Public housing offices reopen after residents felt “forgotten”
A year-long campaign to reopen housing offices in public housing buildings in North Melbourne, which left residents feeling “forgotten”, has finally been successful.
The offices, which allow residents to discuss housing issues with the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) at their building, had been closed for more than two years following COVID-19 lockdowns, with Melbourne MP Ellen Sandell, along with residents, and community groups, advocating for the state government to reopen them.
“It was very difficult for residents. They were not able to directly see their housing officers to resolve their housing issues,” president of the Melbourne Somali Community Inc. Awil Hussein said.
The phone calls to the maintenance centre or housing took a long time to answer, sometimes more than an hour or they get disconnected while you are on the waiting, or you don’t get to the right person.
The offices based at Sutton St and Alfred St, as well as in Carlton, reopened their doors on January 16 for enquiries from Monday to Friday, between 8.45am and 5pm, without the need for an appointment.
Ms Sandell said during the time the housing offices remained closed, public housing residents were “left feeling forgotten and ignored”.
“Residents were forced to spend hours on hold trying to get support from DFFH, and sometimes couldn’t get through at all,” she said. “Residents and community groups had to campaign for over a year for these offices to be reopened. I’m glad I was able to represent them in Parliament and help get the offices finally reopened.”
Mr Awil said it was a relief that residents, many of whom are culturally and linguistically diverse, could now make an in-person enquiry to resolve simple issues like getting keys, fobs, painting and changing carpet.
“It’s very important because every time residents have housing maintenance issues, rent rebates and housing applications, and access to the buildings, they are able to go to an office and talk to the receptionist and their housing officer to get their issue resolved in a timely manner.” •