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Upmarket Melbourne suburb bucking the trend by calling for more public housing

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 15/04/2017 A Current Affair

Residents of an upmarket Melbourne suburb are bucking the trend and actually demanding the State Government build more public housing in their community.

In the exclusive eastern Melbourne suburb, the average home sells for approximately $1.6 million.

But what's different about Ashburton is that for years, wealthy homeowners have lived side-by-side with public housing residents.

Local residents told A Current Affair that it works so well, they are demanding more public housing be built in the area.

"We had plenty of public housing. I knew it was there when I bought in this street. It didn't bother me then and it doesn't bother me now," Susan Rayner said.

"We want families here, we've got a beautiful area for families and it's being flogged off for private people."

Public housing advocate Dr Joseph Toscano says community integration is the key to breaking down barriers.

"They're part of that community, their children go to the same primary school and secondary colleges, the same sporting clubs as the children from the public housing estates in the area. They see these people as just other human beings trying to get ahead, they form friendships, they overcome all of the negative stereotypes which surround public housing and they are now fighting to retain that community," Dr Toscano said.

In Ashburton, for years, wealthy homeowners have lived side-by-side with public housing residents. © A Current Affair In Ashburton, for years, wealthy homeowners have lived side-by-side with public housing residents.

Until recently, a valuable pocket of Ashburton's land was filled with dilapidated housing commission flats.

They were knocked down and locals thought the entire site would be redeveloped to fit even more public housing.

But they were wrong.

The Victorian Government is selling 70 percent of the lucrative site to private developers, who plan to build 188 dwellings - only 62 of which will be public housing, which will be hidden in the site's worst corner.

"They're going to have these fabulous ritzy apartments, they're going to have million dollar views, it's going to be fantastic, can't be built out, there's the park, Gardiners Creek, golf course, you know - fabulous. And the public housing will be shoved off onto one size where their view will be, I don't know, into my backyard," Ms Rayner said.

Victorian Council of Social Services chief executive Emma King is disappointed in the State Government for not listening to the local community.

"I think it's a real shift away from the 'not in my backyard' approach," she said.

"We have a community that wants more, they want more public housing. So we have to look at how we can make the most of that."

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