16 July 2005

Housing minister says Foskey should stay

| Samuel Gordon-Stewart
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In the July issue of the ACT Housing Newsletter, housing minister John Hargreaves outlines the reasons that he thinks Deb Foskey should stay in public housing. He manages to avoid her name by referring to “market renters”.

He goes on for a bit about the historical reasons that the ACT is a public housing town “The first public properties were constructed in the early 1920s.The stock expanded dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s in response to the growth in the Commonwealth public sector and it was not until 1972 that privately built dwellings outnumbered publicly built dwellings in the ACT.”

He also states that “Today people in receipt of a rental rebate occupy 86 per cent of our public housing properties.These
are people who are largely unable to afford private rentals in Canberra.”

He defends the “market renters” by claiming that “every state and territory has market renters within their public housing systems who have security of tenure. For historic reasons, Canberra has had a higher percentage.”

I think he sums up the policy in one sentence “They pay —through annual rent assessments —market rents and this is a revenue source that contributes significantly to Housing ACT ’s budget.”

Basically, it doesn’t matter to him that these “market rents” are far lower than the private rental market, all that matters is that the people pay their bills. For a government who claim to have a social conscience, they don’t seem to care much about the people who are really unable to afford private rent.

The rest of his article seems like a pro-Stanhope rant informing us of the wonderful initiatives they have undertaken (the arboretum is supprisingly omitted). If you are really interested, it is on pages 4 & 5 of the PDF.

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loadedog, ACT government policy is to disperse public housing throughout the city. In many cases, groups of townhouses will frequently have one or two units owned by ACT housing.

The only ACT housing I know about (barring inner-city apartments like in Reid) has been as good or better quality than anything I’ve lived in.

I say he should tell it to the guy at Kippax shopping centre – he’s still there.

Well I’d say he’s preaching to the choir myself.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart10:36 am 17 Jul 05

loadedog, I am certain that I am not the crazy guy, and I base my claims on anecdotal evidence.

Anyway, I think their should be an income cap on who is allowed to utilise public housing, and I would suggest that Ms. Foskey receives an income that is most likely to be above that cap.

I only publicised Mr. Hargreaves’ column because he seemed to be saying a lot to a limited audience (who ever bothers to read housing mailouts anyway?)


a) it’s only a good return on capital in the very narrow context of ACT Housing. The money would provide more benefit for the Government in a managed fund and would arguably be better spent on more police, nurses, teachers as an investment in the city.

b) I’ve never been able to find anything to rent close to what “market rent” friends in the system can get.

Why do the lucky few get guaranteed tenure and the rest of us have to look to windward? All the while the system has people in real need?

So why not just uncap the rents? 25% of income all the way to the sky?

Samuel, are you sure you’re not that crazy guy I referred to in our recent email exchange?

What information are you relying on to support your assertion that ‘“market rents” are far lower than the private rental market’?

As far as I know, ‘market rent’ is independently assessed and does not take into account such things as very poor and much delayed maintenance, and the fact that a high proportion of private renters wouldn’t touch a property, where 86% of their neighbours were unable to afford market rent, with a barge pole.

You and the rest of the ‘simplistic answers’ brigade ignore one simple fact, among many others, that nullifies all your misdirected outrage. Market renters, as a source of a good return on a capital investment, contribute to an overall increase in the public housing stock and are therefore not depriving anyone of anything.

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