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HomeNewsUrban DesignPutting a face to public housing - John Osborne

Putting a face to public housing – John Osborne

John had never been to the small suburb of Waterloo before coming to live there but now after five-and-a-half years he loves it, particularly the peaceful serenity of Waterloo Green with its shady trees and many seats, and he relishes living in an open-hearted community. There is always something going at the Green, for instance, barbecues, family days or fairs with music, and while he prefers his own company he likes these occasions as he can have a chat and share a joke with others.

He has found a favourite coffee place in the Coles complex at Surry Hills, which he visits on a Monday and Friday. He also values closeness to two libraries, Surry Hills and Waterloo, as he is an avid reader but also a keen borrower of DVDs and CDs.

When John received the first letter from FACS he panicked. He felt the government was taking his precious home away from him and uprooting him from a place he loved. He wondered how he could manage the cost of moving and the arduousness of packing and unpacking. Currently his flat has one large bedroom for which he is very grateful and fears he will be rehoused in a bedsit. His anxiety is intense and as yet none of the steps supposedly taken by the government to alleviate tenants’ fears have decreased his anxiety. The uncertainty of not knowing is the most difficult aspect for John and he worries about the effect this will have on his health. John suffers from epilepsy, an illness that can be negatively affected by emotional states.

As John needs two walking sticks to assist him in walking, he is worried that he will not be close to medical assistance (as he is at Matavai). His doctors are aware of his treatment regime, and if hospitalised he can manage a taxi as he is not too far from his home. He is also concerned that bulk billing is sometimes difficult to access in the outer suburbs and that there is not the same level of specialist care.

John feels that it was very insensitive of FACS to deliver its letter just before Christmas. He feels that despite various meetings and information sheets he and other tenants have not been given the information that will allay their fears and concerns. One of the letters stated that an office would be set up in John Street near the IGA to answer tenant concerns, and although he visited it in the advertised times there was no one in attendance.

“There is absolutely nothing wrong with the buildings, so if it’s not broke, why fix it?” John asks.

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