Housing service for the elderly outraged by reduction in affordable homes and public land

MELBOURNE based housing support service for over 50’s, Home at Last, are appalled at the findings of the Inquiry into the Public Housing Renewal Program which revealed that the previous redevelopment in Kensington (a model for the current program) actually decreased the total number of Public and Community houses by 36% and the number of bedrooms by 54%, while selling off the public land for just 5% of its market value.


“It’s outrageous” says Home at Last Clients Services Manager, April Bragg. “We have over 82000 people on the public housing waitlist, growing by 500 every month, and all the government has effectively done is make the existing stock prettier. We absolutely support the refurbishment of dilapidated stock, but it must not reduce the number of affordable homes and bedrooms while giving away public land forever. That’s madness.”


The Home at Last service, which answers over one thousand calls from older people in housing stress every year, and assists many in dire situations to find affordable housing, are frustrated by the bottleneck the Program has caused to the public housing waitlist, due to the poor management of the relocation of existing public tenants.


“We have a 67 year old grandmother with arthritis, whose landlord has sold up and she has to sleep on her daughters couch for the next year.’ Explains April. ‘We also have several men in their late 60’s sleeping in their cars for the last 9-18 months, still waiting for vacancies’ says April ‘And we’re still waiting to see the benefits of this scheme.”


For the past 5 years the HAL service has been able to house an average of 12 vulnerable older people every month. Since the redevelopments began this number is on a downward slope. Last month it was just 4.


“We have been telling our clients to hold tight while these redevelopments are underway. We had high hopes that the renewals would result in less older people in housing stress, but this program and its poor planning has made the situation worse’ says April. ‘It used to take 1-3 months to house our clients. Now the average wait-time for the highest-priority people is over 12 months. It’s not good enough.’’


Home at Last advocate for long-term, affordable housing for older people that is adaptable to their needs as they age and welcomes effective, evidence based interventions to reduce the growing numbers of people without access to affordable housing.


Home at Last welcomes the recommendations of Tuesdays report from the Inquiry into the Public Housing Renewal Program (PHRP), in particular:

  • that the PHRP provide a clear and substantial increase in affordable housing
  • that the PHRP results in a decrease to the Public Housing wait list
  • that current public tenants are adequately consulted about the PHRP
  • that the price paid for public land is made public knowledge

For more information contact April Bragg 0417 581 510 april.bragg@oldertenants.org.au