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Forums / Staying well / Living in Public Housing - is it affecting your health?

Topic: Living in Public Housing - is it affecting your health?

20 posts, 0 answered
  1. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    31 August 2020

    I'm living in public housing and the fibro house is so hot in the summer I got heat exhaustion and my little dog had to go to the vet with heat exhaustion. In winter it's so cold we have to stay outside most of the day as it's warmer (it gets sub-zero here in winter) and we can't afford the heating. There is no air conditioning or way to cool the house in summer.

    Before this I lived in a unit block of public housing and it was frightening being a woman living alone as some of the men would throw things at my windows at night and threaten me. The police had to be called again and again, it was embarrassing and frightening as the men would get into fights with each other. I thought when I moved to an old house in a normal residential street it would be different, but they have had such bad tenants here in the past the neighbours are suspicious of me - I am an older woman living alone with my small dog, I had to stop working and go on the pension for health reasons. There is no support here and I am left entirely alone. I am now trying to get a transfer out but the paperwork is dreadful and the wait times are very long.

    I am grateful for having an affordable home but I wish it was better insulated for hot summers and cold winters and that I felt safer. I dread the summer, last summer was like being baked alive in this house.

    Is anyone else here living in public housing and how do you find it?

  2. Emmen
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    Emmen avatar
    390 posts
    3 September 2020 in reply to Hanna3

    Hi Hanna3,

    I don't live in public housing but I just wanted to say that I'm really sorry about what you have to go through. I really do hope that your paperwork comes through soon and that you can transfer out.

    Do take care.

    Warmly,
    M

    2 people found this helpful
  3. golden82
    golden82 avatar
    435 posts
    4 September 2020 in reply to Hanna3

    Hi Hanna,

    Good that you found an outlet to vent your frustrations. It is not easy. Good too that you at least have a home and are protected from true elements and safety risks. I am also a single woman and was homeless and sleeping in my car. Which was uncomfortable but freezing and truly terrifying. Even still not as bad as some had it. At least i had my car. And i was out of a house of abuse. That was nearly a decade ago. But i still recall those hard days and nights. I have since got my own little place i bought. I too thought things would be better, but the reality is there are bad neighbours everywhere.

    I suggest if you could look into cheap cooling such as a pedestal fan for summer. And then the equivalent for winter. My heating is hopeless so i use a heated blanket and hot water bottle with lots of hot drinks. Perhaps some of these ideas might help. If you feel really scared you could ring police attend. I hope this helps- i guess above all just try focus on how lucky you are to have what you have; as you said affordable housing..good luck with your application.

    3 people found this helpful
  4. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    4 September 2020 in reply to golden82

    Hi golden,

    Thanks for your reply I'm sorry you went through all that.

    I actually started this thread not because I wanted help but because I was interested to hear people's experiences of living in public housing. Thank you for posting and glad to hear you are comfortably settled now!

  5. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    4 September 2020 in reply to Hanna3
    Hi everyone, this thread is just to hear people's experiences of public housing, not because I want sympathy or telling off - I am just interested as there is a lot written about poor housing and it is particularly poor in my area and I am interested in the effects of poor housing on people. Thanks everyone.
  6. Katyonthehamsterwheel
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    Katyonthehamsterwheel avatar
    1676 posts
    4 September 2020 in reply to Hanna3

    Hello

    I'm in public housing, but the climate here is very moderate, so the fact I have neither heating, cooling, insulation, floor coverings, or window coverings, doesn't matter as much as it does to people in other areas, or who are more vulnerable to the hot or cold. It makes no sense to me that public housing is so inadequately designed for the people who will live there. Tenants aren't going to have spare cash to pay for heating/cooling, and yes it can impact on physical/mental health.

    The big covid cash splash that funded rich people's reno's to put in a second bathroom or whatever else superfluous, would have been better spent on upgrading and increasing social housing. It still would have served the purpose of stimulating the economy and increasing work for the building industry. But we'd have less people sleeping in cars or freezing their butts off - neither are ok.

    Katy

    1 person found this helpful
  7. WolvesHaveNoKings
    WolvesHaveNoKings avatar
    4 posts
    4 September 2020 in reply to Hanna3
    Hi Hanna.

    I know what you mean. I'm in community housing so same thing. It's awful being a woman living alone here. I often feel unsafe just going down to my car or mailbox as there's been creepy men with no honour who think I owe them sex. I have learnt to not be friendly or even say hello to anyone here as people then think I'm going to want to give them money, lifts, food etc. When I don't say hello, people get cranky. There is no winning with anyone.

    There is often fights in the hallways where I can hear people being thrown down the stairs or beaten up. Often this happens at 2am or so. Sometimes I hear people quietly trying my front door handle in the middle of the night.

