KICKED OUT: Keith Morris says he has been told to leave his family home after 16 years to make way for another family.
KICKED OUT: Keith Morris says he has been told to leave his family home after 16 years to make way for another family. Renee Pilcher

Keith's home under threat

WHEELCHAIR-BOUND pensioner Keith Morris may be a big man but he's not too big to cry.

A week ago the 71-year-old was told he would have to pack up and leave the housing commission home at Southridge that he and his wife Lorna raised their family in and built their lives around for 16 years.

The four-bedroom home in Fossicker's Ct is deemed too big, now that their youngest child has left home, and the Morrises have been told by Maroochydore-based state housing officials they must move to a two-bedroom unit.

They thought the house would be theirs to live in until the day they died.

The Morrises are still waiting to hear when they must relocate, but Keith vows they will have to carry him out.

The couple love their home and their neighbourhood - and their neighbours love them. One has even volunteered to chain himself to the fence in protest.

"We have put our life into this house. Every spare cent went into it. We call it our 'Promised Land'," Keith said.

Being forced out will kill him, he says. It may not be murder "but it will be the end of me".

Keith has been in a wheelchair since 1994. He has survived two strokes, five heart attacks, a quadruple bypass and two knee replacements, and needs morphine to make it through the day. Now he can't sleep.

"It's all I can think about," he says.

The gardens, small orchard and aviaries that somehow fit on the house block are therapy for Keith, who is a registered bird breeder. "Where is any of this going to fit in a two-bedroom unit?" he asks.

"It's cruel and it's unfair. They've got no heart. The woman at the housing commission told me, 'I know you'll put up a fight - but you won't win'."

The house was built in 1997 specifically to Keith's needs, with wide halls, wide doorways, low benches, high power points and disabled rails in the bedroom and bathroom.

A Department of Communities spokesman said yesterday the department had not asked Mr Morris to leave his house.

"It is not the department's intention to create any distress for Mr Morris and his wife," the spokesman said. "He was contacted by the department as part of its state-wide review of under occupancy of social housing dwellings.

"The intention of this program is to ensure that housing capacity is best utilised to meet the needs of vulnerable families and individuals awaiting social housing.

"Under this process, the department considers tenants' individual circumstances to assess whether the households demonstrate sufficient grounds to remain in the property.

"Tenants who demonstrate an ongoing need for the size or features of the property they occupy will not be required to transfer.

"Mr Morris's ongoing health needs would be considered in any review of the occupancy.

"The department will continue to work with Mr Morris to achieve a satisfactory outcome for all parties involved."

Gympie Times


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