Friday, April 27, 2007

Hysteria!! The Eve Of Destruction!!!

There is truth in this posting, you just have to find it. You see wading through this to discover the truth should give you an indication of what I have to do, daily, in order to find out information to pass onto people. Not easy is it? Oh, how can you answer that without having read it yet? If you did answer without reading then you're ready for membership in the Hordes Of Local you believe, don't you trust me?

"OH LORD!! QUICK!! HIDE THE CAT MARTHA, THE WORLD IS ENDING!!!" That's the catch cry of a few manic idiots running about the place spreading misinformation and actively inviting people to wander into our offices and demand, not ask, or speak to, but DEMAND to know the truth. The world, you see, is ending. "I see a red door and I want it painted black, no colours anymore, I want them to turn black...I see a line of cars and they're all painted black..." they scream, "THE WORLD!!! IT'S ENDING!!! THEY'RE SELLING OUR HOUSES AND WILL BE THROWING US ALL OUT ONTO THE STREETS WHERE WE'LL BE DEVOURED BY RABID SEAGULLS AND HAVE TO LIVE IN DISCARDED DOMINO PIZZA BOXES!!!"

Yeah, sure, right, whatever you say pally. I've had the misfortune of being one of the ones listening to a well known radio announcer for the past couple of weeks. A few of his listeners have been 'revealing the truth'. You see we're lying. "I WANNA SEE THE SUN BLOTTING OUT MY SKY!!" they scream, "I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING, WHAT YOU'RE THINKING IS EASY TO SEE!!!"

And it all comes down to a simple letter.

A think tank gathered and they had to make a hard choice. They decided that we have twice as many houses with half the population, so in order to make things more even we have to have half as many houses as any other state, which means we have to dump 3/4 of our stock. Personally I can't see the logic behind it, but there you go (did you know that in NSW they're reduced to buying bus tickets for people and sending them to us because they have no public housing? Or so we're led to believe - I've heard of six people who've made that claim) and who are we to argue? We're the foot-soldiers. So a letter was sent, an innocent letter, to all tenants. "MURDER FOR FREEDOM, A STAB IN THE BACK....RUN TO THE HILLS, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!"they shout from the rooftops, "HUNTING AND KILLING IS THE GAME...RAPING THE WOMEN AND WASTING THE MEN, THE ONLY GOOD TENANT IS TAME!!!" (seriously, I once had a guy who sang songs to me at full volume to illustrate his point, his point being...he was nuts. It worked). So what did the letter say?

It said...(in summary) "We're going to be selling some houses. We've hooked up with a well known home loan mob and a few reputable real estate agents and as such you'll get a damn good deal if you buy. If you want to buy the house you're in then call us and we'll see if it's for sale. Otherwise don't worry - we won't be selling any houses that are tenanted. Once they become empty then we're likely to sell them. However we're not selling every house we have, man, if we did that then we'd be out of business. So if you're living in one of our houses then don't worry - you can stay for as long as you want (as long as you behave and pay the rent, two things that are clearly beyond some people), we won't be throwing you out". Simple?

"NO!!!!" They're now shouting, "YOU'RE LYING!!! AND I KNOW YOU ARE!!!" Well of course you know. You know what we're thinking. You know where we live, in mansions up in the hills eating lobster and using Moet Chandon to wash our dirty socks. This is the catch cry of the Local Idiots. You see they know the truth. Well, they think they do. We've not evicted anyone to sell a house yet that didn't deserve to be evicted for either disruptive tenancy or non payment of rent. No-one has been evicted to merely free up a house for sale. Hasn't happened. Won't happen. The liars are those who keep saying it's happening. But then they know. And don't I love it. They'll come in and tell us our jobs, our policies and what we're doing, because they heard it on the radio, saw it on TV or some drunken mate of theirs told them down the pub in exchange for another pint. Then they ring someone up who has a radio show and keep the lies going. And in doing so they invite people to come to the offices and abuse the shit out of us because we're clearly in on the game. So in they come. Even when people tell them, "No, you see, you've been mislead," they still come in, screaming at the top of their lungs, "MY BLOOD’S SO MAD FEELS LIKE COAGULATIN’, I’M SITTING HERE JUST CONTEMPLATIN’, I CAN’T TWIST THE TRUTH, IT KNOWS NO REGULATION. HANDFUL OF SENATORS DON’T PASS LEGISLATION AND MARCHES ALONE CAN’T BRING INTEGRATION WHEN HUMAN RESPECT IS DISINTEGRATIN’!!!" God love 'em, because I don't. I feel looking right into their eyes and saying, "On an endless night, silver star spangled, the bells from the chapel went jingle-jangle..."

