The recent announcement by the NSW Government of a public housing ‘dob in’ hotline shows a strange set of priorities for an area notoriously starved of funds.
The line is intended to allow reporting of ‘unauthorised occupants’ in public housing properties – people who live in a unit without being formally listed on the lease. While there is some value in making sure tenants follow the rules of their leases and pay the appropriate rent (which is based in part on the number of occupants) Housing NSW are notoriously slack at responding to calls from residents on matters like maintenance and anti-social behaviour and I’m concerned that the new line will divert resources from this important and already overstretched service.
I’m also concerned that this may be the start of the state government following the lead of Liberal governments in other states by bringing about a more repressive management regime for public housing tenants. The Queensland government has recently threatened to force public housing tenants to share their homes with each other, a recipe for potentially serious conflict, while previously the West Australian government enacted a ‘three strikes and you’re out policy’, supposedly to deal with disruptive behaviour but which puts many residents with mental illness at an unfair risk of eviction.
Ultimately I feel that the ‘dob in’ line and the measures of other states show a complete misjudging of priorities, with resources being spent to look tough on ‘rorters’ when they are desperately needed to support essential services like housing maintenance.