I have written before about my situation in this piece, and I have bravely suggested I had a few ideas about how to fix some systems of Welfare in this wonderful country of ours (Australia for those of you who have no idea where I am), and after watching The Project tonight (with my phone in my hand, which I will NEVER do again), I found myself having spat out three tweets before I could stop myself. On reflection, I decided to cop the fall out.
What I heard on The Project, was a perfect example of the issues of the Public Housing systems in NSW and I would imagine, all of Australia. What I heard was Heather Holt of HomeGround (Victoria) reiterating her comments already made here where she denies ANY criminal activity by tenants in Public Housing.
Unfortunately Heather is not alone, NO PUBLIC HOUSING OR COMMUNITY HOUSING ORGANISATION will admit this is a very serious problem, or they would not be able to house people. These organisations have their hands tied. They are charged with managing properties that are the "hand me downs" of a system put together many years ago to solve the situations as they were at that time.
In Sydney I am aware of areas where NSW Housing have started to relocate many tenants as the opportunity arises into housing that has been purposely built spattered throughout other communities; communities other than those known as "Housing Commission Areas" of old.
Departments are turning their backs on building whole suburbs of social housing as was the way when it was purpose built to house groups of people close to work etc. They are closing the ghetto style communities such as the well known areas of Villawood, Redfern and Cartwright, although many of those still exist and they DO have high crime rates. Sadly this is an issue within itself.
There ARE generational inhabitants in Public Housing, simply because of the stigma that comes from having to be housed in such a way as to be treated as a statistic and a "social problem" and in most cases having no access to services or even role models to help these people aspire to a different life.
While crime and other closely associated social issues are high in these areas so are issues of Health, Mental Health, Lack of services for the Disabled, Educational standards are low as children stay home to help care for ailing parents or family members.
People who live in Public or Community Housing are generally low income earners AND, in most cases, if they had a choice, THEY WOULD NOT BE LIVING THERE! Nor caught in a system that does not allow a way out.
This is a system of Welfare that provides a HAND OUT and not what is really required by most, which is a HAND UP!!! We are living in a time where the difference between "We're going OK" and "We are homeless" is often only a month's wages.
I have mentioned before here a wonderful organisation called Habitat For Humanity Australia who help people help themselves. The way they operate their Australian arm of the organisation is, I believe an idea that should be embraced by the Australian Government in their attempts to help reduce this issue of Homelessness, after all, names like "Housing Stress" or "Technical Homelessness" or "Temporarily Housed" don't go far enough to provide the knowledge that many people are actually HOMELESS even though they are housed. I know, seems like an oxymoron, but it is true! (That will probably have to be a separate post based on how this one is going).
Last time I checked on the finer details of the Habitat program, a person needed to qualify to be a "Habitat Recipient", one of the criteria being around household income, the household should be the recipient of a Centrelink Payment (or partial) and also be working in some way (self employed, part time etc) but must fall into their category of "Low Income" earner. They explain the overall program much better here.
If our Australian Government could subsidise such a program, over time, it would grow, their capacity to GIVE REAL HELP TO THOSE WHO WANT IT would increase exponentially.
This would not do away with the Public Housing that would still be required by those who have no other means of income other than maybe a Carers Payment, Old Age Pension, Disability Pension etc and would hopefully mean an increase in the standard of housing available to that group of people and a decrease in wait times. Hence, another Happy Ending!
Wait times by the way are currently about 10 - 15 years (depending on where you live) and for Priority Clients, about 2 years wait time ...
Now to get this message to the thinkers of our Political Parties ... or is that just another oxymoron?
You got any ideas?