Housing NZ job losses increases risks for vulnerable tenants
26 October 2011
Housing New Zealand job losses increases risks for vulnerable tenants
Housing New Zealand is getting rid of up to 150 staff and putting its vulnerable tenants at risk, says the PSA, the country’s biggest union.
“Housing New Zealand announced today that it is cutting 70 jobs by April next year but that is a best case scenario. Housing New Zealand has advised us that up to 150 jobs could go,” says Richard Wagstaff, PSA National Secretary.
“Originally, 220 jobs were targeted but strong representation from the PSA has seen that number significantly reduced. However, the restructure is still going to impact on tenants.”
Recently, Housing New Zealand announced that only people will high social needs will be eligible for state housing. Now it is proposing to divest itself of responsibility for any social problems that arise by flicking them on to the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and other agencies.
“Previously, tenancy managers assisted tenants with their wider social problems and liaised with social agencies to get them the help they needed,” says Richard Wagstaff. “Now tenants, many of them with high needs, will have to try to access social services without support. There’s a risk these vulnerable tenants will now fall between the cracks and not receive the help they need.”
The PSA has written to Housing New Zealand, asking how it intends to work with MSD to ensure tenants get timely referrals to social agencies. However, Housing New Zealand is refusing to discuss the issue with the union.
“As a state agency, Housing New Zealand needs to accept that it has a social responsibility for its tenants,” says Richard Wagstaff. “If it restricts its role purely to managing property, it is failing in its duty to the community.”