By EMILY CONTADOR-KELSALL
The resolve of Millers Point housing tenants remains strong as properties in the area continue to move from public to private hands.
Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard visited the Millers Point community in late June, giving residents renewed hope, despite continued concern over the growing number of vacant tenancies in the area and a long waiting list for housing.
Chairman of the Millers Point, Dawes Point, The Rocks and Walsh Bay Resident Action Group, John McInerney, said residents had “got a little more heart” from the minister’s visit and “put to [him] a proposition regarding a compromise position”.
“Essentially we’ve asked him to stop the relocation process [while the situation is reassessed]”.
“We’ve argued that the government should leave [the remaining 140 tenants] alone because most of those are old and many of them would be seriously affected healthwise if they were to be moved,” he said.
But a spokesperson for the minister said it’s “generally agreed by today’s standards much of the Millers Point portfolio is poorly suited for social housing”.
“The Minister has met with Millers Point tenants and is considering their concerns, but has made clear that currently the Government’s decision to sell properties at Millers Point remains policy,” the spokesperson said.
Despite the government standing firm on their decision to sell off the housing, the group have beseeched the Minister to retain the Sirius building in the Rocks and continue to provide social housing in the building.
Mr McInerney said residents have asked to be relocated to the Sirius building but the government continues to empty the site despite 75 per cent of the building being vacant.
“We have people here, elderly people who would be ideally suited to be relocated into Sirius, but the government is not relocating them because we believe the government is trying to, or is aiming to sell Sirius to the highest bidder,” he said.
The state government has said that the funds from the sale of housing at Millers Point will be funnelled towards the creation of new social housing across Sydney and NSW.
Interest in the properties remains strong, according to Government Property NSW CEO Brett Newman, with the announcement of the sale of two more properties for $3.4 million last week.
“Today’s sales bring the total number of Millers Point properties sold to 21, generating $46.6 million to fund social housing,” said Mr Newman in a statement on Thursday July 2.
Towards the end of June, two more terraces on Kent Street were also put up for sale.
Mr McInerney said there were now nearly 250 vacant residencies in Millers Point and asked why they were “sitting [there] while there’s a waiting list of 60,000 [people] in NSW”.
“Why are there 250 vacant tenancies in Millers Point? Some have been vacant for up to five years,” he said.