Written By: - Date published: 9:37 am, November 28th, 2013 - 61 comments
Categories: activism, class war, democracy under attack, greens, housing, labour, Left, mana, national, poverty, Privatisation, spin, sustainability - Tags: Glen Innes, tracy watkins
There is some truth to Tracy Watkins claim (in an op ed piece a week ago explicitly labelled Opinion) that the Law change removing HNZ tenants’ right of tenure passed into law with “barely a ripple”. She ends the piece with a reference to National’s sly style of piecemeal, step changes, which, in reality add up to a radical shift.
… National has finally managed to finish what it started in the 1990s, but made a meal of the first time around.
That is, targeting state housing assistance far more tightly to need. But this time it remembered the old proverb – softly softly, catchee monkey.
That last sentence is blowing a raspberry to all those who have campaigned for and/or strongly support the principle of a society that cares for all. It is 2 fingered salute to those who understand that a functional and healthy society is one without a large inequality gap, and where citizens work together for the good of all.
But this “bare ripple” largely has to do with the ways in which the concerns of those on low incomes have become marginalised by the media and politicians, including politicians of the (alleged) left. Supporting state housing and its tenants, as well as campaigning against the destruction of NZ’s, once a source of pride, social security system. It’s just not going to win votes from the much sought after “middle NZ” and its “swing voters”.
It’s a sad indictment on the demise of democracy (or at least of the goal to work towards true democracy). It is a particular indictment on the “left” and labour movement, because it means they have bought into the “neoliberal” strategy of focusing on politics as “game”, where it is all about winning, strategies and PR: it is less about principle, and a fair society that provides a decent and livable life for all those in the country.
In an (alleged) news report by Tracy Watkins on the same day as the above linked article, she reports on the law changes (is there actually a difference between Watkins opinion pieces and the rest of her articles?). This is not an impartial report. It begins with implying that the law change is revolutionary, and necessary change for the future.
A cornerstone of New Zealand’s welfare system, the state house for life, has passed into history.
A law change has turned the state house system on its head by introducing reviewable tenancies and giving tenants in social housing provided by non-government organisations access to the same rent subsidy as Housing New Zealand.
The subsidy applies to low-income earners and means they pay no more than 25 per cent of their income on rent. Previously, people had to be in a state house to qualify.
On Monday, the NZ Herald gave housing NZ Chief Executive, Glen Sowry, a platform to spin the changes as a great thing. For anyone who knows of the dire need for affordable housing, and the damaging struggles living in substandard housing, this is a despicable piece of propaganda. I provided some examples of people struggling to survive in the context of our dire housing situation in an earlier post.
Sowry’s article talks up the positive side of gifting the use of HNZ land to private companies or organisations, so they can build rental or “social” housing there. A major downside of this is the further demise of state housing.
In Auckland we plan to add thousands of new homes to our housing portfolio over the next 10 years. We’ll do this in two ways: firstly by building new homes, and secondly by working in partnership with other housing providers to build thousands of new homes on our land.
With modern and contemporary design and best practice place-making, we can materially increase the liveability, quality and performance of our properties.
But I’m not talking about the same old approach of high concentrations of state houses in certain areas. Well-proven international experience over the years and, indeed, hard-learned lessons in New Zealand, have shown us that often doesn’t work very well. Our homes in the future will be part of healthy, sustainable, mixed communities that include private owners, affordable rentals and other social housing providers such as councils and not-for-profit organisations.
This all reads like a real estate agent’s spin.
And as for “barely a ripple”? The Tamaki Housing Group,has been robustly contesting the changes at Glen Innes for quite a long time.
We need to build more houses, not simply move them from place to place only to sell the land freed up to private investors whose goals is to make a profit by building a mansion with a waterview.
This is the gentrification process that is happening in Glen Innes right now, and it does not create new houses that are much needed.
For a working-class and mostly Maori and Pacific Islander community like GI, this is an economic and ethnic cleansing of the suburb.
The Mana Party has been at the centre of such protests. The struggle goes on: many tenants are now feeling very anxious (and Sowry’s blatant spin won’t do anything to dampen their fears). Some campaigners could well be feeling a little battle weary right now. The Green Party Housing Policy strongly supports the increase of state house building, as part of a focus on affordable, sustainable, secure and safe housing.
[Update] Picket of (Nat) Party for the Rich Saturday Dec 8 Akl.
Organised by Auckland Action Against Poverty.
Auckland Boys Grammar, Gate 4 Mountain Road, Epsom
The Nats are throwing a Christmas party … want to join us in letting John Key and his mates know what we think?
Come prepared to make noise to ensure Key and the rest get the message.
Stop the war on the poor!
A Statistics New Zealand survey shows average weekly household spending has increased by more than $90 over the past three years, to $1111.
That’s been driven by significant increases in the cost of food, transport, housing and household utilities such as gas and electricity.
Aucklanders are spending the most, an average of $1253 a week, and spend significantly more on housing, transport and food than residents elsewhere in the country.
The Household Economic Survey showed housing costs and utilities were the biggest household costs at $272, making up about a quarter of household bills on average.
Food costs made up one-fifth of expenses, costing $192 a week on average, up from $177 three years ago.
Darryl Evans, CEO of the Mangere Budgeting Service, said clients were spending a large portion on rent, with very little left for food.
About three-quarters of clients in private rentals were paying 60 to 65 per cent of their income on housing.
More at the link.