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Public Housing not an unconditional home for life?

By johnboy - 15 March 2012 120

The Age has the long overdue news that the ACT Government is going to move to turf high income earners out of public housing.

The ACT Government is powerless to force middle-class households out of government homes, despite thousands of families being on the waiting lists.

Instead, housing bureaucrats can only ask tenants on more than $80,000 per year to ”reconsider” their continued presence in public housing.

But Housing Minister Joy Burch is considering legislative changes to send a message that public housing is not an unconditional home for life.

Roslyn Dundas from the ACT Council of Social Services predictably thinks this idea is not so great.

UPDATE 15/03/12 12:00: The Greens are not at all happy about the proposals:

ACT Greens Health spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, has described the ACT Government’s proposal to take market renters out of public housing as lacking a long-term vision for public housing.

“The Government is proposing an extremely short term solution to Housing ACT’s long waiting list. There also is no detail at all about how they would replace the revenue lost from those paying market rent,” Ms Bresnan said.

“In most of these cases we are probably talking about single, middle aged to older women, with very little superannuation. We need to think about what will happen to them in the long term.

“We also face the situation where if tenants believe they will be evicted once they earn a certain income, they could choose to stay in their home and earn a lower income. This is counterproductive to the aim of giving people stability and the ability to be a contributing member of the community.

“Tenants who can get to the stage of paying market rent in Housing ACT properties are able to subsidise those other tenants on low incomes.

“Evicting market renters will only make the Housing ACT portfolio more unviable. The Government needs to show the cost of replacing this revenue. There was no accounting for this in the Public Housing Asset Management Strategy that was just released late last year.

What’s Your opinion?


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120 Responses to
Public Housing not an unconditional home for life?
1
colourful sydney rac 10:11 am
15 Mar 12
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Not before time.

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2
poetix 10:27 am
15 Mar 12
#

I can’t believe that someone with a household income of $183,000 is in public housing, according to the article.

Anyone on a decent income who holds on to public housing should be ashamed of themselves, given there are really desperate people in our community.

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3
colourful sydney rac 10:35 am
15 Mar 12
#

poetix said :

I can’t believe that someone with a household income of $183,000 is in public housing, according to the article.

Anyone on a decent income who holds on to public housing should be ashamed of themselves, given there are really desperate people in our community.

If the report is accurate it is an absolute disgrace.

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4
VYBerlinaV8_is_back 10:35 am
15 Mar 12
#

This is a good move, and long overdue.

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5
p1 10:46 am
15 Mar 12
#

I always thought it should be a simple process to charge rent in public housing based on the persons income (take home income if you like, so it doesn’t punish people paying child support or other similar things). If a house hold earning $100k+ was paying double the market rent they would soon consider moving…

It would be pretty simple to check with the taxation system, and base it on the previous years taxable income (unless they lost their job).

Of course, kicking them out will also work, but it won’t solve the issue of housing shortages.

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6
AnimosiTy 10:47 am
15 Mar 12
#

Roslyn Dundas is probably one of thoes smug *%}* in a govy house!! lol
how can anyone on a decent wage be so selfish to stay there… do they remember what it was like to struggle to find affordable accommodation?!
time they moved on… and let others who are in lower incomes get back on their feet too!!!!
I can’t wait till this happens! we should NOT be supporting thoes who can support themselves! kick the bastards out I say!!! about time!

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7
chewy14 10:54 am
15 Mar 12
#

p1 said :

I always thought it should be a simple process to charge rent in public housing based on the persons income (take home income if you like, so it doesn’t punish people paying child support or other similar things). If a house hold earning $100k+ was paying double the market rent they would soon consider moving…

It would be pretty simple to check with the taxation system, and base it on the previous years taxable income (unless they lost their job).

Of course, kicking them out will also work, but it won’t solve the issue of housing shortages.

Exactly.

Why doesn’t the government just charge a percentage of income once you’re earning over a certain amount?
I’m sure paying $600 a week for a place worth $400 would be a great incentive to get your butt out of the public housing system and back into private.

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8
Cheap 11:02 am
15 Mar 12
#

I thought it was done as a percentage of your income? Or have they made sure that you never pay market rate for a house?

Actually come to think of it, I have a friend whose parents were both moderately high ranking public servants (probably $160,000 combined) who until last year still lived in public housing. It was quite a nice house, close to civic and indistinguishable from neighbouring private houses.

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9
VYBerlinaV8_is_back 11:08 am
15 Mar 12
#

I reckon we should think about implementing a scheme where the govt rents property from private investors then ‘on-rents’ it to public housing tenants. That way it would be possible to increase or decrease the supply of housing as need be, and properties could be rented on a longer term basis much like Defence Housing.

