Developing effective housing management strategies to address problems of anti-social behaviour, Positioning Paper
Jacobs, KA and Arthurson, K, Developing effective housing management strategies to address problems of anti-social behaviour, Positioning Paper, AHURI - Australian Housing and Urban Research, 1 (2003) [Contract Report]
This Positioning Paper introduces research being undertaken by the AHURI Southern Research Centre to develop effective housing management strategies to address problems of anti-social behaviour (ASB). The research is premised on the assumption that public housing has, in recent years, become the tenure of the least well-off (a process known as residualisation). Residualisation has created a set of challenges for housing managers. In particular,
deinstitutionalisation policies in health care have meant that many individuals, who would have been provided with institutional care, are now housed by public landlords. Housing managers are, as a consequence, increasingly expected to respond to complaints and resolve disputes
Anti-social behaviour is a generic term that describes activities ranging from dropping litter to serious forms of harassment. Though the number of residents engaging in ASB may be small their activities can have a disproportionate effect on the quality of other residents lives. There is considerable debate about both the causes of ASB and the most effective policies to address
the problems associated with ASB. The prominent view within the academic community is that ASB is a symptom of wider structural factors such as poverty and unemployment. However there is also a strand of literature influenced by the ‘underclass’ theories of Murray (1994) that highlight individual fecklessness as the most prominent causal factor. The review undertaken for this Positioning Paper shows that housing management responses in
the Australian context are primarily focused on resolving tenant disputes, with each State and Territory having protocols in place to ensure that measures are taken to address neighbour disputes or breaches of tenancy. Whilst there are differences, fundamentally the protocols are
very similar and emphasise conditions of tenancy and legislation as appropriate measures to address problems of ASB.
The review of international literature suggest that both in the UK and the USA policies to address anti-social behaviour have a broader focus and include neighbourhood problems such as incivilities in public spaces and crime. The UK and USA literature provides examples of new initiatives that have developed to address incidences of anti-social behaviour. Whilst some of the
new initiatives are reactive: that is they respond to problems after they occur (for example, acceptable behaviour contracts and eviction procedures); others seek to prevent incidences of ASB occurring (for example, warden schemes and multi agency arrangements between housing and other government agencies, such as the police and social services).
The literature from the UK stresses the need to adopt a broad range of measures. For example, the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal (2000a) suggests that the most successful policies are those that combine prevention and enforcement practices within an overall partnership involving the local community. The literature from the USA emphasises social control as the most expedient policy to address anti-social behaviour - a reflection of the influence of underclass theories on USA social policy. The review undertaken for the paper illustrates the range of policy options that could be adopted in the Australian context (for example, partnership arrangements, collaboration with the community and policy protocols).
There is no specific research that addresses ASB in the context of Australian housing policy; to address this gap the next stage of the research will explore how housing managers respond in practice to ASB and how tenants view the efficacy of these responses. The principal methods for the research will include focus group discussions, interviews and case study investigations
within two locations, Bridgwater/Gagebrook (Tasmania) and Marion/Noarlunga (Adelaide).