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A long-time resident of an inner-city Sydney public housing block has lashed out at claims she lives in “squalor,” as the government release more details on the controversial social housing redevelopment.

On Monday, the NSW government announced the renewal of the Waterloo Estate will convert the current 749 public housing developments, to at least 1500 public and social housing builds.

This means the redevelopment will contain a 50 per cent minimum of public and social housing, among the privately-owned apartments.

However, local MP Ron Hoenig angered residents when he said the ageing building was riddled with mould and defects and needed to be demolished.

Current residents will be relocated in nearby social housing homes from about mid-2024, and given the option to move back to the new development once it is completed.

“I’ll have been the local member for about 11 years and a lifetime in the criminal justice system did not prepare me for the squalor I found people in this Waterloo area living in,” said Mr Hoenig, who is also Local Government Minister.

While the building had been improved, he said many of the buildings “just can’t be repaired”.

“People can’t continue to live in the state in which they are living. These buildings are well past the renewal date and something needs to happen,” he said.

However Karyn Brown, moved into the Waterloo South in 1999, disagreed. Speaking from her two-bedroom apartment that was adorned with art and trinkets, she said it was “pretty offensive” to be told she lives in squalor.

“My unit is perfectly good. It’s double-brick and concrete. There’s not a single crack in it and I’ve had no inspections to tell us otherwise,” she said.

Some residents have also argued against public housing homes, which are managed by the government’s Department of Community and Justice, being turned into social and affordable housing, which are managed by external providers.

“I really don’t want to go into community housing. There’s different providers, they have different rules,” she said.

For this reason, Ms Brown wasn’t sure whether she’d return once the project was completed. While residents will be given a six-month notice period before they move, she hasn’t been made aware of the relocation process.

“I have no idea what it’d be like to come back to and what will be available,” she said.

“I’m getting older by the time in 10 years time I’ll be in my 70s so a bed sit is probably not going to crack it.”

Fellow resident, Zed Delagavic said residents had been told of plans for redevelopment for the past 10 years. She said she was “over it”.

Having lived at Waterloo South since 1967, Ms Delagavic said she’s noticed an increase in crime and illicitly drug use in the area, however she believed the issue could be managed with increased surveillance.

“It’s not a reason to knock down the building,” she said.

NSW Housing Minister Rose Jackson believed the renewal of the Waterloo Estate will be one of the biggest social housing projects in NSW, and will stand to benefit low-income earners and essential workers in the long run.

“There will be thousands of social and affordable housing units delivered for the people of this community. (It will be) new modern housing, energy efficient disability accessible,” she said.

“I’m really proud of the work that we’ve been able to do taking that step forward to deliver the renewal of this community.”

Although the land will continue to be owned by the government, the yet-to-be-awarded procurement partner will be announced next year.

Ms Jackson also lashed the former government for inaction on the project, despite announcing plans for redevelopment in 2015.

“In the years and years from that announcement until 2023, the community has had misinformation, no updates, slow progress, things have been designed, (and) redesigned, all to deliver a negligible increase in the social and affordable housing we desperately need,” she said.

While she wasn’t able to say when construction would be complete, she promised existing would relocated within the area and given the opportunity to return.

“We will obviously try and keep that as short as possible, but it’s a little bit difficult to know exactly how long some of those constructions are going to take,” she said.

“It will be done in stages. It will be done sensitively.”

Read related topics:Sydney

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