Saturday, April 13, 2024
HomeOpinionEditorialPublic housing more than a roof overhead

Public housing more than a roof overhead

As part of the consultation process for the Waterloo redevelopment, local agencies Counterpoint Community Services (CCS) and Inner Sydney Voice, with REDWatch residents’ group, pushed for an effective human services plan to accompany the built environment master plan. Back in 2017, FACS/LAHC undertook to provide such a plan.

Now, as the Department of Planning and LAHC negotiate the master plan parameters, it seems LAHC no longer wants to discuss a human services plan.

This is deeply concerning.

In a soon-to-be-published report, “Waterloo Impact Project”, CCS synthesises input from various interview and focus groups, and concludes that the human services system has been unresponsive to needs, fragmented, complex and opaque.

The report recommends: addressing accessibility deficits by extending and improving services to CALD, Aboriginal and other cohorts; improving the capabilities of residents to use technologies and funding more place-based outreach services to local community centres; improving service delivery and referral protocols, and; addressing cultural and structural issues within agencies, both government and non-government.

An effective human services plan, as REDWatch argues, must address existing challenges facing tenants and agencies, and not just select issues around relocation.

Yes, this is a state-wide issue, but it will affect Waterloo disproportionately due to the size of the estate and because the same number of public tenants will be living with their existing problems in a redevelopment of three times the density.

If issues facing residents are not addressed in the promised human services plan, the South Sydney Herald will join REDWatch and others to campaign against the master plan.

Maybe it is time to think about an upper house inquiry into how human service supports for public housing tenants work or do not work. There has been a lot of work recently getting homeless people into public housing. If the supports are not there for those who need public housing, however, are we really addressing the problem? We cannot assume that just putting a roof over someone’s head addresses his or her problems or challenges.

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