These perfectly habitable Lilyfield homes are located just around the corner from the apartment that drew so much attention in Paul Bibby's article: "ACCOMODATION CRISIS: More than 100 people queue to see cheap flat", published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, the 29/09/2007. The article pictures a long, winding queue of would-be tenants, described by Real Estate agent, Santos Sulfaro, as being "desperate".

Photo: Richardson and Wrench

Sulfaro relates how as many as 150 people cued for the chance to access a rent-capped apartment in Johnston Street, Annandale last Saturday. Paul Bibby cites recent statistics from the Centre for Affordable Housing, which indicate that only 18% of the rental market stock in the City of Sydney Local Government area, is affordable.
This extraordinary turnout is said by Bibby, to highlight Shelter NSW's announcement
of the current shortage of 24, 000 affordable dwellings for low income Sydneysiders.


The houses of White Street, Lilyfield - pictured above - have been flagged for demolition by the NSW Department of Planning, in collaboration with Leichhardt Council. No new houses are to be constructed in their place. The Privett family have been renting one of these houses from the Department of Planning for over 20 years.

They were recently issued with an eviction notice with no offer of alternative accommodation. Apart from not having the means to comply with these orders, they face being thrown, with short notice, into the exploding inner city private rental market, and being uprooted from the community to which they belong.

A bewildered Mr Privett asks for explanation:

"The Department has recently completed (last year) extensive repairs on these premises with the specific view to extending my tenancy for the next 4-6 years until the end of my son Eddie's schooling. This eviction stands to ignore the state of affairs established by the community, the Leichhardt council and the Department of Planning, who instigated the repairs."


This is not the first time that the Privett family has been threatened with eviction, and the above-mentioned repairs stem from a previous intervention from the Leichhardt Council to save the family home. This new move by the Department of Planning, which came only 3 weeks after they acquired the last house on Mr Privett's block, is driven by somewhat spurious claims that there is lead contamination in his back garden.

In his reply to the eviction notice, Mr Privett states:  

"I was unable to find any mention of lead contamination in the Whites Creek Valley Development Strategy paper at the Leichhardt Council Chambers. Monique McKenzie-Gay, at the Chambers, said there was some rubble contamination and an oil spill somewhere. I would happily co-operate to provide access for further investigation."


Mr Privett, along with many other residents in the street, believes that these great houses should be preserved and offered to low income families by the Council, given the gravity of Sydney's accommodation crisis. Mr Privett states:


"It's a great plan that the Council has, to restore a natural habitat for native flora and fauna, down the back, and they could still do 90% of it, if they took away the majority of our back gardens - but kept the houses. That would also dissociate the issue of lead contamination from our desperate need for affordable housing.
You have to think about human habitat too.


Dominik Guerin, a disabled pensioner who lives with his son in a SWISH administered house down the street comments: 

"It will be our house next. I don't know what we will do. The Council's plan has been around for a long time, and we've all been aware of it. It dates however from a time when there wasn't such a shortage of affordable housing for lower income groups in Sydney. The project should accommodate for these changes, and be modified slightly to keep the houses. As it is turns out, it is only the low income residents of this street who are being targeted for eviction."


Paul Nelson

Ex-resident, White Street, Lilyfield.