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Affordable Housing: the way forward?

Written By: - Date published: 9:40 am, October 7th, 2012 - 28 comments
Categories: activism, Annette King, campaigning, housing, poverty, Public Private Partnerships, thinktank, welfare - Tags:

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?

28 comments on “Affordable Housing: the way forward?”

  1. millsy 1

    We need more state houses — plain and simple.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Which would create a lot of jobs, co-incidentally.

      • KJT 1.1.1

        Affordable State housing.

        Worked before.

        Could help keep housing prices realistic also.

        Though I prefer people have to rent to own, rather than just renting.

        Rental and housing subsidies, to third parties, just drive overall prices up

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1

          Though I prefer people have to rent to own, rather than just renting.

          Personally, I see no point in owning a house.

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1

            Stable long term rental agreements like that available in many parts of the world would be ideal. Many working and middle class people in Europe never own their own home nor do they need to.

        • Young and Dumb 1.1.1.2

          I think that if people are willing to pay to rent a house they should have to pay less than a mortgage.

          It is slightly unfair to limit what people can and can’t do with their own property, e.g. rent it to somebody,

          However as I am in the stage where I am looking for a place to rent it seems as many landlords are taking advantage of people where we may be paying around 8% of the value of the property annually is just as unfair

  2. captain hook 2

    yes but then thee would be no losers and the tories could not drive round looking down their noses at the peasants.

    • KJT 2.1

      Didn’t think of that.
      Maybe we should just make people poorer so they drag the RWNJ’s out of their cars and rob them at street lights. Like many countries were there is no social insurance.

      Unfortunately it will not be just them who suffer.

      May make them think about why we should have a fair society.
      Why all those Indians and Chinese want to come here.

  3. A very real concern – Thanks for highlighting it Karol.

    Out here in the country it is difficult too. For instance at Tata Beach about 15 people live permanently over winter. The 150 houses or so sit empty until the happy holiday makers arrive in summer or they rent them out at minimum $150 a night per person. A lot of people in the bay live in difficult conditions. Here at least there is not a shortage of houses – just a shortage of smart thinking. That thinking would assess where the empty houses are and put deserving families in them. Shit I’m sure they would tidy up before they move to their shed for summer. So like food it seems a distribution issue (at least here) which is very real issue especially in this twisted society we find ourselves living in.

  4. s y d 4

    Phew, affordable housing, it’s a problem alright. I’m afraid that the ‘house’ is no longer about all the things that we once may have considered it to be (shelter, home, a sense of place and belonging) but more a vehicle for selling debt, a way to inflate supposed wealth (while slashing real incomes) and a means to make money for nothing. The house has become another consumerist product, and the whole ‘housing market’ is a three dimsensional triangular shaped scheme whereby the already wealthy obtain massive subsidies from ratepayers to increase the base of their pyramids.

    Hence we have former national party MP’s and current ACT members parading themselves as champions of affordable housing.

    http://www.sunlive.co.nz/news/32405-building-bobs-dream.html

    Makes me want to weep or laugh or give up or something….I’m working in this crazy system and the only way I could see for people to have affordable housing is to step right outside the current ‘housing’ system and build their own places to live..only thats illegal!!!

  5. tc 5

    Affordability is an interesting aspect. We have a concentration of the supply industry in the hands of too few players profiteering their fat arses off, mainly Fletchers with a near monopoly in steel, roofing and a stranglehold on concrete, gib etc

    Another epic fail of rebshockers reign was the rubber stamping of Fletchers acquisition of stevensons precast business, crane group etc etc which they are now flicking the non core ( read non duopoly oligopoly segments) to strangle the supply side even more.

    To quote my architect who has built in Europe and travels back regularly, ‘why is it so expensive to build in this country with all these forests, stone and other raw materials already here…’ that would be that free market the NACT worship
    wouldn’t it.

    Syd is right, the only way to be affordable for most is step outside as most councils are arseholes to deal with. Try and build an earth ship(cheap, solid, proven and centuries old) and discover how much of a struggle that us.

    • KJT 5.1

      Don’t know if it is still the case, but I priced a house from NZ materials bought in Australia and freighted here, some time ago. It was a lot cheaper.

  6. Jenny 6

    Here in Papakura state houses are left to stand empty sometimes for months.

    Why is that?

  7. Young and Dumb 7

    They should just sell the empty state houses in more valuable areas at market rate and use the money to build more state houses. 

    Maybe the government should start a scheme where people living in state houses can rent to buy their homes over a long period of time, but only ONCE.

