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Harawira: Financial Review Debate


2012/13 Financial Review of the non-departmental appropriations for VOTE HOUSING

Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and Member of Parliament for Tai Tokerau

Tuesday 4 March 2014

The first point I want to make about funding for affordable housing, is how woefully inadequate the Social Housing Fund allocation actually was, particularly when you consider the staggeringly high need, and secondly how little of that woefully inadequate amount was actually spent on housing and I want to highlight those figures here - $28m was actually allocated, but only $16m was spent.

How bad is that? Government takes only 2 days to decide spend $30m on Rio Tinto, but in a whole bloody year can’t spend $28m on housing for the poor?

How’s that for poor performance? They only got $28m - but through bureaucratic inefficiency they managed to only spend $16m; and they only actually delivered 165 houses! What a shambles!!!

But that’s not the worst part … the worst part is that government’s policies are leading to huge numbers of low-income families being evicted from their homes, state houses being disposed of, and large tracts of state housing land being sold off to make way for high-end housing estates because National believes that the private sector is the best place to provide for housing. Ehara tera te puru tutae noaiho!

There is nowhere in the world where the private sector provides quality, long-term, affordable housing for the poor, and it certainly isn’t happening here where thousands of families are forced to rent high-price, damp, draughty, cold flats and houses on the open market, because the state no longer wants to bother.

And those in state houses are being shunted out of them as we speak, like the family who has lived in a home in Glen Innes for the past 33 years, but are about to be evicted by HNZ this Friday as part of the sale of state properties to the private sector and the ‘redevelopment’ of the area.

HNZ say they’re evicting the family for alleged “anti-social behaviour” … isn’t it funny how a family can live in a house for 33 years without any major problems, but the minute mum speaks out against policies which have led to the eviction of friends and neighbours her family has known for decades, all of sudden her family is being evicted for “anti-social behaviour”.

Betty has lived in Glen Innes all her life; she’s a postal worker, a cleaner, an EPMU member and a regular volunteer at Glen Innes Primary School.

Late last year Betty’s sister’s family was evicted from the home where their family had lived for 54 years.

Betty herself has just come out of hospital where she underwent a procedure for breast cancer. She’s tired, she’s unwell, and now thanks to HNZ, she’s about to become homeless.

Betty’s family want to stay in their home and fight the eviction and the public are invited to support them by marching with her this Thursday, 6pm, Taniwha St, Glen Innes.

The ‘housing crisis’ in low socio-economic areas like Glen Innes, Pomare and Maraenui has actually been worsened by HNZ policies that demonise poor families and devastate communities, leaving empty houses and unsafe neighbourhoods.

And if that wasn’t enough, government is now reviewing all tenancies, and shifting the allocation of state housing from HNZ to WINZ, bringing even greater insecurity, and ever more bureaucratic harassment for low-income families.

That is not a future that any government should be seeking.

Government should instead take a positive approach to the problem, by engaging in a comprehensive programme of building 10,000 new state houses every year, for at least the next 5 years to help address the critical shortage of healthy homes for low-income families, and because building homes does more than just provide houses for people; it creates thousands of jobs in design, architecture, carpentry, cabinetmaking, painting, roofing, electrical work, plumbing, drainlaying, community infrastructure and all the related jobs that come with a strong and vibrant housing sector; and it helps build healthy families and healthy communities, because when people are working everybody benefits.

I have no doubt that a government funded home building programme would be well received by local bodies and by iwi, both of whom have a huge interest in seeing their communities engaged in meaningful work, and who would happily come to the party on consent issues and availability of land for housing development.

Mr Chairman – we do have a housing crisis, but we also have the ability to deal with it quickly and positively. All it takes is the political will to do so.


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