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Residents says public housing is bedlam

An increasing number of homeless people are bunking illegally in public housing at Redfern and Surry Hills, prompting a new joint imitative from the City and the NSW Department of Housing reports Angus Thompson in City News on 7th December 2008.

Council held its first meeting for Redfern Housing NSW tenants in Redfern last Friday where Lord Mayor Clover Moore announced a Memorandum of Understanding, which combines the functions of both bodies in meeting tenants’ needs.

The meeting was the second held as part of an election promise to hold forums bringing together tenants, Housing NSW, council staff and police.

"There's a bit of a crossover. There’s some things that we do really well that aren't the priority of the Department of Housing," Ms Moore said. "The aim is for us to work together positively."

A number of tenants said a priority issue was a transient population using public apartments as halfway houses, and the cramming of multiple people into one-bedroom apartments.

Some tenants also complained that the department’s allocation of public housing for mentally ill residents was fuelling antisocial behaviour.

"More and more dysfunctional people are coming in. They’re turning our places into asylums and halfway houses. This is not right," said Redfern public housing tenant Richard Coady.

Mr Coady said it was about time the Department of Housing's ears fell on rent-paying public housing tenants.

“The Department knows these people have problems so why are they putting them in with ordinary tenants?

“There should be halfway houses and proper community housing. Instead they’re dumped in public housing and we're the ones that have to cop it," he said.

Other issues raised in the meeting include policing of pets in housing complexes and a need to crackdown on waste management at neglected housing precincts.

Sydney City Public Housing liaison coordinator, Dominic Grenot, said during the meeting that promoting tenant safety and improving infrastructure were priorities as is promoting tenants' involvement in the decision-making process.

"There's no point in doing a whole bunch of stuff for [for] tenants if they're not part of the mix.

"The priority is to make sure that tenants are part of every process and every decision that we make somehow because that's what builds sustainability in the long term," he said.

The City will hold public housing meetings every four months.