Queensland Housing Minister Mick de Brenni’s determination to return welfare housing to its Soviet-style past provides the latest natural experiment into what public policy approaches work best.
The “iconoclasts” of the Queensland ALP seem determined to obliterate the three years of the Newman government, no matter that voters, including their own heartland, will be hurt.
In the social housing area, not only does this mean excluding the community housing sector all together, but reversing management reforms that kept the cost of managing social housing down, as well as dealing more effectively with the small segment of poorly behaved social housing tenants.
One of these reforms was the Newman government’s “three strikes” policy which clearly told tenants that after three breaches they were out of the system.
Apparently this system (a species of which applies to the private rental market) was inhumane and has now been replaced by the “Fair Expectations of Behaviour” policy which is described thus in the minister’s media release:
“One of the key tools we have given our hard working staff is the Fair Expectations of Behaviour policy.
“Over the first six months of the new policy, our staff have commenced 475 Tenancy Management Plans for tenants and 91 Acceptable Behaviour Agreements.
“We have also issued 800 warnings for less serious behaviour breaches as a preventative step to avoid issues escalating.
“We have issued 1013 Notice to Remedy Breaches for more serious tenancy matters.”
While these figures are correct, they actually achieve a worse outcome at more expense than the Newman government’s three strikes policy. The table below was supplied in the release.
First six months of Fair Expectations of Behaviour v “Three Strikes”
|Fair Expectations of Behaviour policy||Anti-social Behaviour Management policy (“Three Strikes”)|
|01/02/2016 – 31/08/2016||01/02/2014 – 31/08/2014|
|Acceptable Behaviour Agreement||27||64||91||Acceptable Behaviour Agreement||44||53||97|
|Tenancy Management Plan||328||147||475||Tenancy Management Plan||0||0||0|
|Notice to Remedy Breaches relating to behaviour||1013||Notice to Remedy Breaches relating to behaviour||976|
|Evictions due to behaviour||38||Evictions due to behaviour||39|
So, what we see is that warnings have increased by 60%, there are slightly fewer Acceptable Behaviour Agreements, but there are now a large number of Tenancy Management Plans, while notices to remedy and evictions are also fairly similar.
What we can deduce from this is that tenants have decided that the system is going to be more lenient, leading to a loosening up of behaviour which then has to be managed at great expense.
Under the old system they worked it out for themselves. Under the new system public servants (presumably new hires) have to work it out for them.
It is only early days yet but one can see the system rapidly declining quickly as the word gets around the tenants that rather than a system of clear reward and punishment, the system has become “nurturing” and they can get away with a lot more before anyone does anything about it.
The cost of this system will be borne not by current social housing tenants, but those on the wait list, the invisible victims of this system, as the department’s resources are directed more towards running the system than building the housing.