RESIDENTS from the Beacy Bronx say Homeswest has reneged on a promise they’d be no worse off when relocated.
The state housing department has already demolished dozens of houses in the block between Caesar Street and Fifth Avenue to make way for a medium-density development but long-termer Karen Anderson says she’s being bullied into accepting a “downgrade”.
Ms Anderson moved into her three-bedroom apartment across the road from Davis Park in 1979 on what was pitched as a “forever lease”.
Now Homeswest has told her she’ll have to accept a two-bedroom unit because her kids have grown up and moved out, and claims a staffer laughed at her when she asked for something with a similar-sized garden.
Ms Anderson says her grandson Jeramiah has autism, and her daughter Allira Bolton needs to stay at her house to get a break. The front yard gives him space to let off steam.
“Department of Housing said we would be provided with housing in the local area and we would be no worse off as part of the redevelopment,” Ms Anderson said.
“But people are being asked to move into smaller, or unsuitable housing as far away as Bibra Lake and North Fremantle.
“I just want the government to keep the promises made to residents.”
Ms Anderson said some of the older tenants, who’d lived there for three decades, had been told to return their homes to “original condition” despite the fact they are to be bowled over.
She was also angry that when she asked about the garden she’d spent her time developing into a lush green space, the response was to pot up what she could.
“But where could I even put all that.
“There’s all these things that people are attached to, but they’ve just been told to start again.”
Ms Bolton contacted Greens candidate Brad Pettitt to take up her cause, hoping his time as mayor would give him some insight.
But Dr Pettitt said the department had kept the council in the dark.
“This is very frustrating and disappointing, partly because the council was trusted to help keep people informed, but also because we don’t want to lose more affordable housing in the Fremantle area.
“Successive WA government have boarded up, demolished and not replaced many hundreds of social housing homes across the Fremantle area in the last decade.
“The Heart of Beaconsfield project will remove over 200 more.”
Dr Pettitt said the council was led to believe the department was going to work in stages to build one area older tenants could move into before the project progressed. But instead the department had moved in with the bulldozers first.
He said it was another example of WA Labor treating vulnerable people “carelessly and with contempt”.
Department of Communities executive director Andrew Geddes wouldn’t say whether residents were promised they’d move into the same type of home, but there was a commitment to get them “suitable alternative accommodation that meets their housing needs and eligibility”.
He said some residents could qualify for an extra bedroom if they had a need such as space for a carer.
“Tenants are entitled to decline offers if the new accommodation is not suitable, but most tenants are satisfied with the accommodation.
“To date the department has relocated 51 tenants and another 129 are yet to be relocated.”
Mr Geddes said reasonable relocation costs would be made, which could involve moving over air-conditioners or sheds, while potted plants would also be moved.
“On most occasions, tenants who have expressed a desire to maintain a garden have been relocated to established areas with existing gardens,” Mr Geddes said.
by STEVE GRANT