City News

Govt forces Millers Point residents to fight over units

BY LUCAS BAIRD

The NSW Government has announced that only 28 units will be available for the 90 remaining Millers Point residents, leaving residents to fight it out for the sparse spots.

Myra Demetrio is one of 90 residents fighting for a unit, and said she was anxious about what would happen if she was not offered a place.

Ms Demetrio recently had to move into a more accessible home, but will be now potentially removed from it.

“I think they have a jolly hide to throw us out and say that they will give us this when there are 6000 people on the waiting list.” Ms Demetrio said

“I know someone who had to wait 27 years for a place.”

Sociology academic Eva Cox said the State Government’s gradual sell-off and removal of social housing in the area was “elder abuse”. She said the removal of so many elderly residents from the area was unfair.

“If you have 80 year olds who have lived in the area for all their lives, are third generation of living in the area, elder abuse will become an issue,” Ms Cox said.

Ms Cox attributed this to a ‘money-first attitude’ taken up by the State Government.

“If we are serious about understanding communities, if we are serious about understanding people, then the idea that you can just push poor people out because they happen to live in houses that have been around a long time and have increased in value is very brutal.”

The Millers Point community has been pushing for the creation of more public housing in the area to help the elderly remain in community life.

Member of The Millers Point, Dawes Point and the Rocks Public Housing Tenants Group, Barney Gardner, said that more than half of the residents could stay if the government made use of the available non-heritage housing in the area.

“These [apartments] would get us up to the 52 or 54 unit mark,” Mr Gardner said.

“We would only require between 15 and 20 heritage classified two bedroom units, and that would secure everyone who wants to stay here.”

Mr Gardner explained that his group would do whatever it could to help the tenants.

“We have the legal people from Redfern Legal and as a group we will sit down in the interview with them [the tenants].”

“We are there if they need it,” he said.

Millers Point residents have expressed concern about how the mass removal will affect the community.

Millers Point Residents Action Group President John McInerney told City Hub that the mass move would cause social disruption in the area.

“They [community members] will not get what they want, there will be many unhappy people,” he said.

Ms Cox said that there had been little support on the issue from the general public, claiming this was due to people being unsure of what to do, rather than a lack of care.

“The whole thing is pushed in a way that makes it very difficult to know what to do,” Ms Cox said.

“I think there is a lot of sympathy for the fact that they are ruining a community which has been there forever.”

The residents expect to receive the offers for limited housing in mid January.

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