Why can’t Labour Parties get a grip on the homeless?

Whilst watching Four Corners the other night I could help but be amazed at the continual failure of the State ALP government in dealing with it’s homeless crisis.

Of course it’s only because the the federal ALP and the PM have no time for the current state premier Nathan Rees that the problem is being highlighted on ABC.

However part of the problem also lies with Kevin Rudd below is his positon shortly after taking power full of righteousness and sorrow for the situation.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/shame-on-us-rudd-pleads-for-homeless/2008/01/27/1201368945676.html

The reality of course is always different as we found out nearly a year and a half later..

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25743829-5013871,00.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/07/07/2618537.htm

What is made worse is that due to a lack of budget control in the school imrpovement program money was then re-allocated from the homelessness programme to cover the cost overun. This of course was done on the sly.

Sarah Ferguson the ABC reporter on the Four Coners show,  produced a very good piece and I bet that the show may have shocked a few people. However why should we be surprised?

In the UK state housing was effectively privatised after Maggie Thatcher tried to sell off all the council houses she could. However the conditionmof most ‘council housing’ stock was poor before Maggie got into power, thanks to many years of under investment by both Labour and the Tories. The state began to rely more on more on private landlords to fill the gap and basdically never tried to seriously begin any sort of rebuilding programme.

This situation did not improve after 1997 when Labour once again took power and promised big changes…

Here in the Lucky Country the State ALP groups have been running most of the states for over 10 years now, and in reality not one has made any meaningful dent in the issue. Much like they have screwed up our indigenous communities. As John Birmingham loves to tell me, State Labour tends to be more right wing than its federal sister but this does not explain the failiure accross the board  of the ALP to get a real grasp on the problem.

The irony is that we do have plenty of space and the state government has plenty of land to build subsidised housing on without creating slums or clones of The Block. Some states (such as Queensland and Western Australia) have seen big boom times up until a year or so ago. But we’ve seen no major building programmes.

Our general housing stocks are very low, on the whole this has been caused by three major factors.

1, Immigrants coming into the market cashed up and able to buy

2, Very slow development approvals by state and local governments

3, Lack of skilled work force to actually build houses dues to many workers seeking gold in them there hills.

However our lords and masters are also very lenient with regards to those land bank horders who would rather their property stays vacant until they can sell it at a massive profit. This struck home when I was in Pyrmont the other week. Numerous boarded up buildings that could easily be redeveloped.

So in the end we are relying on local motels and hotels and your genuine slum landlords to house those at the bottom of the heap. Back when I was doing residential work, I inspected a property that my agency was attempting to rent out. in fact we had a lady very keen to move in via Homeswest. It was a fibro cottage with lino floors (heavily scabbed showing the floor below), cracks in soem walls. powers point and light switches were not secure, and the fibro boundary fence was pretty wrecked. I instructed the property manager to take it off the market, and advised the branch manager to contact the owner as in my opion it was not fit for habitation. the owner of course couldn’t understand the problem.

How can we trust private landlords (who at that level are notorious for not maintaining their properties) to house the most venerable in our society? especially when they charge extra for it? Marcela and I couldn’t believe that the State was paying $950 a week to a grotty motel to house a family of 5. We charge less for our investment property which is top spec and in the centre of town.

In the end it is easy to be cynical and say that the homeless don’t vote and don’t contribute to society, so that is why they are so low down the priority list of the government. However by getting them housed and even into low paid jobs you are saving alot of money and taking tax off them! You are also saving money for the future as if you have kids brought up like that you can get they will cost society more in future no matter how good their parents are.

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6 Responses to “Why can’t Labour Parties get a grip on the homeless?”

  1. Domestic Daze Says:

    We saw the same item on tv last night. Pity it wasn’t on prime time on a commercial channel. The more people who saw that the better.
    Times are tough, but nothing brings home just how lucky we are compared to others.

    I agree the present governments have a lot to do with the funding problems, but Howard played a large part starting nearly a decade ago by how much he would also contribute to the public housing. I know because I was in public housing back then and even then some of us saw the writing on the wall.
    It is not just a state to state problem.
    There is something fundamentally wrong and deeply disturbing that families are homeless in this country.

  2. chazfh Says:

    DD, I know the rodent isn’t innocent in this little passion play but i can’t remember him saying that..although it makes sense in his appeal to the ‘battlers’.

    the problem is that the political party who is meant to be there for social justice just can’t seem to hack it which is very worrying. Look NSW have recently sold 99 year leases on public housing town houses near the observatory for large dollars. They’re lovely old properties but they should be maintianed and used by families not as yuppy flats.

    I know we just can’t ship these people out to the boondocks where housing is very cheap but i just can’t believe there are no alternatives to paying big money to put them up at motels. All those shown on the prog were good people who rolled double 1, not bludgers by any means. And having them stuck out at katoomba is just madness.

  3. Nautilus Says:

    I think you have raised a lot of good points and I have another one for you and then is our appalling funding of mental health care.

    Homelessness is strongly linked to unemployment, but there will always be a core of homeless people suffering unemployment due to mental illness. More needs to be done to support those with all degrees of mental illness.

  4. chazfh Says:

    Naut there is also a very significant chance of any person suffering homelessness will also suffer some form of mental illness because of the mental stress of their material condition.

  5. Girl Clumsy Says:

    It was a great program on a terrible topic.

    You’re right in saying more should be done by governments; but obviously the issue doesn’t figure on the radar of millions of Australians. Families uprooted and sent to motels doesn’t fit the “typical” image of the homeless. For those like me lucky enough to have grown up with a secure family home, it’s almost unimaginable that children would have to move and make do. Certainly it breaks my heart.

    I work for commercial talkback radio, and certainly the Four Corners program got a lot of people calling in on Monday. However some of them did seem to take the line “If we can’t look after our own, why are we letting immigrants in and giving them houses?”

    Surely there’s got to be better ways – a return to realistic real estate prices would certainly be a good start, I reckon.

  6. chazfh Says:

    GC:’a return to realistic real estate prices would certainly be a good start, I reckon.’ hush girl thats just silly talk!

    Housing affordability is about supply and demand. Now as i’ve said above the housing stocks are very low and in many states thats due to slow approval times on new developments. I’ve always believed this to be (in the eastern states esp) dodgy deals between government and the developers. This keeps the prices high and encrouages flash developments rather than standard bricks and mortar ones that are really needed.

    We’ve now got very reasonable land/property packages coming on line here in WA and I just can’t believe that the’re not possible in other states.

    Developers will only produce these sort of packages if they believe there’s a market for them. So they need to be encouraged. however i know what wil happen and government ‘encouragement’ will be withdrawn quickly (like solar rebates) as they’ll be ‘too popular’

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