Public housing residents and renters across inner Sydney are breathing a huge sigh of relief after the election of a Labor government for NSW on March 25. Housing insecurity has been a major concern for so many in our community that Labor’s comprehensive plan for fair and affordable housing in NSW is very welcome. Premier Chris Minns has also said, “if we don’t deliver, by all means hold us to account”.
The Tenants’ Union photo exhibition on March 9 at Customs House featured photography from a state-wide photography competition the union ran which captured the realities of the rental crisis in NSW. The category winner for Place was Daniel Gerling whose striking portrait “Transient Home” shows how dehumanising housing instability can feel. His words also offer a striking picture of what “home” can mean when it is secure.
Daniel writes: “A home is not made from bricks and mortar, but love and memories.” This quote from the classic movie The Castle is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago. It highlights the importance of being able to sink your roots into the ground and imprint your identity on the environment around you. Our homes are now seen as nothing more than investment opportunities to be flipped and sold in spite of the lives of the occupants.
“This transitory feeling is reflected in my photograph with my sister being transparent at her desk. As young renters we are vulnerable to having our home whisked away at a moment’s notice for reasons such as excessive rent increases or no-cause evictions. The house will then be rid of our identity with a new coat of paint as if it were diseased.”