What is your name?
How long have you been in Canberra and what do you love about it?
I’ve been in Canberra since moving here from Melbourne in 2013. I love the sense of community and how easy it is to get around and feel connected.
How would you describe Better Renting?
Better Renting is a community of renters working together for stable, affordable, and healthy homes. What makes us different from some other folks is that we are focused on improving conditions for renters, not just promoting ownership. We also pursue a systems-change approach through advocacy rather than providing services to individual renters.
Why did you get into it?
I started Better Renting in 2018. At that point I was a renter myself, and in addition to my own experiences I heard plenty of stories from people I knew. Two international students from Vietnam, former housemates of mine, had recently had a baby when their landlord gave them a rent increase, and threatened them with worse consequences if they didn’t accept it.
I could see that it was becoming normal for more people to be renting, and renting long-term, but our national conversation, and certainly our policies, hadn’t really caught up. There weren’t even that many groups working in this space and trying to change things. I saw a need for a group focused on renting issues and pushing for structural changes in this space, and fortunately that lined up with a new incubator for social movement organisations, Progress Labs, which helped me to start up Better Renting.
What do you love about it?
I’m confident that I’m working on one of the most important economic justice issues of the 21st century. If we can do housing better, then that can mean better outcomes for all sorts of people in education, health, employment - you name it. And the greatest benefits will be for some of the most marginalised people. It’s a really powerful intervention, upstream from most other things.
At the personal level, I’m in constant contact with people who rent hearing about their experiences. This is often harrowing, but it is a privilege, and I appreciate the chance to hear about the resilience that people can show and the changes they are able to win in their lives or help to win for all renters.