City Hub

Beneath the ice: Housing’s junky haven exposed

The fiend's flat. Photo: Anna Hamilton


An ice addict inhabiting Ultimo public housing has terrorised her fellow tenant Anna Hamilton for three “sleepless” years.

But Housing NSW has refused to relocate either tenant, despite a litany of complaints from Ms Hamilton and NSW Police.

Earlier this month, Housing NSW successfully appealed an order from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to relocate Ms Hamilton, 52, based on a legal technicality.

“They’re putting up drug addicts. Now she’s not the only one in this building, but she’s the one that has just crippled my life,” Ms Hamilton said.

“When does Housing NSW start their job as landlord?”

Ms Hamilton said the addict, who has five children “in the state crèche”, had threatened to kill her and had even set her clothes on fire.

“She is usually naked, never sleeps and as she descended into meth-induced psychosis in early 2014, she became ever more feral: spitting, screaming, thrashing, smashing and swearing like a trooper.”

“It’s not possible to have any semblance of a life living beneath a dedicated ice addict who also drank enough booze to kill a horse.”

The former policewoman confessed that the addict’s behaviours had almost pushed her onto the wrong side of the law.

“At the worst of it, I’ve gone down to the police station because I had the knife in my hand and I was ready to go up there and cheerfully slit her from navel to neck.”

“The foundation of the problems are drugs and a landlord, who aids and abets the drug culture, who does nothing about complaints, and then lies about it when challenged at NCAT.”

In June, City Hub reported that public housing tenants in Surry Hills had complained to FACS about drug dealing occurring on the premises, and according to Ms Hamilton, her experience does not augur well for them.

“I’ve taken it to the tribunal. I’m at the other end of where people are at Surry Hills,” she said.

“I have for three years done everything right. I’ve followed every process. From the landlords, with my obligations as a tenant, with the police and now with NCAT, and it’s changed nothing.

Ms Hamilton formally applied to be transferred last September but was only informed by Housing NSW during the NCAT hearing in February that more than 130 “high risk” residents were on the waiting list before her.

The matter will be reconsidered by NCAT, but Ms Hamilton said it was likely they would only award her financial compensation.

“What’s the price of an ice addict living in your building?” she said.

“I’m not here for financial compensation. I’ve never wanted money. It’s not going to solve the problem.”

“They can give me up to $15,000, but there’s still going to be an ice addict with junkies all over the shot coming morning, day and night. How does that pull Housing NSW into line?”

A spokesperson for the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) said evicting a tenant should only occur in the most serious cases and required an order from NCAT.

“FACS applies to evict tenants where there has been a severe breach of their tenancy agreement which has been proven, for example dealing in drugs from their public housing property,” they said.

“In other cases, it warns tenants about unacceptable behaviour and will seek to evict if a tenant does not address that behaviour.”

The spokesperson said a date had not been set for parliament to consider the government’s proposed “one strike and you’re out” policy for tenants engaging in illegal behaviour in social housing.

Ms Hamilton, who has endured a stint of homelessness, said the provision of housing to drug addicts meant people with a genuine need for it missed out.

“These people are custodians of a fantastic welfare system that is a safety net.”

There are currently about 59,500 people on the waiting list for public housing in NSW.

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