Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 | The Housing Year that was | Down Among the Housos

It's the same the 'ole world over,
It's the poor wot get the blame
It's the rich wot get the bail-outs...
Ain't it all a bleedin' shame

"Reshaping Public Housing" has started to bite, particularly in the area of ...

Mental health

As public housing becomes increasingly limited to "those most in need" DH has noticed increasing anxiety among tenants about threatening behaviour from people with behavioural and delusional disorders. This perception is borne out by the 2007-8 Central Sydney North Regional Tenant Resource Service Report which states that for the second year in a row, concerns about mental health/ anti-social behaviour/ rebuilding community cohesion have edged out the perennial tenant favourite gripe, Maintenance, inadequacy of. When you consider that tenants all over are reporting that all but emergency maintenance has been on hold for at least 18 months, while we await the new you beaut Planned Maintenance regime (see below), you can surmise how worried tenants must be.

One of the pillars of "Reshaping" was meant to be the "Accord", a formal agreement between various agencies to support tenants with high support needs to maintain their tenancies. Three years later, there have only been a number of pilot projects, and they are still "under evaluation".

Waiting for Maintenance

Housing NSW's maintenance costs are about $1 million dollars a day, based on the previous year's maintenance bill of the order of $350 million. HNSW is attempting to make long term savings by introducing a new regime of planned maintenance. The idea is that contractors armed with Blackberries descend on all of us, survey what needs fixing, beam it all up to a central database, and then it all gets done in one broad swathe. We await the next exciting episode.

Meanwhile, a typical case study...

18 months ago, a tenant reports a cracked and jammed window that won't open. HNSW response: Nail the window down until approval is given for replacement. Many calls later, approval given. Approval now had for months, but nothing done. Now approval reneged, while awaiting the New Maintenance Sweep.
Tenant Fraud ruckus

Under that fine upstanding young minister, Matt Brown, Housing NSW became the first non-police department in Australia to give itself powers of criminal prosecution over tenants who falsely reported their earnings. The amendment to the Housing act that did this was rushed through parliament, before people like Clover Moore and Sylvia Hale had a chance to gather their wits. The Minister guesstimated that the savings would be about $50 million. Tenants were encouraged to dob in their neighbours, which would seem to militate against the millions spent by Housing NSW on Community development and building strong cohesive communities. There were about 4400 reports of which about 1/4 were self-reports according to "Your Home". Does this mean that 3/4 were reports by neighbours? It will be interesting to see the actual savings compared to the cost of eternal vigilance

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Clover Moore did actually speak against the Tenant Fraud Bill and was the only one to do so...though, as you say,it was rushed through and the odds were against her...