The Victorian state government has signalled its intention to privatise much of our public housing, by giving it to the private sector – also known as “social”, “community” or “affordable” housing. This part of the housing sector is run by churches, charities and corporations.
Public housing tenants and the homeless want to stay in public housing. Rents are set at 25 percent of income, they have security of tenure, and all applicants are accepted (albeit after a very long wait) if their income is below the required level. None of this is true of the privatised alternative.
Already in Victoria, the titles to thousands of public housing units have been given away. Many thousands more are managed by the private sector. In its last year, Denis Napthine’s Liberal Party government announced a plan to give away 12,000 public housing units. It was not able to proceed, being booted out in 2014.
After the state election, Martin Foley, housing minister in the new Andrews government, also cited a plan to hand titles or management rights of more public housing units to the private sector. However, exact numbers remain unspecified.
Speaking on 3CR radio program City Limits, April Bragg, a housing worker at Housing for the Aged Action Group, reported that the sector is anticipating a major announcement about the large scale transfer of the state’s public housing stock to private organisations.
A new campaign group has formed to fight the privatisation of public housing and call for more to be built. Defend and Extend Public Housing has already organised a series of protests with the next action planned for Thursday 8 December, 11:30am to 1:30pm at State Parliament. To find out more and get involved, “like” Defend and Extend Public Housing on Facebook.
Howard is a member of Defend and Extend Public Housing.