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Three portfolios and the tenants’ dreams

The three portfolios …

Corrective Services’ primary function is the rehabilitation of those who have broken the laws of the land so that the offenders might resume their place in society. Health’s primary role is the supply of health services to those who need medical assistance so that the sick might resume their place in society. Housing’s primary role is the supply of housing at the bottom end of the rental market so that people have access to secure housing and thus have a place in society.

A person’s place in society should be facilitated in such a manner as to ensure long-term sustainability of that place. The achievement of such a place, whilst expensive in the initial phase, especially in the case of Corrective Services and Health, is extremely cost effective in the long term.

Government policy is driven by budgetary pressures with the government’s performance being evaluated by voters every election. Such a short cycle creates a thrust for immediacy of outcome delivery with long-term sustainable benefits being sidelined. The politicians leave behind a legacy of unmet demand for their successors to face, plus a correspondingly large hole in the fabric of society.

When the twain meet …

The Corrective Services and Health departments both have very high costs per capita when directly providing services to their client base, especially in the initial phase of service delivery. This gives each of them a vested interest in exiting their clients as soon as possible. To expedite the “exiting” they both pass on, at a minimum, the final stage of the preparation for resuming a place in society to the department of Housing. They fail to provide Housing with the funds for delivering the final stage. This shifts the longer-term budgetary pressures off their books. Housing, having become a victim of the other two departments, experiences a corresponding reduction in funding available to deliver its own primary outcome – the supply of secure housing at the bottom end of the market to the broader community.

The cost to public housing of the twain meeting …

The ultimate losers as the departments try to avoid costs are the current public housing tenants and tenancy applicants. The Housing department has a reduced stock capacity for letting to the broader community, its primary purpose, and an increased cost of providing services to its tenant body, due to the nature of the tenants. The existing public housing tenant community bears the direct brunt of the avoidance of responsibility by the Corrective Services and Health departments and the associated service delivery responsibility transfer to the Housing department’s budget.

The tenants are given neighbours whose capacity to be self-sufficient in the broader community in an ongoing sustainable manner has not been developed by those who were charged with doing so in the first place. The tenants “inherit” the role of being the seven-days-a-week 24-hours-a-day live-in primary care providers for those who are exited prematurely from Health and Corrective services. The tenants are not paid for this role wished onto them. Instead they are collectively demonised by the government as being over-privileged parasites on the public purse so as to enable the government to tout its credentials as an effective manager of public monies.

Government department supporters and their role …

Some organisations within the non-government sector espouse the government’s policy thrust in an effort to bolster ongoing supply of their funding streams from the government of the day. This is done to justify their hollow claims of being a housing peak body capable of identifying the concerns of public housing tenants to the government’s policy makers. These organisations are operating within the broader housing sector and pushing their own barrows whilst paying lip service to the concept of public housing. The public housing tenants are becoming increasingly aware of this duplicity on the part of the so-called “housing peaks” and distancing themselves from those bodies.

The tenants’ aspirations and hopes …

The tenants live in hope of the day when Corrective Services and Health both fund from their own respective budgets the entire discharge of their obligation to restore the capacity of their clients to assume a place in the broader community in a long-term sustainable manner.

If this discharge were to be facilitated by the two departments paying the full costs of supplying the housing and support services necessary for this rehabilitation process to go full term to the Housing department, it would enable Housing to spend all of its own budget on delivering its own objectives – the supply of secure housing at the bottom end of the market to the broader community.

Now if only Goldilocks had been able to say of a single blended porridge “that’s just right” instead of having to taste three different porridges in her search for sustenance and shelter …

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