INTEGRATED HOUSING POLICIES ARE ANATHEMA

I am totally over the Northern Territory Government’s integrated housing policy as it applies in urban areas.

This policy, administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development and obviously understood by the Department of Families is anathema in the extreme.

In the interests of integrating people of all races, cultures and creeds the department responsible for public housing allocates what was formally Department of Housing residences to families who meet selection criteria.

Obviously there is a waiting list and a priorities program. it would seem that if there are children attached to the family, this elevates the housing priority for adults connected with those children. It seems to matter not whether the children spend time with their parents or whether they are in foster care – once the housing is allocated, that appears to be the end of the matter.

It also seems to be the end of the matter for the housing authority. Once the housing is allocated, and the keys handed over, anything goes.

One of the difficulties derived from the integrated housing program is that many people given houses, don’t have the skills or where-with-all necessary to live in them in a standard or expected manner. I have made inquiries about this and was told that the only support that can be offered is education following a request from the residents of the house. Once upon a time homemaking used to be compulsory; that is no longer the case. And not too many residents are going to be making a request for this level of assistance.

It seems that “inspections“ are confined to an occasional drive-by and look into the yard. If the yard appears to be clean (that is the bit that can be seen from a drive-by along the road) then everything is deemed to be in order.

Many people offered integrated housing do not have the ability to withstand pressures placed upon them by other family members. They have it put upon them to provide for non-entitled relations. They are also pressured to “host” drinking parties and other social type events. Humbugging is a constant and many people in integrated houses have this sort of pressure constantly placed upon them.

Far too many people in integrated housing do not look after their properties. Yards become a disgraceful mess, with litter drifting onto roads and into the yards of nearby residences.

Cultural nature being what it is, many of those assigned integrated housing believe that the night time is for socialising, partying, and for carrying on in a way that disturbs nearby residents specifically and the neighbourhood generally. These people then sleep during the day (most of them don’t work) and prepare for the next round of nighttime activities. This behaviour makes surrounding areas very uninviting, with potential home purchasers being put off when they realise what goes on within the neighbourhood.

Integrated housing leads to property devaluation. I was quite recently told by the principal of a leading real estate agency that property adjacent to integrated housing can suffer a potential sales loss of up to $50,000. That’s a big wad of money, particularly at a time of depressed housing markets.

It’s not hard for passers-by to identify areas where integrated housing has become part and parcel of the neighbourhood. Streetscapes, nature strips and unkempt yards tell the story.

I think the greatest blight in all of this is the casual way in which government and its agencies treat the program. It’s enough for them to spend tens of thousands of dollars doing up homes, allocating tenants, then washing their hands and moving on. When for whatever reason these homes are vacated, the Government is up for thousands to rectify the damage and neglect left behind before houses are reallocated.

It would be absolutely true to say that very few people who make decisions in regards to integrated housing policies live in the sort of neighbourhood those policies create. They have moved out into new suburbs and then created these wonderful “policies“ that diminish property, lifestyle and quality of living for those left behind.

Darwin’s northern suburbs and many of those in older Palmerston are now rundown. “Slumville” is a notion those who remain living in the older suburbs after years and decades of residence have come to fully understand. They have witnessed the deterioration that has come to pass.

Go for a drive around the streets and you will see exactly what I mean. But drive around with your eyes and minds open and observant.

The integrated housing policy is far more negative than positive.

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