• Stephanie Anderson | Canberra Times
  • News

Rich public housing tenants evicted

The ACT government has begun evicting its wealthier public housing tenants, including one household earning more than $230,000 a year.

To date, 43 Housing ACT residents have been served with a notice to vacate as part of the government's crackdown on middle class tenants, which has caused concern amongs local welfare groups. Approximately 250 households of the 1000 public housing renters paying market prices have declared household incomes of more than $80,000 a year over one or two financial years. Of these, more than 100 have reported household incomes in excess of $100,000 a year.

Housing Minister Joy Burch said the process, which began five years ago, would deliver housing to those most in need throughout the capital.

''With about 1900 individuals and families on our social housing waiting list, and almost 200 in the most urgent category, we need to ensure that our public housing is allocated to those most in need,'' she said.

''It is difficult to continue to support a situation where we have some public housing tenants who are in public housing are in a position to buy a house or comfortably rent in the private market when we have families experiencing homelessness on our waiting lists.''

But Genevieve Bolton, from the Welfare Rights and Legal Centre, said the process failed to recognise the contribution that market renters made to public housing.

''It's a very short-sighted policy on behalf of the ACT government,'' she said.

Ms Bolton said people generally left public housing when they felt they could, and continuing tenancies could be due to mental and physical health issues, as well as finances.

''Often people remain in public housing due to a great level of uncertainty,'' she said. A spokesman for Ms Burch said each matter under review was considered case by case.

''For example, one tenant assessed by the panel will continue to reside at his ACT Housing property because of health reasons, for having a lower income than that reported in 2010-11, and another because he was retiring at the end of the year,'' he said.

Tenants can also appeal to ACAT against the decision of the panel, as well as ask for a second level review by the Housing and Tenancy Review Panel.

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