    I have discovered a way to cool my unit without having to install an aircon. I bought a box/window aircon capable of cooling this unit, placed it on a large esky halfway through my balcony door, a bucket at the back to catch the water and use a foam mattress I've cut up to fill the door frame space above it. The door then closes up to the side of the aircon. Works brilliantly but my electricity bill isn't fun. In winter I have a fan heater that I sit in front of and kmart sells a $30 electric blanket you put over yourself to keep warm. Has a 9 hour timer and everything!

    Sounds awful to whinge about housing in a first world country but wanting comfort and safety is a worldwide desire. I'm glad you have your dog. I have my two cats and they're the only ones who keep me going. I can't help you but just know that tonight you connected with someone in the same situation as you and that I'm sending you hugs!
    2 people found this helpful
  8. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    5 September 2020 in reply to WolvesHaveNoKings

    Thanks Wolves, it's interesting to hear other people's experiences. Some people are lucky and get into good places and others less fortunate. I hear you about being a woman living alone with the kinds of people you are stuck with close by as neighbours, I had the same problem, thought of as unfriendly if I tried to keep to myself (for protection) but harrassed if I so much as said hello - you're right you can't win sometimes! The lack of any kind of MH support for these people was the main problem I think - they are put into public housing and then just left alone to cope with nobody checking on them.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and sending best wishes to you there!

  9. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    5 September 2020 in reply to Katyonthehamsterwheel

    Hi Katy,

    Thanks for that and there's been quite a bit written in the press about how the money spent on more well-designed, well-built affordable housing would have provided more jobs and more homes for people who need them than putting in flasher kitchen cabinets for people already well off and comfortably housed!

    Yes I think people don't realise that when you get a public housing property you have no floor coverings and no window coverings, nor any curtain rods and usually no built in wardrobes or any storage either and this is very costly for pensioners and other poor people to provide - I think an affordable loan plan for people to get these things would be a good idea - and better MH services for people who have MH, drug and alcohol problems. I also wonder if older people should be housed separately, as it's frightening for elderly and/or disabled people to have neighbours who have violent fights and/or are spinning out on drugs etc - and the women are vulnerable to being harrassed as well.

    Thanks for the comment Katy!

  10. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    1 October 2020

    Hi all - just found this thread in a search. I'm not in public housing but am in quite cheap housing and have so poor insulation as well, all the things you mentioned, a very very old space, and also very dark with no sunlight, which is really affecting my mood. i think the stress of living in poor accommodation is very difficult and must add a lot of physical stress.... which is the last thing vulnerable people need. I think safety is also an issue in public housing, not sure if you feel safe where you are, but my friend had a lot issues there with break ins when he was away from his place. I wish the standards were higher and people could find secure and safe housing because yes, it does effect your health. Sorry that your house has been difficult through the hot Summer.

    I find that low-quality housing effects my mood, and also makes me feel very sluggish and low, the energy of trying to keep warm during winter was exhausting in itself, and I can relate to what you are writing. Thanks for starting the discussion.

    1 person found this helpful
  11. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    1 October 2020 in reply to Guest_1643

    Hi Sleepy,

    Thanks so much for your comment - I can so relate to getting tired from trying to keep warm in winter, and also the dark home feeling gloomy and depressing. Isn't it interesting how much housing can affect your mood and energy levels! I'm sorry you're also in accommodation that doesn't sound up to standard, and rents are so expensive in Australia... how is your place in the summer? How do you manage heat waves?

    It's sad in such a wealthy country we still have such poor housing standards for poorer people.

  12. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    1 October 2020 in reply to Hanna3

    Hi Hanna,

    It really is an interesting observation that you made and I can imagine a lot of people struggle with these things. Thanks for sharing your experiences!
    I think in Summer it might be okay - I wasn't there most of the Summer as I was in hospital but probably not great. I don't have any cooling at all so will have to see if the sort of darkness and lack of sunlight will mean its okay. Do you find the Summer a lot worse than the Winter?

    It's very hard and risky moving and trying to find a suitable place, I move a lot and wanted to stick around but I'm not happy here.

    Did you get through the Winter okay and find it managable in the end? I feel like I put in a lot of effort to stay warm, and it helped, but it was exhausting and draining on my own. It would be nice not to worry about things like that and just be soothed and warm...

    1 person found this helpful
  13. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    2 October 2020 in reply to Guest_1643

    Hi Sleepy,

    I'm sorry to hear you were sick for a lot of the summer... I am in a fibro house and all I can say is never accept a fibro place! - I didn't know anything about it until I moved in here.... baking hot in summer and freezing in winter! Last summer was shocking, both me and my little dog were sick with heat exhaustion it was so hot in the house. I am trying to buy a window box air conditioner for one room for this summer, it's expensive but to give us one room to retreat to in heatwaves...

