Sale of social housing stock won’t save costs

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, November 16th, 2014 - 20 comments
Categories: assets, housing, Social issues, superannuation - Tags: , , , ,

Hamilton City Council currently has plans to sell of its remaining pensioner housing stock. It already sold off a block of them in 2012. Of those sold, only 12 out of 53 units are available for seniors to rent at affordable rates. This is because 27 were sold as there was no social service provider able to buy them. Of the ones that were bought by Habitat for Humanity, well they needed an interest-free loan from a funder to even do that.

So now Council want to sell the rest. Here are the current proposals:

  • invite social housing providers to buy its pensioner housing for on-going use as social housing

  • if not sold to social housing providers after six months, offer the pensioner housing for sale on the open market

  • no longer provide pensioner housing as a Council service

There has been considerable protest, including this rally in the form a funeral for the housing stock. Submissions on the proposal closed on 31 October: there were 275 against and only 15 in support. You can find my submission here, hardly a masterpiece but it was done late on 30th October, and at least I had my opposition officially noted.

So today were the oral presentations to Council. It was a pretty hostile environment – questions from Councillors & the Mayor were leading and often pretty aggressive. As a process that is supposed to encourage the public to have their say, it wasn’t encouraging at all. Making any kind of public submission tends to be pretty daunting for most people and you would think that Councillors would try to make it easier. But I guess they were too busy thinking we were trying to score political points to actually listen to our genuine concerns.

Today I talked about the fact that Council did in fact have a responsibility to provide social housing. Council is responsible to & for the people living in the city, and there is clearly a need for such housing.

The private sector doesn’t provide adequately, because we find that vulnerable people are living in poor quality housing with inadequate maintenance which leads to poor health and educational outcomes.

The need for social housing for the elderly will rise, and not just because of an aging population. There are other factors such as:

  • this generation being burdened by student debt which makes it harder for them to save for a deposit;
  • expensive education not necessarily leading to quality work with high-paying salaries
  • minimum wage jobs not being enough to live on, let alone to build up savings
  • the casualisation of work and the rise of zero-hour contracts, which mean variable work hours from week to week and therefore variable (& insufficient) incomes

All of these factors have already had an impact, because we know that currently we have the lowest rate of home ownership ever and those rates continue to fall. So it is much more likely that these people will reach old age still in poverty and without savings.

The sale of pensioner housing is a short-term measure to pay off current debt, and there is no indication that Council has in place any planning for long-term future social housing needs.

I accept that this is not just a local government responsibility, and I know that one of the drivers of the sale is central government policy to no longer give housing subsidies to any local government nor to any CCO. Our Councillors need to be raising their voices against this policy, in a very visible way. They are not without power, they can co-ordinate with Councils in other areas and provide a strong objection. It is the job of Councillors to advocate for the people of their city and I can’t understand why they wouldn’t do that.

Other Councils are trying to find ways to work around the central government funding policy and this Council should be talking to them to find solutions.

If we lose the social housing stock, then there will be costs to ratepayers. It’s nonsense to say that the sale of this stock will save money. If there isn’t sufficient safe and adequate housing, then there will be increased health costs that have to be paid for. Or accommodation costs will be passed on to ratepayers from central government in the form of a higher level of accommodation supplements. Either way, they will have to pay so it is false to say that there are going to be savings. The only difference is that if the housing stock is sold, then those costs will be more hidden and indirect, and therefore easier to ignore.

As I’ve said above, previous sales have led to the loss of homes available for housing the elderly. So where are these people supposed to go?

stargazer
stargazer

20 comments on “Sale of social housing stock won’t save costs”

  1. Barfly 1

    So where are these people supposed to go?…

    They’re supposed to die…….

  2. BM 2

    Hamilton has a lot of debt due to a number of bad council decisions.

    Cuts need to be made and the focus has to be put back on core council business.

    I don’t think pensioner housing should be part of that.

