Last night 3 News picked up on the information provided from an OIA request by Phil Tywford. It shows that Key’s government is planning to sell off a significant number of state houses in provincial locations. Many of these houses have been empty for way too long. The 3 News report hints that may be because there have been plans for a while to sell them off.
The 3 News report focused on Tither street in Huntly, where the remaining 6 state houses look likely to be sold off to private enterprise. 8 state houses in the street have alreadybeen sold. The tenants are very unhappy at the prospect.
Streets like Tither St in Huntly, 40 kilometres north of Hamilton, will be part of a government plan to sell almost two-thirds of its properties in the north Waikato over the next 10 years.
Nick Smith claims that the information uncovered by Twyford is out of date. Nevertheless, 3 News claims there are 2800 empty state houses across NZ. Smith claims that:
“The Government is absolutely committed to providing social housing into the future,”
That is a slippery response, because state housing is only one kind of social housing. Other forms include those run by non-government entities. The 2010 report for the NZ government, “Home and Housed: A Vision for Social housing in New Zealand“, spells out the government’s approach. It is clear the aim is to cut back on state housing and move towards other forms of social housing. On pp.4-5, it is laid out:
Underpinning this vision are four imperatives:
1. Empowering HNZC to focus on the ‘high needs’ sector
2. Develop third-party participation
3. Instigate initiatives across the broader housing spectrum
4. Clarifying sector accountabilities and delivery expectations.
These strategies include:
Curtailing the Crown’s involvement as sole provider
Diversifying the funding of social housing by increasing private-sector (i.e.
Non-Government Organisation) participation
Driving for more efficiency and impact in housing subsidies.
Meanwhile, those already struggling to find affordable housing of a standard most Kiwis would expect, are being put under further pressure by Auckland Council. Yesterday, Josh Fagan reported on Stuff. These are people that have already been failed by government provisions. People who would benefit from state housing.
Western Park Village, in Ranui, West Auckland, has been ordered by Auckland Council to apply for permanent status consent for 23 long-term tenants who were no longer classified as “transient”. Owner Darryll Heaven said the new guideline was “complete nonsense” and residents only stayed for extended periods because they had nowhere else to go.
He said the park was home to a lot of disenfranchised and desperate people, including families who have been kicked out of government housing and were effectively “un-houseable“.
This caravan park is in Minister Paula Bennett’s electorate. Rather than work with her government on making more suitable, secure and stable forms of housing for such people, Bennett disguised her callous approach with shallow words of empathy.
Social development minister Paula Bennett said living in a caravan or campground was defined by the ministry as temporary accommodation. But, she added that “didn’t necessarily mean that person or family has an overall serious housing need”.
Meanwhile she aims to do little that is helpful:
Bennett said the current situation was a matter for the Auckland Council and Western Park.
According to Massey University researcher Christina Severinsen, thousand of Kiwis live in similar unstable situations across NZ because there is no other affordable accommodation available to them. She is reported as saying that,
The danger for people in campgrounds or caravan parks, she said, was that if they were evicted there were “very few places for them to go”.
“Often people move on to staying in cars, boarding houses, rough sleeping and sharing housing with other families. We need investment in housing stock that low-income families can afford.”
In contrast, Bennett is quick to step up and offer support for a high profile TV actress: in so doing the minister gets herself a bit of cheap public promotion.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has swung behind embattledShortland Street star Teuila Blakely, under siege over a leaked sex tape.
A selected quote from Bennett is provided in big letters with the article:
Where is similar support for all the kind and warm people who struggle to find affordable housing, while Bennett’s fellow ministers and PM work to make life even tougher for them?
Green Party policy is to increase state housing by at least 3000 units per year in the next 3 years.
Mana Party Policy: 20,000 more state houses in the next 2 years.
In a recent comment on the Standard, Phil Twyford indicated Labour will be addressing the state housing issue before the election.