Flemington and North Melbourne residents say “NO TO DEMOLITION”

Flemington and North Melbourne residents say “NO TO DEMOLITION”
Cory Memery

More than 100 residents attended a Somali Community Inc. and Save Public Housing Collective meeting at the Djerring Flemington Hub on Saturday, November 25.

They described how they were shocked to hear about the proposal to demolish their homes and how Homes Victoria staff are picking households off one at a time with demands to sign agreements to move out that have no guarantees of where they will go or the type of housing they will have. No-one wanted to be living in community housing. They all want to remain public tenants. The following motion was passed:

“This meeting calls on the government to immediately stop the wholesale destruction and privatisation of public housing and instead maintain public housing and build new public housing on public land.”

Legal support for residents is being provided by the Inner Melbourne Community Legal team. Residents from these towers locked down in the COVID pandemic have been successful in a class action on compensation. It appears as though demolition is the government’s response to this.

Homes Victoria has major financial and delivery problems

A Herald Sun article (November 15) reported – based on Freedom of Information (FOI) sourced government information – that only a net increase of just 1302 housing units were achieved during 2022-23 despite the three years since the original budget announcement. Only a fraction of the promised new homes – just over 3000 all up – have been built with 60 per cent of the $5.3bn funding having been spent.

The same article goes on to point out that since 2018 the waiting list for public housing has actually added 19,686 families and there are now 2733 fewer bedrooms available. These are households which have been assessed by the government as in need of genuinely affordable housing. You don’t get on the list by just asking. The average wait time for homes has increased to 18.1 months!

The Big Housing Build’s predecessor – the Public Housing Renewal Program (PHRP) – was a massive failure. Construction of private units at Abbotsford St, North Melbourne still hasn’t started because the developer MAB has failed to secure off-the-plan sales. 

The recent Ground Lease Model 2 announcement covering four demolished estates – including Barak Beacon – did not publicly quantify the state government’s contribution for the next 40 years. They just crowed about the new federal government’s Housing Australia fund contribution.

This project will see demolished public housing being replaced by far more market and slightly discounted – by a mere 10 per cent – market rent housing.

The proposed demolition of 44 towers is policy on the run with wishful thinking about its true budgetary cost to the state government over the next decades. Homes Victoria is probably working overtime on a yet another model of full private investor funding of the program with less truly affordable housing being delivered. •

 

Prepared with the assistance of the Save Public Housing Collective.

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