For public housing tenants, having to relocate from their home is a significant and sustained stress. Even if the final housing outcome may be improved, the relocation can be a negative emotional experience which deeply affects tenants’ wellbeing. This research, ‘Understanding the drivers and outcomes of public housing tenant relocation’, examined the drivers and experiences of tenant relocation from public housing in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
High maintenance costs, stock redundancy and poor quality public housing are often cited as the reasons for demolishing public housing and relocating tenants. An assumption used to justify renewal is ‘poverty deconcentration’, which argues that continued proximity to poverty further entrenches poverty and social dysfunction. Despite being repeatedly challenged for ignoring the structural conditions that perpetuate poverty, this idea remains highly influential in Australian housing policy.
Even when the final housing outcome may be improved, relocation can be a negative experience with tenants experiencing it as an intense emotional stress that affects their wellbeing before, during and after moving. Relocation can destroy the networks that exist between vulnerable residents and the wider community, leading to people experiencing intense ‘placelessness’ and grief at the loss of home.
For tenants living in public housing estates that are to be renewed, learning about their future relocation is a particularly stressful moment. As a consequence, clear, honest, early and ongoing information is critical to a successful renewal and relocation process. To make sure tenants and the community know exactly what is happening, media outlets require up-to-date and accurate data from governments about renewal programs, relocations processes, the numbers of tenants affected, the numbers of public housing units being demolished and where the capital generated from renewal will be invested.