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Government’s state housing targets out of touch with needs

Figures showing that the housing waiting list has reached a record 14,500 households demonstrates that the Government’s investment towards building new state housing is inadequate and needs reviewing. Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to at least triple its state housing targets to match the number of households waiting for a home and increase funding to Kāinga Ora.

“Families are suffering due to the chronic underfunding of the state housing sector. This Government needs to inject more money into building at least three times as many state homes in the next four years if it is serious about ending the homelessness crisis”, says Ricardo Menendez March, Auckland Action Against Poverty Coordinator.

“The Government’s target of 6,400 state homes in four years since it came to power is less than half the number of households waiting for a state home. This means the Government thinks it is acceptable to leave over 5,000 households in cold, unsafe, precarious housing conditions for several years. Many people waiting for public housing are having to live in expensive motels that do not provide suitable conditions for people to live in. The only way to reduce the fast-growing bill for emergency accommodation in the medium term is by building enough public housing. In the months of July to September this year the Government put $41 million dollars into the hands of moteliers, up from $15 million over the same period of months in 2018. Moteliers are profiting from the Government’s under investment in state housing.

“It’s irresponsible to not change the pace at which state homes are being built when the number of people needing public housing is increasing at a much faster rate. The current mixed housing tenure means that most of the land used for housing developments is going into private housing that is out of reach for the thousands of households waiting for public housing. In Mangere alone two thirds of the homes that are being built will be private, with only a third going into public housing.

“With a record surplus and low debt the time is right to invest in public infrastructure. We are urging the Government to prioritise the needs of those without a home and to better resource the building of state housing in the upcoming budget. Investing in more state housing to provide a home for the 14,500 households waiting for a state home will help reduce costs in other sectors such as healthcare, by ensuring that children and the elderly are not suffering from preventable respiratory diseases due to their poor housing conditions.

“Access to public housing and income-related rent is a way to ensure that households are not burdened with rising rent. Living in a state home ensures that you do not pay a disproportionate amount of your income on rent, as many low-income families who live in private rentals do. We know that people on the benefit are the most burdened by rising rent, according to Stats NZ’s own reports, with some families spending up to 60% of their weekly income on rent. Guaranteeing that no one is paying more than 30% of their weekly income on rent would massively contribute to the reduction of poverty in Aotearoa.

“It is not good enough for this Government to treat housing as a political football and defend its low targets by claiming it is building more state homes than the previous one, it needs to commit to building enough public housing to ensure that no family is left behind in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.”

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