- Date published:
9:40 am, October 7th, 2012 - 29 comments
Categories: activism, Annette King, campaigning, housing, poverty, Public Private Partnerships, thinktank, welfare - Tags: christchurch rebuilding
There is increasing concern about New Zealand’s housing situation, with an escalation in homelesssness, people living in substandard conditions, and the lack of sufficient affordable housing stock (especially in Auckland and Christchurch). The government claims to have a plan, but so far there’s little noticeable improvement in the situation. Labour MP Annette King claims that single women have been particularly hit hard by the housing shortage. Urgent action is needed, but it’s also necessary to have a plan and vision of affordable housing.
As reported on Stuff website this morning. Some are asking for solutions, action and leadership from the government, such as those advocating for the homeless.
Lifewise general manager John McCarthy and Dr Cathy Casey, chair of Auckland Council’s social and community development forum, are scathing in their assessment of the treatment of the most vulnerable.
They say New Zealand’s response to homelessness lags behind other developed countries: there are no official numbers, there is no legislation, there is no national strategy and there is no funding.
“It’s homelessness in all its guises. It is people living in garages, in cars, having 20 family members living in one room – homelessness is a New Zealand problem so the Government must be involved in it,” Casey told the Sunday Star-Times. “They can start by having a strategy, having a plan or having some legislation that says people have the right to a warm, secure, safe home.”
A report (Home and Housed: A Vision for Social Housing in New Zealand) was requested by the ministers of housing and finance and completed in April 2010. It concludes that the way forward is to encourage third party involvement in building and providing housing. They envisioned that this would include public, private, non-government sectors and iwi working together. But have they come up with the best plan, and if so, what is the government doing to implement it?
Meanwhile, others are trying to find their own solutions. An concerned citizens group in Wellington announced last week they were conducting a think tank on the issue. Organiser Barry Thomas said:
“Already we have designers, artists, social thinkers, people, architects, developers and community housing advocates, lining up alongside experts in homelessness and people who have experienced and are experiencing homelessness in the common cause of taking some tangible leadership and action.
Speaking at the Day of Action on Welfare Reform on Friday, John Minto said there was a National Day of Action on Housing planned for November 7. People will travel from around NZ for a protest in Wellington on that day.
What are the best ways to campaign for more affordable housing, and are new ideas needed, or is the solution obvious – just get off our butts and build more houses?
[Update: Government about to unveil plan for cheap housing]
According to an article on the front page of the Business section of today’s Sunday Star Times (and buried in the Auckland section of the Stuff website):
The government is close to announcing policies that would free up city-fringe and more central ‘brownfields’ sites for residential development in an effort to cut the cost of housing.
How “close” is “close to announcing”? I’m hoping this includes more state housing, but I fear it may be more focused on the low-end private rental market and/or involve PPPs. And I’m not keen on the idea of housing for low income people being marginalised on the city fringes. How much time and money would it cost workers to get to their jobs, and beneficiaries to get to job interviews? And, in Auckland, it’s just likely to increase the urban sprawl, unless they build up instead of outwards.
“Brownfields” are under-used or un-used industrial sites, possibly containing industrial waste. I hoe this is not going to be some cheap option with low regulations, setting us up for ‘leaky homes: episode II?