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Homeless need more than sympathy and empty words


Associate Housing Spokesperson (Christchurch)

Homeless need more than sympathy and empty words

Housing Minister Nick Smith’s admission that Christchurch’s housing shortage is unlikely to improve any time soon despite new home approvals being at a record high is further proof that National has been too slow in responding to the city’s housing crisis, Labour’s Christchurch Housing spokesperson Poto Williams says.

“On one hand Dr Smith has been talking up the number of consents being approved, on the other he is conceding the housing market is expected to ‘remain tight until 2018’.

“The fact is there are still people living in garages and in vans, while hundreds more continue to put up with unnecessary hardship on a daily basis as a result of his government’s failure to get the residential rebuild underway.

“My electorate office alone knows of 48 people waiting to move into warm and dry accommodation. They are currently living in cars, or being put up by friends in lounges and garages.

“In April last year the Ministry of Social Development had 97 people classified as Priority A on its waiting lists and 194 as Priority B.

“In March this year the numbers had increased to 272 people on the Priority A list and 223 on Priority B.

“The situation is not getting better, it is getting worse.

“Dr Smith is urging tenants being overcharged or living in substandard housing to approach the Tenancy Tribunal. That’s all well and good, but when you are desperate for a roof over your head you are hardly going to kick up a fuss.

“Housing is the number one issue in Christchurch. It’s about time the government did more than come here, sympathise and leave. It needs to put a lot more effort into getting a lot more homes built.

“Labour would tackle the crisis head on and build 10,000 affordable homes in Canterbury over the first four years of the KiwiBuild programme, partner with the local community to revitalise New Brighton, and investigate the use of Red Zone homes as rental properties or relocate them where safe and feasible.”

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