Tower demo tender call

ONE of the ugliest blights on Perth’s skyline and social fabric will be demolished with the state government asking for tenders to knock down Stirling Towers in Highgate.

The Homeswest block on Smith Street, also known as “Suicide Towers” for the depressive pall it casts over the neighbourhood, will be replaced with a mixture of housing types.

In a media release housing minister Brendon Grylls says it “will include a mixture of housing types and tenures, private and affordable home ownership, a reduction in the concentration of social housing tenants, and trial of new initiatives such as car sharing”.

Over the past 20 years mixed-income developments have come into vogue to replace clusters of social housing, where ghettoisation led to enclaves of entrenched poverty and high crime.

But the results internationally have been mixed: The HOPE VI public housing program in the US replaced poverty-stricken projects with “mixed income” redevelopments.

According to researchers Lawrence Vale and Shomon Shamsuddin in their 2015 piece for The Conversation, this led to “large numbers of extremely low-income households that once called public housing home” being “left out” of these redevelopments, “displaced to other high-poverty areas”.

Mr Grylls’ press release said the Housing Authority had “relocated the building’s tenants into other residences within the metropolitan area”, but that’s a length of land stretching from Rockingham to Joondalup, much of which doesn’t have Highgate’s public transport or walkability.

Housing Authority general manager Greg Cash says it was a painstaking, two-year process to make sure people were taken care of.

“The relocation of the tenants of Stirling Towers to new accommodation was one of the most complex tasks the Housing Authority has ever under taken. Around 65 of the 79 tenancies were relocated, the remainder vacated of their own accord prior to 2014,” he said via email.

“[It] involved meeting personally with each of the residents, discussing with them at length what location and type of accommodation would best meet their needs, finding dwellings that were both suitable and available (or becoming available) and agreeing on a schedule for relocation.

“In some cases, the new accommodation also needed to be age-appropriate.

“Some residents were shown up to six potential new dwellings over several months to ensure the best ‘fit’.

by DAVID BELL

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