Written By: karol - Date published: 7:56 am, April 25th, 2014 - 54 comments
Categories: assets, class war, cost of living, housing, labour, mana-party, phil twyford, poverty, Privatisation, Public Private Partnerships, same old national - Tags:
Simon Collins in today’s NZ Herald reports on some damning revelations that Phi Twyford exposed via an OIA (Official Information Act) request for documents.
Some of the intent to use finance gained at the expense of the government’s run-down of state housing never eventuated. However, there is evidence that the government is planning to continue running down state housing to the benefit of non- government entities, including some from overseas.
Housing New Zealand considered using an insurance payout for Christchurch earthquake damage to meet an unexpected demand to pay higher dividends to the Government in 2011, official letters disclose.
The heavily edited letters, provided to Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford under the Official Information Act, show that the corporation also slowed down its repairs and maintenance to fund an unexpected $45 million jump in the dividend required that year – from $63 million agreed in the agency’s statement of intent to $108 million.
The documents also reveal that Housing NZ plans to raise $383 million in the three years to June 2016 by selling or leasing state houses to community and iwi groups and “the possible introduction of third party equity via possible overseas providers”.
This is the first time anyone has mentioned foreign companies being involved in planned state house sales, and Mr Twyford said it might point to possible public/private partnerships to redevelop state housing.
“They have reduced the net number of state houses by 700 in the last 12 months. They are using it as a cash cow in the middle of a housing shortage.”
This clearly shows the government approach to state housing: to run it down at a time when housing unafforability is hitting those on low incomes the hardest. And the plan is to hand over more of the operations of “social” and other rental housing to non-government or private entities. This will increase the unaffordability of housing for those on low incomes.
I would like to see the Labour Party match the Mana and/or Green Partys’ policies of increasing state housing. The Green Party policy states:
* Increase acquisition and building of state housing units by at least 3000 units a year for the next 3 years.
* Maintain an income related rental policy of 25% of income for Housing New Zealand Corporation tenants.
* Build 20,000 more state houses within the next two years. This will start to deal with the current crisis in housing availability for low income people, and will also create jobs and training opportunities.
* Maintain income related rents at no more than 25% of income for state, local government and community and iwi social housing.
Good work Mr Twyford on the OIA. I’m still waiting to see a strong commitment from Labour to increase the state housing stock.