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Living in Public Housing - is it affecting your health?

Community Member

I'm living in public housing and the fibro house is so hot in the summer I got heat exhaustion and my little dog had to go to the vet with heat exhaustion. In winter it's so cold we have to stay outside most of the day as it's warmer (it gets sub-zero here in winter) and we can't afford the heating. There is no air conditioning or way to cool the house in summer.

Before this I lived in a unit block of public housing and it was frightening being a woman living alone as some of the men would throw things at my windows at night and threaten me. The police had to be called again and again, it was embarrassing and frightening as the men would get into fights with each other. I thought when I moved to an old house in a normal residential street it would be different, but they have had such bad tenants here in the past the neighbours are suspicious of me - I am an older woman living alone with my small dog, I had to stop working and go on the pension for health reasons. There is no support here and I am left entirely alone. I am now trying to get a transfer out but the paperwork is dreadful and the wait times are very long.

I am grateful for having an affordable home but I wish it was better insulated for hot summers and cold winters and that I felt safer. I dread the summer, last summer was like being baked alive in this house.

Is anyone else here living in public housing and how do you find it?

22 Replies 22

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Hanna3,

I don't live in public housing but I just wanted to say that I'm really sorry about what you have to go through. I really do hope that your paperwork comes through soon and that you can transfer out.

Do take care.


Community Member

Hi Hanna,

Good that you found an outlet to vent your frustrations. It is not easy. Good too that you at least have a home and are protected from true elements and safety risks. I am also a single woman and was homeless and sleeping in my car. Which was uncomfortable but freezing and truly terrifying. Even still not as bad as some had it. At least i had my car. And i was out of a house of abuse. That was nearly a decade ago. But i still recall those hard days and nights. I have since got my own little place i bought. I too thought things would be better, but the reality is there are bad neighbours everywhere.

I suggest if you could look into cheap cooling such as a pedestal fan for summer. And then the equivalent for winter. My heating is hopeless so i use a heated blanket and hot water bottle with lots of hot drinks. Perhaps some of these ideas might help. If you feel really scared you could ring police attend. I hope this helps- i guess above all just try focus on how lucky you are to have what you have; as you said affordable housing..good luck with your application.

Community Member

Hi golden,

Thanks for your reply I'm sorry you went through all that.

I actually started this thread not because I wanted help but because I was interested to hear people's experiences of living in public housing. Thank you for posting and glad to hear you are comfortably settled now!

Community Member
Hi everyone, this thread is just to hear people's experiences of public housing, not because I want sympathy or telling off - I am just interested as there is a lot written about poor housing and it is particularly poor in my area and I am interested in the effects of poor housing on people. Thanks everyone.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor


I'm in public housing, but the climate here is very moderate, so the fact I have neither heating, cooling, insulation, floor coverings, or window coverings, doesn't matter as much as it does to people in other areas, or who are more vulnerable to the hot or cold. It makes no sense to me that public housing is so inadequately designed for the people who will live there. Tenants aren't going to have spare cash to pay for heating/cooling, and yes it can impact on physical/mental health.

The big covid cash splash that funded rich people's reno's to put in a second bathroom or whatever else superfluous, would have been better spent on upgrading and increasing social housing. It still would have served the purpose of stimulating the economy and increasing work for the building industry. But we'd have less people sleeping in cars or freezing their butts off - neither are ok.


Community Member
Hi Hanna.

I know what you mean. I'm in community housing so same thing. It's awful being a woman living alone here. I often feel unsafe just going down to my car or mailbox as there's been creepy men with no honour who think I owe them sex. I have learnt to not be friendly or even say hello to anyone here as people then think I'm going to want to give them money, lifts, food etc. When I don't say hello, people get cranky. There is no winning with anyone.

There is often fights in the hallways where I can hear people being thrown down the stairs or beaten up. Often this happens at 2am or so. Sometimes I hear people quietly trying my front door handle in the middle of the night.

I have discovered a way to cool my unit without having to install an aircon. I bought a box/window aircon capable of cooling this unit, placed it on a large esky halfway through my balcony door, a bucket at the back to catch the water and use a foam mattress I've cut up to fill the door frame space above it. The door then closes up to the side of the aircon. Works brilliantly but my electricity bill isn't fun. In winter I have a fan heater that I sit in front of and kmart sells a $30 electric blanket you put over yourself to keep warm. Has a 9 hour timer and everything!

Sounds awful to whinge about housing in a first world country but wanting comfort and safety is a worldwide desire. I'm glad you have your dog. I have my two cats and they're the only ones who keep me going. I can't help you but just know that tonight you connected with someone in the same situation as you and that I'm sending you hugs!

Thanks Wolves, it's interesting to hear other people's experiences. Some people are lucky and get into good places and others less fortunate. I hear you about being a woman living alone with the kinds of people you are stuck with close by as neighbours, I had the same problem, thought of as unfriendly if I tried to keep to myself (for protection) but harrassed if I so much as said hello - you're right you can't win sometimes! The lack of any kind of MH support for these people was the main problem I think - they are put into public housing and then just left alone to cope with nobody checking on them.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and sending best wishes to you there!

Hi Katy,

Thanks for that and there's been quite a bit written in the press about how the money spent on more well-designed, well-built affordable housing would have provided more jobs and more homes for people who need them than putting in flasher kitchen cabinets for people already well off and comfortably housed!

Yes I think people don't realise that when you get a public housing property you have no floor coverings and no window coverings, nor any curtain rods and usually no built in wardrobes or any storage either and this is very costly for pensioners and other poor people to provide - I think an affordable loan plan for people to get these things would be a good idea - and better MH services for people who have MH, drug and alcohol problems. I also wonder if older people should be housed separately, as it's frightening for elderly and/or disabled people to have neighbours who have violent fights and/or are spinning out on drugs etc - and the women are vulnerable to being harrassed as well.

Thanks for the comment Katy!

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi all - just found this thread in a search. I'm not in public housing but am in quite cheap housing and have so poor insulation as well, all the things you mentioned, a very very old space, and also very dark with no sunlight, which is really affecting my mood. i think the stress of living in poor accommodation is very difficult and must add a lot of physical stress.... which is the last thing vulnerable people need. I think safety is also an issue in public housing, not sure if you feel safe where you are, but my friend had a lot issues there with break ins when he was away from his place. I wish the standards were higher and people could find secure and safe housing because yes, it does effect your health. Sorry that your house has been difficult through the hot Summer.

I find that low-quality housing effects my mood, and also makes me feel very sluggish and low, the energy of trying to keep warm during winter was exhausting in itself, and I can relate to what you are writing. Thanks for starting the discussion.