Most public housing tenants considered for exemptions from being relocated to new homes as part of the renewal program have been allowed to stay in their current premises.
But those who have had their application denied have not given up fighting the move, with some considering legal action.
A Housing ACT spokesperson said as at 29 July, the ACT Government-appointed Tenant Relocation Exemption Panel had granted 14 exemptions of the 19 applications assessed, and denied five.
All up, 45 tenants have applied for exemption but the ACT Council of Social Services believes there will be more to come.
The spokesperson said the panel took into account a tenant’s situation such as age, health and needs.
The moving process was tailored to the individual tenant including preferred areas to live, the number of people and pets in the household, schools, medical services or other organisations the household may need to be close to, and any other special needs.
“Housing ACT is working closely with all tenants who are required to move and is committed to supporting them before, during and after their move to another public housing property,” the spokesperson said.
Housing ACT could not confirm when tenants denied exemptions would have to move, but said it depended on the availability of another property.
“Timing is not set to a particular date for these tenants,” the spokesperson said.
“The process is that Housing ACT will work through all details with tenants and agree on a date for relocation once a suitable alternative property has been agreed.”
Sangeeta Sharmin from Ken Cush and Associates said it was exploring three or four courses of action on behalf of a number of tenants.
But she could not offer more details before proceedings started.
ACTCOSS CEO Emma Campbell said tenants might be able to appeal to ACAT at the point of eviction or have recourse to some kind of judicial review of the process, although that could come with the risk of incurring costs.
She had also heard about a possible class action.
“These people are desperate. They want to stay in their homes and some are very vulnerable,” Dr Campbell said.
“They’re looking at any opportunity if they haven’t been successful through this process.”
Housing ACT said there had not been any notice to vacate issued in the program and it was not aware of any legal action being taken.
Dr Campbell said the apparent lack of alternative properties available for those entertaining the thought of moving suggested the process had not been well thought through.
She said ACTCOSS had said all along it was not against the renewal program in principle as long as people were allowed to stay in their home if they wished.
It also believed there were opportunities to use land more efficiently to provide more public housing.
“The way the program has been implemented has been the biggest concern for ACTCOSS,” Dr Campbell said.
ACTCOSS noted that many of the identified properties were in the inner north and south, and public housing tenants may be moved to the outer suburbs away from support and services.
Some tenants have been in the same property for decades.
Housing ACT argues it needs to sell some properties to finance new housing, free others up for families and move some tenants to new homes more appropriate to their current situation.