Of course, some effort would need to be made to ensure properties weren’t damaged, and ways found to idenfity wear and tear versus damage, but these things could be dealt with.

We could then link such a scheme to tax benefits for people who develop new dwellings for such a scheme, to encourage increase in overall supply.

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10
colourful sydney rac 11:09 am
15 Mar 12
#

Cheap said :

I thought it was done as a percentage of your income? Or have they made sure that you never pay market rate for a house?

Actually come to think of it, I have a friend whose parents were both moderately high ranking public servants (probably $160,000 combined) who until last year still lived in public housing. It was quite a nice house, close to civic and indistinguishable from neighbouring private houses.

$160,000 combined does not make someone moderately high ranking in the APS.

My understanding is that tennants are charged 25% of their income or market rates whichever is less. It does seem that the easist way of dealing with this is to remove the ‘market rates’ aspect and just make it 25% of income.

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11
bitzermaloney 11:25 am
15 Mar 12
#

It appeared to be Greens’ policy back in 2008 to remain in public housing:

http://the-riotact.com/deb-foskey-in-public-housing-debate-gets-more-exposure/529

If it’s good enought for members of the MLA, why not everyone else. (Note: Deb finally did move out of her public housing in Yarralumla, but not after a huge amount of preasure). I wonder if Shane, Carolyn, Amanda and Meridith have removed themselves from the waiting list?

Finally Roslyn Dundas is a former MLA for the Democrats. She was elected (with a huge 3.95% of first preferences… informal votes were 3.99%) because either:
(1) the voters of Canberra believed that a 22yr ANU student union rep had more life experience then the other candidates put forward in Ginniderra; or
(2) there wasn’t a “None of the above” options, which should be mandatory for all elections (especially our shire council).

I propose that “None of the above” be made mandatory, and if it gets enough votes (using our convoluted Hare-Clarke system), then those seats remain vacant saving us not only dollars but also increasing our standard of living by not having to listen to additional whinges by people who have nothing to say but feel they should say it anyway.

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12
JessP 11:27 am
15 Mar 12
#

Public housing is for people who need help not people earning (relatively) good wages. Guvmint also needs to move on the elderly (or not so elderly) long time tennants liiving alone in a 3 bedder when the kiddies have moved out. These people need to be helped into a more appropriate home/unit and allow struggling families to get off the waiting list.

Having a govvie should not mean that you automatically keep it for life.

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13
devils_advocate 11:37 am
15 Mar 12
#

colourful sydney racing identity said :

My understanding is that tennants are charged 25% of their income or market rates whichever is less. It does seem that the easist way of dealing with this is to remove the ‘market rates’ aspect and just make it 25% of income.

This assumes (wrongly, in my view) that people won’t change their income earning behaviour (ie earn less) or otherwise manipulate their income to continue recieving the benefit.

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14
devils_advocate 11:39 am
15 Mar 12
#

bitzermaloney said :

I propose that “None of the above” be made mandatory, and if it gets enough votes (using our convoluted Hare-Clarke system), then those seats remain vacant saving us not only dollars but also increasing our standard of living by not having to listen to additional whinges by people who have nothing to say but feel they should say it anyway.

agree, but would go one step further and say that if there aren’t sufficient votes in favour of electing enough members, the Legislative Assembly gets shut down and the self-government law gets repealed.

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15
dungfungus 11:50 am
15 Mar 12
#

chewy14 said :

p1 said :

I always thought it should be a simple process to charge rent in public housing based on the persons income (take home income if you like, so it doesn’t punish people paying child support or other similar things). If a house hold earning $100k+ was paying double the market rent they would soon consider moving…

It would be pretty simple to check with the taxation system, and base it on the previous years taxable income (unless they lost their job).

Of course, kicking them out will also work, but it won’t solve the issue of housing shortages.

Exactly.

Why doesn’t the government just charge a percentage of income once you’re earning over a certain amount?
I’m sure paying $600 a week for a place worth $400 would be a great incentive to get your butt out of the public housing system and back into private.

I think the maximum rent payable to ACT Housing is capped at $500pw. This is the Government’s assessment of what rental values are in the ACT. This does not include any contribution to rates, water/sewerage or maintainence). Some houses owned by Housing are in older suburbs with enormous blocks – if privately owned the annual rates alone would be $4,000 so the ACT taxpayer is subsidising this indulgence. It is absurd to allow this to continue.

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