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ACT public housing hurting senior citizens

By Steven Bailey - 2 June 2015 18

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 7.56.38 am

Public housing tenant Sandra Picker (pictured above) fears for her future after receiving a letter from the ACT Government’s Community Services Directorate stating that her application to be moved to a safer environment could not be progressed unless she provided the department with a list of police job numbers dating back years.

After experiencing a good deal of personal hardship in her life, Sandra has been gainfully employed and living in public housing for over two decades. The gentle-natured resident lives in the northside of Canberra and works at her local IGA.

Recently, Sandra wrote to Community Services explaining that she is in need of a knee replacement, and provided a letter from her doctor stating that it is no longer safe for her to walk up the flight of stairs of the public housing complex to her apartment. She also stated in her letter that she fears for her personal safety in her current living arrangement.

But instead of receiving correspondence to further assess her situation, Sandra received a bill for repairs to her door that was damaged due to an attempt to break and enter her home six years ago, and a letter stating that her case could not be further progressed beyond the normal waiting period, which can sometimes be up to ten years, unless she provided the department with a list of police job numbers to prove that she was living in an unsafe environment.

A spokesperson for the government department informed RiotACT that people with serious medical issues and of frail age may qualify for “prioritised allocation”. But, almost unable to walk up the stairs with only twenty per cent of her cartilage holding her knee together, Sandra has been left wondering what will happen to her if her knee collapses, which it could at any time, according to her doctor.

“I’ve always tried to do the right thing, and I’m not really sure what I need to do about getting all of these police job numbers,” she said.

The ACT has the second highest rate of homelessness in the country with almost 50 out of every 10,000 people in Canberra without a place to call home. And according to a Productivity Commission’s Report released earlier this year, the waiting list for public housing has increased by almost 900 people since 2010.

For many Canberrans, public housing is a crisis of an unrealisable hope.

Luckily enough, Sandra has a home but the question has to be asked: are we looking after our senior citizens well enough in the ACT? Are we giving special treatment to those who know how to rort the system instead of those who truly deserve the full welfare that Community Services has to offer.

And why is the government not doing all that they can for our elderly citizens by relocating Sandra to accommodation that suits her stage in life instead of making her wait in uncertainty and fear?

What’s Your opinion?


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18 Responses to
ACT public housing hurting senior citizens
Genie 3:13 pm 04 Jun 15

tooltime said :

Do the math Genie,

About 10000 properties/250 workdays pa = 40 properties/day to be inspected.

That’s 7 property managers full time (let’s go APS 6 level equivalent, $80,000 pa), doing 6 x 1hr long inspections a day, allow travel & report writing.

$560,000pa – not gonna happen. Then again, we’re spending $1 billion ( pre budget blowout) on a train that noones riding, so I guess it’s possible with this crowd. Joy Burps is involved with this portfolio too, so yes the odds are rapidly swinging away from a common sense outcome…

I never said property inspections, I said REASSESSED. Reassessments could easily be done as part of the millions of forms Centrelink recipients are required to fill out to recieve their money. (Yes I know different agencies run each system)

justin heywood 7:17 pm 03 Jun 15

chewy14 said :

I’m not saying she shouldn’t be helped by the government, I’m saying that why do they need to help her by providing a government owned house/apartment?

If she was able to look for her own accomodation and given financial assistance then she wouldn’t be in this predicament.

Yes I understand your point and agree that rent assistance would be a better option in most cases than public housing, but there may be barriers for some people; for example,

If someone is on a very low income, or in casual employment, or have not rented previously, or have had problems with a landlord in the past, it can be difficult to get a private rental and get a bond together etc.

Landlords generally aren’t willing to take risks, thus in some cases the state needs to step in and provide housing, and I’m glad that we do.

It’s a pity that the public housing system is so poorly managed and easily abused.

chewy14 3:12 pm 03 Jun 15

justin heywood said :

chewy14 said :

Why is she in public housing at all? And why does the government needs to provide her with an ACT government owned property?

She’s employed and would seem not to be a troublesome tenant, so wouldn’t it be preferable for the Government to give her extra rent assistance and she could rent privately? That way she could choose a suitable private rental property for herself rather than relying on bureaucratic luck.

I think that’s a bit harsh Chewy, since we don’t know much about her situation or the past hardship Stephen mentioned.

From my own limited observations, I find it easy to believe that the public housing bureaucracy is creaky and inefficient, slow to respond to genuine need such as this but easily rorted by welfare professionals.

I’m not saying she shouldn’t be helped by the government, I’m saying that why do they need to help her by providing a government owned house/apartment?

If she was able to look for her own accomodation and given financial assistance then she wouldn’t be in this predicament.

tooltime 3:09 pm 03 Jun 15

Do the math Genie,

About 10000 properties/250 workdays pa = 40 properties/day to be inspected.

That’s 7 property managers full time (let’s go APS 6 level equivalent, $80,000 pa), doing 6 x 1hr long inspections a day, allow travel & report writing.

