Save Our State Houses: Labour Party

Written By: - Date published: 8:26 am, November 28th, 2014 - 12 comments
Categories: bill english, housing, john key, labour, national, paula bennett, poverty, Privatisation, welfare - Tags:

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.

National government state house sales Tamaki Housing Group

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.

Thank you,

housing is a right

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.

Glen Innes housing protest

Glen Innes housing protest


12 comments on “Save Our State Houses: Labour Party”

  1. Ad 1

    Labour has let local government off the hook:

    – Hamilton voted to fully sell their whole stock yesterday
    – Auckland Council is adding very few in next decade and decreasing as a % of population growth
    – Wellington is doing dumb things with theirs
    – and Christchurch remains the second largest housing owner in the country

    City councils used to control huge percentages of public housing and affect average rental price. It’s high time Labour turned up the heat on pathetic councils washing their hands of the vulnerable.

  2. Olwyn 2

    Thanks for putting that up Karol – I signed the petition yesterday. I like the fact that Labour is talking here about the need for housing for people to live in, rather than getting a handful more onto the so-called property ladder.

    • BassGuy 2.1

      I signed yesterday, as well.

      My father is a pensioner, and gets a basic pension while living in a state house. The house is deteriorating, boards rotting all over it, and the insulation is woefully inadequate. He was told that the rotting boards wouldn’t be fixed up until after he moved out – something he has no plans to do.

      Did I read somewhere on here that Housing Corp aren’t repairing properties they’re intending to sell? I’m not sure if that’s conjecture, or something that I imagined hearing.

      Like many, if he was forced into a market rental it’s doubtful he’d have enough money to get by. As it is, when I can afford it I buy him a couple of metres of wood to help heat the place in winter (the last lot was so wet that splitting it left me soaked by the spray).

      Not everyone is going to be able to afford to retire to their own homes. How many of us are going to be able to retire at all, working part-time near-minimum wage jobs when the current projected amount I’ve heard thrown about is $1.1 million?

      This is why socialised housing is going to remain extremely important in the foreseeable future.

  3. b waghorn 3

    Do these things truly make a difference there seems to be a online petition for something turning up in my inbox every week or so . It s made me think the left are over doing .

    • karol 3.1

      I think a petition on its own is not enough. It needs to be part of a wider and concerted campaign using various methods.

      But, Like Olwyn, I’m pleased to see that Labour has focused on state housing, albeit in a small way.

      • miravox 3.1.1

        “I’m pleased to see that Labour has focused on state housing, albeit in a small way.”

        I look forward to seeing some strong policy on state housing and rent controls. I’d love to see Labour referencing housing provision in places like Singapore and Vienna where public housing is a strong feature of poverty alleviation and an integral feature in social cohesion.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    I linked an article a few months ago showing the total failure of privatising the provision of social housing. The research proved that a society will end up with less people in homes and more homes standing empty because of the private sectors need to make a profit.

    Bill English and National are making the housing situation worse in NZ. As their actions will, inevitably, benefit someone we need to ask just who the hell they’re working for because it isn’t NZ.

  5. Ergo Robertina 5

    Good to see another post on this, it should be kept on the radar.
    Hague has a pragmatic methodical analysis that can resonate widely. It really does make NO sense to subsidise and inflate the housing bubble through ever higher rent supplements. Hague provides the best explanation of how this is worsened by the Nats’ plans.
    The 2011 election was extremely close, in my view solely on the back of asset sales. The state housing sell-out can be pushed in that direction, and dovetails nicely with Key’s breakdown this week over integrity issues.

  6. Murray Rawshark 6

    A healthy state house building program would benefit renters, employment, skills, and other things I can’t think of at the moment. Instead we get the sale to speculators and continuing subsidies to landlords. The only good thing I can see is that speculators are going to lose badly when the bubble bursts. Unfortunately, as usual they’ll try to hit the rest of us with the bill. Billions of fake wealth will disappear overnight and the police will become debt collectors for Australian banks. Thanks NAct. And FJK.

  7. Tom Gould 7

    The only way to genuinely and effectively “save” our state houses is to rebuild the social consensus destroyed over the past 30 years that we should help each other out when hard times come and look after those who struggle to cope due to age or infirmity or bad breaks. There was a time not long ago when Key and English and Bennett would have been laughed off the stage. The blame rests with those of us who let that happen, not with the Tories who are only doing what comes naturally and being Tories.

  8. Craig H 8

    My biggest concern with the programme is this:

    Currently, income-related rent is still income, so the only cost is opportunity cost of not renting at market rentals, something which is not represented on the government books/accounts. Additionally, Housing NZ pays a dividend to the Crown i.e. it makes a surplus even taking into account the reduced income because of income-related rentals (note that not all HNZ tenants pay income-related rent as some make enough to pay market rent instead).

    Once all the houses are sold, and the income-related rental becomes a government subsidy, it becomes a cost/expense, and it will be represented on the books, and the Housing NZ dividend will be lost as well.

    Once it’s on the books, it affects the deficit, and becomes a reason to cut government services somewhere, or be cut later because “we can’t afford it”. It might be the next National Govt, not this one, but it’s still a real concern.

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