Stop Margaret Kelly’s eviction by Homes Victoria
Margaret’s eviction notice demanded she leave her home in the Barak Beacon public housing estate in Port Melbourne by May 16. This deadline has been passed and she remains resolute about staying.
Margaret has asked to meet Minister for Housing Colin Brooks who has declined. The campaign in support of Margaret can be followed on the Save Barak Beacon Facebook page: facebook.com/groups/1210658333087123
Despite media reports of Homes Victoria needing hundreds of millions of dollars extra recurrent funding to stay solvent nothing was included in the state budget about Homes Victoria. The past reports were based on briefings given to the government by Homes Victoria bureaucrats.
The only direct mention of Homes Victoria in Treasurer Pallas’s Statement of Finances is the listing of the two Ground Lease Model (GLM) projects in Melbourne. They are described as public private partnerships along with similarly branded projects in health, schools and other services.
The GLM projects include the Barak Beacon public housing estate. It involves making demolished public housing estates land available for nothing to private investors to build a mix of community, so-called affordable and market rent housing. All rental income from these three tenures is taken by the investors, along with cash payments from the government. Marginal 10 per cent increases in community housing over the previous numbers of public housing are promised but will make up only around 30 per cent of all dwellings built. So-called affordable housing will have rents set at 90 per cent of the market rent. To describe these projects as improving access to affordable housing is laughable.
The only other mentions of rental housing in the budget were: increased land tax on dwellings that are not primary residences of households and include holiday homes along with private investment properties and land tax discounts for private investor build to rent projects. The government has stated that rents will not go up as a result of the increase but has offered no measures to stop this happening.
Big Housing Build – it is time for an audit
There was no update on this program in the budget nor in Treasurer Pallas’s speech to parliament.
There is plenty of evidence that there are major problems with the original Public Housing Renewal Program projects completely changed from delivering community and private housing to fully funded construction by Homes Victoria. For example, Walker St at Northcote remains a demolished estate with nothing being built despite the developer MAB selling $3 million off-the-plan units with views over Merri Creek.
I understand The Victorian Auditor General will be conducting an audit of the program in the not-too-distant future and I can’t wait to see that start.
COVID-19 public housing lockdowns tenants offered class action payments
No apology has been offered to residents who suffered under these lockdowns but a class action against the government has seen an offer of payments. I welcome this financial, offer but we all still need to see an apology.
This column has been written with the assistance of the Save Public Housing Collective. •