Greens join public housing residents in fight to stop Victoria’s privatisation of public housing

Greens join public housing residents in fight to stop Victoria’s privatisation of public housing
Ellen Sandell

You may have heard that the Labor Victorian Government is planning to demolish every public housing tower in Victoria.

That’s more than 6660 homes in 44 towers.

One of the first to go is in our neighbourhood – 33 Alfred St in North Melbourne.

Some of these buildings could certainly do with an upgrade, but unfortunately that’s not the government’s plan.

Instead, they’re going to sell off the majority of this public housing land to private developers to build private apartments for 20,000 people and make mega profits.

They’ve said they will also replace the demolished towers with 7100 new “social” homes on these sites between now and 2051. Let me explain why this is a lot worse than it seems.

Firstly, Labor wants to knock down 6600 public housing homes, and build 7100 social homes over the next 28 years. That’s only 440 extra social homes, or 15 new social homes per year! There are 125,000 people on the public housing waiting list in Victoria. Fifteen new social homes a year isn’t going to cut it!

To essentially give public housing land to developers to make a huge profit – and only provide 15 extra new social homes a year – is a bad deal.

Secondly, the government has refused to commit to any of the newly-built “social homes” being public housing. “Social housing” can mean either public housing or community housing. Community housing is run by private organisations (sometimes “non-profits”) and can often have higher rents and fewer rights for tenants than public housing. On some other estates where Labor has demolished public housing, none of the new housing has been public housing at all.

Residents are understandably concerned they’ll be moved away from the family, hospitals, and community services they rely on.

This plan is going to fundamentally change the nature of our suburb, with more expensive apartments and public housing residents being pushed out.

The Greens and I believe public housing land should never be handed over to private developers. It should be used to build 100 per cent public housing.

A local resident has started a petition to Parliament that calls on Labor to stop the privatisation model of public housing and build more public housing. The Greens are supporting this petition, and if we get 2000 signatures, we can force a special debate in Parliament.

In the meantime, we’re also supporting residents who need assistance to understand their rights.

If you’d like to join the campaign to save public housing, get in touch at [email protected]. •

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