    This would give these tenants something to call their own as well as actually look after.

    Recently my company has acquired some contracts for maintenance work on many Housing New Zealand Properties and can I tell you guys there are some drastically different standards that tenants keep their houses to

    The retirement housing complexes are usually kept impeccable by the people who leave there. Everyday I’m there I see them wandering around, tending to their gardens or cleaning.

    However at the properties where younger tenants are the condition is shocking. Nobody there is at work and theyre all just sitting around watching us work. Maybe they could use the time they have to look after the property that is being supplied to them at a heavily discounted rate.

    This just really annoys me and makes me think that maybe if they were to own their own properties they would look after it better, otherwise nothing can be done for these people and they are truly their own worst enemies. 

    • tracey 7.1

      My father has access to info about middle class andxwealthier renters. Folks paying $800+ a week for two bed apartments. They show little or no respect too. The homes are constantly requiring carpet replacements for wine stained carpets never cleaned and so on. To paint poor tenancy as a feature of poorer folk only is be blissfully ignorant of thevtruth about most tenants.

      • Young and Dumb 7.1.1

        Yes they are paying $800 a week of their own money, in which they will have to pay to repair the damage and to be honest they have the right to do say as they are not in accommodation that is being subsidised by the taxpayer and then trash it.

        You are correct poor tenancy is not a feature of poorer folk, however not being able to pay for the damage you do as a tenant is a feature of poorer folk.

        People living in state houses or any other government subsidised housing should be grateful and take care of it, just as any of us would be if somebody offered to allow us to stay in their house at a very cheap rate.

        Shelter is a fundamental need however it is not good that people take advantage of it and have no respect for it.

        And before this goes on, I am well aware that poor people make good tenants as well, unfortunately it is the minority ruining it for the majority where social housing is concerned.

        • millsy 7.1.1.1

          “Yes they are paying $800 a week of their own money, in which they will have to pay to repair the damage and to be honest they have the right to do say as they are not in accommodation that is being subsidised by the taxpayer and then trash it.”

          So its OK to trash a rental property as long as (a) youre rich, and (b), you pay for the damage

          HNZ probably chase tenants for damages more than a private landlord will/does.

    • mike e 7.2

      Well the positive is that you wouldn’t have any work if the places were looked after.
      A large portion of HNZ tenants have serious issues that in a thin labour market make it difficult to find work !
      Its very easy to be judgemental when your not in that situation.

  8. tracey 8

    This announcement is a smokescreen for overriding the auckland district plan and central govt giving the greenlight to developers and slacking of consent processes…

    • karol 8.1

      tracey, are you referring here to the article in today’s Sunday Star Times?  The one I just linked to in an update to my post above?

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        More stupidity from this government – Auckland is already too sprawled out. Those homes will only be cheap to buy – More sprawl costs more to live in. And, as you say, we’ll probably end up with another round of leaky homes but NACTs backers will make a killing on them and then be found to be unaccountable.

        • karol 8.1.1.1

          DTB:  ACTs backers will make a killing on them



          I wondered why the article was in the business section… tipping business people work is coming their way? 
           
          When I was out today (it being a work day for me), I spotted the headline on the front page, saying the full article was in the business section.

  9. captain hook 9

    of course affordable housing is the way to go but this government will not tolerate uniformity and the economies of oversight and regulation.
    they leave it to the market to ratchet up the price of everything just so consumers can kid themselves that they are free because they have a choice.
    its little peoples rules.

  10. Lindsey 10

    HNZ has a lot of older properties that could be re-worked to get more land efficiency. Most HNZ tenants these days do not want 600m2 sections (except for my Ethiopian friends who have every inch in corn and chillies). They could do much more of this in Auckland in a similar way to Talbot Park in GI. I was in Onehunga today where there seemed to be streets of HNZ 2br houses and duplexes on much bigger plots than needed.

  11. kiwi_prometheus 11

    “Labour MP Annette King claims that single women have been particularly hit hard by the housing shortage.”

    She does not, Karol ->

    “..the growing number of homeless New Zealand women…Social agencies are now reporting single women – of any age – are sleeping in cars, couch surfing and in short term boarding houses. They are desperate for housing.”

    She talks about a “growing number”, so why do you believe that is “particular” or women are getting it worse than men.

    You don’t believe there is a growing number of homeless single men? Are they not “sleeping in cars, couch surfing and in short term boarding houses.”

