No evictions in NSW
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that states and territories have agreed to a six month moratorium on evictions for renters in financial distress unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of COVID19.
The PM’s announcement covers evictions for non payment of rent as a result of financial difficulties arising from the COVID19 crisis.
However, people who rent can be evicted for many other reasons - including for no reason at all. Regardless of the reason, an eviction means a risk of catching or transmitting COVID19.
The PM’s announcement may not cover landlords evicting for other reasons or people not in formal tenancies. It would be a real shame if landlords were able to evade the ban by simply serving a ‘no grounds’ notice. We cannot leave anyone in the community behind, we cannot risk people’s health by allowing evictions for no grounds.
With the current physical distancing and movement restrictions in place it may not be possible for people to pack up and move their entire homes at all. That’s why we need to stop all evictions at this time.
In Tasmania, no “notice to vacate” will have an effect until 30 June 2020. This gives at least 3 months where people who rent don’t have to worry about losing their home. This is what is needed to keep renters and the community safe - and it’s needed for all renters.
We also need our governments to make sure measures are put in place to ensure renters don’t get burdened with massive debts for arrears. They could go some way towards this by putting in place measures, as has already been announced for commercial tenants, that ensure renters can:
- seek rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease
- apply for a reduction or waiver of rent if they are facing financial difficulties
- terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress
What you can do
The next stage is for the NSW government to implement the moratorium. Tasmania was able to protect all tenants – they proved that it is possible.
Call the Housing Minister Kevin Anderson MP on (02) 8574 5550 or call the Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on (02) 8574 690.
Let them know the NSW Government should be looking to Tasmania’s example and making sure the Eviction Moratorium stops all evictions, for all renters.
There should be no evictions in a health crisis.
If we want people to stay at home and keep themselves and their communities safe, we need to make sure their home is secure. This means stopping all evictions for all renters, including boarders and lodgers.
Information from the Tenants Union
Public Housing, Covid-19 and Climate Change
Every Australian has a right to a fair standard of housing and during this pandemic we see how crucial social housing is. People without secure housing are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. They have nowhere safe to isolate themselves, often suffer a range of pre-existing medical problems and have limited access to good food and hygiene. Homeless advocates are calling for temporary housing to be made available as they face the spread of Covid-19.
Homelessness in NSW is increasing while the Government is demolishing or privatising social housing. We call on the NSW Government to devote adequate resources to fund emergency housing for the homeless at this time.
Climate change is here and our homeless population are already feeling the effects. The public housing system is not keeping up. First, there’s the quality on the housing. On 18 December last year, Australia experienced its hottest day on record with the national average temperature reaching a high of 40.9 degrees Celsius.
As the bushfires raged and air quality worsened, we were constantly told to stay indoors, keep cool and be alert for emergency orders on our phones. With each public service announcement, we continued to leave some of our most vulnerable behind.
There is currently no national policy requiring public housing to provide cooling systems. Rather, it is a state issue but they are only required to provide tenants with housing that is “fit for habitation”.
Public housing is often substandard and unsafe and poorly adapted to high temperatures. These added stresses increase incidents of family violence, substance abuse and have a deep impact on the mental health of occupants.
There is a housing shortage in Australia. Nationwide there were 140,600 applicants on the waiting list for public housing in June 2018.
And if the uncertainty of waiting for housing isn’t enough, once you are granted housing the only guarantee of having air conditioning is if you have a proven medical condition.
With our climate becoming more unpredictable, it makes sense to combat both the housing and climate crises at the same time. Providing existing and newly built housing with renewable energy would make public housing both more affordable and better suited for the changing climate.
[This is an edited version of “Climate justice includes secure public housing”
by Andrew Jackson in Eureka, 21 February 2020]
Scandal of substandard public housing
In 2018-2019, almost one in five homes in the public housing system failed to meet minimum health and safety standards – lacking essential amenities that most households take for granted.
Minimum standards require homes to offer facilities for people to wash themselves and their clothes, to store and prepare food, and to remove sewage.
But across the country 19.7 per cent of public housing tenants are renting homes from the government that lack at least one of these basic essentials, or have two or more major structural defects.
The amount of annual tax subsidies paid to property investors ($11.8 billion) is more than double the amount governments spend on housing and homelessness ($5 billion).
The shocking revelations come from the Productivity Commission’s annual Report on Government Services.
The figures were even more alarming for residents living in state-owned and managed indigenous housing, where 26.8 per cent of housing failed to meet agreed minimum standards in 2018-2019.
Countless reports over the years have called for greater investment in public and social housing. Not just to bring down homelessness, but also to keep a lid on private rents by providing competition at the lower end of the market.
The Productivity Commission’s report shows the government spends $247 billion a year, roughly 13 per cent of GDP, on the delivery of public services.
Health receives the most funding ($109.2 billion a year), followed by childcare, education and training ($77.3 billion), and community services ($37.1 billion). The justice system is next in line, receiving $18.4 billion every year.
Housing and homelessness ($5 billion) come last.
[This is an edited version of an article by Euan Black in The New Daily on 23 January 2020]
NSW Government must change its priorities
NSW has been hit by the bushfire/drought crisis and now the pandemic yet the Government is still going ahead with a $800 million new fish market, the Westconnex mess and the destruction of public housing in Glebe’s Cowper Street.
Write to the premier
We ask Glebe residents to go to our website and download our letter to the Premier which suggests that the massive spending on infrastructure be halted while we face the crises of bushfires, floods and Covid-19. Go to : http://www.handsoffglebe.org/2020/03/an-open-letter-to-the-nsw-premier-at-the-time-of-the-covid-19-crisis/
Put you name and address on it and remind the Premier that our resources must be spent on people who are victims of the bushfires and those in danger from Covid-19 because of vulnerable housing. Adequate resourcing of hospitals and the health system is imperative too!
Congratulations to Max Solling
Warm congratulations to our much loved and respected local historian and community activist Max Solling for the award of the 2019 Annual History Citation in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the study and practice of urban social history. Each year the History Council of NSW gives the award to an eminent historian to honour a lifetime of service to history, outstanding research and scholarship and to acknowledge their broader contribution through teaching, leadership, mentoring and community involvement.
Where are our new parks?
We are aware of the over development of Glebe and Ultimo especially around Wentworth Park and Harold Park. We need a plan for Glebe. We are still waiting for the Blackwattle Bay overview.
New flats/apartments all claim existing parks, footpaths and roads as “green space” to justify the vast number of new dwellings permitted. In the community we are wondering when counting the 5 square meters of real open space per new dwelling will be enforced. When will Council force these developers to compensate the community properly for the over crowding they create?
The site of the present Fish Market will have 2,500 flats on it. The community will be “compensated’ with a boardwalk but no new park or leafy area. All these new residents will use Wentworth Park for their dogs and children.
Another example is the proposed Princes Trust development in Cowper Street, Glebe. The site has about 15 mature trees including some beautiful gum trees. They will all be killed and mulched. But the development will not bring one new blade of grass to the site. None of the new flats will have gardens. The present tenants, who will be evicted, all have some outdoor space.
We think it is essential that the City of Sydney enforce that for every new development 5 square meters of new open space is provided for each dwelling. Glebe needs more parks and more open space for all the new residents who will be coming in, and their children and dogs.
The Glebe Grapevine is a publication of Hands Off Glebe Inc.
Contact: P.O. Box 145, Glebe NSW 2037
Ring Denis on 0418 290 663 or Emily on 0424 234 448
E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.handsoffglebe.org