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NRT: Nats sit on their hands as Chch housing crisis grows

Written By: - Date published: 7:38 am, September 5th, 2012 - 27 comments
Categories: disaster, housing - Tags:

There’s a major housing crisis in Christchurch. People are living in unsafe, cold houses and their health is suffering. Rents are at criminal levels. And people are still fleeing the city. So, what’s the Government doing about it? As I/S at No Right Turn reports, OIA requests show that they are doing nothing and leaving it to the market to house people after a national disaster.


CERA’s response to the Christchurch housing crisis: Nothing

Earlier in the year, the media reported a severe housing crisis in Christchurch. The earthquake had destroyed and damaged homes, and the resulting shortage – and outright profiteering from landlords expecting an influx of construction workers – had pushed up rents. As a result, people were squatting or sleeping in cars. So what was CERA doing about it? Someone used FYI, the public OIA request site, to ask for their advice. After some dicking around over semantics – CERA apparently refusing a request because it referred to a “crisis”, which was not on their list of acceptable words – they finally got a response. And reading through it, it turns out that the answer is “nothing”.

oh, they spend a lot of time – and a lot of briefing papers – to say it. But as explained in the briefing on Rebuild Workforce and Displaced Resident Accommodation [PDF], the core of their response is to

  • Provide information on the emerging opportunities for workforce and displaced resident housing
  • Connect parties with common interests
  • Support utilisation of existing ‘spare’ capacity through boarding arrangements
  • Encourage rental property investors and managers to take a more flexible approach to tenant selection and management practices through the rebuild
  • Encourage practices that will minimise the peak in housing demand.

Information, support, and encouragement is bureaucratese for “squat”. It means sitting back and leaving it to the market – which is manifestly failing and leaving people in need. And they make this explicit:

Messages to be delivered through such engagement would also reaffirm that the Government does not intend to crowd out private sector initiative through the direct provision of housing

In other words, faced with a national disaster, the government’s policy is not to ensure that everyone in need has a roof over their heads, but instead to abandon them to the profiteers. Its a fine example of National’s policy priorities, its privileging of wealth over need. And the consequences of that policy can be seen in Christchurch’s winter ‘flu epidemic.

This falls well below what we expect of government, especially in the wake of a disaster. If the market fails like this, it is government’s job to step in and fix it, not stand idly by. CERA should be acquiring land, building houses, and making sure that everyone has a roof over their heads. If the private sector is profiteering off disaster victims, they should be crowded out. Failing to do these things is simply wrong, and the government should be held accountable for its inaction at the next election.

27 comments on “NRT: Nats sit on their hands as Chch housing crisis grows ”

  1. Carol 1

    Provide information on the emerging opportunities for workforce and displaced resident housing

    And it seems that, leaving it to the private sector, means leaving it to the authoritarian control-freaks:


    The bar closes at 8pm, alcohol is discouraged, visitors must be signed in and if you misbehave, your boss will be told. Welcome to Christchurch’s new accommodation for rebuild workers.

    Prefab buildings on four central-city sites could provide a home for more than 1000 people under plans announced today.

    The proposal got a mixed reaction from the building industry, with one of New Zealand’s largest construction companies raising concerns about how “large-scale worker camps” will integrate with the community.

    JGM Group director Jamie Thomas said the first labourer accommodation site could be open in March next year.

    The complex would include suites, a bar, catering, a small football pitch, basketball hoops, a communal lounge and pinball machines. Thomas said there would be 24-hour security on site, with swipe-card access to the facility and alcohol controls.

    “It will be a very controlled environment for alcohol. It will be available during dinner hours and after that it is dried out and shut down,” he said. “There will only be a certain amount of alcohol allowed per person for each unit. We are not encouraging stockpiling.”

    Tenants would have to complete background checks before moving in. The construction company would sign the tenancy, with any misbehaviour treated as an employment issue.

    Thomas is in talks with the city council about putting 250 housing units on the Turners & Growers site in central Christchurch.

  2. marsman 2

    When John Key slithered into power on a slick of MSM slime in 2008 I thought here we go NZ’s very own George W. Bush. Sadly my fears have proven to be warranted. Apart from the economic disaster Nact have created for all of the country Christchurch is akin to the Huricane Katrina disaster which saw large corporates ( Haliburton) making millions while people were left homeless for years after. With our own Cheyney ( Brownlee) and our own Haliburton ( Fletcher Construction) we have the perfect neoliberal fuck-over a la George W.

  3. vto 3

    The situation is bullshit.

    There are more very unhappy people now than at any point. The government is spending heaps and heaps and putting loads and loads of resources into helping the fucking private property owners and private business owners in the CBD. The place is going gangbusters, But they are putting nothing into the people whose houses are fucked.

    This government are a bunch of c#&ts. Corporate and business welfare and handouts for business, who are meant to be champions of the free market but are clearly unable to cut the mustard. Yet rather than take the same approach for the people, this government casts them out tp the wolves of the free market.

    It is bullshit and Brownlee and Key should be ashamed. Shame on them. Shame shame shame.

