Right across inner-city Melbourne, and in about three or so suburbs in Sydney, the horizon is made up of crammed brutalist public housing towers – that only make headlines when politicians decide they are hard to look at.

Outside of the unfairly valuable inner city real estate they take up, the high-rise housos are treated as an unaesthetic but necessary model to store the members of our society that the urban elite find even harder to look at than the actual buildings.

However, from a community perspective, the city’s vertical concrete enclaves are often accused creating a stigma of ‘otherness’ for the vulnerable and working poor that live inside them.

The tower model has also been criticised for keeping the poor out of sight and out of mind for the gentrified suburbs below. Pre-occupying the city’s single mothers, elderly widows and new migrants with 40 flights of stairs, and keeping them off the streets.

While in Queensland, public housing has been more focused on promoting integration in the community by providing one household per street in areas with service providers nearby – it is a very different story in Melbourne.

in Melbourne, public housing tenants live on top of each other in big apartment blocks – where they share facilities like lifts, corridors, rubbish facilities, stairs and laundry rooms — this makes the chances of running into someone who is not well very, very likely.

This can be scary for a reclusive old Nonna at the best of times, but even more so during a COVID-19 outbreak

Australia’s most progressive and gleefully classist city is currently facing an unprecedented health emergency in the city’s public housing towers, which is only being exasperated by the engrained culture of dehumanising the residents within them.

Nine Melbourne public housing estates are in their third day of a “hard lockdown” – while hipsters drink pints and talk about Kanye West running for president less than a block away.

Fears that the coronavirus has the “explosive potential” to spread within the 1950s-style concrete landscapes has today led Australians to question whether this public housing model is created more of a hindrance to the fabric of society than a safety net.

While Melbourne’s political classes are now calling for indefinite lockdowns for all residents, questions remain unanswered as to why they weren’t calling for the same treatment for cruise ship passengers and aspen ski bunnies who brought the fucking thing here to begin with.



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