When is an asset sale not an asset sale? Why – when Key says so, of course. But it’s not all going smoothly for Key’s planned state housing sell-off. It simply doesn’t make sense to sell our houses at a time of urgent need. Why is he breaking his word (yet again)? Why didn’t he put it to the electorate last September?
These are not the only inconvenient questions being asked. Here’s Armstrong in The Herald:
‘Market’ swept under social housing rug
One particular word was noticeable by its absence from the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday detailing his Government’s complex and contentious plan for the future of what National now calls “social” housing rather than state housing.
That word is “market”. That officials from the Treasury and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment talk endlessly in papers prepared for Cabinet ministers of the need to construct a “market” for social housing obviously gives John Key the heebie-jeebies – and, quite possibly, his new Minister of Social Housing, Paula Bennett, as well.
Like Key, she realises “market” is now a very dirty word in politics. It carries highly negative connotations. It jogs people’s memories of National’s asset sales. It suggests National is putting profit first and the needs of the poorest members of society a long way second.
“Market” is a dirty word – ouch. And as for “National is putting profit first and the needs of the poorest members of society a long way second” – well yes, that is self-evidently what they do, as a certain famous author recently observed.
As no one has yet come up with any hard evidence that community-based providers will necessarily do a better job than Housing New Zealand, it is difficult to erase the suspicion that the policy is motivated by ideology as much as anything else.
They won’t do a better job. “Community providers” can’t afford the houses, they have to partner with banks and developers. Banks and developers want profits. In what way is that consistent with better or more affordable housing?
In particular, Key is promising more people will be accommodated in social housing over the next three years regardless of whether that accommodation is supplied by the state or private providers.
On what possible basis can Key make such a promise?
See also 3 News last night:
John Key defends housing sell-off
The Prime Minister’s been forced to defend his social housing reforms, giving an assurance state houses will not be flogged off to line the pockets of developers.
Why would developers get involved if it didn’t line their pockets?
Proceeds from the sale are supposed to used, in part, for further rent subsidies. What happens when the money is spent (and the asset is gone)? (Aren’t Nats opposed to distorting a market with subsidies?).
Community providers thinking of buying into the scheme have raised concerns too, questioning whether there’s enough support from the Government or if the reforms will help at all.
Excellent questions indeed.
“Mr Little says community housing groups are “free to sell properties if they decide they no longer need it, can’t use it or can’t manage it”. However Mr Key disagrees. “In principle that can’t happen because we wouldn’t allow it to happen.”
How is Key going to prevent it? How will this be monitored and enforced? At what cost?
Monte Cecilia Housing Trust executive David Zussman says he doesn’t think the reforms will address their desire for an overall increase in housing.
How could it? – there’s nothing in the proposals that relate to building (it isn’t in National’s DNA to build things – they only sell things built by others). Final question I guess – are they going to get away with it?