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Launch Of Council Housing Action Group

19th April 2002

A new group to fight the planned sale of Auckland City Council's pensioner and general residential flats was launched last night at a public meeting in Freemans Bay. More than 30 tenants and supporters have pledged to take a variety of actions to stop the sales. The Council Housing Action Group is part of the Wake Up Auckland coalition which is opposed to the undemocratic nature and policies of the new Council under Mayor John Banks and the Auckland Citizens and Rate Payers Now majority.

The group welcomed the government's intention to introduce legislation that would require Council to undertake extensive public consultation before being able to sell pensioner housing, seeing it as a step in the right direction, but nevertheless considered it inadequate. "A lot of people think that the sales are off now, but that's not the case. It currently leaves out general residential housing, and will only temporarily stall the process. Today's announcement by Deputy Mayor David Hay that the Council is going ahead as planned is further justification for being cynical about the outcome of any public consultation exercise, and another reflection of this Council's disregard of public opinion," says spokesperson Sigrid Shayer.

Actions planned for the weeks ahead range from urging people to make submissions to the Council's draft annual plan and organising public meetings, to supporting tenants who refuse to pay rent increases and who refuse to move out. "The group is made up of people with very different backgrounds and our actions will reflect that variety."

Pledge forms will be circulated within the wider community for people to commit themselves to directly supporting pensioner tenants in the event that they are required to move against their will. Fourteen pensioner housing sites - a total of 249 units - have been approved for disposal in the next 4 years. The group points out that pensioners will be forced to relocate in order for these pensioner village sites to be sold empty within the time frame. The Council's guarantee of life-time tenure is false, as it only guarantees tenure of a pensioner unit, not their present home, and only for the duration of the 20 year sales strategy.

A member of the group has also made a complaint to the auditor-general about the partial inclusion of the sales of general residential housing in the annual plan public consultation process, arguing that the current sales of vacant properties and those to sitting tenants should also be included.

The group will meet again on 2nd May, Freemans Bay Community Centre, 7.30pm.

ENDS

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