The National Party Conference is on this weekend. In Sky City in Auckland. How appropriate.
Yesterday Paula Bennett gave a speech to the conference about how people on the Housing Corporation waiting list are basically rorting the system. She said:
“What often happens is that someone almost gets their circumstances to such that they are eligible to go on the waiting list, and they do it because they want a particular house,” she said.
So they would decline houses until the one they wanted became available.
“That might be all right when the list is very short, but when you’ve got literally thousands on it you are potentially taking opportunities away from other people, and I don’t think that good enough.
Bennett told delegates that 12 per cent turned down houses three or more times, but figures provided by her office showed the correct figure was about 7 per cent .
Those who turned down a house could drop down the priority “bands” that Housing New Zealand operated.
“They are not as desperate as they might have been if they are at the top of the list.”
Some declined a house for good reason, such as wanting to keep their children in the same school.
“But there are ones that decline and they don’t have a good reason and I don’t think you can keep doing that and stay on the wait list.”
She said they would get one warning after turning down one house and then face being taken off the list.
Other reasons for turning down a house included unsuitable fencing, poor exterior condition, the house’s history, a busy road or bedrooms that were too small.
In two cases, applicants turned down seven houses.
There were about 4500 on the waiting list at any one time of which 1200 were “transfers” – people who were in a state house but wanted to change houses.
So two cases out of 4,500 is evidence that people on Housing Corporation’s waiting list are gaming the system? Note also that Bennett claimed that 12% turned down houses three or more times but the actual figure was 7%. But without understanding the reasons the statistic is meaningless. And the comment is about those who are already living in Housing Corporation houses, not those on the waiting list.
This is red meat to feed the prejudices of National’s base. Anyone who understands anything about the homeless or Auckland’s housing market realise that there is a crisis occurring. For Bennett to talk about punishing the occasional person who do not like what they have been offered and not about the huge shortfall is pandering to the prejudiced and refusing to acknowledge reality.