The Victorian government plans to sell-off nine public housing sites across Melbourne. Private developers who buy the sites will have to replace the public housing on part of the land, but will have free rein to build thousands of private apartments on the rest of the estates.
The government claims the developers will have to build 10% more public dwellings but most likely three-bedroom homes will be replaced with tiny one-bedroom apartments. In addition, the rebuild will take three years and there are no guarantees that the displaced tenants will be able to return to their communities.
As the government and private developers plan to cash in on the sell-off, research has been released showing that other re-builds modelled on this so-called “social mix” have come at the expense of public housing tenants. For example, facilities such as gardens have been advertised by private developers as being only accessible to private tenants.
Currently there are 35,000 people on the waiting list for public housing in Victoria. Many of these people are suffering from severe housing stress. These issues stem from the fact that most of us are beholden to the private housing market. The major parties and the private developers are in bed with each other keeping this rort intact.
Rather than selling off these public assets the government should be redeveloping them themselves, expanding and improving public housing stock. A mix of accessible dwellings should be built that accommodates all sorts of needs. Those who have to move during the redevelopment should be guaranteed the right of return.
If we taxed the banks and big developers at much higher rates, billions of dollars could be freed up to invest in the construction of thousands of new public housing dwellings. This would not only wipe out the waiting list but create thousands of jobs.
By Socialist Party reporters