Gutting the state housing system

Written By: - Date published: 3:26 pm, June 28th, 2011 - 25 comments
Categories: housing, national - Tags: ,

Reprinted from No Right Turn:

One of the reasons the New Zealand public have such a dim view of politicians is because they have shown time and again that they are cheats and liars. They set themselves performance targets (whether explicit or implicit) in opposition, then juke the stats and distort the facts in government so they can claim they met them. National did it back in 1990 with its promise to remove student fees (they didn’t; they simply devolved responsibility for charging them to the universities), and Labour did it with hospital waiting lists in the 2000s (by the simple expedient of throwing people off and making them wait again – “solving” the problem in the statistics, but not in reality). And now National looks set to repeat the latter trick with state housing. Faced with growing waiting lists for state houses, despite their attempts to discourage people from applying, they are going to just chuck people off the list and forbid them to reapply rather than do anything to deal with the housing crisis.

It is cynical. It is unethical. But its what politicians will do to avoid a bad headline. Which is why people think they’re scum. Anyone who thinks their reputation and/or re-election is worth more than the housing prospects of 4,700 needy families is either a colossal egotist or has a black hole for a heart (and probably both).

National is of course trying to downplay the status of those it is going to abandon. But Housing NZ’s own assessment categories [DOC] make it clear that they will be denying help to those who need it. This is what they call “moderate need”:

The household is disadvantaged, and this is likely to compound over time due to housing circumstances that are unsuitable, inadequate or unsustainable. The household is unlikely to be able to access or afford suitable, adequate and sustainable housing without state intervention.

Under National, these people will not even be allowed to apply for a state house. They will be left to the market, which Housing New Zealand has said will not provide for them. As for the state housing system, it will become a system for emergency accommodation for the truly desperate only, people who are actually homeless or living in garages. These people should obviously be the priority, since their need is greater – but the system should provide for more than that. And its here that National’s true goal becomes apparent: they’re planning to effectively gut the state housing system and reduce it to a rump. And having “reduced” demand (by defining it out of existence and making it someone else’s problem), they’re promising to privatise the “surplus” state houses, while removing income-related rents for the remainder if re-elected.

This is an outright abandonment of a core government responsibility. But National isn’t interested in a government that meets its social obligations – instead, they want more profit opportunities for private landlords. Those profit opportunities will come at the cost of homelessness and overcrowding, with all the consequent health and educational problems and misery, just as it did in the 90’s – but National don’t care. Their mates will be making money. And that is all they really care about.

25 comments on “Gutting the state housing system”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    This was covered on “Breakfast” the other day.

    The ones who are being kicked off are those who wouldn’t qualify anyway, but are just clogging up the system and slowing down the process for more deserving cases.

    • Treetop 1.1

      Do you think that everyone who goes into WINZ will be given the option of having a HNZ home? If the government are so concerned about housing deserving cases they need to get their a into g cause there is a big demand for government housing due to the CURRENT shortage.

      I have used those on a benefit because they are struggling the most, so are the elderly and so are low income earners.

      I expect landlords will put up the rent due to rates which will go up because of increased premiums due to the cost of reinsurance for councils.

    • r0b 1.2

      Those being chucked off are in “moderate need” – see the post. So what do you conclude?  Should we:

      (a) build more state houses pronto, or
      (b) pretend that there is no problem and privatise the ones we’ve got.

      The Nats pick option b of course.

      • Treetop 1.2.1

        The accommodation supplement (AS) has been stuffed for years except for those in a HNZ dwelling as they do not qualify for the AS due to rent being 25% of income. My main problem with the AS is that it is not on par with a person on a benefit in a HNZ dwelling. The only way to get more for rent in a private rental is to access every 13 weeks targeted assistance support (TAS) and this does not even put a person on par with a person recieving the same income as someone renting from HNZ

        A question needs to be asked in the house to Heatlley and Bennet: At what income level does a person not qualify for TAS for rent and is this considered as being a moderate need for a HNZ home?

        I reiterate there are not enough HNZ homes for low income people. To me anyone who has to access TAS is desperate and desperate is struggling and struggling needs to be housed by the state.

        • Treetop

          TAS temporary additional support

        • Ari

          It’d be great to see the accommodation supplement set so that your rent was also 25% of income, although I’m not sure what the best strategy for achieving that would be…

          • Treetop

            The sale of just one state dwelling is placing hardship on someone. Were the housing stock doubled tomorrow there would still be a shortage for low income people.

            I am over 50 and in three years of any government I have not seen the basic cost of living increase so much.

