Issue #1502 25 May 2011
Homes bulldozed in middle of housing crisis
Workers support the community
Members of the Hands off Glebe community group and their supporters gathered at the corner of Elger and Cowper Streets in Sydney’s inner suburb of Glebe on Wednesday, May 18 to protest against state and federal government plans to demolish serviceable public housing in the middle of a housing crisis.
Local residents called on the newly elected O’Farrell state Liberal government to stop the demolition and refurbish the buildings. This would save their homes and their community and also be a far cheaper option.
The Cowper Street properties under threat of demolition housed 289 people.
A survey by Anglicare in the first weekend of April 2011 revealed of all the rental properties then available in the Sydney region, only 70 were affordable for pensioners and none were available for people on Newstart allowances.
CFMEU members working on asbestos removal and demolition at the Glebe site came off the job for a meeting. They were addressed by myself as representative of Hands off Glebe and then a union organiser. The workers decided to walk off the job for the rest of the day in support of the residents.
This was a magnificent example of worker-community cooperation which needs to be extended and strengthened.
The previous state Labor government’s plan was to replace the existing public housing in this low rise, leafy corner of the Glebe Estate with high rise high density units, driving 100 disadvantaged people from the area.
In a plan which combined privatisation with social cleansing, over half the present public housing estate would be converted to private dwellings.
The O’Farrell government is continuing the heartless neo-liberal policies of the previous Labor government. It does not even have a housing minister! Responsibility is shared between the Community Services Minister and the State Assets Minister.
Hands off Glebe has been leading a sustained fight against this destruction for five years. The group made it an issue in the federal and NSW elections and have lobbied the Sydney City Council on many occasions.
So far this resistance has been met with cold indifference from the three levels of government.
The local Port Jackson Branch of the CPA has been active in Hands off Glebe and in the elections, fighting the privatisation process, the destruction of buildings, trees and gardens, the fracturing of a 50 year old community, and the expulsion of public housing tenants from Glebe.
Glebe is not the only place in NSW where public housing is under threat. It is time to make a stand for public housing.
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