The hidden homeless and the speculators

Written By: - Date published: 9:06 am, May 16th, 2016 - 44 comments
Categories: class war, Ethics, housing, national - Tags: , , ,

Some excellent pieces on Auckland’s housing over the weekend. From The Nation:

Auckland’s hidden homeless

A growing numbers of families are being forced to live in cars because of unaffordable housing.

Families living in their cars. Brighter Future!

Government figures show rents for three-bedroom houses across Auckland have increased by 25 percent in five years, and that’s spawned a new type of property market — garage rental accommodation.

Social workers say some families are paying almost $400 a week to put a garage roof over their heads, and a social policy analyst says one in 10 south Auckland properties has a garage tenant.
..
Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa has a growing number of constituents who call a garage home because they can’t afford rising rent prices. “We’ve been told that some people rent out garages at $200 a week,” she says. “Some rent out at over $300 a week, but when you look at the average rent in Otara and south Auckland, $200 or $300 is affordable.” … Newshub spoke to a group of 50 social workers who said families living in garages is common. We heard of one case with a family with two young kids had been living in a garage for two years. Their weekly rent? $380. …

This is wrong. It is a moral failure, a leadership failure, a market failure – it is every kind of failure.

The squeeze on housing stocks is driving the demand for garage space. There are 4500 people on the Housing New Zealand waiting list, and emergency accommodation providers like the Monte Cecilia Housing Trust have been turning families away for years.

And the Nats are intent on selling off state housing.

Following up on The Nation, Tim Watkin at Pundit:

How Special Housing Areas are failing & the immorality of land bankers

It’s time to call out land bankers and require urgent action, because Auckland’s lack of houses is driving people in their cars

But what social service agencies are now reporting is a growing – yes, growing – group of Kiwis living in their cars or renting garages. Social workers in South Auckland to a person say they can’t remember it being this bad. Rents have risen 25 percent in five years and emergency houses are full. If you can’t afford the rent, there’s nowhere to go. Except your car, or perhaps someone’s garage.

When wages have only gone up 10 percent in the same time those rents have risen 25 percent, you can see why some can’t keep up and are forced into those cars and garages.

So it’s time for mum and dad property investors to ask themselves a few hard questions. If the cost of your borrowing is forcing people to pay rents they can’t afford, maybe you shouldn’t be in the landlord business. Even if you are only one stone in the mountain, have you borrowed too much to morally justify your investment?

But even more in the gun are the property developers, especially those who are land banking in this market. It’s time to call out those land bankers and say enough. … Because your land banking is making kids sick. It’s driving families into their cars. It’s increasingly immoral to fiddle while Auckland burns.

Auckland desperately needs houses and if you’re a developer sitting on land, then you’re putting your own finances ahead of the need of families to have a roof over their heads. …

A moral argument for people to forego easy money? I agree. But the Nats are laughing at us.

Final piece, this morning’s anonymous editorial in The Herald:

‘Supply’ excuse for housing lets govt stand idle

It is convenient for the Government to attribute the price of houses entirely to a lack of supply because it enables it to avoid taking effective action to reduce demand for investment homes. It is an argument that makes the Government popular with home owners who have already invested heavily in multiple houses, for it not only relieves them of effective taxation but promises to supply Auckland with many more potential investment properties.

The pace of house price rises cannot be slowed just by building more houses, particularly more “affordable” houses. Those are exactly the stock investors are looking for. The cheaper the house for its location, the better the likely capital gain. There is no limit to the demand for speculative property in and around Auckland, and making more land and housing available will only add more fuel to the fire. …

Exactly. Without a legislative fix like Labour’s Kiwibuild you can’t build “affordable” housing. You have to build enough housing that it becomes affordable. How long will National get away with fiddling with minor tweaks instead of confronting this fundamentally broken market?

44 comments on “The hidden homeless and the speculators”

  1. Richardrawshark 1

    They don’t care, looks like most of NZ don’t care, I’m ok Jack stuff em.

    The question is do I want to be a part of a society that behaves like this.

    The answer is no but there is nothing I can do about it.

    If National get in again i’m leaving the country, simple stuff. Selling up and out of here.

    Perhaps that’s the plan to make housing more available, those of us who leave due to this National disgrace.

    • Paul 1.1

      New Zealand has become a greedy, cruel and selfish place.
      30 years of the poison of neo-liberalism has done its job.

      • Attiya Andrew 1.1.1

        I agree Paul!

