Port Melbourne tenants beg government to act

Spread the love

RESIDENTS at a Port Melbourne public housing estate say their building is infested with bedbugs, reaches temperatures of more than 50 degrees on hot days, and was once flooded with sewage.

Tenants of the 24 bedsits at the Williamstown Road property describe their units as “Melbourne’s worst” public housing.

They have called on the state government to relocate them and demolish their units.

Albert Park MLA Martin Foley called on Human Services Minister Wendy Lovell to consult with the tenants and support agencies to improve conditions.

The Department of Human Services has confirmed it has met with tenants and is seeking quotes to rectify ‘‘the immediate problems’’.

Department spokesman Karl Hale said the property’s long-term future was being investigated and the department would make a decision on redevelopment shortly.

DHS said it charged $199 a week for a bedsit. Eligible tenants can also receive a rental rebate.

Ground-floor resident Jacob Hapeta, who has been living at the estate for two years, said that in February, his unit and four others were flooded with sewage because of problems with old pipes.

The sewage spilled on to the carpet in the room that doubles as his lounge and bedroom. The carpet was not replaced.

The department said tree roots caused the blockages leading to backflow. Mr Hale said the blockage was fixed on the same day the problem was reported but he could not rule out that the issue might come back. He said the South Melbourne Housing Office was looking at ‘‘rectification works to alleviate the problem’’.

Mr Hapeta said the chronic problem with bedbugs continued despite fumigations, which had been done one bedsit at a time.

He said the problem with insufficient cooling on hot days was dangerous. One elderly resident died three years ago on Black Saturday and was not found for a week.

Mr Hapeta is leading a campaign asking leaders at council and state level for new accommodation.

Mr Hapeta said many other residents who were sick or who had disabilities suffered hardship because of a lack of lifts and access features.

Resident John Russell, who is fighting cancer, lives on the second floor. He has to climb two flights of stairs after doing his shopping or visiting the doctor.

Another resident, Peter Roberts, said in the summer the heat was often “unbearable”.

Resident John Wilson said his unit was flooded 32 times between 2008 and 2010, when his upstairs neighbour, who suffered a mental illness, flooded his bedsit.

Mr Wilson said he still had the same carpet despite continued complaints to the government.

This entry was posted in Story. Bookmark the permalink.