On the street in a crisis

Sharra Roberts (right) with her mother Susan as police search the property she’s just been evicted from, and Homeswest contractors board the place up. Photo by Steve Grant.

A MOTHER with three young children in her care says she’s terrified of being left homeless during the Coronavirus pandemic after a forced eviction from her Homeswest unit in Hamilton Hill.

Sharra Roberts said she’s got three days of emergency accommodation left, but after that doesn’t even have a car; what she does have is a two-year-old daughter who was recently hospitalised with a respiratory illness.

The department has a moratorium on evictions during the pandemic and is only supposed to act in “extreme” circumstances.

Ms Roberts said she doesn’t believe her case fits the criteria.

She had been involved in an altercation with a neighbour, but she says it was provoked by inappropriate comments to her kids and she has not been charged by police.

Homeswest has also fielded complaints from neighbours about the noise from kids who visited Ms Robert’s house and often play basketball out the front.

“I don’t like turning kids away because they feel safe; I used to feed them and give them a wash,” she counters.

She said she also relocated the basketball hoop in the hope it would have less impact on neighbours.

Ms Roberts missed her day in court when the department sought to have the eviction ratified, saying she rang them to say that her daughter was sick at the time. She also claims to have misunderstood what the hearing was about.

A neighbour the Herald spoke to said the once-quiet complex had become a misery in the last year, with several noisy families moving in and groups of kids would turn up at midnight to start playing on the road out the front.

She agreed with Ms Roberts 

that many of those creating the noise didn’t live in the complex, but said they climbed on her roof and there was a constant stream of stolen motorbikes coming into the complex.

As she related her story of a disrupted life and fear of going outside, police loaded up a stolen motorbike found in Ms Robert’s backyard.

She says it was dropped there after her eviction on Friday.

“It’s what I keep telling everyone; people keep coming here and I wasn’t even here,” she said through tears.

The department says the moratorium was implemented because it recognised the need to support tenants, particularly if they were experiencing hardship related to the “unprecedented times”, but warned it wasn’t unconditional.

“Tenants are still expected to pay their rent, maintain their properties and ensure there 

is no disruptive behaviour that impacts on neighbours and the wider community,” a spokesperson said.

“The department provides a range of services other than public housing, and will continue to work with, and provide intensive family support and child protection services to families and individuals if required beyond their tenancy arrangements.

“The department has a duty of care not only to its tenants, but to the wider community.”

by STEVE GRANT

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