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Sydney's Public Housing Gives Way as Land Prices Rise

Rising land values has made some of the land Sydney, Australia's affordable housing sits on prime targets for redevelopment and gentrification.
February 21, 2017, 12pm PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Bryce Edwards

Residents in some of Sydney's public housing are being forced out of their homes as the city looks to sell off the land to fund new housing development elsewhere. The South China Morning Post reports that public housing in the suburbs of Red Fern, Millers Point, and Waterloo are all scheduled for redevelopment, leaving many of their residents feeling unmoored from the communities they have lived in for years. The sell-off is part of a government strategy to increase density on the site of the public housing, taking advantage of the steep increase in property values to help fund new public housing in other locations. The Morning Post article notes that after Hong Kong, Sydney is the second least affordable housing market in the world.

This has sparked a government strategy affecting Millers Point and Waterloo: trade valuable inner-city social housing – never quite as dense as it could be, occasionally in disrepair – for newer, cheaper, more numerous housing elsewhere, easing the state’s 60,000 person-strong waiting list.

According to the state government, the sale of Millers Point alone will raise A$500 million and fund 1,500 new social housing dwellings in the city’s outer western suburbs. But to many, surging rents and the public eradication of the city’s few high-profile housing estates give the impression that inner Sydney is no longer a place where poorer people can live.

The government has promised that all of the residents will be able to return to the neighborhood once redevelopment is complete, however many are worried that the services they have relied on, including drug counseling services, will have no home in the newly gentrified community.

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Published on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 in South China Morning Post
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