By LACHLAN MOORHEAD
A BERWICK single mother in urgent need of a larger public housing property has been languishing on the priority waiting list for over three years.
And she claims the Department of Human Services has broken one of its own rules by allowing her son and daughter to share a room despite both being over six years old.
Sophie Ramos – whose son, Joshua, is nine years old and daughter, Natasha, seven years old – currently lives in a two- bedroom public housing apartment in Berwick where her children share a room.
A DHS spokesperson confirmed this week that under departmental policy, tenants can apply for an early housing transfer under the ‘inappropriate housing’ criteria when “two children of the opposite gender have to share a bedroom where at least one child is aged six years or more”.
Ms Ramos said she had requested to move to a three-bedroom unit as soon as Joshua had turned six and was soon deemed eligible and placed on the ‘early housing’ priority list, but has been waiting ever since.
“Now it’s been almost four years and it’s very frustrating, my daughter doesn’t sleep,” she said.
“They both constantly ask for their own room, they need their own space. It comes time to do their homework and I can’t put each of them in their own room at a desk.”
Ms Ramos said she had looked into moving to a private rental premises but wouldn’t be able to afford it.
“It’s very hard, the children have no privacy at all,” she said.
“It’s hard to discipline them; I can’t send one to one room and one to another.”
The DHS spokesperson confirmed that Ms Ramos had applied for an early housing transfer and is “eligible for a transfer to a larger bedroom property”.
“The department is working with the family to transfer them to another property when it becomes available,” the spokesperson said.
Applications for public housing are segmented into two categories – ‘early housing’ and ‘wait turn’.
Early housing caters for people who are homeless and receiving support, people with a disability who have significant support needs and people with special housing needs. Wait turn is for all eligible people on low incomes.
Spending on social housing in Victoria in the last financial year fell by almost half, or $247 million, while 35,778 people were on the public housing waiting list in 2013, according to the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services.
The report indicated that the Victorian government spent $256.8 million on capital expenditure for social housing in 2012-2013, compared with $503.8 million in 2011-12.
Are you on the public housing waiting list? Is unaffordable rent putting your family budget under strain? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org