Monday, July 18, 2016

What is reasonable?

One of the terms used often in legal language is "reasonable".

What would a reasonable person think.
How much is reasonable force.
How does a reasonable person behave.

But what happens when you are faced with a person who does not apply "reason" to a situation. Expectations are not met and frustration is incurred. In most cases, ie. relationships, you can have a big blow-up, argue it out and then get over it.

However, when faced with a bureaucrat who applies rules without compassion; who has no vested interest in the outcome; who is power hungry and using your situation to advance their career, things can turn nasty very quickly.

Several stories have emerged lately from Housing tenants who have been forced into disastrous situations by uncaring CSOs and Team Leaders. These tales range from the mildly stupid to the outright corrupt and vindictive.

Take the CSO who rocked up at a tenant's doorstep, interviewed the "boyfriend" who was visiting and then reported it incorrectly on the neighbours file as an Unauthorised Occupant. The neighbour was vigorously investigated and the CSO would not admit their mistake.

Or the CSO who failed to answer 12 emails over a period of 8 weeks - each asking the same question: "what further paperwork do you need?" The tenant zealously sought an answer but there was total silence from Housing. Two months later the tenant received an eviction notice for failing to provide paperwork. The tenant's file was marked with the comment "harassing Housing staff with emails..."

And what about the vindictive Team Leader - when reported for misconduct, set out on a path of retaliation, spending hours (and countless $$) digging up tidbits of gossip in a cruel and relentless pursuit of the accuser.

As more and more Housing tenants are drawn from the pool of desperation, with language barriers, mental illness and high-needs roadblocks; tenant's rights are eroded and the power of those behind the desk increases, placing vulnerable clients at the mercy of callous staff.

Is it reasonable to expect Housing staff to act with an ounce of humanity?