Australian Students in Affordable Housing Eviction Row

  • 16 years ago
  • Uncategorized
Affordable housing is hot on the agenda for Melbourne Australia as it sees a student rebellion that has seen empty accommodation being taken over by hard pressed homeless students. The students who moved into the unused houses  five months ago are protesting that the empty homes should be made into affordable housing. The student squatters are gearing up to defy police and sheriff’s officers as the countdown to their eviction ends.

Sixteen students remain living in three terrace houses in Faraday Street, Carlton, which are owned by Melbourne University, despite an order to leave from the Supreme Court.

Student Housing Action Collective spokesman James Field said the buildings had been empty for three years until the students began squatting last August.

He said the group were making a political point about the rental crisis in Melbourne and the failure of the university to help its 220 homeless students.

Members of the collective expected the Sheriff’s Office to conduct a “raid” and evict them from the property after an anonymous tip from a police source.

But after staging a rally in front of the houses from noon, Mr Field said the students had since been told that they would not be evicted today.

He said he believed the Sheriff’s Office and police were strategically avoiding the glare of the media’s spotlight and would arrive when there were fewer people around to witness the eviction.

He said the students living at the houses would link arms and refuse to leave – possibly by chaining themselves to the buildings so they could not be moved.

Mr Field said four international students had moved out so as not to risk their visas by resisting police.

“We will not be moved and we will not be swayed and we will not simply walk away from a point we have been trying to make for five months and which has (not) yet been heard,” Mr Field told about 50 protesters.

He said it had been an act of “moral cowardice” for the university not to support the group’s efforts to turn the unused buildings into affordable shared student accommodation.

Melbourne University acting Vice-Chancellor Peter McPhee said today the university was disappointed students had refused repeated requests to voluntarily leave the properties.


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