One day I will. But hey, MAINTAIN THE RAGE!!! (I like that, can I use it? Probably not) "It's a little bit funny," I tell them, but they won't listen. They keep screaming, the masses, the official Hordes Of The Local Idiots (registered trademark applied for, patent pending, copyright) and scream they do. It's all they know and it's what gives them purpose. It gives their little lives meaning. It allows them to feel important, possibly again, for at least once in their lives. We plead with them, we beg for forgiveness, "While the sun hangs in the sky and the desert has sand, while the waves crash in the sea and meet the land, while there's a wind and the stars and the rainbow, till the mountains crumble into the plain. Oh yes we'll keep on trying. Tread that fine line...just passing our time," but they refuse to hear us, so we whisper, "All we see turns to brown, as the sun burns the ground and our eyes fill with sand, as we scan this wasted land. All through the sorrow, all through our splendour, don't take offence at our innuendo," and offer our necks up to the guillotine. Strike swiftly and cleanly. It's just a kiss away. Please be gentle and make it quick.

"Are you kidding?" they ask, "You're selling our houses and forcing us to rent from real landlords." "No," we answer, "it's not true." "I CAN SEE THAT IT'S A LIE," they sing, "CHILDREN WAKE UP, HOLD YOUR MISTAKE UP!!!" they sing on the radio. And like the rain for Noah, they flood into the offices, holding crumbled pieces of paper which they slam down in front of us DEMANDING TO SEE AND SPEAK TO THE MINISTER PERSONALLY, like he works in our offices (here's a hint, he doesn't. He has his own offices). No is not an answer, it's not an option. Mercy is for the weak and they over-run us like Ebola infected monkeys with watery red eyes weeping blood. "I guess we’ll just have to adjust," we come back. "NO!!!" they roar, "WHEN THE HAMMERS BATTER DOWN THE DOOR YOU BETTER RUN LIKE HELL. YOU BETTER RUN ALL DAY AND RUN ALL NIGHT!!!" So we run. "There may well be freedom within, there may well be freedom without. There may well be a battle ahead, many battles may well be lost, but you may never see the end of the road." Damage control. Works a treat.

Damage control in this case is the pure truth. Scream all you want, you change things. Protest all you like, it's going to keep going forward. We have to sell our houses, not all of them but the majority. However, right here, right now, no house with a valid tenant in it will be sold, unless that tenant expresses interest in buying. And believe me, if you've ever wanted to buy one of our houses now is the time. The deals are so good I'm even thinking of raising some ready cash and investing. So next time some peanut says on the radio that THEY KNOW FOR A FACT what we're doing, feel free to ring in and say that you KNOW FOR A FACT THAT THEY'RE AN IDIOT and ask if they can actually read and comprehend the words that are written. There are no agendas, hidden or otherwise, there's nothing to be gained from screaming at us. Just accept what's happening, it's the new world now, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Don't turn around, Der Kommissar's in town. "IF YOU COULD SEE, SEE THROUGH MY EYES," the bellow, "THEN YOU'D BELIEVE!!!" I think the same thing.

Look up Hannah! Look up! We all want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful. But we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls - has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed but we have shut ourselves in: machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little: More than machinery we need humanity; More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

Can you hear me Hannah? Can you hear me? We're caught in a trap and we can't go on!!! Oh the horror!! Get them under the bed, now!! Oh, the gnu!!! The gnu that cries buckets of tears, enough tears to irrigate the western world!!! Can you hear me?? See the great white star over Coke Park. The budgies fly burning from napalm attacks!! Hey now, hey now, don't let them win!! Oh Lord!!! This must be just like living in paradise and I don't wanna go home...the second coming of Ian Dury is upon us!!! He'll save us, he'll protect us from the evil Anti-Elvis!! The planes fly low and attack with a speed and violence that makes resistance futile. Who are you and where are we? Boys keep swinging, boys can work it out!!! And I can see those fighter planes, I can see those fighter planes. Across the tin roof where the children sleep. I never said I'm better, better than you. Elvis Costello is joining the Armed Forces!! I'm a red hot pistol and I'm ready to fight. I'm a 38 special on a Saturday night. Alan Moore knows the score!!! Ask him about your house. Ready! Set! Go! Look up Hannah! Look up! The clouds are lifting - the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world.

