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Housing crisis will worsen under National

Housing Spokesperson

5 November 2011

Housing crisis will worsen under National

National's housing policy, released today, confirms that the New Zealand's housing crisis will only continue to get worse if National is re-elected, says Labour housing spokesperson Moana Mackey.

“There is nothing new in National's policy released today. The National Government still has no plan to deal with the critical shortage of housing, which has only grown worse under Minister Heatley's watch,” Moana Mackey said.

“National has spent three years trying to hide the problem. Options and Advice is being used to deny applicants a needs assessment, and keep them away from the waiting list. Combine this with the Government's decision to kick category C and D applicants off the waiting list and it's no wonder waiting lists have plummeted, despite the difficult economic environment.

“But the housing need doesn't disappear just because the Minister chooses to ignore it. The average income of an applicant in the C and D categories is less than $26,000 a year. These are the people National thinks are so wealthy that they should no longer be able to access Housing New Zealand assistance.

“The reality is Housing New Zealand overwhelmingly houses the poorest and neediest families. There are not millionaires sitting in state houses as the Minister has suggested. Reviewable tenancies are a solution looking for a problem. Instead of developing bureaucratic solutions to fix non-existent problems it would be nice if the Minister addressed the actual problem – a critical shortage of social and affordable housing.

“Housing New Zealand is in a mess. Even applicants staying in emergency accommodation, including those staying in night shelters, are being denied a needs assessment because they are considered “housed”.

“Some of our most vulnerable citizens with high and complex needs can no longer get a foot in the door. The Minister should be ashamed.”

“Labour also wants to increase the role of the community housing sector in the provision of social and affordable housing, but this must be as well as continued government investment, not instead of. National's plan to devolve responsibility to the community sector, without also devolving the funding to provide affordable rents, is reintroducing market rents by stealth – but it will be the social housing organisations that bear the brunt from angry tenants when their rents increase.

“We are still playing catchup from the 1990s when the last National Government sold 13,000 state houses, introduced market rents and carried out no modernisation whatsoever. The last Labour government spent nine years trying to repair the damage.

“Labour is committed to ensuring that Housing New Zealand retains it's role as a strong social housing provider, supporting our most vulnerable families,” Moana Mackey said.

Labour's Housing policy will be released shortly.


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