    Winter there is gas heating here but the house was freezing, I got a small portable oil heater for the bedroom from Big W and it was brilliant, you had to put it on a couple of hours ahead of going to bed and close the room off to heat it up, but it helped keep the bedroom comfortable. Otherwise we went out and sat or walked in the sun as much as possible, the house was too cold to be comfortable to stay in during the day.

    Not having a comfy home during hot or cold weather is exhausting as we had to keep going out to get warm or cool and neither of us (my dog or me) are young...

    Moving at the moment in rentals is very hard... so many people moving around.. last summer I had several box fans, the ones that sit on the floor, you can put them on top of a bookcase or chest of drawers if you want. A tip is the best one is an old one from an op shop - the plastic wings inside the fan should be stiff, not bendable, the new ones are all bendable and they don't fan the air so well, old ones are better made, I got it from an op shop and it's brilliant and it must be the oldest fan... and spray a spray bottle of water across the fan breeze to create a soft spray for your face..

    Also lots of ice cubes in water and wet towels around your neck help.

    I hope you go OK in the summer! The worst thing is trying to sleep on hot nights..

    So nice to talk, come back if there is anything else you'd like to talk about... thanks for coming by...

  14. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    7 October 2020 in reply to Hanna3

    Hi Hanna!
    Have just been catching up on the forums and saw your lovely reply - sadly with these housing situations we don't know until we move in sometimes :(

    I lived on a top floor once under a hot, tin roof and I remember being shocked at how poorly the tin roof operated in insulating the place - the Summer it was a heatbox. I never would've considered the roof-type when moving in.... so many things to keep our minds on... sometimes we're just so ready to move that we say yes ...

    I'm sorry you struggled through this Winter..... it was a cold one... That is so horrible feeling like you can't relax because of the cold.... I know that feeling pretty well! I can understand how difficult public housing can be on health and wellbeing, and I know many people struggle with it. Heating and cooling is so important, isn't it?

    Have you ever had really nice accomodation? What did you like about it? I have found that the housing, as well as the area I live in, impacts me a lot. Safety, friendly people, ect... My friends in public housing tell me how much it impacts them if they feel good with their neighbours. And that is so unpredictable... and not something one can tell before you move in....

    Hope you and Sam are keepin well and enjoying your walks. Take care

  15. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    7 October 2020
    ps that airconditioner sounds really good I hope you can get one .... that would be a big help for you two I hope. Whatever you do I hope the Summer goes okay....
  16. Katyonthehamsterwheel
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    Katyonthehamsterwheel avatar
    1676 posts
    15 October 2020 in reply to Guest_1643

    Excerpt from a report I'm reading:

    As a series of reports by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (e.g. see AIHW, 2019) has shown, Australia’s public housing stock represents some of the poorest-quality and unhealthiest housing in the nation. This is due to the age of much of that stock, backlogs in maintenance, and the selling off of better-quality properties over the past fifty years. Much of the remaining stock was built to a relatively low standard and has now passed its reasonable economic life (i.e. though occupied, it is not able to be maintained or retrofitted cost effectively).

    It's an interesting report called: Warm, cool and energy-affordable housing policy solutions for low-income renters.

    https://www.ahuri.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0031/64867/AHURI-Final-Report-338-Warm-cool-and-energy-affordable-housing-policy-solutions-for-low-income-renters.pdf

  17. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    15 October 2020 in reply to Katyonthehamsterwheel

    Thank you indeed Katy and why is that no surprise to me I wonder???!!! The last place I lived in also had leaking gutters, when it rained it poured indoors onto the carpet and furniture...

    Here we either freeze or bake as we have no insulation at all, on top of the rusted gutterings and windows that are jammed shut! Also flyscreens have not been replaced after they've fallen off...

    Thank you for that report I will look it up! Cheers.

  18. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    15 October 2020
    this is the way we are letting down our community, it sounds like small changes got make a big benefit to a lot of people.
  19. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3624 posts
    15 October 2020 in reply to Guest_1643
    Hi Sleepy, I think you are in a private rental aren't you? They need more security and power for renters in the private market too! Do you have a good real estate agent/landlord/landlady? I hope so it makes such a difference if they look after you.... Would love to hear your thoughts.
  20. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    15 October 2020

    Hi Hanna

    I'm in a private rental - I think the standards are pretty low for the maintenence they can keep up in the property -

    renters don't have much rights. You are always on your toes trying to prove to the landlord you are a good tenant.
    My landlord is I guess okay but not amazing

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