Take your baby by the hair and pull her close and there there there. Take your baby by the ears and play upon her darkest fears, tell her that her house is for sale...but don't worry baby, everything will turn out me, love me, love me, say you do, let me fly away with you....we fade to grey...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Shifting Goalposts

The past few weeks have been damn hard and it's becoming a serious effort to deal with the new rules and the resulting shift in the goalposts. It's very, very complicated, but here's one of the issues that now face us - as if we needed anymore grief. I swear at times that people who sit making these new policies have no regard at all for the front line people. The policy makers haven't done our job for years (if at all) and as such they've forgotten how difficult it can be. They remember another, easier and simpler time than it is now, a time without screaming, knives, death threats, general hate and confusion as what you were told two weeks ago might not apply this week.

Yesterday I was told that more people hate us now than the dole office. That's low because they're right bastards.

So the goalposts. Answer me this - how do you define a homeless person? A person without a fixed abode perhaps? A squatter? Someone who sleeps in their car? On the streets? In a box? How about one out of that group. You see the new Government policy is that to be truly homeless you have to be without a home and sleeping on a bench. The following are no longer to be considered homeless:
Sleeping in a car - you have a safe, secure place to sleep and a roof.
Sleeping in a tent - see above.
Squatting - illegal, but see above.
Sleeping in an abandoned building (site or otherwise). See above.
Sleeping in a sturdy cardboard box. See above.
Going from home to home (family and/or friends, abusers) sleeping on couches, floors or bathtubs. See above.
Sleeping in shelters such as homeless shelter and/or medical shelters. See above.

And you get the drift. You're only homeless now if you sleep on a bench out in the open. People come to us who are genuinely homeless and we can't assist them. We take an application and register it and even though they're homeless they fall into the general category. Perversely refugees and drug addicts (the bulk of whom are housed, have money and resources) all fall into the urgent need categories - and if you can work that out then I'd love to hear the explanation (I once assessed a family of four who were getting over $1,200 a week in government payments who were automatically deemed by the system to be in dire need of housing as they can't afford it. They make more than most people make in a fortnight who work 75 hours of back breaking labour). It's only recently that we stopped re-housing people we evicted for harassing their neighbours or simply not paying their rent - however that might change on a whim. Luckily domestic violence is untouched, for now. If you're a victim of DV then we'll bend over backwards to help. The flip side? Getting thrown out of house and home by an abusive husband doesn't cut any mustard - unless he bashed you and is stalking you. Just getting kicked to the streets, especially if a chum takes pity, means you're not homeless. I had a guy in this week who told me he'd be better off back in prison because at least there he gets 'four hot and a cot'. I couldn't agree with him out loud, but inside of me a voice was saying, "Mate, you're probably right".

This is designed to save money in the long run, because clearly we were giving too much away to those in need, both property and financial assistance. Never mind that nearly $4,000,000 was wasted in five months on a new computer system that was scrapped without any benefit, that's fine. But we can't keep wasting nearly half that amount each year on those who might need it.

At the end of the day it boils down to this: we have twice as many public houses as any other state in Australia with half the population. Instead of seeing this as a good thing some minister somewhere has decided that it's not right and as such we eventually have to have half as many houses as any other state - which means eventually losing 3/4 of the stock we have. That means that people who might need a house might never get near one, unless they walk past one. As houses now become empty they're being offered for sale - get in as the bargains are good and the deals/offers you'll get are brilliant. That's the only bonus. However in about five to ten years from now public housing as we now know it in this state will cease to exist.

The goalposts shift almost daily now. If what I'm expecting to happen, happens, then expect a lot more abuse and problems as people come in and discover that they're not defined as what they clearly are. Me? I do wonder where our duty of care went. I guess it went out the windows a while back, along with compassion.