      • whateva next? 1.1.2

        I still have faith that once people realise there is a choice, “the vast majority of NZers” would actually opt for a decent society where the middle income people can be supported to support those who are less fortunate. At the moment, we are indoctrinated with “competition is good” and so everyone strives to win, at the cost of others.Cooperation is much cooler than competition, and being part of something bigger than yourself is a bigger buzz than “winning” Masterchef, NZ Got Talent, The Bachelor etc ad nauseum.

        • Paul 1.1.2.1

          There is willful ignorance in this country.
          Many people are only too happy to turn a blind eye to the fellow citizens’ plight.

    • Anno1701 1.2

      “If National get in again i’m leaving the country, simple stuff. Selling up and out of here.”

      My famil and I feel the same, as EU passport holders the Netherlands is looking like a good option right now ! , maybe Finland or Slovenia so my children dont end up with huge student loans, plus 6 weeks plus paid leave sounds pretty good to me !

  2. adam 2

    I thought the market had spoken, and it did not like poor people. Why bother housing people who can’t get with the only game in town, and be winners. It’s their own fault. They were born brown, and they don’t vote national so why should we care. Look most of these people don’t even vote, so at the end of the day this national government should do the right thing and look after the people who voted for them and keeps them in power. Look at the polls, national are light years ahead and there is no opposition. And labour did it too…

    • Jono 2.1

      Terrible social conscience. But that seems to be the way of NZ these days doesn’t it…

  3. Bill 3

    Set a formulaic limit on chargeable rent tied to a houses GV. Set the limit so that it isn’t possible to have a tenant pay off a (say) 20 year mortgage…or a 30 year mortgage. Or set it so it can only ever pay the interest on a 20 or 30 year mortgage. In other words, get the cash cow out of renting.

    Bring in squatters rights.

    Bring in ‘tenancy for life’ legislation.

    Take all commercial and residential stock that sits empty for (say) five years. Just take it. retro-fit or renovate for habitation.

    And when the next housing crash comes along, scrap housing supplement and put the $1.2 Billion or whatever that goes from the public purse into the pockets of landlords – put it into hospitals or schools or mitigation/preparation measures around warming.

    • Nic the NZer 3.1

      Steve Keen suggests a simple but better idea. Limit borrowing to a multiple of the rental income estimated for the property. This turns it from a competition in who can borrow the most to one in who can provide the most equity to their purchase (everybody has the same borrowing limit for any property).

      But i think the only solution to people living in cars is govt owned social housing. I dont think this market is functional without it.

      • Anno1701 3.1.1

        “govt owned social housing”

        or as our current GOVT like to call it

        “low hanging fruit”

        • Penny Bright 3.1.1.1

          Please don’t buy into the deliberately confusing language?

          STATE housing is PUBLIC.

          SOCIAL housing is PRIVATE.

          Social housing providers taking over STATE housing is the PRIVATISATION of STATE housing.

          Those who want to stop the privatisation of STATE housing should defend State tenants who are refusing to accept 90 day eviction notices.

          Full credit to the gutsy directly-affected State tenants in the Tamaki Housing Group and their supporters who are fighting the privatisation of State housing in Glen Innes / Tamaki.

          The first step in the privatisation of these Tamaki State houses – has been the transfer of 2,800 of them to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company – this jointly-owned central / local government ‘hybrid’.

          Note who supported the transfer of State houses to the Tamaki Redevelooment Company?

          Alan Johnson from the Salvation Army’s Policy Research Unit, and Co-Convenor of Child Poverty Action Group.

          (Alan Johnson told me this to my face.)

          Facts are facts and truth is truth.

          I am on the side of the directly-affected State tenants of Tamaki and New Zealand who are fighting the privatisation of State housing and it’s transfer to private ‘social housing’ providers, whether purportedly ‘not for profit’ NGOs or ‘for profit’ commercial operators.

          Penny Bright
          2016 Auckland Mayoral candidate.

          • Ad 3.1.1.1.1

            As Mayor, how much more public housing in Auckland will you commit to constructing?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2

      +1

      Especially squatters’ rights and tenancy for life.

      • adam 3.2.1

        Squatters rights – joke in Auckland mate, been trying to find places to squat in this city – apart from the empty house waiting for roll over profits. There is no where. I’ve looked. I had people out looking for a specific type of house, run down, property a bit rough, no power connected, and a few other criteria.

        I then when into those properties to check them out. And every one is being lived in. Every dam hovel is full. Ever piece of crap I though we could make habitual and put people in – was already habituated.

