- Date published:
3:01 pm, March 22nd, 2016 - 32 comments
Categories: class, class war, cost of living, discrimination, families, housing, human rights, local government, political alternatives, political parties, quality of life, Social issues, tenants' rights, useless, welfare - Tags: class, discrimination, homes, houses, humanity, quality of life, security
Otago Regional Council bought some houses some years back under some compulsory purchasing order. My understanding was that this was because of flood risk. They then rented out these houses at market rates. A friend and her daughter moved in to one of those houses about ten years ago and made it home. Then, out of the blue a few months before Christmas, she was told the lease was being terminated and she would have to move out before the New Year. The reason for the termination was simply that ORC were seeking to sell the house on the open market. So my friend is now living in a single bedroom of a shared flat in the middle of town. How to put this? She ain’t a student. She ain’t a ’20 something’ who is yet to settle on some direction in life. Her ORC rental was more than a house; it was her home.
Last year The Timaru Herald reported that “Oamaru couple Lesley Sweeney, 67, and Henry Watson, 76, may have to leave the state house that Sweeney has called home for 35 years because their tenancy has come under review by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD)”
I haven’t followed up on the story and don’t know if they had to vacate their home in the end, because that’s beside the point when we’re talking of people and their homes and their sense of security – of, if you like, basic human decency.
Last week the Dominion Post reported that “Seatoun Housing New Zealand tenants Vladimir Zvegintsev and Tatiana Zvegintseva are being kicked out of their home of 18 years and they don’t know why.”
And so it goes. I suspect that even a cursory on-line search would reveal case after case after case of people being kicked out of their homes, or being subjected to cruel and unnecessary levels of stress and uncertainty. It’s crap.
By way of comparison on how council or state tenants are treated here and elsewhere, I’m going to eke out something I touched on yesterday. I’ll run through the quick version. The parents of my brother-in-law emigrated to Canada. They returned to Scotland over fifteen years ago. Around 2000, they qualified for, and secured a council house in the town they had originally emigrated from.
For council house tenants, it runs like this – as long as the tenant doesn’t break the terms of the lease, then the lease is for life. My brother-in-law’s mother subsequently died and no-one sought to move his father along. And then, just a few weeks back, his father died.
And here’s what I’m taking as a mark of basic humanity from a state that would seem to genuinely serve the interests of the society it governs. Had my brother in law or one of his siblings been resident in the house for the previous year, then the lease would have passed on to them. It’s called allowing people to have a sense of security and a home.
Yet here in New Zealand, it would appear that ‘home’ is only for the rich. It would appear that home-owners aside, people are to be shunted and shifted, stressed and discarded like irrelevant pieces of clutter.
New Zealand, at some point or points in the past, was presumably presented with some voting choice on what direction society would be taken by government. And here we are; a society of people, that seem on so many fronts, to be treated as a polythene bag of stinking, sweating dog shit by those who would presume to govern on our behalf.
How did this state of affairs come into being? Why is it tolerated? Where is the out rage? Where is the political party, engaging with the edifice of poisonous misanthropy that has apparently become New Zealand’s new normal, undertaking to shove it into one of those deep Pacific off-shore trenches?
It’s apparent from reading this and other blogs, or just through talking to people, that many people in New Zealand are appalled by the way things are. But there’s an air of impotent resignation. We need some would be government to ‘get with the programme’. We need a governing entity that will stop with the tinkering around the edges while suggesting we vote for some half arsed, essentially apologist, bullshit. If we are going to settle for state governance of society, we need a political party that will speak for the silent without compromise; that will translate our deep discontent into a solid, no holds barred policy platform that’s an attractive and viable voting option.
New Zealand could be the home of a decent, humane society. Is it going to happen? Do we want it to happen?