Rally hears from public housing tenants fighting to stay in their homes

June 18, 2023
Rallying for homes on June 17. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

Carolyn Ienna, Wiradjuri person and public housing tenant at 82 Wentworth Park Road Glebe and Karyn Brown from the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group were emotional as they told a rally they did not want be removed from their homes of several decades.

Brown asked several hundred people at the “Housing for people, not profit” rally on June 17 to imagine what it would feel like. “It’s not a good feeling,” she said.

The protest, organised by Action for Public Housing (APH), heard from speakers before marching through the CBD chanting: “Save Waterloo? Yes, we can!”, “Save public housing? Yes, we can!” and “Freeze rents? Yes, we can!”

Wiradjuri and Gamilaroi artist Lorna Munro gave the acknowledgement of country. Kristin O’Connell from the Antipoverty Centre, Jenny Leong, Newtown Greens MP and Khanh Tran, Students Representative Council (SRC) disability officer at the University of Sydney (USyd), also spoke. Leong said the Greens would soon be introducing a bill to freeze rents.

A message from Vince Ashton, from the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Retired group and former New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation organiser, was read out.

Co-chairs Rachel Evans from APH and Ishbel Dunsmore, Education Officer at the USyd SRC said Gadi/Sydney is in the midst of one of the worst housing crises ever and the government must be forced to change its approach.

“The NSW and federal Labor Party’s plans are set to make this crisis worse,” Evans said. “The Housing Future Fund, if it gets up, will only fund homes for 12% of the 160,000 households on the public housing waiting list.

“We don’t need a future fund; we need a fund for the present!” She said the NSW housing minister Rose Jackson must be held to her promise on public housing.

Commenting on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’ announcement, Dunsmore said: “This morning’s $2 billion announcement for a rapid social housing expansion is welcome, but nowhere near enough. Labor is running away from the platform it was elected on.

“It is utterly shameful that any mention of ‘housing as a human right’ has been struck from their [federal] new policy platform. We know that secure, safe, and affordable housing enables people — regardless of personal circumstance — to live with dignity.”

APH is calling for a freeze on rents, no privatisation and for more public housing to be built.

Rents have risen by nearly 20% in Sydney in the past 12 months, and more in many regional areas. Public housing waiting lists have grown by 15%, while the stock of public housing grew by less than 1%. Homelessness is rising around the country while more than a million homes sit empty on any given night.

The action was endorsed by: USyd SRC, Friends of Erskineville, Hands Off Glebe, Socialist Alliance, Better Planning Network, NSW Greens, GET A ROOM: Students for Affordable Housing, Anti-Poverty Centre, Friends of Ultimo, Australian Unemployed Workers Union, Tenants Union NSW and the National Tertiary Education Union NSW.

[A public forum “No more demolitions! Alternatives to public housing redevelopment” is being organised by Action for Public Housing on July 18, 6-8pm at Redfern Community Centre, Redfern.]

Video: Urgent message to PM Anthony Albanese: 'Give us the funds to end homelessness!'. Green Left

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.