        These are homes with no power, no water, and on the whole quite hellish. There are families living in them. And paying really shitty rents.

        Squatters rights, the middle class will howl.

        • Anno1701 3.2.1.1

          I know a few young people who are squatting in Auckland right now

          2 of them in Parnell in a disused commercial premises , they have re-connected the power them selves and should be nice and warm this winter for a change !

          • adam 3.2.1.1.1

            Anno 1701, rule of thumb, don’t ever mention locations, even suburbs. Say Auckland central, keep the buggers guessing.

            Good on them!

            I know a few in commercials as well, but, I’m trying to get families into houses, and the commercial properties just not good enough for that.

            Yes squatting a small movement at present, When we get another financial hit, which I’m guessing will be some time around August. We will have a few more commercial properties come up.

            • Anno1701 3.2.1.1.1.1

              I squatted for years around Europe, Met some great people, had some great parties , saw some some incredible artworks (especially in the Netherlands before the squatter laws were weakened ) , Some of the squats i stayed in had library’s, meditation/prayer rooms, restaurants/cafes

              HAZ (housing action zone ) manor in Luton even had a housing office to help people get into state flats & there own mediation team to avoid conflicts getting out of hand .

              some of the best years of my life !

              • Sabine

                squats in berlin, 1983, kept this girl of the road and got me back on track. Would not even want to guess what would have happened had I not happened on these people.
                And yes, lot’s of art. Also lot’s of drugs, hunger and fear. T’was interesting times.

  4. Peter 4

    NZ voted for a free market winner takes all approach. Morality, market failure and social concern are irrelevant to the minority who voted National in.

  5. Anne 5

    S’okay folks. All’s gonna be well. John Key’s solution to Auckland’s housing crisis… (extreme sarc)

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/201800820/john-key's-solution-to-auckland's-housing-crisis

    • Paul 5.1

      Key only cares for the company he made at Merrill Lynch.
      Anyone under $25 million isn’t worth his breath.

  6. grumpystilskin 6

    Seems according to our PM, all you have to do is tell winz and it’ll be fixed. You’ll be in a cosy house in no time!

  7. esoteric pineapples 7

    It is almost inevitable that Auckland is going to become a city where large chunks of housing are empty or have very few occupants while other parts of the city have families crammed into a bedroom etc. This is simply an economic reality that is unfolding as Auckland homes simply become a vehicle for investors to profit from. They buy houses and hang on to them long enough to make a good profit out of continuing prices rises. People needing a house to live in in Auckland won’t be able to afford the rents and will have to cram together in ever larger numbers in houses to make ends meet. Unfortunately, unlike sharemarkets that eventually reach a peak as the price of shares disconnects from the real value of the asset, in the Auckland housing market there are almost unlimited international funds to continue to pump into the market for years ahead. Even if a lot of houses are built (which won’t happen) the demand from the market is going to way ahead of what is available. The only way you could slow the Auckland housing market is mass building of new homes, banning overseas investors from buying property, and introducing a proper capital gains tax, now of which this government is going to do.

  8. Mosa 8

    The up shot of this miserable sad story is that most kiwis don’t care.
    It does not effect the silent John Key majority at all,they are cushioned by wealth and credit cards and Keys soothing voice that everything is great and poverty is just an aberation ,trick of the light if you will.
    Poverty and living in cars is no longer unacceptable as it once was and it shows that neo liberal policies are working and the Brighter Future Key promised is here.
    Anyway if you are living in a car or garage its your own failure not the governments.
    The people this effects don’t have a voice that can be heard,there not important or have influence to change their predicament
    The sooner we accept that the problem is entrenched and has been for the last 30 years and won’t go away we won’t have to acknowledge the problem exisits in our country and focus on other issues like how to avoid paying tax on our hidden millions.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    Anyone gutsy enough to end Auckland population growth and start moving people south of the Waikato.

    There are good houses going in smaller towns for under $200K.

    • Sabine 9.1

      one of the things that should be said to would be ‘business investor’ migrants.
      If their business is not viable out of Auckland than maybe its not viable, or to be more polite, create a business anywhere but in Auckland and you get yer residence permit. IF thats not happening go invest in a different country.

      And buying up rental, residential and commercial property for landbanking should not be considered a ‘business investment’.

      So any would be migrant gutsy enough to migrate from Beijing or Berlin directly to Dunedin?

