Public housing evictions put end to neighbourhood meth den
RESIDENTS of a southside suburb plagued by drug-fuelled crime have had a victory.
Their two-year battle to get rid of a meth den and nuisance tenants at two public housing properties in Bethania has come to an end.
Police raids and eviction notices at the state-owned properties in Federation Drive and Montrose Ave in December resulted in the residents being moved last month.
The clean-up continued last week with another police raid on a private property in Federation Dr, near where a dog was set alight and a man stabbed in December.
It is believed hydroponic equipment was removed from a shed at the back of the property and the tenant escorted by police off the premises.
Residents said there was a collective sigh of relief after the houses were vacated and people charged.
Since 2017, they have endured incidents including listening to a three-year-old child cry for hours after she was left alone in a locked house.
A neighbour slipped a Vegemite sandwich through the widow to stop the girl crying.
Others watched helplessly as a local club's ride-on lawnmower was towed down Federation Dr in the early hours of a morning in July and stolen after the clubhouse was ransacked.
If that was not enough to bear, a second state-owned house in nearby Montrose Ave was also attracting police attention.
A car crashed through the front fence of the property in February last year and was later stopped by police when road spikes were used and police drew a taser gun.
In December, just before tenants of both houses were evicted, a man was stabbed and his family's dog set on fire in the once-peaceful Federation Dr.
Fires were lit in the backyard during a fire ban and the fire brigade called and a local early education centre's bus stolen from the street.
But it was a run-down caravan, partly parked on the footpath and used as a meth den, that triggered the most outrage.
Residents watched in horror as a man injected methamphetamines while inside the caravan, just metres from people out walking.
The incident prompted resident Diana Howes to establish the Bethania Action Group, which organised a street march in June to lobby for more police officers on the local beat
More than 50 residents marched down Federation Dr past the meth den caravan to throw the spotlight on the neighbourhood disaster unfolding.
"It's taken two years to clean up this street but I am grateful that police, the local MP, and Public Works and Housing worked with the community to have these tenants, who were living on the wrong side of the law, evicted and held accountable," Ms Howes said.
"We had no local representation as the local councillor had been suspended so it has been very difficult to achieve this outcome to make the streets safe again.
"The people living in that street no longer live in fear of their lives and the children are, once again, able to play in their backyards.
"They don't have to constantly look over their shoulders for stolen cars, angry drug dealers and reckless behaviour, paid for by the taxpayer."
Ms Howes was scathing in her assessment of the Department of Public Works and Housing.
She said it failed to follow up on a resident's complaint about a child left alone locked up in state housing and failed to house people without adversely affecting the rest of the neighbourhood.
She said it had an informal policy of laziness when dealing with problem tenants.
"Instead they fobbed off their responsibilities to the community and wasted valuable police resources."
Logan District Inspector Glenn Allen said the good outcome was because many tiers of government worked together sharing information about events in the street.
He said it took two years to clean up because tenants had rights and visitors to the properties were committing offences.
"In this case, people have rights to be in their own house and they have to have a number of chances to rectify their behaviour," he said.
"There were different people who were not living there going into the houses - so it was a complex case which is why it may have taken longer than usual.
"One agency cannot do it all - crime is only one aspect there are also usually other issues like welfare or housing problems.
"There was a lot of collaboration to achieve this and it will be ongoing."
Ms Fentiman said she had always taken the concerns of local residents seriously and glad the community was safer.