Public housing not a home in Bentley

ALMOST 15 per cent of public housing in Bentley is empty, according to figures tabled in State Parliament last month.

On August 18, Housing Minister Colin Holt said of the 232 empty public homes in the South East Metropolitan district, 87 were in Bentley.

It is 32 more than in March 2014 when then-Housing Minister Ken Baston said in Parliament that 55 homes in the area were empty.

Housing Authority general manager service delivery Greg Cash said the majority of the empty homes were in the 46-year-old Brownlie Towers and were vacant due to plumbing problems.

He said the units needed extensive maintenance and were not dilapidated, rather affected by, or at risk of, plumbing issues plaguing the entire complex.

He could not confirm when the issues would be resolved. “Housing is currently investigating the most appropriate solution to resolve this issue,” he said.

A Bentley revitalisation project announced in 2010 put the suburb on track to gain 1500 new mixed public and private homes in the 25 hectares surrounding Brownlie Towers.

A local structure plan for the project was up for consideration in the first quarter of this year, but no outcome is available at this stage.

Mr Holt was not concerned with the number of empty dwellings in Bentley.

“It is important to remember that the Housing Authority manages more than 36,000 public housing properties and at any time, a small percentage will be vacant for various reasons,” he said.

Victoria Park MLA Ben Wyatt said the plumbing issue had been known for some time and needed to be addressed.

“The department needs to address the issue because there is a high demand for public housing and it’s not an acceptable vacancy rate,” he said. “The revitalisation project has been talked about for a long time… but the property’s already there need to be brought up to standard.”