85-year-old can't visit family in USA due to housing rules

A ROCKHAMPTON pensioner had her heart set on spending three months with her son and his family in the United States.

When she told the Department of Housing her intention, she was promptly told she could not go for three months.

Under the State Government's new temporary absence policy, public housing tenants can only take up to four weeks of holidays each year.

The woman, who does not want to be named, was told she would be able to go for two months.

"I was told I could only have one month for this year and they would give me next year's allocation, which means I cannot go away from my unit for another month next year," she said.

"I'm 85 and I'm not going to last much longer and I would like to see my son for three months.

"It is a lot of money to spend on an airline ticket to be told you can only go for a certain time. That shouldn't come into it."

She can't understand the government's position given that the rent, which comes directly out of her pension, would still be paid on her unit during her absence.

The woman has lived in public housing for about 15 years. She said she could not afford to lose her tenancy but she had a clear message for the policymakers.

"Let everybody live their own lives," she said. "They should think of their own mothers, who could be in this position."

Rules ensure those who need help are the ones who do receive it

A fellow tenant said the policy attacked the most disadvantaged people in low-income and fixed-income situations.

"To me, it's a draconian law and it's been handed down by a government that has got storm trooper boots on and they are squashing our rights," she said.

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne wants common sense to prevail.

"What you see here today is a policy application that makes no sense whatsoever and treates public housing tenants (pensioners) as second-class citizens," he said.

"Clearly, if the government believes in empowering their departments you would think that senior management in this community would understand the circumstances of each case and be able to make an informed judgement as to the bona fides of cases."



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