‘I sent ACT Housing a letter, but nothing has been done, the door is still open and the place is still trashed.’
A NEGLECTED, unlocked, public housing unit in Wright left vacant and trashed for months is causing nearby tenants to fear for their safety as squatters use the space.
Fifty-one year old Scott, a tenant living nearby, discovered the state of the new unit in October after noticing the door had been left ajar for weeks. Inside, he and two other tenants found a mess they described as “disgusting and a safety hazard”.
“We found a bed overturned, cupboard doors missing, architraves ripped off, the clothes dryer missing and there are syringes around the place,” said Scott.
“There’s people squatting in there, anyone off the street can walk in. The door is broken and the sliding door on the balcony is open, which is easy to get into by just jumping over the balcony.
“I sent ACT Housing a letter at the time, but to this day nothing has been done, the door is still open and the place is still trashed.”
Scott, who lives with and cares for his 17-year-old daughter with disability, said he won’t let her move around the complex without him due to fears for her safety.
He said that in recent months he and other tenants had dealt with car break-ins, theft and vandalism.
“It could be these squatters who are breaking into cars and storage lockers, you just don’t know who’s coming in and out of the place,” he said
“There’s also been syringes found in the car park, and with people living here with young kids that’s a worry.”
Scott and his daughter moved into the complex in February, 2020, grateful to have been given a place to live.
“When I moved in here I thought I’d hit the jackpot. It was a brand new complex and brand new unit, and we were the first here so these places haven’t even been occupied for two years,” he said.
“We are grateful for being given the spot but the place is supposed to be secure, it’s scary. It seems like getting anything done like this when it comes to safety isn’t happening.”
In an effort to raise awareness for the issue and see some change, Scott started a community Facebook page and uploaded a video to YouTube showing the state of the unit.
He said so far his responses from the ACT government had only gone as far as the issue was “being referred to the relevant teams”.
Another tenant of the complex, who wished to remain anonymous, said they felt they couldn’t walk around the area without putting themselves at risk.
“I don’t personally feel safe wandering around and don’t do so unless it’s imperative,” the tenant said.
“Some of that has to do with that unit and the reports that people have been squatting there and also not knowing who has access.
“We’ve had numerous car break-ins in what are supposed to be secure car parks, number plate thefts, thefts [and] vandalism.”
The tenant said it was a shame the unit was not being used by someone who needed it: “I, for one, also know how hard it is to get into government housing.
“It was an uphill battle. I was in need of housing and facing all kinds of abuse and there are countless people also in desperate need of housing and that unit going to one of them may very well be the difference between life and death.”
It’s a sentiment Scott agrees with, saying he too understands the difficulty in finding a place to live.
“There’s hundreds of people waiting for urgent housing in the ACT and it’s ridiculous that someone could have been using that unit,” he said.
“If you’re a person who’s desperate and you get a brand new place before Christmas imagine how excited you would have been.”
In deference to the privacy and security of the tenants, “CityNews” has not identified the street address of the units, but Housing ACT clearly knows where they are.
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