Tenants, housing activists fight NSW gov’t demolition plans

February 8, 2024
Residents at South Eveleigh are ready to fight to save their homes from being demolished. Photo: Action for Public Housing/Facebook

Public housing tenants are leading the push to stop New South Wales Labor from demolishing public housing in the inner city in the worst housing crisis in living memory.

At least 57,000 households are on the NSW public housing waitlist.

Carolyn Ienna, a public housing tenant and Action for Public Housing spokesperson who was recently evicted from their home at 82 Wentworth Park Rd, Glebe, said her former home is “perfectly liveable” but empty.

“It should not be demolished,” Ienna told Green Left. “Housing minister Rose Jackson just wants to privatise the land, and is willing to throw us tenants under the bus to get there.”

Despite promising to stop privatisation, Premier Chris Minns is planning to evict thousands of tenants from their homes by demolishing the estates in Glebe, Waterloo South and South Eveleigh. The land will be sold to developers.

Mascot public housing is also under threat. The Minns government has demolished public housing estate in Arncliffe and Telopea’s “Three Sister” towers lie empty.

Karyn Brown, a tenant of Waterloo South public housing and a spokesperson for Action for Public Housing, said Heffron MP Ron Hoenig had “completely betrayed” Waterloo tenants.

He sent them a text before the NSW election saying that “only an ALP government can guarantee your home”.

At a media conference after the 2023 election, he said Waterloo was a “failed community” and that the land would be given over to a private consortium of developers.

“They say we’ll be given eviction notices in July,” Brown said. “Our homes may be bulldozed as soon as January 2025.

“Public housing is not the problem; it is the solution,” Brown said.

“Instead of selling off public land and giving it to corporations, we should tax corporations properly and refit public housing and build more.”

Sarina Afa, a tenant at the Explorer Street estate in South Eveleigh said the residents are up for a fight. “I know I have my community behind me, and we are going to fight to win.”

South Eveleigh residents have been told they will receive eviction notices as soon as December.

Siobhan Patton, an economist and campaigner with Action for Public Housing, said even the Australian Housing Urban Research Institute report is concerned about how “public housing urban renewal” favours “a balancing of the books over-delivering for public housing tenants and the wider community”.

“The government appears to be doubling down. There are so many sites in Sydney that it could develop that wouldn’t involve displacing so many people,” she told Green Left.

[Get involved in the campaign at Action for Public Housing.]

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