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National shows true colours on state housing

National shows true colours on state housing

The National party has shown its true colours on state housing with announcements that will create enormous uncertainty and instability for every family living in a state house, says Labour Housing spokesperson Moana Mackey.

National’s announced plans will make it harder for struggling families to find affordable accommodation and result in more people living in substandard and overcrowded situations, Ms Mackey said.

“Successive National party budgets have slashed funding for state housing, with Housing New Zealand now having to find savings in their baseline funding if they want to add more homes to their stock. It is therefore hardly surprising that the pressures in social housing are getting worse.

“But instead of building more houses, National's answer is to boot people off the waiting list and to kick families out of their homes and pretend they don't exist.

“National's inappropriately named “Options and Advice” service is already being used to turn people away and send them out to the private sector before they are able to have a needs assessment. This has resulted in the Housing New Zealand waiting list dropping by nearly 3000, with many of these people turning up in emergency accommodation having lost everything trying to sustain tenancies that they could not afford in the first place.

“To make matters worse, the Minister has decided to boot nearly 5000 additional people off the waiting list from 1 July, and thousands of state house tenants will be evicted if National wins the election and the ‘surplus’ properties sold.

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“The Minister has no idea where affected people are going to go. We have massive shortages in affordable accommodation right across the country and families are already struggling with high unemployment and the ever rising cost of living.

“These people are not wealthy. To be classed as a category C on the waiting list someone must meet Housing New Zealand's test of being ‘unlikely to be able to access or afford suitable, adequate and sustainable housing without state intervention’.

“The Minister also confirmed that every Housing New Zealand tenant will face the uncertainty of a three yearly review, and has changed his position on elderly and disabled tenants, confirming that they too will be up for a ‘desktop’ review every three years.

“Housing New Zealand already works with tenants on a case by case basis to move them on if their circumstances change and what tenancy managers have told me is that the biggest impediment to this happening is that they have nowhere to move to.

“National has done nothing to address New Zealand's ever worsening housing shortage. And in terms of social housing, Housing New Zealand is still playing catchup from the disastrous decision of the 1990s National government to carry out a fire sale of nearly 13,000 state houses. Labour spent nine years in government trying to undo the damage, adding nearly 8000 houses to the Housing New Zealand stock. Today's announcements confirm that National has thrown in the towel when it comes to state housing.”

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