Residents rally for public housing in Eveleigh

February 13, 2021
Louisa Biddington, a resident of Explorer Street, addresses the crowd. Photo: Peter Boyle

Despite the rain, a BBQ brought together residents of Explorer Street in Eveleigh, near Redfern, and others campaigning for public housing on February 13.

Andrew Chuter from Friends of Erskineville (FoE) said the government plan to “demolish wonderful homes, whack up apartment towers and sell 70% to the private market is wrong”.

“It’s not just wrong at this time, during a pandemic, or at a time when the public housing waiting list is over 50,000 applicants long. It’s wrong in principle.

“That’s because you can’t fund public housing by selling the very land it sits on. It’s like putting ads on the ABC to pay for the news. A public good requires public investment,” Chuter said, adding, “That’s what we pay our taxes for”.

Chuter demolished the government spin that claims it is increasing the number of public housing dwellings being provided.

“It’s not the absolute number that matters; it's the proportion of public housing as a fraction of all housing that matters. That is what determines the overall social accessibility of public housing.”

The City of Sydney’s Housing Audit June 2020 shows that the percentage of public housing in the area is falling, he said.

He said that in nearby Ashmore Estate, developers are building 3000 new apartments, and not a single one will be public, let alone affordable.

“That’s even despite the former landowner, Goodman Group, making a profit of more than $300 million when the state government up-zoned the land.

“Put simply, the private sphere is being allowed to massively swamp the public sphere.”

He suggested that mandating developers to build a minimum percentage of affordable housing on new developments could be one answer — “inclusionary zoning” — and negative gearing and capital gains tax exemptions need to be removed.

These ideas went down well with the crowd.

Local residents said they were not being kept informed by government, and were growing increasingly anxious.

FoE along with Hands off Glebe, REDWatch, Shelter NSW and Greens MP Jenny Leong organised the event.

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