Residents and supporters are organising to oppose demolition of their homes

Residents and supporters are organising to oppose demolition of their homes
Cory Memery

There is one thing that is certain about the state government’s dreadful towers demolition plan – there will be strong and hopefully successful resistance.

Public housing tenants in the 44 high-rise buildings across metropolitan Melbourne have been meeting over what has been proposed. Some have already publicly declared they will not move voluntarily. There have been meetings with lawyers to consider legal action that can be taken to stop evictions. Despite being told by the government they will be looked after, very few believe this will be the case.

I thank Merri-bek Council to be the first local government to decide to oppose the plan in their area. Hopefully, other councils will follow their lead.

It’s all about messages to others, not public housing residents

The new Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has told parliament that what they are doing is somehow marvellous, describing it as “Australia’s largest urban renewal project!”

It is a message to the federal Labor government that Victoria is actioning a plan that will see minor amounts of money flowing to the state government for each new dwelling.

It is a message to those who do not live in public housing that they will see their neighbourhood cleared out of public housing and replaced with community and market related rental housing.

A promised 10 per cent increase in community housing dwellings is deceptive

For every three community housing dwellings, seven full or 10 per cent discounted market rent dwellings are proposed to be built by investors who will enjoying land at no cost to increase their returns. They will also be paid by state governments for 40 years to maintain the community housing that will be built.

The 10 per cent increase promise doesn’t stack up as the two towers being demolished at Elgin and Nicholson streets in Carlton will be used to temporarily house displaced residents from other towers being demolished. New dwellings constructed under the original Public Housing Renewal Program, such as at Abbotsford St in North Melbourne, will be used to temporarily relocate residents.

New monopolies in fake affordable housing provision?

The redevelopment of demolished Barak Rd and another three public housing estates has been reported as close to being awarded by the Victorian Government to the same group as the first Ground Lease Model project in Flemington, Prahran and Brighton.

The Tetris-led consortium with community housing provider CHL involved apparently has financial backing from the federal government’s National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), ANZ bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.

It is worth mentioning that ex-Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne, who had the carriage of public housing demolitions, was appointed a board member of the NHFIC in June this year.

Victorian Auditor General Office (VAGO)

The VAGO is now conducting a review of the state government’s Big Housing Build. I hope they look at every bit of detail on what has been happening under this program and make it public. •


Prepared with the assistance of the Save Public Housing Collective

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