An old friend of mine had lived in housing commissions for seventeen years. I remember when we were younger he had always wanted to live in housing commissions. We were both from low-income families and housing commissions were an option. My friend was studying art at the time and considering artists don’t make much money it seemed like a good idea. You have to go on a long waiting list and eventually, he got a housing commission flat. It was ideal yet there was a culture around the housing commissions. Drugs, mental illness and general desperation were the everyday. I would go and paint aerosol work in the commission area almost a decade ago. We would get mobbed by small children who would steal our paint or harass us. My friend liked the community in the commissions, he would talk to his neighbours. Some though were very unwell and couldn’t be approached. I remember realising that you could drop one million dollars into the commissions and cause a bloody riot. It would be chaos. Money though was also the answer and the problem. Really the problem was culture and education. Nobody trusted culture or education because that was why you were here. I have another friend who lives in state housing and she will take every advantage to get involved with services for the disadvantaged. Whether it is camping trips and other services for her and her kids. Life is hard enough, yet there are still problems of general neglect to the buildings from mould to ventilation.
I made a video in 2010 starring a broken fence in the commission in South Coogee. It was a video with poetry. The fence still hasn’t been fixed. The mould problem still hasn’t been fixed in some of the buildings in South Coogee. My friend’s apartment had started smelling like mould because he was too scared to open the windows. People would look for open windows to see what they could steal. Then there were the pigeons trying to roost on his balcony which would bring fleas and lice. Eventually, my friend decided to move out of the housing commission. He was starting to make progress with his business though it is still hard for him to make money. He moved out and only a few months later his rental was terminated as the building was sold. He has found another place to live yet this is the norm for renting in Sydney. A few areas are hard to rent in due to a form of social engineering, where landlords will only rent to specific socio-economic groups. It is hard to know where the rental prices will increase next. You have to take your chances. I wrote a little bit about this issue in my short story called ‘Stairs’. Where you either go up or down depending on how well you figure out the situation you are stuck in.
Personally, I feel the system is designed like this to keep money in the hands of the few. Sure anyone can make money and people do. Yet the raw mechanics are hidden from view. When Joe Biden or Scott Morrison come out to press conferences smiling or smirking when we are in the middle of a huge disaster you know things are going well for them. If the disadvantaged are killed off by pandemics, drugs, gang violence or whatever poison is available you know the rich will be getting richer. People always say American’s are crazy for their gun laws or they are stupid. Yet for them the system is perfect. It is a killing machine that takes out the disadvantaged. Yes, I am saying they know what they are doing. If a nation can build nukes and aircraft carriers it can also design a society. Governments build systems for all levels of society. They build the education system, tax system, minimum wage and gun laws. A lot of the ways out of the general chaos are available. Nobody is stuck unless they never learnt how to develop self-control. That can be taught. Drugs make it harder again. Alcohol can have the same effect. There are a lot of traps in our society. People who come from money also get trapped at times.
I suppose housing commissions were not the answer after all, yet at least he had a permanent roof over his head. He will have to move quite a few times yet in the rental market. I suppose my ideas can seem paranoid, yet what I am trying to do is simply lay the responsibility in the hands of the government. The average person is controlled by the government. I have to pay taxes (normally for invading other nations) while the disadvantaged get even more disadvantaged. For those getting welfare for a variety of reasons, the government will act like every recipient is taking advantage of the system. Some are yet they are a minority. It seems like focusing on minorities and paying off minorities to not stir up dissent is the government’s position. All the while the same bullshit keeps happening. The finger-pointing propaganda machine looks for new scandals overseas to pacify and stop people from focusing on their own national issues. The same bullshit. Crises are shifted through wars deflecting the real issues. The same bullshit. A kid gets introduced to heroin and becomes an addict. The same bullshit. You can go to the shopping mall get your groceries and then stop by the local drug dealer less than a block away. So many bad choices to choose from. What choices will we all make today I wonder? The good choices are few and far between. Yet they exist. Let us become invested in them.