    This government leans on insurers to sort the shit in the CBD yet doesnt do the same for the people.

    should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of action.

    I tells ya – the anger has risen to boiling point. Every single conversation today is riddled and swamped with angry complaints about eqc, insurers, land zoning. We are at boiling point ourselves (surprise surprise perhaps with my style of posting..). Nobody better get in the way today or there will be trouble.

    Fuck the government.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      It is bullshit and Brownlee and Key should be ashamed.

      Psychopaths don’t feel shame.

      • Got any evidence they suffer from psychopathy?

        Or is it another one of those Draco ‘it’s obvious’ truths again? 

        • framu

          well they do fit many of the characteristics dont they.

          Thats not to say we can get a diagnosis from that of course

          • TheContrarian

            You know these ‘psychopaths’ personally do you?

            I fit many of the characteristics of someone who suffers ADHD but I don’t have it.

            • felix

              Says who? ADHD is just a set of symptoms or signs (a syndrome). If you exhibit those signs you can be said to “have” it because that’s all “it” is.

              • Please send me Ritalin, Doctor Felix.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Sociopaths, too many of them are.

                  • Sometimes I wish I had the bold surety to assert things without having to ever back them up outside of “It’s obvious” or “It is so” or other such qualifiers.

                    But then I realise I’d rather, you know, be smart, considered and logical.

                    Each to their own.

                    • McFlock

                      Superficially charismatic, apparent arrogance, lying, refusal to take responsibility for their actions, blaming others, no apparent feelings of guilt, and indeed no apparent emotional connection when someone tries to jump from a balcony right in front of the subject and feeling that a throat-slitting gesture was appropriate at that time.
                      Doesn’t sound inconsistent with the term. 

                • felix

                  It’s quite likely you can get it yourself if what you say is true.

  4. fnjckg 4

    hence the reference to bleak winters and greed popvacuum

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    National does have a plan, which it is implementing.

    “Eliminate the state in all its wasteful, intrusive, freedom limiting forms.”

    “Private ownership of everything: power companies, housing, hospitals, prisons, roads, airlines, schools, broadcasting, security services . . . everything.”

    “If it gets one dollar of tax money . . . KILL IT.”

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    If the private sector is profiteering off disaster victims, they should be crowded out.

    They should be fined and probably jailed. Profiteering in such instances is inherently immoral.

    Failing to do these things is simply wrong, and the government should be held accountable for its inaction at the next election.

    What do you mean by accountable? See, what I would mean is that the fuckers should be jailed along with the profiteers that they’re supporting.

  7. EQC alone has paid out over $3.5 Billion to Christchurch residents so far.
    How much more have the Insurance companies paid so far ?
    How much more have the New Zealand Taxpayers paid so far ?

    • vto 7.1

      “EQC alone has paid out over $3.5 Billion to Christchurch residents so far.”

      Do not trust such figures fortran. How much of that sum has gone to bureaucrats, to repeated inspection after inspection after inspection, to Wellington boffins, to capital cost.

      You see, figures like that must never be trusted. It is like Peter Jackson claiming that $750 million will be spent making some moving pictures – half of that will be payable to finance and producer costs in the US, a quarter of that to distribution in the US and europe.

      Figures like these are wildly inaccurate and inflated or deflated to paint a certain picture and desired outcome. They are empty pots into which is thrown whatever one can dream up. They bear no relation to reality.

    • mike e 7.2

      the only thing brownlee has been good ta is taking the limelight putting overpaid National party hacks on CERA and Jawboning insurance companies threatening to shame them wow Campbell live is doing a better job of that for free.
      Japan have rehoused all their victims.

  8. AmaKiwi 8

    “Japan has rehoused all their victims.”

    Labour MP’s, Green MP’s, and NZ media take note!

    Somebody get your ass to Japan and document Mike E’s damning indictment.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    Its great that Christchurch supported all their Labour MPs last election eh. And gave the finger to the NATs eh. That really showed’m.

    • Populuxe1 9.1

      Your fapping off to the schadenfreude of a city in ruins is quite telling about your personality, CV.

    • Kevyn 9.2

      Viper, When your jaw has just been broken you genuine believe you are being helped even when the helper is actually stealing everything from your backpack. If the news media hadn’t parotted every statement from the govt and had instead done some basic checking they would have found the Auditor General’s report on the earthquake recovery fund and checked what was included and excluded from the govt accounts to arrive at the $9bn deficit figure. If they had also checked how much government central government is required to contribute towards local government costs in civilised countries (Australia, Japan, USA, France, Turkey, etc) and what assistance disaster victims are entitled to from FEMA then NACT would have been out on their ears. You can’t blame the electorate for voting wrong when they were given wrong info at every turn.

      Labour’s silence is a mystery, surely when Nats began accusing Labour of using the disaaster for political that was when Labour should have bounced that back at National with the full facts. As it is Canterbury should be petitioning to join the Australian Federation or perhaps begging the Yanks, Japs or Chinese to invade and save us from NACTs experiment with free market disaster response (even Republican Congresses aren’t that stupid.)

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