Tyrone Pearce, tenant of Downs Housing Company.
Tyrone Pearce, tenant of Downs Housing Company. Tom Gillespie

Tenants' fate uncertain as 37 houses go under hammer

TYRONE Pearce's family has lived in his North Toowoomba house since the mid-1970s - but all that history is at risk.

The property Mr Pearce lives in is one of 37 to go under the hammer within weeks, unless the State Government steps in.

The homes are part of Downs Housing Company, which has existed for 40 years to provide affordable accommodation for indigenous Australians.

But the properties will be auctioned on February 2 through Success Realty, in a bid for investors and mortgagees to get their money back through the sales.

It is believed the company was facing financial pressure last year. Tenants say they have only been guaranteed a place to stay until May.

Greens MP Michael Berkman last week wrote to Housing Minister Mick de Brenni, demanding the government buy the properties to keep the tenants in their homes.

"It would obviously be deeply inappropriate and unjust to force vulnerable Aboriginal tenants into the private rental market, especially in the context of a long history of dispossession and racism towards Aboriginal people in this country," he wrote.

"I believe that housing is a fundamental right, but as you know the waiting list for social housing in Queensland can stretch to years.

"Almost 30,000 people are on the waiting list, and even under your government's Housing Strategy, we will only build 500 houses per year across Queensland."

A petition also urging action has attracted more than 550 signatures.

Mr Pearce said many of the families had lived in the houses for several generations, and that any evictions could have devastating financial and spiritual consequences.

"A lot of them are going to suffer. They've got children, dogs, possessions," he said.

"They've had loved ones who have passed on in the houses, like their mothers or fathers. They'll be freaking out."

Wakka Wakka woman and indigenous leader Patricia Conlon said the government needed to take action now.

"These houses were bought with black money - we've been living in these houses for 30 years," she said.

Current DHC chair Michael McCarthy declined to comment.

It is understood the assets were moved into a different entity based in Brisbane some time ago.

According to RP Data, all the properties are listed to a company addressed to a Brisbane property owned by Geoff Hirning.

Solicitor Daniel Nash, who represents the mortgagees that have forced the sale, did not respond to comment requests.



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