web analytics

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?


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

          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).


    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..

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Update to air border order strengthens crew requirements
    Additional measures coming into effect on Monday will boost our defence against COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the air border, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “As part of our precautionary approach and strategy of constant review, we’re tightening the requirements around international aircrew,” Chris Hipkins said. The COVID-19 Public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • A true picture of Māori business activity
    A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises. Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF funding for Taranaki projects
    The South Taranaki museum, a New Plymouth distillery and a Pasifika building firm will benefit from a Government investment totalling more than $1 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The $1.05m in grants and loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help the recipients expand and create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Fijian Language Week 2020 inspires courage and strength during COVID-19 pandemic
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the theme for the 2020 Fijian Language Week reflects the strong belief by Fijians that their language and culture inspires courage and strength that is strongly needed in times of emergencies, or through a significant challenge like the global COVID-19 pandemic ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Trades training builds on iwi aspirations
    An investment of $2.025 million from the Māori Trades and Training Fund will support Māori to learn new skills while making a positive difference for their communities, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “K3 Development Limited Partnership will receive $2,025,000 for its Takitimu Tuanui apprenticeship programme, which will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Conservation Minister plants two millionth tree in Raglan restoration
    A long-term conservation project led by the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group in the western Waikato reaches a significant milestone this week, with the planting of the two millionth tree by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “Planting the two millionth tree crowns 25 years of commitment and partnership involving Whaingaroa ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Seniors – our parents and grandparents
    International Older Persons Day is a chance to think about the individual older New Zealanders we know and to confront ageism, Seniors Minister Tracey Martin said today. “What happened around COVID-19 is a reminder that our over-65s are a very large and diverse group of people and we need to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago