Thursday, January 15, 2015

Public Housing

Where has all the public housing gone?

In Darwin over the past couple of years we have seen the mass demolition of public housing flats and in their place construction of high density / high priced apartments.

Comparative to the size of our population we are in the midst of a large scale relocation of 1,000s of people. Where have they all gone? The housing  commission doesn't appear to be building the new apartments to cater for people on a low income so where do those people all live now.

Kurringal Flats vacant

They have already demolished multi story flats in Coconut Grove and Parap but now everyone's been moved out of the Kurringal flats and they have started demolishing housing at the Narrows. 
I also wonder what will happen to Darwin's 'Unique Lifestyle'. I know everyone has their own idea of what this broad generalization means but for me a big part of our lifestyle is the mingling of people and absence of class distinction. (Of course my concepts of equality can easily be discounted when you challenge it on issues of race!) When I arrived here about 18 years ago I was amazed that I could walk literally a few hundred meters from my mates housing commission flat at Kurringal to one of Darwin's most elite suburban addresses! I know it sometimes gets quite messy and there are quite a lot of social issues connected with those flats but now that they're gone I am sure the elite suburb of Fanny Bay will become an exclusive suburb and there will be a much more defined class divide as poor people are excluded.  

We are told that Government will stipulate a quota of affordable housing, but what developers present to us as affordable is absolutely unobtainable by people living on welfare benefits... so the question is... Where will the poor people live?

Homelessness is a huge issue in Darwin but is often swept under the carpet as an 'Indigenous Issue' for which many people (as with most cases of homelessness) are content to blame the victim rather than help solve the problem.
The NT Homelessness Summit discussed some of these issues HERE, but without a strong commitment from Government or the broader community it's unlikely anything will improve.
It seems criminal that there are so many people including children living in dangerous conditions on the street while perfectly good hostel type accommodation lies idle at places like the Darwin Airport Lodge. 

There's no doubt that Darwin's public housing flats had more than their share of problems, both structurally and socially, but they provided much needed accommodation to people who had few other options. I am not an expert on this subject, I don't know all the issues and doubt I would be able to provide many solutions. But it's become quite obvious that Darwin is moving into a new era of social polarization!

What I see is a drastic and large scale social shift. The is a widening gap between rich and poor, Indigenous people are being directly disadvantaged by recent changes in Government policy and City bylaws. Real estate prices are going through the roof and there are a lot of lucrative development deals going ahead which will make some people very rich while the rest of us are pushed to the fringes socially and physically. People who are not wealthy will soon find they cannot afford to live in Darwin. They are being pushed out to low quality housing in Palmerston, 20 km away.  
A lot of people are not enjoying The Development of The North!

No comments: