In September, the ACT Government plans to begin operating a “youth emergency accommodation network cluster” in Chisholm.
The facility will take over THREE Housing ACT homes in a small street of seven homes – XXXX Place – and will house homeless youths aged between 16 and 25 years. It is expected to operate like the purpose-built homeless facility in XXXX Cres, Florey (a large street of about 50 houses). XXXX Place is clearly an inappropriate location on this ground alone.
Such a facility will decrease property values in the Chisholm/Gilmore area, increase crime rates and jeopardise community safety.
Once ‘locked in’ as a Government facility, the persons accommodated could change at the Minister for Housing’s discretion (eg released prisoners, Karalika style drug rehab). This is set out under principle 3 of Housing ACT’s own Asset Management Strategy (on the DHCS website).
When XXXX Place residents objected to a dual occupancy that forms part of the ‘cluster’, Joy Burch received a copy of the objection that stated ‘if the proposed development is intended for any other purpose (than ordinary families off the waiting list), such as a development similar to Karalika, a refuge or any similar group accommodation, please inform the current residents of XXXX Place as soon as possible.’ Resident have not been kept in the loop by Joy Burch or ACTPLA as advised by both parties in September/October 2011. One reply from each saying “I have asked that they (ACTPLA) provide a copy of any comments to you” Joy Burch 18/10/2011 and “The issues raised in your submission will be taken into consideration during the assessment of the development application and you will be notified in writing once a decision has been made.” ACTPLA 13/09/2011. There has been ZERO consultation with Chisholm residents. The residents only found out from a tradesperson that it was going to be a homeless shelter.
It was realised many a year ago that clustering of government housing created the stigma that housing tenants were not a respected part of the community. This clustering was phased out because of the stigma and the concentration of problems in a small geographic area. Now we find that Housing ACT are intending to go back to ‘clustering’.
It has been confirmed that one tenant of XXXX Place was given ‘an offer she could not refuse’ (a larger home than entitlement and money) to move out, so the ‘cluster’ could utilise three houses.
You CAN Help stop the facility by:
– lodging your objection with the Minister for Housing and Community Services, Joy Burch MLA, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 6205 0020
– contacting Brendan Smyth MLA, who actively opposes the proposal, at email@example.com
– attending a meeting at 7B XXXX Place (off Lucy Gullett Cct) on Sat 25 August 2012 at 3pm. PLEASE COME.
Yours sincerely Concerned Chisholm Residents.
UPDATE 16/08/12 11:23: Joy Burch’s office has been in touch with these points:
— There are 3 properties in a street in Chisholm which will be used to accommodate young people aged between 16 and 25 years of age who are homeless under the Emergency Accommodation Network.
— The Salvation Army will operate the service at the Chisholm properties. At present only two of the properties will be used.
— Up to 6 young people will be accommodated at any one time across the 3 properties.
— The same model of accommodation, also operated by the Salvation Army, has operated in a street in Florey since April without any issues.
— It is not Housing ACT practice to consult residents about the location of social housing properties such homelessness accommodation or women’s refuges, particularly where minors are involved, as is the case here in Chisholm. The residents are entitled to some privacy and dignity, which would be compromised if details of their circumstances are disclosed to neighbours.
— The young people occupying these properties are not exiting correctional facilities or drug rehabilitation programs, nor is there any intention to allocate these properties for those purposes. Rather, access to the service at Chisholm will be through Housing ACT’s First Point gateway – the starting point for all people seeking public housing, community housing or emergency accommodation.
— Residents of the street who have raised concerns about these properties have been briefed by Housing ACT and Minister Burch’s office about the nature of this program, and have been invited to receive additional information from the Salvation Army about the program.
— The ACT Government does have a policy of breaking down the concentration of public housing created by multi-unit developments, which house up to hundreds of people in close proximity. A “cluster” of two or three properties serviced by a community organisation (in this case the Salvation Army) that accommodates no more than six people is an entirely different proposition and in no way inconsistent with this policy.