On the 27th March I joined other public housing residents in the March for Maintenance rally out the front of NSW Parliament House. While it is always good to see a well attended rally it was sad to see how many people’s lives had been disrupted by the neglect of Housing NSW. Member for Balmain Jamie Parker and a number of residents recounted moving and very personal stories where they had been affected. Many of these people were already facing challenging circumstances in their lives only to be forced to watch their home falling apart around them.
I have advocated for many residents who have been unable to get their landlord – Housing NSW – to make necessary repairs to their buildings. In all these cases the health and safety risks each dwelling posed would be unthinkable in the private rental market but were not considered a priority by the department. Leaking ceilings that compromise light fittings and wet floors, rotten fences and decking, and blocked guttering were common. A number of residents I met had abandoned entire rooms in their flats because of severe damp/mould that was aggravating respiratory problems. Many of these residents were elderly and were experiencing mobility problems and I feared for their safety on wet floors and dark rooms with broken light fittings.
The rally was a great opportunity for these residents to come together and demand action. Overwhelmingly they feared their flats and blocks would become victims of ‘demolition by neglect’. Nowhere is this more evident than for the residents of Millers Point who are facing eviction because, after years of neglect, Minister Goward thinks the maintenance bill is too high. 400 tenants will be evicted from a community that many of them has lived in their whole lives.
Millers Point goes to the heart of what we want our cities and community to look like. It is vital that the City of Sydney remains a diverse community. With the rapidly rising costs in the private rental market we are seeing people on low incomes being pushed out of their own communities.
Through my role as a Councillor I have got to know a number of these residents in this vibrant community. These residents have strong links to the area, sometimes going back generations. They love where they live and care for their homes despite the maintenance neglect of their landlord.
Along with my Greens colleagues, I will continue to advocate for the rights of the Millers Point housing community to remain in their homes.
For anyone who has an interest in community housing I would urge you to get involved in the campaign to save the Millers Point community. You can follow them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/savemillerspoint