings from 100% publicly owned to mixed forms of tenure.

For public housing residents, being told that their estate is to be “renewed” is destabilising and can cause extreme stress. A lack of clarity about relocation timelines and processes compounds this.

Similar issues in Sydney, Melbourne and London

Residents’ acceptance of this “renewal” approach varies greatly. While some are happy with the promise of a new home, opposition is growing in Australia and internationally.

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