Melbourne: Homeless Persons Union of Victoria media release about Markham Avenue estate

The Homeless Persons Union of Victoria speaks out against the impending demolition and privatisation of yet-another Victorian public housing estate

The Andrews government recently announced that the Markham Avenue public housing estate in Ashburton will be demolished by the end of 2015, and the site will be redeveloped in consultation with the 10 remaining households, the local community, the city of Boroondara, and other stakeholders. The Homeless Persons Union of Victoria takes issue with a number of elements of the government’s proposed plans. We will speak to the issues in this document. Ultimately, we will prosecute the argument that the immanent bulldozing and public-private mix of the Markham Avenue estate is emblematic of how free-market ideology has come to shape government policy, media discourse, and public views of public housing estates and tenants.

Government neglect or planned demolition by proxy?

To begin, the HPUV believes that successive Victorian governments have ignored the ongoing maintenance needs of the Markham Avenue estate, leading the now-Andrews Labor government to argue the case for demolition. We refer the Victorian public to the promised $500,000 slated by the Bracks Labor government in 2006 to fund a program of building works for the estate, including improved ventilation, window repair, and anti-mould painting, all to improve the estate’s living conditions. Despite this promise, Minister for Planning Richard Wynne was quoted in November 2014 saying that the estate’s conditions are ‘Third World’. As a consequence, the HPUV can only surmise that the 2006 works were never undertaken. We believe this illustrates the inertia, inaction and blatant lack of concern Victorian governments have displayed over time towards Victoria’s most vulnerable. [Read More]