May 28, 2013  |  Adjournment

Housing: Olympia initiative

The action I seek is from the Minister for Housing, and I ask her to detail the addresses of the new public housing properties funded by the taxpayer that have been let to public housing tenants in the 3081 postcode under the Olympia housing initiative. I seek those details because the minister will recall that she has committed under her government to sell off a significant number of public housing properties in my electorate to private developers for private housing and has refused to detail the number of those properties that will be made available to public housing tenants as new developments in West Heidelberg. 

In recent times, over the past couple of weeks, an increasing number of residents in public housing in the suburb of West Heidelberg have come to my electorate office with letters from the Department of Human Services telling them that if they do not pay their rental arrears they will be evicted from their public housing properties.

At a recent homelessness forum in the West Heidelberg electorate at the Banyule Community Health service that I attended last Friday — where there was no government representative present — it was committed and confirmed by the representatives of the Department of Human Services that they had been instructed by the government to provide letters to all public housing tenants who had fallen 14 days behind in their public housing rent, informing them that they would be evicted from their properties if they did not pay the two weeks of rent that they were in arrears. 

A significant number of people in my electorate who are longstanding and respected residents in West Heidelberg, some of whom have been in public housing rental properties for 50 years, have come to me and stressed their concern that they have been given eviction notices by the government because they were two weeks behind in their rent. As we investigated these matters we found that in most cases they were not behind in their rent at all and it was only because there is $1.5 million in public housing rental arrears in the northern suburbs that the government had instructed the Department of Human Services to pursue public housing tenants.

This is not the way we secure housing or deal with public housing matters in West Heidelberg. This is only creating red tape and paperwork for the bureaucracy; this is not dealing with people in my community who are very vulnerable. They need assistance from the government, not to be persecuted by the government. 

I ask that the Minister for Housing detail what new public housing taxpayers are funding in West Heidelberg and what housing has been commissioned under the Olympia housing initiative, rather than what new properties she has been able to commit to private developers to line their pockets.