The mobility aspirations of Sydney’s public housing tenants (16187)
Australia’s population is one of the most internally mobile in the western world. This has significant implications for how housing is accessed and consumed. Recent research identifies a politics of mobility has come to inform the development of housing policy in a number of international contexts, including Australia (Dufty-Jones, 2012a; 2012b). In particular those in receipt of housing assistance are often expected to become mobile and relocate in order to improve their social and economic opportunities. Little is known about how recipients of housing assistance imagine their mobility and, when given greater control, how they would pursue it. In NSW, public housing tenants are allowed to request a ‘mutual exchange’ of their homes with other public housing tenants to improve their access to family, services and employment. Local housing authorities have traditionally managed and mediated such moves. However in 2002 a tenant group independently established a website (Our House Swap) which enabled them to circumvent these administrative gatekeepers and advertise their homes directly to each other. Over a ten-year period (2002-2012) more than 10,000 public housing tenants advertised their home for ‘mutual exchange’ on this website. The entries from public housing tenants living in Sydney form the dataset that is analysed in this paper. The analysis focuses on the mobile aspirations and geographical preferences of Sydney’s public housing tenants. In doing so it presents important insight into how mobility is imagined and pursued by some of the most vulnerable in Australian society.