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Government inaction sees social housing waiting list spiral

The Government has seen the social housing waiting list double since it took power, with over 10,000 people waiting for social housing. Auckland Action Against Poverty condemns the inaction by successive Governments for failing to build enough public housing and keep rent prices under control, resulting in record number of people being homeless or substandard housing conditions.

“While the National Government oversaw a decline of the state housing sector and saw inequality increase to record levels, the current Labour Government has only marginally differentiated itself from the previous administration with a modest increase in state homes and no plans to remedy out-of-control rent prices”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

The mixed housing developments by this Government give far too much priority with to private housing, most of which is out of the reach for the 10,000 families waiting for social housing. In places like South Auckland, where 10,000 homes are being built, only third will be state housing, and the net total of state homes will only increase by a few hundred because 2,700 homes will be demolished.

“Housing Minister Phil Twyford says that the Government is pulling all the stops, but there is so much more he can do that he’s refusing to consider. With Kiwibuild failing to pick up speed, and private housing developments not meeting the needs of low-income people, he could instead change the ratios of housing developments to give far more priority to state housing.

“The Government is also failing to fund Housing New Zealand in order to ramp up the building of state homes. Treasury criticized the Government last year for putting the crown agency at financial risk by not borrowing centrally in order to fund state housing. This is the direct result of the Government’s fiscal policy which sets borrowing levels too low for the infrastructure deficit we face.

“Additionally, Minister Phil Twyford is making no provisions around affordability in the review of Residential Tenancy Act. Many of the people who end up in the social housing waiting list are pushed out of private rentals because of high prices. With cities like Wellington now the most expensive in the country to rent, the Labour-led Government risks seeing people across the whole country being pushed out of private rentals into the streets or transient accommodation arrangements.

Instead of spending millions on subsidizing moteliers to provide unsafe emergency accommodation the Government should stop the rhetoric and take decisive action to better fund Housing New Zealand, strengthen renters rights, and prioritise the build of more public housing it is currently planning to. Without a change of plans, the Government risks entrenching the conditions the previous administration created that led us to a record number of people without a place to call home.

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