ONE Launceston suburban resident wears three jumpers and thick socks at home to stop the cold making her arthritis worse.

A family with young children sleeps together in the lounge all winter because the cold has made the rest of the house mouldy.

Another elderly woman moves between her home and her sister’s place when her emphysema, brought on by the cold, gets bad.

Ravenswood Neighbourhood House manager Jenny Gee said yesterday that her group had been working with the communities of Ravenswood, Waverley and St Leonards for more than 30 years and thought that they knew them well.

But they say they have been surprised and alarmed by what they have heard this winter.

They held a public meeting in July to assess the extent of the problem.

They followed up with a survey of home heating.

“The meeting was attended by 28 local people, all of whom had real problems with condensation and mould in their homes,” Ms Gee said.

“All of these people were in public housing.”

The difference between houses in the same street that had heat pumps installed or used wood heating, and those with the standard Housing Tasmania-installed heat panels, was significant, Ms Gee said.

Those in public housing said their heaters only warmed their lounge room.

Almost all had considerable mould in their houses and felt it was causing ill health or exacerbating existing conditions, Ms Gee said.

Some said that they used torches and the television for light and did not turn the heating on because of the cost.

Housing Tasmania’s Lynden Pennicott said that the division was aware of the concerns.

“We are assessing the properties to ensure adequate insulation and that the heating source is working efficiently,” Mr Pennicott said.

“We provide a heater sufficient to heat the main living space in our public housing properties – tenants may choose to use additional plug-in style heaters in other rooms of their homes.”

Opposition human services spokeswoman Jacquie Petrusma said thousands of public housing properties had heaters that were three times as expensive to run as other options.

Ms Gee said that public housing should have heat pumps and roof ducting.

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