State housing review concerns Bendigo tenants

PUBLIC housing tenants in Bendigo say they will be at risk of being relocated or losing their homes altogether if parts of a review into public housing are adopted by the state government.

A number of tenants said they feared changes to housing conditions would squeeze them out of their residences and onto the public housing waiting list.

The concerns follow the government’s Housing Framework discussion papers, which are being reviewed to determine future conditions for tenancy and housing arrangements.

Carolyn Webster has lived in her commission house in Kangaroo Flat for 29 years and said she was worried the public housing overhaul could force her to move.

“There is a lot of fear out there. Tenants are unsure of what the future holds,” she said.

“There’s not many vacancies in the private rental sector.”

Bendigo resident Jennifer McClurg is part of the management committee of the Victorian Public Tenants Association (VPTA) and said a lot of local residents were in the same situation as Ms Webster. 

“Tenants in Bendigo are, like myself, deeply concerned at possible changes to public housing tenancies,” she said.

“If some of these suggested changes are implemented, such as the removal of security of tenure and ‘assisted transitions’ to the private rental market, this could have detrimental impact upon the lives of public housing tenants.”

Eaglehawk public housing resident Geoff Combe said the biggest cause of concern was a lack of consultation.

He said there was no certainty people who had kept their houses in perfect conditions would have their tenancy secured.

“I would like to see more forums to let tenants know what’s going on and to hear our feedback,” he said.

“There’s a small minority of people who couldn’t give two hoots about their property; they damage it and destroy it. 

“But for the rest of us who look after our place we’re still not sure what will happen.”

Minister for Housing and member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said the government would continue to work through submissions and consider the findings of a report being prepared by accounting firm KPMG. 

The VPTA are requesting Ms Lovell release the KPMG report before any decisions are made to change the terms and conditions of public housing tenancy agreements.

Ms McClurg said she was keen for more co-operation with tenants and working with other VPTA members from around the state.

The government will announce the new social housing framework in 2013.