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Canberra Today 2°/7° | Sunday, May 22, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

‘Disgusting’: the tenants who live in fear of trashed unit

‘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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Nick Overall

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6 Responses to ‘Disgusting’: the tenants who live in fear of trashed unit

Anak Betawie says: January 25, 2022 at 11:02 am

Onya Scott for going public on this and continuing to push the issue! We have known and visited the units since they were brand new, and they were just delightful! We were so happy for members of our family who were able to secure a unit…. And so sad that over such a short period of time lack of control and enforcement have been allowed anarchy to run its course! 🙁 🙁 . It’s just breathtaking 🙁

Can you perhaps form a Body Corporate with the good normal people in there and in conjunction with the Housing Commission people (or whatever they are called) regain control of the environment. Change locks and install deadlocks on the empty vandalised units.

As you know some of the tenants have installed and paid for deadlocks themselves without any support from the Housing Commission

Scott says: January 25, 2022 at 7:37 pm

Hi Anak
Yes its heart breaking to see such lovely units treated with such disregard.
Luckily there is also some people behind the scenes who have helped make this public.
Majority of the tenants do the right thing and look after the complex. Unfortunately a few do not and that brings the whole place down. Also Unfortunately until know any complaints have fallen on deaf ears.
We count ourselves very lucky to have such a new and well built complex. Hopefully something like a body corporate or at least input from the tenants could be considered.

Jess says: January 29, 2022 at 8:41 am

Scott I can’t seem to find your Facebook name but would like to message with you a similar issue if your interested in hearing it… Jess north on Facebook send me a message

Christopher Emery says: January 26, 2022 at 3:43 pm

Having lived next to public housing for about 30 years I know the problem is lack of enforcement of tenancy agreements. However the answer is not simple. Public housing has become a last resort for the desperate. What can they do? Evict them onto the streets?

Michael O'Loughlin says: January 29, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Anyone who has lived near public housing knows this story only too well. Poorly maintained dwellings, all too often untidy presentation and unsanitary conditions, trashed and labelled as “oh that’s public housing”. Anyone growing up in Canberra when I did will remember what public housing was and should be: a home for low-income people, employed or otherwise. Instead, it’s become just another adjunct to our ever-burgeoning welfare system, with all the dysfunction that goes with that. Here in Canberra, this problem is exacerbated by a housing minister who shows no consistency, all too often fails to enforce even minimal standards and, frankly, appears not to know what she is doing. She hides all these failings behind the convenient cover of privacy legislation. This means that, all over this city, you will find ghettos calling themselves public housing – you know the scenario: poorly maintained, often trashed and all too often tenanted by some of the most obnoxious people you could come across and, worst of all, with little to no accountability to us, the tax and ratepayers who pay for all this. As a result of this poor management, perfectly respectable public housing tenants end up being unfairly maligned. Sure, the management of public housing is more complex these days than it used to be. But does this really excuse trashing perfectly good dwellings, including the one in question that was only built in recent years, and turning respectable suburban areas into slum areas while oppressing those who really do have a go?


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