- The Victorian Labor government wants to sell off inner city public land.
- It plans to give property developers access to land currently used for public housing.
- It has announced a large scale “renewal” program that will likely involve the forced removal of tenants and the demolition of 9 housing estates across Melbourne.
- AT LEAST 4000 public housing homes will be transferred to the community housing sector. Some public tenants have already been told that they will need to leave their homes before the end of 2017.
- The Labor Government plans to sign as many contracts with private developers as possible before the state election next year, to lock in the sales.
- Thousands of new homes will be built on the estates but the vast majority of these will be privately owned.
- The developers stand to make big profits by cashing in on land that should be used for public housing.
- There are nearly 35,000 Victorians on the public housing waiting list and there is a housing affordability crisis across most of the state.
- The need for thousands of new public housing homes is critical.
- Instead, the government wants to let developers in to build thousands of unaffordable private apartments.
- Whole communities are being promised that everyone will be coming home, but there will be mainly 1 and 2 bedrooms built – replacing the 3-bedrooms units. Government fact sheets make this quite clear. On Public Housing ‘walk-up’ estates, up to half or more of the homes can be 3 bedroom units, since the ‘walk-ups’ were designed for community living.
- THERE ARE NO LEGALLY-BINDING CONTRACTS THAT WILL GUARANTEE THAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WILL BE ABLE TO RETURN TO YOUR FORMER HOMES AND NEIGHBOURHOODS.
- NO to the sell off of public housing land!
- NO to destroying existing communities!
- NO to the privatisation of public housing!
- You might have heard the terms COMMUNITY/SOCIAL/AFFORDABLE HOUSING.
- You might think these are the same as PUBLIC HOUSING.
- THIS CONFUSION IS DELIBERATE.
- PUBLIC HOUSING IS NOT THE SAME as COMMUNITY/SOCIAL HOUSING!
- is managed and owned by the government. Generally, your rent is fixed at 25% of your household income and YOUR RENTAL CONTRACT WITH THE GOVERNMENT IS ONGOING.
- Public Housing protects you with rebated rents – your rent goes up or down, which is a very important protection ie. if you get sick or lose your job your rents get adjusted. Do not think that this protection is for Community/Social Housing tenants.
- Public tenants cannot be asked to leave for no reason, (whereas Community/Social Housing tenants can be evicted for business reasons – ie. if you have a ‘spare bedroom’ your home could be considered ‘under-utilised’ – or the landlord might simply want to sell the properties.
2. COMMUNITY/SOCIAL HOUSING
- is either owned or managed – or both – by businesses which have different rules and fewer protections than those in Public Housing. This will affect you and your family.
- The rent in community housing is often charged at 75% of market rents and you will need to apply for Commonwealth Rent Assistance, for it to be affordable for those on low incomes. The Commonwealth Rent Assistance will go straight to the provider. You might start your rent at 30% of your income but can often be raised depending on the Community Housing landlord’s circumstances.
- As a Community Housing tenant you can be put on contracts as as short as 3, 6 or 12 months.
- Different rules and hidden costs can occur in Community/Social Housing regarding maintenance, utilities, and you might find there is little to no car parking as a Community Housing tenant.
- So if you become a Community/Social housing tenant, you and your family will not only, on average, be paying more rent, you will lose important rights and protections.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- As soon as possible, contact your local Community Legal Centre. (See below)
- These CLCs are working with and advising public tenants on their legal rights.
- Go to meetings of your local Residents’ Action Groups.
- Talk to tenants from other housing estates and become empowered.
- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ENGAGE WITH ANYBODY FROM THE GOVERNMENT WHO KNOCKS ON YOUR DOOR TO DISCUSS RELOCATION PLANS IF YOU DON’T WISH TO!
- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SIGN ANYTHING, SO DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!
- ASK FOR A COPY OF ANY DOCUMENT THEY WANT YOU TO SIGN, SO THAT YOU CAN DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS FIRST!
- IF THAT REQUEST IS REFUSED, THEN ASK IF YOU CAN TAKE A SCREENSHOT OF THE DOCUMENT.
- ASK IF YOU CAN RECORD THE MEETING ON YOUR SMARTPHONE.
- IF THE ABOVE REQUESTS ARE REFUSED, THEN POLITELY END THE MEETING, STATING THAT YOU WISH TO DISCUSS THE ISSUE WITH YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE FIRST.
- (STICKERS ARE AVAILABLE FROM VARIOUS TENANTS’ SUPPORT GROUPS FOR YOU TO STICK ON DOORS/WINDOWS. THEY SAY: “DHHS Relocation Officers – please do not knock or call me on the phone.
We are following independent legal advice, and won’t sign anything without a second opinion. Please send me by mail any documents you want me to look at.”)
- REMEMBER: YOU HAVE RIGHTS AS A PUBLIC TENANT – ONE OF WHICH IS NOT TO FEEL INTIMIDATED BY YOUR LANDLORD/GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVE!
COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRES
NORTHERN COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC
Shop 214 (Rooftop) Gladstone Park Shopping Centre
Gladstone Park 3043
T: (03) 9310 4376
INNER MELBOURNE COMMUNITY LEGAL INC
Suite 2, 508 Queensberry Street
North Melbourne 3051
T: (03) 9328 1885
WEST HEIDELBERG COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE
21 Alamein Road
West Heidelberg, 3081
T: (03) 9450 2002
FITZROY LEGAL SERVICE INC
Fitzroy Town Hall Level 4, 126 Moor Street (Access via courtyard)
T: (03) 9419 3744
PENINSULA COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC
441 Nepean Highway
Frankston VIC 3199
T: (03) 9783 3600
ST.KILDA LEGAL SERVICE CO-OP LTD
161 Chapel Street
T: (03) 9534 0777
EASTERN COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC
Inner East Branch
Suite 3, Town Hall Hub, 27 Bank Street
Box Hill 3128
T: (03) 9285 4822
Northcote & Preston:
DAREBIN COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE INC
732 High Street
T: (03) 9484 7753
MOONEE VALLEY LEGAL SERVICE
13A Wingate Avenue
Ascot Vale 3032
T: (03) 9376 7929
FLEMINGTON KENSINGTON COMMUNITY LEGAL CENTRE
22 Bellair Street
T: (03) 9376 4355