City Hub

Facebook swap shakes up public housing


By Joe Bourke
A Facebook community where people can swap their housing commission residences has emerged amid State Government public housing sell-offs, giving tenant their choice of accommodation.
‘Housing commission swap Sydney’ was established by Sameer Sayadi in December 2014 and in its first five weeks has gained almost 3,000 Facebook followers.
As a former housing commission resident Mr Sayadi said that he understands what the tenants go through and that the page was established to give everybody an opportunity to find the most suitable home.
“My Mum still lives in housing commission and so I sort of understand and know what people go through – they don’t really have the option of picking their houses, it’s all up to the authority.
“Where my Mum is now, she’s not happy. She’d love to move out to another place on ground level because she currently lives on the top level. I want to create something where I can connect the two parties, and that’s all it is.” Mr Sayadi said.
Greens Councillor Irene Doutney is a public housing tenant and said the page was a positive step for many who would otherwise have to wait many years for a change of location.
“We had one person in my building who waited for ten years to get a transfer, so I think anything where people take power in their own hands and form a community and try and co-operate within that community is a good thing.”
“If you can work something out with another tenant then that’s a good ting because if you wait for the system to do it then you’re waiting forever.” Clr Doutney said.
Mr Sayadi said that he hopes the community on the page will grow to a much bigger number so as to make the process easier for more people.
“3000 likes is nothing when there are hundreds of thousands of people in housing commission. It’d be good if I could get some sort of exposure so that more people could see it and connect.”
“You can imagine, 50 000 likes and it’d be really busy. The housing commission authorities get bombarded by people wanting to swap and it gets very hard for them to deal with.”
“If a page like this gets really successful then it takes a lot off the housing commission authority’s shoulder.” Mr Sayadi said
Housing commission in Sydney has been a hot topic ever since the announcement of the planned Government sell off of the Millers Point housing estate and release of a controversial white paper released last year by the NSW Department of Family and community Services.
Clr Doutney has been vocal on public housing, and said that it is essential in Sydney in order to keep the city diverse and take care of those in need.
“Most people in public housing won’t be able to survive in the private market and yet they’re diminishing the stock and not replacing it.
“[The Millers point sale] just makes the city even more monocultural for the rich. It just takes away the diversity and social justice aspect of having a community that’s got everybody in it, and those houses certainly will be sold to the rich and to corporations and international buyers and then that whole area has just been socially cleansed.” Clr Doutney said.
With his Facebook page, Mr Sayadi hopes to make finding the right public housing easier for more people.
“The housing prices and living costs are really expensive and without housing commission, many more people would be living on the streets.”
“It’s really hard, and housing commission is very important,” he said.

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