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Family In Garage Highlights Housing Crisis

Dr Nick Smith
National Party MP for Nelson

24 February 2003

Family in garage highlights housing crisis

"High rents and poor housing policy are forcing Nelson families to live in garages, tents, caravans and packing sheds," according to Nelson MP Nick Smith.

Dr Smith's making the claims after highlighting the plight of a Nelson family with three children and expecting twins any day. They've now been forced to move into a garage for shelter (see attached summary).

"This case is just the tip of the iceberg," Dr Smith says.

"I have had more housing constituency problems in the last three months than in the past 12 years and more reports of people living on the streets.

"This is the human face of ballooning house prices and an idealistic Government with a housing policy that does not work.

"My anecdotal experience is backed up by facts. Nelson's Emergency Night Shelter has had its busiest year ever with use up 27% on the previous year. Real estate figures show average Nelson house prices up 30% in the last year and the AMP Home Affordability Survey shows Nelson housing costs deteriorating by 29% in the last year, worse than anywhere in New Zealand."

"Housing New Zealand is proving useless in helping the many families that have come to me in desperation. The tragedy is that there are 3 and 4 bedroom state houses in Nelson with only a single tenant, but under the Government's housing policy of rent based on 25% of income, they have no incentive to move on.

"I, like Labour Minister John Tamihere, believe the Government's Housing Policy is wrong and that giving tenants a lifelong entitlement prevents more needy families from being helped," Dr Smith says.

"Nelson's housing crisis needs urgent attention. The Accommodation Supplement, on which 4500 Nelson families depend, needs to be increased for inflation and housing costs.

"The Government should re-classify Nelson as a high cost housing area. The Nelson community also needs to review whether an emergency family house is required while the Government needs to revisit its housing policy.

"I will be calling together a meeting of Nelson social service agencies this Friday to develop a community strategy for addressing this problem and to put a case to Government to lift the housing supplement.

"I further call on Housing New Zealand to find a home for this family before the twins are born," Dr Smith says.

Ends (See attached summary of family housing problem)

Summary of family housing problem

1. Israel Grey, Ruby Peretina and their 3 children Huia 8, Simmone 7, and Alex 5 are expecting twins anytime.

2. Previously lived at 70B Murphy Street, Nelson for 3 years but were given notice in November 2002 when landlord put property on market.

3. Family sought help from Nelson M.P. Nick Smith who advised landlord must give 90 days notice and that they should immediately seek out new rental home and also apply to Housing New Zealand.

4. Family searched for home through real estate agents and newspaper ads and applied for home from Housing New Zealand. The few private homes available were way beyond their family budget. Housing New Zealand said no homes available.

5. In January Nick Smith M.P. wrote to Housing New Zealand advising of specifics of case and notifying them that family had to be out of existing home by mid-February.

6. On February 18th, Nick Smith M.P. again phoned Housing New Zealand, spoke with Area Manager Pia Searancke and again emphasized desperation of case and that family had no where to go but a garage 3 days later.

7. Family moved into garage of friend Lesandra Miles at 85A Beatsons Road on Friday 21st February where they are continuing to desperately search for a home, preferably in Nelson City/Victory Square area so children can continue schooling at Victory School and Israel can maintain job with local furniture moving company.

Background housing statistics

1. Average house price in Nelson has increased by $45,000 (30%) in the last year from $150,000 to 195,000. This increase is larger than the total increase in Nelson's average house price over the previous ten years. (Source : Real Estate Institute of New Zealand)

2. Home affordability, which takes into account housing costs, incomes and interest rates has deteriorated by 29% in Nelson over the past 12 months, the worst of any region in New Zealand. (Source: AMP Home Affordability Report Jan 2003)

3. Emergency Housing Use has increased in Nelson by 27% in the past 12 months from 1871 bed nights in 2001 to 2377 bed nights in 2002

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