      Why should the People of Auckland that have lived here for decades, have their families, their jobs, and their social networks give up their jobs and move elsewhere?

      • Gangnam Style 9.1.1

        “So any would be migrant gutsy enough to migrate from Beijing or Berlin directly to Dunedin? ” Plenty of people have

        • Sabine 9.1.1.1

          good.
          Cause frankly i would like to stay in Auckland, and so would my 4th generation West Auckland Family.

      • Sabine 9.1.2

        and we should consider that the issue of homelessness is not one confined to Auckland alone.
        There are homeless people in the South Island too. Any gutsy people there that want to move up and fill up the Waikato?

        • Gangnam Style 9.1.2.1

          No it’s not, a workmate, conservative Nat voting well-to-do has just come back from a month long camper van trip around the South Island & she said she had never seen so many homeless people living in their cars before, she said not just Queenstown but West Coast, CHCH everywhere, she was quite shocked (so was I). I have had some interesting conversations with her since.

          • Sabine 9.1.2.1.1

            the worst bit about this all is that Auckanders are moving. But they are not the gutsy ones that go to breach frontiers and start business and the likes. No they are the ones that cashed up and are now coming to a residential neighbourhood near you and fucking up the real Estate prices there.

            It is not confined to one city alone, and to just simply call for ‘gutsy aucklanders’ – what a stupid comment in itself – is not going to fix the issue.

            The selling of the state houses is happening everywhere, the selling up for speculation has hit all other regions. The lack of ‘affordable housing’ build, the kicking out people that are not served by the free market, the utter failure of the free market to create anything ‘affordable’ in itself is coming home to roost everywhere now.

            I am just amazed that after – what at least the last three years of fuck all in regards to housing nationwide we still have people suggesting that ‘gutsy aucklanders’ could just move to the waikato or elsewhere where housing is ‘cheap’ and start all over. There is a reason housing is cheap there, and much has to do with lack of jobs.

            Fuck, many gutsy aucklanders don’t even have the money to move from one flat to the next.

            • whispering kate 9.1.2.1.1.1

              Sabine has it not occurred to you many Aucklanders are just sick of living in Auckland. Crowded roads, grid lock most of the time, hours to get to anywhere, there are many people who are leaving and its just unfortunate that they may be rarking up the house prices elsewhere, blame it on the Government not the poor sods who just want out of the God damn place.

              I have been on the road for a few days and you would be surprised how many people I meet who are sussing out other areas where they might live – looking at Property Guides and just wanting a bit of peace and quiet. None of us asked for huge increases in our population, streets full of strangers and feeling like an outsider. For once I know how the Maoris felt when we inundated their country and took it over. We, the people never asked for this inundation, and for our homes to be priced out of reach for our kids. Its a disgrace what is happening.

              Why couldn’t it have been a controlled intake, a better control of our housing stock, just a bit of common sense really but National and Labour before it have welcomed in far too many for our small population and lack of infrastructure and housing to cope with them. If the houses are rising in the provinces its not the fault of Aucklanders who want to get the hell out.

              This present Government are abominable in their ineptitude at dealing with this situation.

      • Anno1701 9.1.3

        ‘business investor’ migrants

        you mean pizza hutt/dominoes owners….

        HOW MANY pizzas do we really need !

        • Visubversa 9.1.3.1

          You don’t need anything as expensive as a restaurant. A couple of $2Dollar shops staffed by minimum wage workers will get you a business residency. Then you can get on with the real job, buying real estate to launder the big bucks you ripped off with sweatshops or corrupt deals. Or else you get one of your kids a student visa and once they have an IRD number you send them $2 million to buy property.

  10. Gangnam Style 10

    “So did MSD house any1 today from a car? PM said WINZ would not send them back 2 their cars tonight?” Asks Helen Kelly

  11. dave 11

    bang up the interest rates smoke these greedy bastards out we need a rescission badly i never thought i would say that we need a crash i applaud the reserve banks action turn the easy credit/money flow off it cant get any worse speculators need to be bankrupted i wouldn’t even start kiwi build until after a crash and got some relevance to incomes back in the market. speculators can jump off a bridge for all i care scrap that rental supplement its not helping at all
    build emergency camps on the golf courses and playing fields
    the misery shouldn’t be hidden fucken invade the mind set of the plastic world national and there supporters live in

  12. Jack Ramaka 12

    The Auckland market has been seriously distorted by the capital flows from Asia I worked in the real estate industry in Auckland for 3 years so I am not making up porkies!!!

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