Phil Heatley says he fears for the future of state housing. I can’t help but agree, but the problem is that it is Heatley and his government that are making the future of state housing so dire.
They have cancelled investment in new state houses and they have declared the existing stock for sale, which will lead to former state houses becoming the worst slums in New Zealand, just as happened in the 1990s.
Now, Heatley is saying the charitable sector will have to step in where his government is failing. It’s a nonsense, no charity has the kind of money needed to replace the spending National has cut on new state houses.
Labour Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey has it dead right:
“Where do they think these philanthropic organisations with hundreds of millions of dollars to invest in social housing are, and why don’t they do it now?”
Not only is Heatley cutting spending on state housing and bleating that others will have to step in and fix his failures, he is also forcing Housing New Zealand to waste the money it does have.
National introduced a typically populist but hollow policy of kicking gang families out of state homes.As so often happens, what sounds like a good, simple idea when you first hear it, turns out to be simplistic and stupid in practice.
Last year, Housing New Zealand issued eviction notices to kick five gang partners and friends out of their state houses (awkwardly for the ‘get them crims’ brigade, the criminal charges that formed the basis the eviction notice were later dismissed). The tenants appealed and the issue is still before the courts with the Crown spending hundreds of thousands funding both sides. At least a quarter of a million dollars have been spent and the people are still in their houses.
Quarter of a million down the drain, and for what?
What is the Government’s intended outcome here? To force the gang families to leave the homes, which means them moving into different houses in different neighbourhoods – privately owned rental properties with probably even more vulnerable neighbours. So, quarter of a million dollars spent to not achieve a goal that wouldn’t actually make things better, but would just shift the problem from one neighbourhood to another.
Here’s an idea, minister. If you are serious about improving the lot of families who need housing, stop wasting money on shifting a problem around and use it to build more houses instead. And you could ask that Nice Man, Mr Key to restore the budget for new state house construction, if he isn’t too busy with giveaways for his rich mates, of course.