By Bruce Marlowe
SYDNEY — Community outrage has forced the Greiner government to back off from cuts to the Area Assistance Scheme, a funding arrangement that helps poorer people with housing costs. The government has even reaffirmed its pre-election promise to restore funding of the scheme at $20 million for three years.
The reversal is vindication of the power of community opinion backed up by concerted cooperative effort from community services and the local media. Even the minister for planning, Robert Webster, was pleased. "I am delighted that all those people who lobbied so convincingly in support of the scheme have been successful", warbled a ministerial press release.
Another issue that may soon galvanise concerted action is the pressure being put on Community Tenancy Schemes, which currently house more than 10,000 people statewide, by the NSW Department of Housing.
The department is withholding this year's funding from the 62 community housing organisations operating the scheme, and imposing impossible management constraints over the next six months. These include month-by-month funding and the requirement that organisations submit monthly financial statements.