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Minister Of Housing, Or Minister Of Homeless?

Minister Of Housing, Or Minister Of Homeless?

If Housing Minister Steve Maharey were actually doing his job, police would not have to warn landlords to lock their vacant properties to prevent break-ins by homeless people seeking warmth, ACT New Zealand Housing Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Labour was elected on a mandate of helping the downtrodden - surely living on the streets, under bridges and in parks qualifies a person as `downtrodden'," Dr Newman said.

"Also, Housing New Zealand was established to provide a safety net of temporary housing for those in genuine need. But, when you have people forced to break into empty houses to escape the winter cold, it is clear that the department is failing.

"HNZC has gone from being a provider of temporary assistance, to a long-term landlord. I recently revealed that, at the end of January 2004, at least 55 State houses had been occupied by the same tenants for over 40 years - 17 of those for more than 60 years.

"Tenants should flow through State housing - moving in, up and out - making room for the next needy family. But, under Labour, they're becoming trapped by the lure of cheap rent for life - in Auckland alone, houses worth over $700,000 are rented for as little as $40 a week.

"Labour ignored the recent debate over Wellington's homeless and, as of April 2004, over 6,000 people were on HNZC's `at risk' and `serious need' lists waiting for housing. This is unacceptable from any government - let alone one that claims to help the disadvantaged.

"It is time Mr Maharey woke up to the flaws in his housing policies and introduced time limits on State houses. This is the only way to ensure that those in genuine need receive assistance - or is homelessness acceptable under a Labour Government?" Dr Newman said.

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