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‘Heartless’ government moves Housing tenants from homes

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell. Photo: Holly Treadaway.

MORE than 300 ACT Housing tenants – including older people, people with chronic health issues and people with disability – have been shocked to receive letters informing them that they will need to vacate their properties, an act the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has today (March 2) condemned as “heartless”.

Many tenants have been living in their homes for decades.

ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said that many of the residents were deeply distressed to suddenly receive a notice to vacate and that the ACT Government had failed to ensure proper assistance was in place for tenants affected by the government’s public housing renewal program.

“To send these types of letters, without adequate support in place for tenants, is incredibly callous and cruel,” she said, calling on the Housing Minister Yvette Berry and ACT Housing to immediately review the program and to resource independent legal and advocacy services to represent impacted tenants.

The ACT government’s Growing and Renewing Public Housing program gave public housing tenants in Canberra the chance to move out of their homes to newer homes so older sites could be sold to raise revenue or be redeveloped into modern public housing.

“ACTCOSS and other partners have provided advice to the Growing and Renewing program in good faith. Our strong advice to the government included the need for tenants to be able to access independent and well-resourced advocacy supports. However, this latest step suggests that our advice has been disregarded,” Dr Campbell said.

“Community organisations, including community legal services, have been overwhelmed with calls from distressed tenants desperate for support to avoid eviction from their homes. It is unclear what criteria has been used for determining which tenants received a letter. Many of these houses are perfectly adequate and have tenants who wish to remain in the property.

“However, we do note that many of the properties happen to be located on high-value land.

“Some of these tenants have lived in their homes for more than 50 years and have invested significant amounts in upkeep and renovation. Some residents are elderly or are people with disability and are located close to family and support networks,” said Dr Campbell.

Dr Campbell said the notification process had been heartless and cruel with:

  • no support offered to individuals receiving the letter aside from a list of telephone numbers,
  • tenants reporting that the Tenant Relocation Team hotline was not in operation when they called; and
  • no additional funding or resources provided to the community organisations tasked with managing calls from distressed tenants.

Dr Campbell said: “The fact that properties are built on high value land that the ACT government wishes to sell should not be a reason to order public housing tenants out of their homes. Many of the individuals involved are highly vulnerable, including people with dementia or complex mental health issues.”

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6 Responses to ‘Heartless’ government moves Housing tenants from homes

Anonymous says: 2 March 2022 at 6:10 pm

What about sympathy for people who have fought for over 3 years to remove absolute noisense and criminal behaving tenets from their street? Hundreds of emails to Housing and we have to respect their privacy, disgraceful

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Ian Bennett says: 3 August 2022 at 11:45 am

Dr Emma Campbell Tell me how you go living near these people. Tell me how your car looks and what items you have when you get home from work. Finally able to get those that should have been evicted to be moved to another area. Maybe we you can have them living next to you Dr before you complain.

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Jack Conlan says: 8 March 2022 at 2:57 pm

Heartless government. And a greedy government

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Ian Bennett says: 3 August 2022 at 11:42 am

They have been informed for decades that this was going to happen. Also they are getting newer designed properties which are lower maintenance. As to services what ones are within walking distance that they are needing? If they are not walking then the travel by vehicle makes it a none event does it not?

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Kellie kirchner says: 23 March 2022 at 10:06 pm

Families need these homes, most ppl moved will probably get a brand new two bedroom unit with low maintenance gardens and more energy efficient

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Anonymous2 says: 14 September 2022 at 3:39 pm

If ACT Housing were so eager to evict these tenants – and housing is in short supply – why is 22 Howitt Street Kingston still empty after a number of months?

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