Victorian government blasted on housing sales

Issue 

MELBOURNE — The Western Region Housing Council has condemned the state Ministry of Housing policy of selling off public housing.

Announcing plans to demonstrate at the auction of a ministry home in Maidstone, WRHC spokesperson Mark Cafarella said, "In the next two months, this government plans to sell 200 ministry homes. They say they are only selling homes that are high maintenance, in areas of low need or that can't be redeveloped.

"Since when has Maidstone been an area of low need? The waiting time is over five years for most homes in Braybrook and Maidstone. Why are these houses maintenance intensive? Because even though tenants have been paying rent for 30 years, the ministry has ignored maintenance and just taken the money."

The sales are part of a "stock management strategy" that allows 600 homes a year to be sold. Housing groups say the strategy is the thin end of the wedge that will lead to mass sales in coming years.

Apart from that, the strategy has not been made public. "If this is a considered management exercise and not just another state government revenue-raising exercise, why have details of the strategy not been released for public scrutiny?", Cafarella asked.

"Selling off this public housing will only make the housing crisis worse. Instead of selling them, the ministry should redevelop them."

Houses being sold in the metropolitan area cannot be seen as hard to let, Cafarella said. "The irony of this hits home when we hear the agents' claims, when selling these properties: 'centrally located', 'prime residential location'."

The WRHC says there are presently 40,000 households which urgently need public rental accommodation.

The campaign to stop the auctions is being supported by the Public Tenants Union and Shelter Victoria.