$560,000pa – not gonna happen. Then again, we’re spending $1 billion ( pre budget blowout) on a train that noones riding, so I guess it’s possible with this crowd. Joy Burps is involved with this portfolio too, so yes the odds are rapidly swinging away from a common sense outcome…

tooltime 2:57 pm 03 Jun 15

VYBerlinaV8_is_back
6:48 pm
02 Jun 15
#5
tooltime said :
… but it’s probably being abused by some layabout, drug affected, antisocial welfare leach…

They call them “clients” now…

Bahaha????

Now, when 40 years of bricklaying catches up with me, do I become a) too old for that work – go do something else not manual labour, b) retired & disabled on the gubberment/taxpayer teat?

Genie 1:12 pm 03 Jun 15

Public housing tenants should be reassessed on a regular if not annual basis as to their public housing needs.

Clearly this woman has medical issues and needs to be moved to a ground level property with no stairs, but with a 10 year wait that clearly isn’t going to happen.

There are at least three, 3 & 4 bedroom Government properties on my mum’s street occupied by elderly pensioners living by themselves. Yes 20 years ago when their family was living with them, they needed the space – but not anymore. Honestly they should be moved to accomodate others in need.

However on the other hand, just because you keep pushing out kids and live off Centrelink as your sole income doesn’t mean you should be entitled to live in a larger property.

justin heywood 11:15 am 03 Jun 15

chewy14 said :

Why is she in public housing at all? And why does the government needs to provide her with an ACT government owned property?

She’s employed and would seem not to be a troublesome tenant, so wouldn’t it be preferable for the Government to give her extra rent assistance and she could rent privately? That way she could choose a suitable private rental property for herself rather than relying on bureaucratic luck.

I think that’s a bit harsh Chewy, since we don’t know much about her situation or the past hardship Stephen mentioned.

From my own limited observations, I find it easy to believe that the public housing bureaucracy is creaky and inefficient, slow to respond to genuine need such as this but easily rorted by welfare professionals.

chewy14 7:29 am 03 Jun 15

Further to Mr Hargreaves post on public housing a few weeks ago, this would be the sort of tenant I was talking about.

Why is she in public housing at all? And why does the government needs to provide her with an ACT government owned property?

She’s employed and would seem not to be a troublesome tenant, so wouldn’t it be preferable for the Government to give her extra rent assistance and she could rent privately? That way she could choose a suitable private rental property for herself rather than relying on bureaucratic luck.

curlylocks 10:13 pm 02 Jun 15

No we are not, my mother is suffering from chronic back pain , lives in a government House and has done so for the past 45 years, keeping it very clean and very tidy, she has a shower over her bath and finds it very difficult to get in and out of the bath, she has been to her GP, and he has written a letter to the Dept of Housing who have then advised my mother that an assessment needs to be done and she is on a waiting list for the assesment to be done, but in the meantime if you do fall or injure yourself you can ring us and advise us that there has been an incident!!!!!!!!!!!! She just want a shower she can easily access.

Is it all too hard for the Area Manager to come out and pyschically see that my mother has issues walking, etc must be.

I hope that this poor lady and many like her and my mother get the assistance that they require.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 6:48 pm 02 Jun 15

tooltime said :

… but it’s probably being abused by some layabout, drug affected, antisocial welfare leach…

They call them “clients” now…

JC 4:36 pm 02 Jun 15

She is asking to be moved for medical and safety fears I cannot see the issue in her being asked to provide some proof of the need.

As for the rest of the post ACT housing does a good job taking care of the elderly. My old mum got moved into purpose built housing for the elderly no issues what so ever with the process (though the place leaves a lot to be desired). She provided the letter from the doctor to say she wasn’t capable of taking care of a 1100sqm block and large house and could go up stairs anymore and was moved within months. Though in her case I think it helped they saw a greater need for a family to have a 4 bedroom house.

Guess the issue that many don’t see is there are only finite resources. So whilst this lady in isolation may well be “worthy” Housing needs to take into account others who they may well seem to be more worthy. That’s their job actually asses and allocate resources to where they feel the greatest need. To me doing that is not failing the elderly but instead providing a balance between providing social housing and the realities of the stock they have available and the cost of housing in general b

FHW 4:18 pm 02 Jun 15

Wouldn’t a medical certificate for the knee help? Surely they wouldn’t go against the advice of a doctor in this case?

tooltime 3:47 pm 02 Jun 15

Sandra is another unintended yet genuine victim of the system. She works, and deals with the frustration and despair of her condition. I’m sure there’s an empty ground level dwelling of an equivalent type somewhere in Canberra suitable for her – but it’s probably being abused by some layabout, drug affected, antisocial welfare leach…

devils_advocate 3:00 pm 02 Jun 15

It’s more than a bit officious for some public servant to be demanding a list of all the police job numbers.

If they genuinely doubt that the area has a higher than usual crime rate, a general list of police call outs to that building or immediate vicinity would suffice.

rosscoact 11:32 am 02 Jun 15

I’m not sure her life will improve after being identified on this forum. Just sayin.

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