This season of goodwill and new beginnings might not be the most suitable to raise the issue of Housing ACT’s relocation plans for its Northbourne Avenue and Braddon tenants, nevertheless I think I owe it to these often much maligned people to do so.
There have been numerous complaints in the media about the new sites chosen, most referring to the questionable types who will be moving into the neighbourhoods and the increased crime and anti-social behaviour that will accompany them.
Defenders of the moves – and I do not wish to canvas the expensive reasons for them here – accuse the local critics of not-in-my-back-yard or Nimbyism. This acronym is coined by governments and planners to belittle owners who wish to protect their patch from bad development, government land grabs and undesirables being moved into the area.
I freely admit I am a Nimby, as is anyone from Deakin to Dunlop, Calwell to Crace and all points of the suburban ACT compass who has saved and slaved to establish a home in pleasant law-abiding surrounds. Nobody takes kindly to having their lifestyle threatened.
To an extend the ACT government has recognised these objections and sensibly moved away from the ghetto clusters of public housing like Burnie Court in Lyons. The salt and pepper approach is much better, even if, as appears likely from complaints the condiments have been applied too heavily in some places.
Unfortunately Housing ACT has not gone far enough however in its attempts to placate the new neighbours. For better or worse this public landlord and its predecessors have a dreadful reputation for failing to act decisively against the minority of housing tenants who misbehave, thus giving the majority of its dependants a bad name.
Undesirables of all descriptions often are not dealt with at all. At best they simply are relocated, moving the problem elsewhere. The argument for not tossing them into the street is usually the children (which they all have).
I have often wondered if concern for such offspring leads to an improved future or in spite of the taxpayer putting up with their parents’ depredations or crimes these are the youth the lawyers plead for for having experienced traumatic childhoods.
In the interests and reputation of the large majority of respectable honest public housing tenants could I suggest Housing ACT deals out the same intolerance to the undesirable minority as they display to the rest of us?