Dunedin South MP Clare Curran says she is almost at the stage of encouraging people to squat in vacant state houses in Dunedin as the waiting list climbs above 100.
First, let’s now acknowledge that New Zealand has a housing crisis, not just one or two cities. That’s not a shortage of actual houses, we have plenty of those. It’s a crisis created by the neoliberal, look after number one, social engineering of the past 30 years, whereby homes became investments and too bad if you weren’t on that wagon early enough or simply couldn’t make the jump.
There’s no easy fix, and tinkering with taxation to slow housing inflation, or building a few more houses here and there is not going to make housing affordable or accessible or healthy again. National are either useless or taking the piss or both, but the gall of them acting as if state housing (that’s our housing) is a commodity and tenants are stock units, well we need to push back against that.
I’ve previously argued that a group of locals could take over empty HNZ houses (ones that have obviously been vacant for a long time), do them up and then people can live in them. They’d need people with skills to assess safety and repairs, but there are plenty of those around. Having someone with good social media and MSM skills would mean that the issue garnered attention and support, and offered some protection to the new residents.
It might also put squatters’ legal rights on the agenda. Which is a sad indictment of the state of NZ as a whole, that we even need to consider that, but that’s where we are and it’s long past time we stopped wringing our hands.
The list of what is wrong with housing in NZ is very, very long, and well hashed, so I’ll not repeat that. But suffice to say we can support people who now need to find themselves a decent home. A winter in a car in Auckland is one thing, trying to do that in Dunedin is another thing entirely.