    • Areobubble 2.1

      German has a civic understanding that means profiting from renting isn’t a priority, govt and private interests have mutual benefits in keeping housing affordable. Productivity risess as housing stress abates. Also a high rental sector means greater worker move,went, also great for the economy. So any discussion about housing without the complimentary discussion about wealth acquistion by the middle classes and the zero tax rate on capital gain…

      So given this light, all Hamtion is doing is increasing supply, and those groups, the poor and old who have less to lose by moving can, to cheaper regional areas. Of course we live in hope that the new expansion of housing in the NE will provide, finally, small housing options that the present market will not build.

      NZ decided to make profits from it citizens even when this harms society, equality, productivity, and skills availability – as workers find it more costly to move. Its no surprise really that a generation of ignoramouses who believe govt is at the root of all evil, have ignored the consequences.

      Take Hooten today on Q&A first he could not understand mechanisms designed to disincentivise large rental portfolios via tar getting income from rent, and linking it to borrowing rates. But then had to peddle utter nonsense, that coal was akin to food for the purposes of carbon taxation. Coal and seeds maybe, but the joke was misses, that we import computers and aren’t paying carbon taxes on the coal.

      Hooten is there to scupper democratic debate, as this assists the stay the course conservatism that have always loathed change undermining their rent seeking.
      TV1 is not serious about the problems of NZ while it invites Hooten with his pre-packaged nonsense precooked to destroy analysis and democracy.

    • stargazer 2.2

      and yet they have a river development plan that is going to cost $35 million (if i remember correctly). they could keep the housing & not spend on what is essentially cosmetics, on the basis that people matter more.

    • stever 2.3

      If looking after citizens isn’t core council business then way is?

      And why don’t you think pensioner housing should be part of core council business?

      • BM 2.3.1

        Should be governmental not local.

        Local should be about city infrastructure issues not social needs issues, once you move into social issues you’re starting to use rates as a tax revenue source which is not what rates should be about.

        • McFlock 2.3.1.1

          And when it’s about the role of central government rather than local government in housing, you say:

          Part of the reason they can get away with it is because the main opposition party no longer believes in state housing for life either.

          Fantastic news.
          Less wet nursing, more self reliance, I like it.

          Rather than hiding behind the tired “core business” bullshit (after all, the social wellbeing of the community should be a primary concern for local councils, unless you think towns and cities are populated by robots), be honest: you don’t give a shit if the homeless remain homeless and pensioners are kicked into the street.

    • The Al1en 2.4

      “Hamilton has a lot of debt due to a number of bad council decisions.
      Cuts need to be made and the focus has to be put back on core council business.
      I don’t think pensioner housing should be part of that.”

      Because the city badly needed a white elephant stadium, or an event center which operates at a loss, or to do main street upgrades twice to attract shoppers to the cbd which they killed by allowing out of town shopping in the first place etc… etc…

      Yeah, don’t need old people’s homes, but that’s what happens when small business types consistently get hold of local power.
      Don’t know why the greens and labour don’t stand official candidates and build a connect with voters at ground zero.

    • BMW 2.5

      Hamilton has a lot of debt due to snouts in the trough.

      Cuts need to be made and the focus has to be put back on core council business.

      I think pensioner housing should be part of that.

  3. greywarshark 3

    I remember Hamilton being very keen to enter the free market neo liberal world from the beginning of Rogernomics. It is still apparently a smug little city based on agricultural interests with a little intellectual pretension but little understanding of civic fairness and responsibility.

    • stargazer 3.1

      excuse me? i’m a hamiltonian and i’m not like that. nor are the many, many people who are protesting this & other measures. can we not have generalisations like this please.

  4. greywarshark 4

    @ stargazer
    Well you aren’t the majority or you wouldn’t have a Council doing this sort of sale of public assets. Better get your indignation stoked up and fire it at the Council other Hamiltonians have saddled yourself with.

    • Murray Rawshark 4.1

      Not necessarily, gws. The majority were against asset sales, yet Key went ahead anyway. I’m not sure the majority agreed with what Len Brown let the port do, either. A majority of the people in the Kaipara didn’t want Mangawhai to saddle them with the costs of an expensive sewage system.

