Evicted

In 2017, the Victorian government (State government of Australia) announced the Public Housing Renewal Program (PHRP) - which is aimed to redevelop older public housing homes and create more social housing in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. 11 Public housing sites will be renewed as part of Stage One, which will create new homes with a mix of social, private and affordable housing.

One of those public housing sites is the Walker Street Estate in Northcote. Built in the 1960s, it currently has 87 dwellings and residents are from a close knit community from a range of backgrounds. The aim of my project is to document the people who will experience further hardships from the PHRP. To voice their concern and opposition to the Government's PHRP, many gathered (including residents, members of organisations such as the Public Housing Defence Network and Members of Parliament) have held protests and gatherings to try to stop the initiative being implemented.

Although the PHRP has intentions of offering more modern and economical housing, the redevelopment will result in its residents being forced to move out, with no guarantee of return to their current housing. Figures show that more than half of the redeveloped housing will be private housing, and whilst there will be social housing, it does not offer the same protection for residents as public housing, as community housing are operated by private organisations.

For many residents, these housing have been their home for many years. Despite many of these sites being marked as an dangerous, and riddled with drugs and alcohol, the residents feel that it is a safe and harmonious place, where they feel settled and comfortable. The thought of having to leave their friends, and the familiar environment deeply distresses them.

There are currently 40,000 applications (approx. 100,000 people) on the waiting list for public housing in Victoria. Redeveloping the current public housing into a mix of social housing and private housing means that there will be even fewer public housing available for those really in need of housing. Further, having private Community Housing organisations manage and own public housing creates the risk that profits will be given primary consideration, before the well-being of people who may really need our help.

Homelessness has reached crisis point and is becoming a major social issue in Victoria. My hope is that through this project, I can bring this issue to the awareness of more people and help them understand the importance and urgency of more public housing to battle the issue of homelessness. This project is ongoing, with more stories and images to come from this and other Estates, and as further developments occur.

 This is a 17 year old Ethiopian girl, who has been living at the Walker Estate for the past 7 years, wishes that her and her family could stay where they are. With her two younger sisters, it has been very difficult to find similar to what they have now. She tells me that the process of relocation has been very arduous, and they have been on the waiting list for better housing for many years now. Having escaped from a civil war in Ethiopia with her mother, she felt fortunate and grateful that they were able to obtain public housing as a refugee in Australia. But now, having to face that fear and uncertainty once again about having a place where they can call home is profoundly upsetting.

This is a 17 year old Ethiopian girl, who has been living at the Walker Estate for the past 7 years, wishes that her and her family could stay where they are. With her two younger sisters, it has been very difficult to find similar to what they have now. She tells me that the process of relocation has been very arduous, and they have been on the waiting list for better housing for many years now. Having escaped from a civil war in Ethiopia with her mother, she felt fortunate and grateful that they were able to obtain public housing as a refugee in Australia. But now, having to face that fear and uncertainty once again about having a place where they can call home is profoundly upsetting.

 Moey is a 20 years old youth worker. His family moved here from Somalia. Having been born in Melbourne, he has lived in the Walker Street Estate all his life. With 4 younger brothers and sisters, he is concerned about the effects of moving to another location would have on them, particularly that the new location would not be as safe and familiar. He said he really values the friendships and the sense of community he has developed with his neighbours and other residents here in the Estate and it has become his home.

Moey is a 20 years old youth worker. His family moved here from Somalia. Having been born in Melbourne, he has lived in the Walker Street Estate all his life. With 4 younger brothers and sisters, he is concerned about the effects of moving to another location would have on them, particularly that the new location would not be as safe and familiar. He said he really values the friendships and the sense of community he has developed with his neighbours and other residents here in the Estate and it has become his home.