With a wife, five children and three bedrooms, the sums don't add up for Canberra public housing tenant Terry Lovelock.
So the Oxley resident says he was ''a bit peeved off'' to read yesterday that hundreds of Canberra public housing tenants with annual household incomes of up to $183,000 are clinging on to their government-provided homes
The Canberra Timesrevealed yesterday that more than 200 public housing tenants had household incomes of $80,000 or more, but that the ACT Government was powerless under present laws to do any more than ask its middle-class tenants to consider a private housing alternative.
Mr Lovelock's family home has been assessed by housing authorities as not overcrowded, meaning their application for a transfer to a bigger house is on the standard waiting list which has an average wait of 3½ years. Mr Lovelock says his family is struggling to get by on less than $20,000 a year and the unemployed father-of-five joined the chorus yesterday calling on Housing Minister Joy Burch to find ways to free up housing stock for desperate cases.
''I was a bit peeved off because if they [middle-class tenants] are earning that much, they could be paying off a house and it would free up a lot more houses, but also, there's single people living in four-bedroom houses that I know of too,'' Mr Lovelock said.
''My eldest is 13, he's in high school, he can't get no work done because he's got to share a room with his two younger brothers, one is seven, one is three,''
''The two girls are sharing another room and myself and my wife are in another room and these rooms are so small it's not funny.''
ACT Liberals' housing spokesman Alistair Coe also called on the government to do more to shift the housing focus on to the most needy.
''For more people to have access to the limited resource that is public housing, the focus must be on public housing as a transitional measure,'' Mr Coe said.
''The ACT Labor Government needs to end the entitlement culture which exists amongst some in the public housing community.
''We need to make sure we have the most needy people in public housing at any point in time.''
But ACT Greens Health spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan, accused the government of long-term vision for public housing and lent her support to ''security of tenure'' for public tenants.
''The Government is proposing an extremely short-term solution to Housing ACT's long waiting list,'' she said.
''There also is no detail at all about how they would replace the revenue lost from those paying market rent.
''In most of these cases we are probably talking about single, middle-aged to older women, with very little superannuation. We need to think about what will happen to them in the long term.''
Security of tenure for public housing tenants has caused the Greens public relations problems in the past when one of their former MLAs, Deb Foskey, continued to live in her publicly owned Yarralumla cottage after she was elected to the Assembly, paying $270 a week while on a salary of about $100,000.