You are here: Home / Other RW Issues / Public Housing / Community Safety / Waterloo Green / Sorry state of public housing – What’s going on?

Sorry state of public housing – What’s going on?

It’s been one year since NSW Minister for Housing Matt Brown witnessed the state of public housing in the Redfern/Waterloo area, and nothing has changed reports Nicholas McCallum in the South Sydney Herald of August 2008.

Residents of Waterloo Green are once again feeling ignored. Their requests for even basic repairs have fallen upon the deaf ears of the Minister and Housing NSW.

Monthly pleas for basic repairs have continually been overlooked or ignored. The State Government’s neglect and failure to act has only fuelled the anger of residents. A letter from Housing NSW dated November 21, 2002 acknowledged the need for fences, among numerous other things, to be mended. To this day, nothing has happened and in most cases the fencing structures have been reduced to piles of wood only suitable for a bonfire. In 2006, Housing NSW identified the situation for a Special Project Proposal, but there has still been no action taken, and no further information provided to the tenants.

Simultaneously, the Redfern-Waterloo Authority has drummed up support for the release and redevelopment of land in the area, but the existing housing is now coming close to condemnation. The lack of action from the RWA has stirred feelings of uncertainty within the tenant body. The Government’s plan to combine public and private housing in the area has multiplied doubts in the minds of residents.

The situation in the area is cause for many tenants to question the worth of their dwellings, asking themselves how they can possess any sense of pride or belonging where they live.

Ross Smith has raised the issue of housing in the area numerous times with Housing NSW. “How, in reality, does the government expect its tenants to react to them when they treat the tenants with such blatant disrespect?” Mr Smith asks.

Successive Housing Ministers have taken the same stance. They have maintained that “Social housing is a privilege, not a right” and, whilst Housing Minister Brown sits on his hands, the tenants of the Waterloo Green are feeling ever more disadvantaged.

Furthering the feelings of disempowerment are the claims that the Client Service Officers, that once frequented the residence in six-month intervals, have all but evaporated. It is also claimed that some CSOs will no longer make visits to tenants unless accompanied by another officer.

The lack of concern shown by Housing NSW raises questions as to the State Government’s commitment to some of Sydney’s most desperate people, with many asking why Matt Brown is not performing his duties as Housing Minister. And while the Government once stated that it had no intention of reducing public housing in the area, it is evident that it is happy to let public housing self-diminish.

STOP PRESS: The Minister has announced a second version of a Plan to address the maintenance backlog – now estimated at $1.6 billion – with a five-year time frame for implementation and/or completion.

Photo: Ali Blogg - An example of neglect Source: South Sydney Herald August 2008