Statement from Homeless Persons Union Victoria

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Homeless Persons Union Victoria occupation of vacant Bendigo Street houses

Homeless Persons Union Victoria occupation of vacant Bendigo Street houses

Again, these properties are publicly owned and neither the state government or the salvation has made any attempt to house anyone escaping domestic violence in the 300 hundred odd other properties compulsorily acquired for the East-West link.

They have instead put many on the private market and paid $880 dollars a day to security firms to ‘defend’ them from the public. This is what the media will not print.

Statement from Homeless Persons Union Victoria (21 August 2016)

Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who has supported this occupation. I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate that we are here to highlight the state government’s lack of investment in public housing a model that research has shown is three times more effective in addressing homelessness than community housing and or crisis accommodation.

This morning we had a womyn with two children knock on our door asking for assistance, this is not about grandstanding

Our aims were to have all the compulsorily acquired East-West link homes put on the public housing register and that those on the 35,000 long waiting list given access to them.That we see a plan to address the 25,000 plus Victorians who are currently homeless. That there be transparency and accountability on questions of who manages these properties and what the future plans for them are. That the minister come down and speak to the homeless including womyn escaping domestic violence (who are the largest cohort in the homeless statistics) and how they feel they have been let down by the homelessness industry and faith based organisations.

Again, these properties are publicly owned and neither the state government or the salvation has made any attempt to house anyone escaping domestic violence in the 300 hundred odd other properties compulsorily acquired for the East-West link. They have instead put many on the private market and paid $880 dollars a day to security firms to ‘defend’ them from the public. This is what the media will not print.

ABC Victoria: Melbourne squatters given reprieve following court case (15 August 2016)

Squatters occupying properties compulsorily acquired under Melbourne’s failed East West Link project have been spared eviction for at least another week.

About 100 people have taken up residence in properties in Bendigo Street in Collingwood and in Parkville since March.

The squatters were issued eviction notices last week but have been granted a Supreme Court injunction preventing them from being forcibly removed.

The matter will return to court on August 24.

Megan Fitzgerald, from the Fitzroy Legal Service, said the actions of the Government and police had been inappropriate.

“The justice was very critical of the approach that’s been taken in this matter, particularly the use of police as opposed to other legal processes that could’ve been used,” she said.

Ms Fitzgerald said she was heartened by the comments which confirmed the state did have a duty of care towards homeless people.

“There was a flagging that it would be appropriate for there to be discussions to actually meet the needs of homeless people as opposed to calling in the police,” she said.

She said some of the people staying in the houses were “extremely vulnerable and have no alternative accommodation”.

Housing Minister Martin Foley said while the squatters had a right to pursue legal action, the Government also had a responsibility to families in crisis.

“We’ll continue to work through those processes,” he said.

“We’ll continue to be advised by Victoria Police as to how they wish to handle any matter about returning those houses to the Salvos to make sure those homeless families can be housed.”

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