Angry residents voiced concerns as 22 Canberra units of apartment block were moved – one alleged the displacement was deliberate

‘It reminds me of Rio during the Olympics’: accusations fly as Canberra’s vulnerable moved to make way for developers

A group of residents is angry after 22 Canberra units of an apartment block were moved – one alleged it was a deliberate relocation, and the unit owner is considering legal action.

Residents in the pre-fabricated units say the removal of the rooms, which were occupied by vulnerable people, has moved them closer to homelessness.

Last week 23 residents of the complex located on Griffith Street in Canberra’s south were moved into storage, leaving just four units of the 12 that had been occupied.

One unit owner, Jackie Millward, said one of the units was available for rent on Sunday. “The real estate agent phoned me up and told me they would be going live at the end of December, but apparently they didn’t get the lease in time,” she said.

The decision to move residents did not follow the usual process, according to the managing director of the apartment complex, Doreen Cadon. She said the residents’ leases had expired, so an eviction notice was issued to remove the units.

Emilie Harris, a resident in one of the pre-fab units, said: “We never knew there was any problem in this area or that it was off-limits, but it does seem a bit angry to me. There are some of us that have just been relocated close to homelessness. I do really feel bad for us. It reminds me of Rio during the Olympics and the people trying to get into it.”

Other residents have come to the complex’s door to beg for a place to stay, the tenant association said, and have offered to help families move out of the complex.

Cadon said the residents had been told that other units would be available but the association have been unable to find any other units that are available to people.

The ACT police are investigating the matter, and have said it was a “complex matter”.

Abu Ramah, a resident in one of the pre-fab units, is considering legal action to stop the displacement. “They [the management company] were telling us that they’re working on it and they were talking about maybe trying to find something else for us.

“But then when my friend came to me and told me that he’s had a look around, he found out that people were sleeping in a residential unit next door to a church, in another unit next door to a shop, which was a little bit out of his way.”

Cadon said the management company attempted to replace residents in some of the apartment units with another group of eight.

“We tried to follow the rule of law. It’s never been a case of people being evicted for homelessness because there’s a lot of people who want to live in this area. We tried the state government and they said that they would assist people with transition. But some of the people involved were not eligible for that support.”

“What we want is for there to be proper considerations given to everyone who is dependent on the accommodation at the Griffith Street apartments,” she said.

“This situation is far more than just about people’s rights, it’s also about their safety and welfare.”

In a statement, the ACT police said: “A section of Griffith Street apartment complex was removed from the site to accommodate individuals with disability, but the relocation was a complicated matter to implement.

“Due to safety and security considerations, it was complex to find alternative accommodation for these individuals, however, no safety concerns have been identified by the police or police community safety officers.”

The ACT government has said it will help meet the needs of those who have been removed from the apartment complex. Cadon said she has received a letter from the ACT government saying the units will be taken over by homeless people who will not be entitled to services from the government.