Protesters at the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) stood their ground after being issued with an eviction notice in late February. RATE is occupying a site that the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) wants to develop known as The Block.
The Block was set aside for affordable Aboriginal housing but the AHC now wants to develop it for mixed use. While the site will include 62 affordable units for Indigenous people, it will also include commercial and retail space.
Activists are concerned that the $70 million development known as the Pemulwuy Project is designed to exclude some Aboriginal people. For example only those without criminal records will be eligible to apply for the units. In effect many people with long term links to the Redfern area will be ineligible for merely committing minor misdemeanours.
RATE leader Jenny Munro has called for people to join the occupation in defiance of the AHC’s commercial development plans. She is also demanding an audit of the AHC’s books to investigate possible fraud and corruption.
This dispute highlights the need for much more affordable housing that is collectively owned and democratically controlled by the community living in it.
By Jorden Griggs