On June 14, NSW Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard unveiled plans for a $170 million development on the inner-Sydney Cowper Street, Glebe, block, which has lain vacant since the previous state Labor government demolished a low-rise public housing estate on the site in 2011.
According to the government's plan, the new 500-apartment development would include about 250 private apartments, 150 public or social housing units and about 100 "affordable housing" apartments, reserved for "essential workers", such as nurses or teachers.
Hands Off Glebe public housing campaign group released this statement on June 14.
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The Minister for Social Housing’s announcement that half the public land at Cowper Street, Glebe, will be sold to private developers is a disgrace. It will do nothing to help solve Sydney’s housing crisis but will steal land belonging to the people and give it to the wealthy.
“The [Mike] Baird government should use some of the billions it is raking in from stamp duty and land tax to start a major public housing building program to meet the needs of the 60,000 people on the waiting list and the many homeless in our city,” said Dennis Doherty from Hands off Glebe.
Over the past decade Labor and Liberal governments in NSW have privatised 7000 public housing properties. The [Barry] O’Farrell government cut $37 million from the housing budget in 2013.
“The truth is that the Baird government wants to get rid of its responsibility for housing its citizens altogether", Doherty said. "It is selling public assets on a massive scale, offloading $1 billion worth of property in the past two years alone.
"This is short-term interest being pursued against the long-term interest of the people.
“The minister should be ashamed of this development. Close to Cowper Street is the Wentworth Park Aqueduct where under each arch four to six people sleep rough each night. The government had a chance to build another ‘Common Ground’ establishment on land they owned in a key area, yet they passed it up for a quick and shameful profit.
“The inner city needs affordable homes for essential workers such as nurses, teachers, police and ferry workers, yet only a small portion of the development will provide this. Cowper Street is close to three universities and student accommodation is also desperately needed, yet there is no provision for this need. Lies and more lies.
“The minister is repeating the lies of Housing NSW when they destroyed a thriving community of almost 300 people four years ago. The homes may not have been architectural marvels, but the claim that they had to be demolished because they were ‘old’ is a lie. Some of the 16 low rise buildings had just been renovated, including $4 million spent on installing lifts.
“The suggestion that the development will provide ‘mix’ is another lie. Private and public housing will be physically separated by a busy road and this barrier will not be crossed.
“The claim of community consultation is also a lie. There is no evidence that the community supports the Cowper Street development.
“It is criminal to privatise the dwindling stock of public housing and public land when there is a housing affordability crisis. A home is a human right, not just another way for the rich to make even more money.”