Since getting notices just before Christmas that nearly 2,400 residents will be cleared out of Waterloo, public housing tenants have been disturbed and angry. Now they are preparing to fight back and started their campaign on Saturday April 23 at Waterloo Green. Despite driving rain and wind a sizable crowd turned out to hear local tenants, Jenny Leong MP and representatives from other public housing areas in the inner city who have been similarly affected by the NSW Government’s social cleansing policy.
Millers Point and Glebe representatives told of the insensitivity and bullying by government agents as they threaten and ‘persuade’ people to move away from familiar areas and people. Both areas have suffered people being hospitalized, suffering heart attacks, and even some suicides and deaths. have occurred. Brad Hazzard, the Minister for Social Housing, should be renamed Health Hazzard, they said.
Public housing is not a commodity, the rally was told, but an asset that performs a special role in supporting people with health and other problems. In the towers surrounding Waterloo Green and further afield people look after one another. The Waterloo community has grown like this over decades but now the NSW Government is ripping it apart.
Jenny Leong, the Greens MP for Newtown, assured the residents that those who wanted to stay would find a firm supporter and friend in her. She would do all she could to fight the eviction and destruction of the community by the Baird Government.
The Government regards the people of Waterloo and other public housing tenants as just pawns to be moved around to make way for profits and private developers. But speakers at the picnic insisted that residents are treasures, people who have contributed to building Sydney.
Public housing tenants are former teachers, soldiers, TV cameramen, migrants, refugees, indigenous people the list is long. People who have emerged from these towers include talented footballers and academics.
Imagine Mr. Baird’s mother being moved to a suburb where she did not want to go! Yet it is somehow OK to treat the tenants of Waterloo as pawns to be moved to Ulladulla, Wilton or Katoomba.
The recently formed Waterloo Public Housing Action Group is leading a fast growing fight back. The picnic was the first of more events intended to show the people of Sydney that Waterloo residents have a right to live in their city! They will not allow anyone to drive them from the city they built.
A petition has been started and a protest song is already up on you tube. Everyone is being urged to like the campaign’s new facebook page.