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Housing Crisis

Media release

Members of Tu Tangata Maraenui, a community group formed around the housing crisis in Maraenui, Napier, are heading for Wellington to march on Parliament on 7th November to protest against the government’s social housing policy which has caused widespread overcrowding while empty state houses are being sold off.

Spokesperson Chantelle Brown said that the policy, which came into effect in July 2011, has made most low-income applicants for state houses not eligible, forcing families into overcrowded living situations because they cannot pay market rentals.

“We have 70 plus empty houses in Maraenui, many of them perfectly habitable,” Chantelle said, “while in the same streets desperate whanau are forced into living two or three families in one home because they are not eligible for these income-related rentals.

“Before this policy took effect, there were no empty houses in Maraenui and a long waiting list. Now there is no one on the waiting list for these homes. Only people with high and complex needs qualify for a state house, and many of those find it hard to apply now the offices are all closed and there’s only an 0800 number.”

Although the new policy does not affect existing tenants directly, many have desperate homeless family members needing somewhere affordable to live, so their well being is compromised by families doubling up in one house.

Housing New Zealand says that they are hoping community housing providers will take up where they have left off, but there are none in Napier who can fill the gap left with cutbacks on affordable state housing.

“We have held meeting after meeting with Housing New Zealand, but this is a central government policy, which is why we are taking our protest to Parliament," Chantelle said

“Eighty per cent of the homes they are emptying are to be sold privately,” Napier City Councillor Maxine Boag said. "This is a major sell-off of publically owned land." She said the government will not be building new state houses, because "there's no one on the waiting list since they changed the criteria."

Tu Tangata Maraenui is joining with other community groups in their march on parliament, including a contingent from Glen Innes, people from Pomare and Wellington groups. Maori wardens, social service providers and Ngahiwi Tomoana, chair of Ngati Kahungunu Iwi will be marching with them. They are inviting anyone else who would like to join them to ring Maxine at 835 6495.


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