    • bbfloyd 1.3

      you’re seriously quoting “breakfast”? your taking the mickey, aren’t you? is it deliberate, or is this natural for you? your obtuseness i mean.

      • Lanthanide 1.3.1

        Once again, I’ve never actually seen you contribute anything to this site, other than bashing other people.

    • Vicky32 1.4

      The ones who are being kicked off are those who wouldn’t qualify anyway, but are just clogging up the system and slowing down the process for more deserving cases.

      Oh really? You know that how?
      I am in a 2 bedroom state house, and I want a transfer to a 1 bedroom place as I don’t need 2 bedrooms now my son has moved to another city. Getting one has been a nightmare of delay and farce, and I’ve been told that the dump I am in won’t be freed up for a family. “It doesn’t work that way” I was told, to which the Tenants Protection woman and I asked “why not?” . We got no reply…
      Back in 1990, was the first time I applied, I was on a DPB with a 3 year old, and no family existed who could help (parents long dead, siblings unable to help.) I was turned down by an Island woman who said she knew that all white people had money hidden away in trusts, so I should “buy on the private market”. Of course, innocent as I was, I hadn’t taken a witness to the meeting and couldn’t prove she’d said that. Bit is that one of the ways they get rid of applicants?

      • Treetop 1.4.1

        HNZ are dysfunctional. Their transfer process is a big joke because they obviously have not built enough one bedroom places and is this because they are not cheap to build compared to a two/three bedroom. HNZ haven’t figured it out that they would get more rent if two people lived in a two bedroom.

        HNZ are not morally, ethically or socially responsible and if you are single it is worse.

        • Vicky32

          and if you are single it is worse.

          Exactly. I am single, and I feel like a fraud, because I know there are famil,ies with children who are in great need. However, while I am unemployed I am also in need… and that’s a state of affairs that looks as if it’s going to continue for some time. 🙁

          • Treetop

            I fully understand why you have to stay where you are, I rent privately due to taking HNZ to the district court a decade ago (I won my case and recieved some compensation). You are not a fraud. HNZ need to employ people like you, as what you say, is what needs to be changed.

  2. Oleolebiscuitbarrell 2

    There are lots of hungry people. The government must, as an urgent priority, nationalise a supermarket. There’s just no other way out of the problem.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Well, immediately raising the minimum wage to $14/hr and increasing all benefits by 5%-6% would be a start.

      • Oleolebiscuitbarrell 2.1.1

        No. The only way is for the government to own the place that the food comes from. That’s just the only solution.

        • rosy

          No. The only way is for the government to own the place that the food comes from. That’s just the only solution

          Yes, China seems to think that is the way to go. Sound strategy for them. 😉

    • Yep.

      It’s no coincidence that the US has made food production a matter of national security. It’s also no coincidence that, after abandoning Gandhi’s notion of self-sufficiency in food for reliance on ‘the market’, India is now – you guessed it – treating ‘food security’ as a national priority through enactment of the National Food Security Act.

      So, you’re right. It seems there is just no other way out of this hunger problem.

    • millsy 2.3

      Actually I think turning supermarkets into grower and farmer owned co-ops is a much better idea.

      • Oleolebiscuitbarrel 2.3.1

        Yeah. I thought the ridiculousness would have been self-evident. I blame myself.

  3. marsman 3

    And on the other end of the scale we have a Minister of Finance who rorted half a million taxpayers money for his own house and is still receiving $30,000 p.a. to live in his own fucking house!

  4. millsy 4

    I can only see the slumlords and rack renters and owners of dodgy boarding houses (who buy up motels, hospitals, etc and rent the rooms out at 200-300 dollars a week) benefiting from such a policy.

    Truly ironic seeing as it was the state of the slums in Auckland that prompted the state housing system in the first place. From what I understand, the idea was that there would be no private landlords and every rental property in the country would be a state house, and that people would be able to migrate into home ownership from there.

    • Vicky32 4.1

      From what I understand, the idea was that there would be no private landlords and every rental property in the country would be a state house, and that people would be able to migrate into home ownership from there.

      How wonderful that would have been… what a pity it never happened..

      • millsy 4.1.1

        Labour lost in ’49. That’s what happened.

        • Colonial Viper

          We could bloody learn from the likes of Singapore and HK where the govts are one of the major landlords. It adds a stability to peoples lives that is very very helpful.

          It was a big help to the Russians during the collapse of the USSR: the USSR economy self destructed but you didn’t get the millions of homeless like you see in the US as a result of all the foreclosures there.

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