Two months ago, journalist NICK OVERALL revealed the shocking state of public housing in Wright, where tenants feared for their safety. Here he reports on another ransacked unit, this time in Braddon, where for three months Housing ACT ignored calls for help.
NOT five minutes from the town centre, a new public housing complex in Braddon is in such disrepair that residents fear for their safety.
Syringes, some half filled with blood, lie in the sewers. Graffiti is scrawled on the walls of the building and in its parking lot. A unit on the ground floor is empty, used by squatters, and is in such a mess that it is difficult to make out the floor, which is covered in trash.
Having seen nothing of this mess for about three months, and having seen the complex “deteriorate” over the course of three years, one resident of the complex only needed to talk about the state it was in.
“It’s such a shame because it was such a beautiful place,” the resident said.
“It’s not like we’re barking at Housing ACT, we know the pandemic isn’t helping things, but sometimes we just don’t feel safe, it needs to be improved.”
The resident, who wished to remain anonymous, first moved into the complex in 2019.
Like many people living in public housing, he had been homeless and struggled to find accommodation before being taken into care by Havelock Housing.
After moving into temporary housing, his home was broken into, the event he says put him in the housing system.
It has since been moved between several accommodations, including from its last residence after the government sold the block to a private developer, before coming to the Braddon complex.
“I consider myself lucky to have gotten this place, it’s a great place to be in Braddon, central Canberra, but you have to deal with that lifestyle that surrounds it,” he said .
“Things are being broken into, crimes, thefts, just recently in the last two months someone had their house broken into while they were sleeping.
“They tried for over a year to get out of here because they have children, but couldn’t.”
The resident initially moved in alone, but was soon joined by his elderly mother.
He said he was even more concerned about his safety, noting that while living conditions are difficult for him, it is worse for the elderly. He said he was also worried about the children who live at the resort, including a newborn baby.
“You start to think it’s normal, you get used to it, you get used to the screaming, the drugs, the depressed state you’re in.
“Sometimes you just sit there thinking what can I do?” »
While the resident says he noticed that the condition of the complex was gradually deteriorating since his first move in, it was the disorder of one of the ground floor apartments that finally prompted him to talk about it.
“It’s been like this for about three months,” he said.
“There was a person who was fired but since then they have come back to squat the place.
“There are others coming and going and doing drugs, in the garden and in the parking lot too.”
He said the time it takes to do anything makes residents feel unsafe.
“What I’ve found is that in the three years I’ve been here there’s been six or seven housing managers on rotation, which I think is part of what makes it incredibly difficult to do something,” he said.
“If there was one that stuck to things, it would be different.”
While the resident was keen to express that he understood the difficulty of housing, he, his mother and other residents of the complex want something done just so they can feel safe in their own home.
“We know things are getting harder, but at the same time it has to get better, you can’t give up,” he said.
“It’s like going to the doctor, you have to find the cause of the problem, otherwise the symptoms will continue to appear.”
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Ian Meikle, editor