West Brunswick estate to be sold to private developers

[By Sue Bolton] One of the public housing estates the state government wants to develop is in Brunswick West. The plan is to sell the land to private developers to be developed into a mix of private and social housing. However it isn’t guaranteed that the ‘social’ housing will be public housing. It may be turned into community housing run by not-for profit housing associations which charge higher rent.

The Housing department claims that after redevelopments “usually about 80% of tenants decide not to go back. Public housing activists tell me that this claim is a total fallacy. Usually the tenants want to return, but the redevelopment makes the flats smaller with less bedrooms so that people can’t go back regardless of how much they want to.

When I was doorknocking on the Brunswick West estate recently, it was clear that many people had lived there a long time with well establised and well-cared for gardens. Many people had lived there 20+ years with their kids growing up in the area. Many don’t want to move and no-one has been given a guarantee that they will be able to return.

The department and the government are also using social stigma as a justification for having a mix of social and private housing. People I spoke to felt no stigma but it seemed that department officials were trying to convince them that they should feel social stigma in order to justify the redevelopment.

The redevelopments as they are being proposed by the government need to be opposed because they are another way of privatising public housing and giving a hand-out to the developers.

[See the Age: Estates to be demolished and sold in developer deals to rebuild public housing.]