Journalist: Laetitia Lemke.
Seventy Palmerston public housing residents are being evicted and their 32-unit complex flattened in a move the Northern Territory government says is part of an urban renewal program.
Minister for Urban Housing Kate Worden said the complex was a notorious hotspot for antisocial behaviour and at 35 years old, was past its use-by-date.
“We will be demolishing the flats behind us so we can make way for a future development,” she said on Thursday outside the complex.
Eva Lawler, a local Labor member and Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, also criticised the behaviour of residents of the complex, saying it drove a constant train of complaints through her Drysdale electorate door.
“You just need to have a look at some of the social media pages that we have in Palmerston — some of the issues that come out of here, these units are notorious,” she said, adding one name for them is “smutsville.”
Solomon Imeraganyan is one of the residents from the complex on Davoren Circuit and Bonson Terrace in Moulden who will need to find new accommodation when the units are expected to be demolished in a few weeks.
“I don’t know where to go,” said Mr Imeraganyan, who was once the voice of the Goulburn Island radio station.
“They just told me that I’m going to move out to some place, same rents and all that, yeah me and my wife.”
Mr Imeraganyan, a renal patient, moved to Darwin to access lifesaving dialysis services and has lived in one of the units for seven years.
He said living in the complex had been “hell” for him with fights almost every night.
Some of the “problem” tenants have now moved and their units are empty, he said.
Ms Worden said the waitlist for public housing in Palmerston was up to four years but residents of the units will be placed on a priority list and all will be housed.
“We have got some new units coming on in The Narrows, that will be one consideration for tenants here,” she said.
“We’ve notified the current tenants that it is our intention to relocate them and we do have enough accessible stock.”
It’s a plan that advocacy groups say could create a knock-on effect.
Public housing is tight in the Territory, a situation made worse after 75 homes were demolished in the John Stokes Square public housing complex in Nightcliff two years ago.
NT Shelter’s Peter McMillan said the waiting lists for public housing have increased by 22 per cent over two years with fewer available homes.
Ms Worden said a tender will be released this week to return the Moulden public housing site to grassland.
She said the government will work with the local community to decide how it should be developed in a suburb already considered to have a high density of public housing accommodation.
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