      • b waghorn 4.1.1

        Well the majority need to think more deeply before they vote, don’t no about most of your example s but any one who voted right in 2011 has no right to bitch about asset sales.

  5. Treetop 5

    More people going into a rest home earlier will occur and the government will need to pick up the tab. As well more people will need to access the maximum allowable Accommodation Supplement (AS) and go into Work and Income every three months for Temporary Additional Support (TAS) to cover rent. The formula for AS and TAS uses the main benefit component of any main benefit, the NZ Super rate is about a third more than Supported Living and Supported Living is at a higher rate than most of the other benefits.

    There is no comfort or humanity for some in old age. There maybe an increase in suicide stats for those over age 65. An increase in rent usually means less food in the pantry/fridge, waiting longer to see the GP and then not having enough time at the consult to discuss everything and using less electricity during the cooler months.

    Housing in this country is a national disgrace, its not as if there is no land to build on.

    • Barfly 5.1

      My understanding is that superannuation is counted only at 50c in the dollar when calculating additional support ..therefore its higher payment rate doesn’t count against superannuitants.
      Suicide stats by age group in 5 year bands for people in the 65-70 and 70-75 age groups are approximately half the rate of other bands
      I agree that the government be it central or local or a combination thereof must provide adequate social housing for the elderly

      • Treetop 5.1.1

        Regardless of what the formula for TAS is, when there is an increase of rent TAS maybe required. I did hear earlier in the year that there is an increase in the suicide rate for the elderly. You state that the rate is approximately half of other bands. The point I was trying to make was that an increase may occur when accommodation becomes too expensive for the elderly, inparticular those with complex health conditions.

  6. SPC 6

    Expect the pattern to be repeated at the national government level. After all the governments example in selling off assets (and enabling profit making corporate utilities that can be on-sold on the international market) is one they want local government to emulate.

    In the 1990’s National charged market rents for state housing then started to sell off houses.

    Many units of the housing stock are being left untenanted and readied for sale to private developers (rebuilds) or those looking to do up a place and flick it on for an untaxed CG.

    By this means expect about 10% of the stock to be sold within the next 3 years (and another 10% in the 3 years afterwards etc). Till now they have been selling off some units and reinvesting the money in either stock renovation upgrades and some new housing. But that was just to condition us to accept change (rationalisation of the state housing stock) before their privatisation began – as per 1990’s market rents preceding a subsequent sell down.

    Apparently they see a proposed sell off of housing to social providers as the means to distract us from this. Social providers will naturally seek a good price so they can keep the rents low. So we will be assured that those on low incomes will have affordable housing.

    However unless the stock on-sold has been upgraded to WOF standard before on-sale, there will be a looming crisis. If a future government initiated a WOF scheme and social providers could not afford the cost, this would either undermine WOF legislation or require the government to pay for the upgrades (thus constrain WOF implementation till government could afford it).

    Note

    1. If social providers sold the housing they could not afford to upgrade it would no longer be available to low income tenants.
    2. WOF legislation being a threat to the profits of rental property businesses could result in legal action by corporates under TPP rules.

  7. Sabine 7

    like the others can’t afford a house/apartment/garage/car they should go into the local parks and start pitching tents.
    Unless we are happy to have people just simply die away in ditches. That of course would be an option.

    But really I believe that we could start up the sexy trend of Key-Villes, modelled after the Hoovervilles from the great depression. There is enough cardboard in this country to build a shack for everyone. Right on the Cricket Lawn or the Rugby Field, in the middle of the domain, complete with a dairy shack, a fast food shack and a medical shack.

    I am so looking forward to my golden age.

  8. KJT 8

    Asset sales have never been about reducing costs.

    Like Charter schools, rental subsidies and the highest interest rates in the Western world, they are all about more profits in the hands of the people pulling the strings, of National’s puppets..

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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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