Friday, June 21, 2024

The freedom of the press still furnishes that check upon government which no constitution has ever been able to provide – Chicago Tribune.

HomeIssue 32The waste of public housing

The waste of public housing

Periodically we read that the NT is in the grip of a public housing crisis. Fair enough. Long waiting lists coupled with insufficient and run down stock will do that.
But it is also true that what public housing stock the Territory does still have is often allowed to remain vacant for long periods of time.
In the street where I live there are two houses that normally rent to low income families. Both have been vacant for months, and both are beginning to look it.
The larger one has become a drinkers haven, and the smaller is fast becoming a hang-out for young kids.
Calls to the police and/or Territory Housing work for an hour or two, but neither kids nor drinkers are stupid. They see the heat coming, skip out for a while and then return when the heat is off.
And then there are the nights. Welcome to another summer of long hot nights.
Compounding the problem of allocating these houses as soon as they became available is the need for extensive and expensive refitting. Does Territory Housing even have the funds needed for this?
If the powers that be want these two houses to still be here at summer’s end, then they want to either fix them to a rentable standard and allocate them to whoever is next on their long waiting list, or start patrolling them more effectively.
Or sell them. Priced realistically the two houses in question could both qualify as a first-home owners chance. And if its public housing stock were sold off, The Gap would quickly become one of Alice’s more desirable locations.


  1. In three years I have heard your question or similar asked many times. “Does Territory Housing even have the funds needed for this?” (maintaining stock).
    Under ALP or LCP I never hear an answer. Or did I hear it today with the comment that it is not up to the government to provide legal aid to unemployed persons?

  2. Some of us can be forgiven for thinking that this cycle is a way for our government to abdicate another responsibility.

  3. Since posting this article one week ago, conditions have deteriorated as were predicted.
    Territory Housing is today boarding up all four street-facing windows on the smaller of the two houses. Probably rocks, although empty bottles will also do it.
    Also a fire was lit in the back yard of the larger house earlier in the week. Or so the some of the kids told me when I asked one midnight why they were throwing beer bottles onto my roof. Luckily it was extinguished before it could do any damage – this time.
    Unoccupied houses, kids coming from poor parenting, nothing much to do and all summer to do it.
    Meanwhile, how long is that waiting list again?
    And how much will the refurbishments now be costing?

  4. Hi Hal, I knew you at Kent, 1959.
    The homeless have many issues that I work with in trying to feed them. I do know that private initiatives vs public agencies are far more able to respond to specific issues than the government’s view of the general plight.
    At my church we bought some houses that were suffering the same problems.
    We try to vet the tenants and their history to avoid drug dealer past associations.
    I visit the families weekly to get a sense of whether they are moving ahead or backsliding.
    This requires a constant vigilance that is not possible with governmental policies.
    I pray for the best outcome.
    Best regards,
    Doug Macmillan


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