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Wastewatch: Heatley spends $500K for nothing

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, December 10th, 2010 - 9 comments
Categories: housing - Tags: ,

The sum Phil Heatley has so far spent trying to get three women and their families evicted from their state houses, an effort to look tough, is the equivalent to the cost of building two new state houses. Over half a million spent on an ultimately pointless exercise – one that’s far from finished.

It all started when some Mongrel Mob members supposedly ransacked another state house and scared the occupants. Arrests were made but the charges were later dropped.

Heatley’s Housing New Zealand, as part of his new ‘tough’ policy, decided to evict not the Mongrel Mob members who weren’t actually being accused of any crime but their partners (presumably, the Mob members live in the houses where their partners are tenants but this has never been made clear).

Naturally, the women appealed their eviction on the quite reasonable grounds that they hadn’t done anything (nor had their partners been proven to have done anything), the disruption to their families was unwarranted, and they had nowhere else to go.

I’m not defending these women’s lifestyle. It’s the final point that’s most important to my mind. What’s the successful outcome for Housing New Zealand here? No private landlord will take these families now (even if they could afford private rents). Will Housing New Zealand just end up housing them somewhere else in its role as houser of last resort? Will it let all those kids live on the streets?

In fact, no matter what happens to the families if they are eventually evicted, it doesn’t solve the problems supposedly created by their presence, it just shifts them onto another community.

Tough talk might appeal to the Neanderthal-minded among us but, if the tough actions don’t actually in any way solve the problem, what’s the point?

So far, this legal battle has cost the government over $550,000 and the women still have a whole unused route of appeal on human rights grounds. They’re being evicted for having partners who are members of a legal gang – remember, Ministers in this government have met with the Mob Leaders at Parliament. Arguably, that breaches the right to free association.

Half a million dollars down the drain in an exercise that is all about shifting a supposed problem around, not solving it.

I wish Heatley had used the money to build a couple more state houses, instead.

9 comments on “Wastewatch: Heatley spends $500K for nothing ”

  1. prism 1

    The latest ‘bright’ Heatley move to prove that he is an MP that gets things done and in particular on the welfare front is tightening conditions on state houses.
    Some good background from stuff state housing
    Housing New Zealand provides about 67,700 households with dwellings, 89 per cent of which paid income related rents.
    A further 480,000 households were in rental accommodation provided by the private sector, more than half of them receiving the Government’s accommodation supplement.
    The report notes that there has been a policy “not to terminate the leases of tenants in good standing”, meaning state housing has provided secure tenure over the years. It says the “house for life” expectation meant 22,000, or 32 per cent of Housing New Zealand tenants, had been in the same state houses for at least 10 years.
    (Note –
    1 The number of households renting which are receiving government subsidies. Govt was warned of the inflationary effect of including the private sector as a major player in handling the problem of low cost housing. That policy was undoubtedly one of the major drivers of price rises in the low cost housing market. Government providing more state housing acts as a floor for rent prices, instead it has provided a perverse incentive for higher house prices with resultant higher rental prices as private individuals and companies invest in housing for rental.)
    2 The play with words so often used by right wingers to exaggerate and strengthen their case – 10 years occupation isn’t a house for life.)

    Also the news release says – The changes would not adversely affect current, elderly or infirm tenants, he said. But what about parents who are needing state housing. I note once more that there is little support or consideration for parents, or not until they have a major fail and then there is finger pointing. National Standards is being introduced to tell us in a new way that there is an educational problem. Much of that is that children are changing schools frequently because the parent loses their accommodation and has to shift to a new area. This just continues and worsens the problem.

    • Vicky32 1.1

      “House for life” – they used to be until they were considered ‘welfare’! (When I was a child, we owned our house, but thanks to “pepper-potting” we had many neighbours in State houses. They certainly were not considered welfare then! (We owned our house thanks to my maternal grandfather who had left his ‘holiday’ house to my Mum, and then she sold it when I was 12).
      I am in a State house now. I would give it up to a solo mother with one child (it’s a 2 bedroom place) but I can’t afford to leave, as I am on UB…
      But if I got a permanent job…

    • millsy 1.2

      The only thing I can see happening from this is a rising of rents right across the board, as possibly thousands of tenants are thrown into the private rental market, which is already under huge pressure from the Rugby World Cup next year. Especially in Auckland.

  2. tc 2

    More quality cost effective behaviour from the currency traders dealing room er I mean our cabinet

  3. SPC 3

    I tend to think that neither the Minister of Housing Corp were given any other option.

    There was a whole area of state housing that tenants wanted to leave (and some did) and a renewal programme on hold until this matter is sorted.

    PS Some gangs operate in such a way that “their” women and children live separately on the DPB.

    • Swampy 3.1

      Have a read of

      The whole thing is a lawyer’s game. The lawyers for the women have admitted that the HNZ was entitled and within their rights to make an eviction application at the tribunal on the grounds of breaching the tenancy agreements.

      But because HNZ did not use this part of the law but instead chose to give 90 days notice of ending the tenancy as they are entitled to do without giving any reason, that is apparently wrong to do.

      It has cost all this money because it has been to four court hearings each of which in turn has ruled against the tenants.

  4. Swampy 4

    It is not Heatley’s policy. It is and has been HNZC policy since Lesley McTurk became the Chief Executive and that occurred under the time of the Labour Government.

  5. Swampy 5

    You need to do some research before commenting further on this matter. It was extensively canvassed in a thread by Charles Chauvel on Red Alert recently. Chauvel and other MPs have been giving legal advice and support to the three women.

    Housing NZ states there had been a history of problems associated with the tenants who were being evicted. It was not just the matter that is referred to above. Tenancy agreements were breached and HNZ had the right to enforce those agreements at the minimum.

    As it is this case primarily relies on a legal technicality with most people will consider is a complete waste of time. What is actually being challenged is not that HNZ has a right to enforce its tenancy agreement. The legal process is all on the basis that HNZ does not have the right that the law clearly says they and any other landlord have – the right to terminate the tenancy at any time without giving a reason.

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