    Or is it you just don’t care, after all they are only males, right. If its females then it is important.

    “Building today for women in the future”.

    Imagine if a party Housing spokesperson titled an article “Building today for men in the future”?

    The shrieks of hypocritical outrage from the fembots. 🙄

    • karol 11.1

      Oh dear oh dear K-P. On your little high horse again. A bit sensitive to anyone who highlights issues for women, aren’t you? Most of my article on welfare reform has been about hardships of “people” on benefits. Ditto for my post here on housing – one sentence on the issue for women. Are you only interested when it’s totally about the menz?

      Yes, the numbers of homeless are still higher for men, at least amongst the most visibly homeless. But the fact that there is a rise in the numbers of homeless women, even amongst the most visibly so, is of concern. It is an emerging phenomenon, indicating the current tough economic circumstances are impacting more on women now than previously.
       
      The other issue is that I think a lot of homelessness amongst women may be less visible than for men. Consequently it needs highlighting and monitoring. Women are less likely than men to take to the streets.  Also this emerging phenomenon for women is being seen amongst single middle class women, not just the least well-off.  This points to the fact the situation for men and women may be slightly different.
       
      The evidence of this emerging problem for women also backs up the experiences amongst people I know.  Amongst women I know, we have noted that several of our female friends and acquaintances have a housing problem.  They are not sleeping in the streets, but couch-surfing, or staying with friends.  But they are on the look out for rental accommodation, which they are having difficulty finding. Most are in the 30s-50s age bracket, have profession jobs and/or tertiary education.  We have not seen this amongst men I know.
       
      Here’s what Annette King said about this issue in the General Debate on 19 September:
       

      One of them has to be the cost and the availability of housing for single women. There has been a rise in the homelessness of women. Women are sleeping rough in the streets not just in the big cities of Auckland and Wellington but in places like Nelson. The warning signals are being sent out by those social agencies right now. They are the people who are on the street and who are seeing what is happening day by day. For decades we have had homelessness amongst men. We have accommodated them in night shelters. But now we have a new problem emerging: homelessness amongst single women of all ages. In fact, the problem has got so big in Nelson that the Salvation Army is undertaking a major piece of work to focus on why single women are becoming homeless and what plans it could have for housing in the future. It has found increasing numbers of single women are sleeping in cars, are couch surfing, or are in short-term hostels.

      One of the reasons it has found is housing affordability. It is getting worse. There are fewer low-income homes available. Here in Wellington there is a growing number of homeless women, and it is being put down once again to the cost of housing, a housing shortage, and a lack of jobs. Contrary to the popular belief, many of these people are well-educated women. They are not the stereotypical dropouts or checkouts of society that some people may think.

      • kiwi_prometheus 11.1.1

        “A bit sensitive to anyone who highlights issues for women, aren’t you?’

        Is that what you call it, “highlighting”. Whereas if a male spokesperson for Housing were to title a speech “Building today for men in the future”, imagine the pandemonium amongst the fembots – “racist, sexist PIG!”.

        “a lot of homelessness amongst women may be less visible than for men. ”

        Like domestic violence against men is [ not may be ] less visible than for women. But do feminists demand more tax payer money to “highlight” and “monitor” this? No, because they are fixated with themselves as eternal victims of villainous men.

        “Yes, the numbers of homeless are still higher for men…a rise in the numbers of homeless women…is of concern.”

        Oh, so now women haven’t been harder hit, its still men who suffer most as usual, but the rise is “of concern”.

        But then you use anecdote to try to prove women are getting it worse than men.

        “Most are in the 30s-50s age bracket, have profession jobs and/or tertiary education. We have not seen this amongst men I know.”

        You don’t know any men obviously, except maybe the gay ones you enjoy playing fag hag to, but then they are more like honorary females, no? Otherwise you would be well aware how many men lose their home to the ex, who concocts baseless accusations of ‘child abuse’ to block access to his children and thereby allow her to demand more maintenance money off him.

        Leaving him homeless and impoverished.

        And the Left cant figure out why it trails way behind the Right amongst men voters. 🙄

        • karol 11.1.1.1

          *sigh* This again: No, because they are fixated with themselves as eternal victims of villainous men.

          Get a clue, k-p.  If you read my posts, you will see my main targets as the “villains” are capitalists, wealth-hoarders, the powerful elites, and NAct.  One mention of women specifically. And off you go.
           
          And I’d be careful about directing personal insults against a Standard author if I was you… there are rules. You clearly know nothing about my social milieu.

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