by Denis Doherty
A song and a community newsletter have helped challenge Housing NSW’s widespread and shameful neglect of public housing in Glebe, particularly the broken down fences in many streets.
Residents have come up with ingenious ways to hold up their fences but many have lost the battle and whole sections of fences have fallen over.
The back fence of an elderly woman’s property collapsed. She did not feel safe in her own backyard and the garden chairs she used to sit in the sun were stolen.
Residents are afraid to go into their yards after dark, while others can’t hang out washing due to lack of privacy and security.
They complain that Housing NSW’s usual response is to send a ‘tech officer’ to take a photo and then nothing happens.
Hands off Glebe, a group dedicated to improving the quality of life for local residents, produces a community newsletter called The Glebe Grapevine .
An article in first issue, entitled “Residents left de-fence-less”, exposed one fence that had been lying broken for months. The article was accompanied by the photo (see below).
A song called 50 Ways To Hold Your Fence Up (based on song by Paul Simon) was written, recorded and combined with pictures of Glebe’s fallen fences released on you tube. The chorus goes:
Just prop up the gate, Kate
Use an old rope, Hope
You can even use string, Bing
Just listen to me.
……Keep livin’ in Glebe
In a victory for the community and for The Glebe Grapevine, this fence is now in the process of being replaced and a whole row of picket fences in another street has also been replaced.
However, much more still needs to be done and not just mending fences.
Housing NSW has a massive backlog of maintenance needs in Glebe public housing as the process continues of demolition by neglect to drive tenants onto the private market.
And its not just Glebe. There is an avalanche of maintenance needs in public housing across the state.
Hands off Glebe is fighting for social housing tenants rights, for more social housing, to stop privatisation of public land, and to prevent over development of sites like Bay Street and Cowper Street.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org