Griffith residents not fans of conditions

PUBLIC housing residents in Pioneer are bracing for a sweltering summer without ceiling-fans or air-conditioning. 

Residents and concerned locals have pleaded with the state government to step in after yesterday's 37-degree heat served as a reminder of the oppressive conditions in social housing over summer.

According to public housing tenant Elizabeth Hansen, one family with 10 children slept on mattresses in their living room where they had installed an evaporative air-conditioner in the window.

"There are a lot of elderly people and young families in public housing, the most vulnerable people to hot weather and yet no-one has air-conditioning," she said.

"The majority of us have to get into debt to even buy an evaporative air-conditioner in order to escape the extreme heat we live in and most of us here couldn't pay the electricity bills if we did install one of our own.

"My son is an electrician and he installed a ceiling fan for me and he said the insulation is very minimal, so when the weather gets fiercely hot, I have to shut the house up and lie in the dining room all day to escape the heat.”

The head of Griffith’s Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) Peter Knox feared for the health of public housing residents, who he said were being treated worse than animals.

“Even chooks out at Baiada have air-conditioning. Fans and cheap insulation are useless over summer,” Mr Knox said.

“In areas like Griffith, where public schools are required to have air-conditioning, there should be provisions for climate relief in public housing.

“It’s unlikely a private landlord would be able to rent a home in Griffith without air-conditioning.”

Mr Knox passed a resolution to lobby government about airconditioning in public housing at last month’s CPSA conference in Sydney after hearing from pensioners who were suffering poor health because their houses were scorching hot.

A spokesperson from the Department of Family and Community Housing said public housing tenants could retrofit air-conditioners at their own expense.

“Tenants can apply to have an air-conditioning unit or ceiling fans installed at their property at their own expense, and are generally compensated at the end of their tenancy for approved improvements,” they said.

“Public housing tenants with documented medical requirements for air-conditioning have their requests considered on a case-by-case basis.”

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