The current prolonged housing crisis is hitting those on lowest incomes hardest. Many people are sleeping in garages, outdoors, in camp sites, or in overcrowded housing. The knock-on impacts of insecure housing and homelessness can include health, employment, education, and relationship problems.
The NZ government is planning to sell more state houses, and shift towards housing for low income people provided by private landlords and non-government providers of social housing.
In the last few days, the Labour Party have circulated a link to their petition to save state houses from being sold off by the NZ government. The Labour Party statement says:
New Zealand has a housing crisis. There aren’t enough affordable homes and too many families are struggling to keep up with rising housing costs.
And now, instead of building new homes, the Government is selling off thousands of state houses on the open market, where they could be snatched up by property speculators and developers.
If enough of us sign a petition telling Bill English, the minister responsible, that we’re against the sell off of our state houses, he’ll be forced to face a choice between listening to his friends in big business or to the demands of people he’s supposed to represent – us.
But we need to move quickly, before the decision is final. Add your name to the petition by signing here.
The petition says:
Dear Bill English,
Please reconsider your plans to sell off state houses. Our housing should not be able to be purchased on the open market by speculators and developers.
We need to be building more when there is a shortage, not selling off the homes we do have. State housing is an investment in future generations and helps make sure all kids have the opportunity to grow up safe and healthy.
Paula Bennett, John Key and Bill English claim social housing can better provide housing than the government:
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says “thousands” of state houses could be sold under the Government’s new approach to social housing.
She would not make a commitment that all money earned from the sale of state houses would go back into housing.
“Well, we see ourselves reinvesting and using it better to help vulnerable New Zealanders,” Bennett said.
Now some state houses were in the wrong place or were the wrong size.
“Our intention is for people who need housing support to have more stock available. We just may not own it.”
However, organisations that supply social and community housing are already underfunded and struggling to provide affordable housing to those in need.
Shifting the provisions for housing people on low incomes to private providers will not solve the housing crisis, and will actually make things worse. As Kevin Hague of the Green Party says:
National’s plan to sell state houses and provide income-related rent subsidies to private landlords will drive up rents and house prices for everyone and is economically reckless, the Green Party said today.
“Shifting the responsibility for housing from the Government to the private sector looks like a cynical attempt to enrich landlords while palming off responsibility for housing the vulnerable,” Green Party housing spokesperson Kevin Hague said.
“National’s plan swaps our state homes for massive state subsidies to private landlords.
“The Government paid out $1.2 billion via the accommodation supplement in the year to June 2014, a policy that is already credited with driving up rents.
“The provision of state houses by the Government delivers a supply of affordable accommodation. A good supply of rentals at a reasonable rate helps contain rents for everyone, not just those in the state house.
“That function no longer applies when our stock of state houses are sold.
“Rents will be driven higher, and while families with rent subsidies may be assisted short-term, the Government will be on a treadmill to pay ever higher subsidies as house price-related rents increase.
“At that point, the Government will say the cost of providing income related subsides is too high and it will make cuts.
“More than half – 53 percent – of the 265,000 children in poverty live in private rental accommodation, much of it sub-standard, according to a 2012 Ministry of Social Development report.
“That position is going to get worse with National’s new policy.
Part of any solution to the affordable housing crisis should be to increase the amount of state housing.