Written By: - Date published: 10:04 am, October 3rd, 2013 - 43 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, class war, cost of living, greens, housing, labour, local body elections, mana, national, nz first - Tags: john minto
So getting your grass verge mowed is the biggest issue for some central city council candidates and (presumably) their potential voters? Life must be pretty cosy in those parts of central city Auckland. Out here in the West of Auckland, many people have bigger concerns: like how they can find affordable rental housing in the west , while the cost of renting nearer the centre of the city is way beyond even considering (as for many in the south).
NZ First’s Andrew Williams is right about the insularity of the bermites. However, I wouldn’t call it a “village” mentality, so much as a gated city mentality. It’s the mentality of people living in a largely well off, self-centred world, who don’t look beyond their own alarmed gates. It’s the mentality of people asking what more can their city do for their comfortable quarter acre lives, than what the city can do for those struggling to survive.
This morning Monica Tischler’s article on Stuff highlights the high incidence of garage living, hidden homelessness in West Auckland.
Tucked down a West Auckland driveway in a corrugated iron double garage lives the Crichton family.
Samoan lavalavas are attached to the ceiling for insulation and towels hang from makeshift clotheslines over beds and dressing tables.
Fonima Crichton has lived in the garage with husband Fossie and four children, including 9-month-old baby Kris, for two years and has been trying for months to find better living conditions for her family.
“I want to raise my family properly and want my kids to live a good life,” she says.
It was the pursuit of a good life that saw the family become homeless more than two years ago.
The Te Atatu Peninsula family has been on Housing New Zealand’s waiting list for a new home since January and there are others like them too. Henderson’s Housing New Zealand office holds the country’s biggest waiting list of families wanting better living conditions – more than earthquake ravaged Christchurch.
Living in garages is a health hazard, and one of the things being highlighted in a campaign next week:
Next week the Spotlight on Housing campaign organised by the Housing Call To Action group will assist tenants with information about their rights and responsibilities, bill payment information and costs of running different electrical appliances.
Homelessness in Paul Bennett’s territory of West Auckland is a long running issue:
This 2011 Western Leader article focuses on people living in the caravan park in Ranui, in the outer reaches of West Auckland. It foregrounds Ivan Eden, who has lived for 3 years at the caravan park, along with 200 other residents.
Mr Eden, a 44-year-old sickness beneficiary, says he’d much rather be living in a flat but can’t afford it.
A report on homelessness was presented to the Auckland Council’s Social and Community Development Forum this month.
It says there is an increasing number of homeless people in west Auckland and a lack of emergency housing. It calls for a region-wide response to the problem.
There are 1000 people on Housing New Zealand’s west Auckland waiting lists[...]
This 2010 Western Leader article, highlights the fact that homelessness, as seen in West Auckland, is something experienced by a significant number of women. The issues for, and responses to homeless women differ somewhat from those for men. Although, the problems for men are considered worse than for women and children, the article fails to look in any depth at how well the provisions work for women.
Salvation Army spokesman Malvin Reihana [...] says more than 150 women and their children came to the organisation between October and December seeking food and shelter.
“There are a lot of short- term homeless women,” he says.
He says women needing somewhere to stay have more options than men.
“There are a lot of social services in west Auckland for women and children,” he says. “But there’s zero help for men and that’s why they tend to end up under the bridges.”
In an article in last week’s NZ herald, Dr Ali Memon is critical of the Labour and National parties for both embracing housing as a home ownership issue, and for ignoring renters. The headline, “Pity the poor who are forced to rent“, seems to have been written by someone other than Memon. It is a direct contradiction of the content of her article, in which she states that some choose to rent rather than buy. My guess is that the headline was written by a sub-editor with a different agenda.
But what is worrying is the degree to which the proposed housing policy initiatives of the two centrist political parties have been captured by the home ownership drive.
The role of rental housing in satisfying housing needs of Aucklanders is a blind spot in the gaze of our politicians.
The proportion of rental households has significantly increased during the past decade. According to recent surveys, approximately 40 per cent of Auckland households now rent. The proportion was 34 per cent in 2006.
Yet, the Auckland housing problem is being redefined by the politicians and the media primarily as a home ownership problem. This is not fair to those who rent.
To resolve our current housing problems, and build a more inclusive, livable, well-functioning and sustainable society, we need to return to the ideals of the 1930s: aiming for more state and council provided, non-profiteering, rental housing, plus other forms of social housing. So far, only the Green and Mana Parties have such forms of housing policies explicitly on their agendas.
Green Party Housing Policy, includes,
increase acquisition and building of state housing units by at least 3000 units a year for the next 3 years.
And John Minto, Mana candidate for Auckland mayor, has council housing on his manifesto:
Minto for Mayor would build 20,000 affordable council rental homes to address the sharpest point in the crisis with other plans to promote home ownership opportunities for every New Zealand family.