Trash or treasure?

October 25th, 2012

An article from the Public Service News notes the following. (Picture found by HH and not part of the article)

Government homes in on housing vandals

A crackdown on vandalism to social housing properties has been announced by the Minister for Finance and Services, Greg Pearce.
Mr Pearce said the damage was costing millions of dollars every year to repair and it was unfair to expect NSW taxpayers to bear the brunt of the cost caused by a small number of public housing tenants.
He said the cost of fixing public housing properties last year was $8 million and the year before $5 million.
“Now we’re looking at up to $12 million this year, and I’d much rather use this money to build more homes for people,” Mr Pearce said.
Tougher penalties mooted
“There are hundreds of social housing properties across the State waiting to be re-fitted because previous tenants have caused so much damage they are not fit to live in.”
He said he had seen some properties that had no walls left in them, where there were holes in ceilings, floors stripped of their coverings and fittings like ovens and even the kitchen sink removed.
“It’s easy to say make the tenants pay for the damage, but in most cases tenants are on such low incomes they can’t afford it, while others can’t be found in time to recover costs.”
Mr Pearce said his department would look at a number of options to discourage tenants from damaging homes, including the payment of a bond and more frequent property inspections.
“Bonds would only be considered for high-risk tenants who may have a history of damaging properties and who ask for a second chance.
“We’ll also look at more frequent inspections and educating tenants about house maintenance,” Mr Pearce said

With the greatest of respect to the NSW Minister, HH makes the following comments:

– if social housing and public housing are now interchangeable what is the clear definition of either? 

– the houses were fixed for $12m this year…..  are we to assume all this fix money went in repairing damage OR was some money spent on routine maintenance and upgrading? Was some of the $12m spent remediating faulty work or poor initial construction? Is some of the $12m going to administrators to run the process?

The minister should first check where HH spends money when fixing houses nationally and the reason why the fix work is needed. Then the minister should ask the department for a similar detailed breakdown of maintenance costs. Hmmm this could require work and information … easier to bash the tenants, enrage the public and diminish the idea of social (or public) housing as real alternatives.

HH never condones vandalism, nor do we leap to conclusions about the causes of housing failure without credible supporting data.