Bulldozed Social Housing: Resident Input Under-Appreciated & Over-Ignored

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We're here to listen to all your tenant needs and desires before we dismantle your social housing.

“Sorry folks, you’ve got to go.”

“Really? Some of us think not.”

Recent articles from Australia suggest a more aggressive approach for social housing tenants allegedly ‘living in squalor’ who currently face losing their homes.

Make no mistake, however, building developers looking to tear down ‘old’ housing and put up new alternatives do actually listen to those who will be losing their housing. Their cronies in government inevitably salivate over replacement construction. Among other benefits, it promises a product that will pay taxes. Those government ears will also be listening.

Both developers and governments need to know what range of promises, reasonable and otherwise, will convince current sitting residences to accept (often reluctantly) some never-never lifestyle fantasy just around the next corner and over the next hill.

New and better apartments, reserved just for you in a new mixed income project? Of course!

Employment opportunities? Heck, there will be all kinds of work available during the tear-down and rebuild.

Your social network that took years to build? It will still be close by!

Cabrini-Green in Chicago is classic example that illustrates the all-too-frequent ‘listening to tenant concerns’ which began in 1997. That was when plans to tear down Cabrini-Green were first announced.

Cabrini-Green had a reputation among movers and shakers in the city and elsewhere. As far as the ‘powers that be’ were concerned, it was the number one public housing hell-hole in America, and a suitable site for horror movies1.

Just too bad that, when asked, the tenants did not necessarily agree. Friendships forged at Cabrini Green and similar projects still find former residents travelling from far and wide across the city to keep those connections. As well, they lament the promised new housing that never materialized for them, along with the jobs that were created, but few or none for former residents.

Around the world in Australia, developers continue to ‘listen’ to social housing residents for hints of support that tickle the underbelly of their forgone conclusions. Take the thoughts of residents from the Waterloo Estate in Sydney, for example.

Some are outraged that some 749 solid, serviceable, comfortable and familiar apartments are slated for knock-down. Others have seen the writing on the wall and are already resigned to events that will permanently uproot their lives. Read more at news: Waterloo Estate redevelopment to add 1500 social, affordable homes, but current residents say they don’t want the building demolished

However, in the Australia Capital Territory (ACT), there appears to be more resident backbone. We first reported on this planned relocation in 20222. Things have become more heated since then. Read the latest in riotact: Public housing tenants mount class action over forced removals


  1. Try: Cabrini-Green: The Frankenstein Monster of American Public Housing . . .Revisited
  2. Try: Government Broken Relocation Promises: Death Warrants?