Berejiklian threatens to demolish inner city public housing

November 27, 2020
Image: Hands Off Glebe

Residents in the Glebe public housing estate were letterboxed on November 11 about the demolition of their homes. The next day, public housing residents in Eveleigh received a similar letter.

The NSW Land and Housing Corporation announced its intention to “renew the estate” with “new and better social housing” as well as "private housing in new apartment buildings”. It said there would be “pedestrian-friendly streets, art spaces, retail shops and community spaces”.

Hands Off Glebe said the 30-year-old Glebe complex has 112 dwellings.

The Eveleigh public housing block, in Explorer and Aurora Place near Erskineville Station, comprises 108 apartments.

According to the Daily Telegraph the NSW government is allocating $1.9 billion to "renew" the Glebe and Eveleigh sites. It hosted three “consultation” webinars, where residents could only type questions into the chat function but not speak.

Emily Bullock, a long-term resident of the Glebe estate, told Green Left that residents were shocked and intended to stop the plan.

“The NSW government wants to build a 14-story high apartment block, with 295 private bedsits and one- and two-bedroom apartments. But our public housing block has three- and five-bedroom apartments. Their plan only includes 130 social housing dwellings.”

She said that residents currently enjoy well-sized homes. But the government “wants to give us inhumane-sized boxes with the rich and famous at the top with the views and social housing tenants at the bottom”.

The government has given residents two years’ notice. “They said they’ll give us six months notice before booting us out and we have been offered the right to return to these small apartments.

“But, we have families with kids, and these will be small, not the airy, sizeable, light filled apartments we currently have. These families just won’t return.’

There are currently 60,000 people on the waiting list for public housing in NSW.

Bullock said the bulk of the new apartments will be sold privately. She said the Berejiklian government had failed in its duty of care. “They are not taking anyone off the waiting list. NSW doesn’t need more private homes or social housing. We need public housing.”

Bullock explained that, unlike public housing where rentals are a maximum of 25% of income, social housing is administered by private not-for-profit providers who can charge 30%.

“I have heard that Bridge Housing and other so-called not-for-profits give just two weeks notice before evicting people. These community/ social housing providers are a lot more cut-throat.”

Community housing providers receive funding directly from the federal government through the rent assistance given to welfare recipients. Bullock said it would make more sense to simply fund public housing directly.

Hands off Glebe is campaigning against the demolition. It has leafleted the affected residences and nearby homes and is refusing to be sidetracked into a discussion about what percentage of the new housing should be “social” or “private”.

“We are fighting this entire project,” Bullock said.

[The Maritime Union of Australia is hosting a BBQ near the Glebe housing estate on December 8. For more information visit Hands Off Glebe.]

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