Why Metiria and I are sleeping rough tonight

Tonight, Metiria Turei and I are sleeping rough in Auckland as part of the Lifewise Big Sleepout, to raise funds and awareness on homeless issues.

We’re not alone, and tonight we’re joined by two former Mayors, four members of Parliament, one Auckland councillor, one New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year, four Sir Peter Blake Trust Emerging Leaders plus an incredible array of leaders from the community and business sectors.

One-off events like these help raise awareness but the critical thing that needed is Government leadership to seriously inquire into homelessness issues and then develop an across-government homeless strategy backed up with resources. Every Kiwi deserves a warm, healthy home.

Help us raise some cash for the great work Lifewise does: Metiria’s page, and Gareth’s page.

8 thoughts on “Why Metiria and I are sleeping rough tonight

  1. Homelessness is only going to increase in Auckland given the lack of new housing starts there. As soon as the economy picks up and skilled migrants are in demand this will have an impact.

    Into this enviroment comes National’s policy to reduce returns from income related rent for state housing by moving on those tenants paying market level rents. This will result in less funds for renovation and new property – meaning less available state housing. This cycle will only repeat as they reduce access to state housing to the SB/IB/DPB or superannuant – reducing income related returns even further.

    There is nothing wrong with their approach that could not be put right by providing compensating investment into Housing Corporation for an increase in housing stock and renovation and otherwise a requirement that all private rental property also be insulated.

    Preference for road building is simply placing the needs for the car driver ahead of housing for all.

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  2. Building new state houses may not be good use of taxpayer money, and may be less efficient use of funds for helping people with housing.

    If you spend $350,000 on a new house and section (if you could actually do it for that price) then 6% interest and 3% maintenance, insurance etc, means we are subsidising $31,500 per house or $605 per week.

    That will be a lot more when interest rates go up.

    Most families could rent for much less than that, so we’d be able to help MORE people simply by handing out cash in accommodation supplements.

    Though a capital gains tax may lead to a shortage of rental housing.

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  3. photonz, it has been argued that extending the accommodation “benefit” into the “supplement” and making this available to workers (with the loss of the family home mortgage rebate) is the cause of the increase in investment in rental property – investment that has reduced the level of first home ownership. This because the supplement increased the rent paid and drove up the value of property beyond wages – and many people could not pay the mortgage out of their wages at those price levels.

    So increasing the accommodation supplement is only going to drive up rent returns and perpetuate the decline in home ownership – leave more people dependent on rental property.

    In so far as a declining public housing stock being unable to cope with rising demand from population growth, including people unable to work till 65 (also the next generation after the baby boomers is without significant home ownership so will be on super and paying rent), I don’t think accommodation supplement on top of their benefit will afford them private sector rents (even the government concedes this with the social housing charitable group partner proposals), they will just be homeless.

    As to a CGT, it might lead to less private rental housing, but that means sales to first home buyers and less demand for rental property. That really is a separate issue.

    PS There is an income related rent return from public housing that covers the cost of maitenance and insurance etc (and private landlords cover their costs with rent and pay no tax on the income covering their deductable expenses) and some GST revenue and company tax and income tax revenues from the economic activity building the state houses.

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  4. SPC – I’m not against state houses. On the face of it, it just looks hard to justify them from a straight economic viewpoint.

    Metiria tried to justify them on job creation grounds, but looking at her numbers she either greatly inflated the numbers or the plan is to pay people a fraction of what they normally earn.

    One of the problems with housing is that there are very few cheap or modest houses being built. As a country we need to build a large number of smaller, energy efficient, cheaper houses.

    And we’re building none. We build big mansions instead.

    This is somewhere the govt could make a difference by building it’s own subdivisions of reasonably priced new houses.

    They wouldn’t even have to put in any real money. They could simply contract someone like Fletchers to build a subdivision of houses at a set price, and the sale would cover all the costs.

    If we can keep NZ housing more reasonably priced, and rising at no more than the rate of inflation, then no one will be getting capital gains from housing – they will merely hold their value.

    We don’t want a tax to make things fair and even – we need taxes that make things uneven, so they direct our money away from the wrong things, towards the productive sector that will generate income for NZ.

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  5. “towards the productive sector that will generate income for NZ’.

    Why are you opposing a CGT, that will help direct investment away from non-productive speculation.

    Maybe we should go back to Adam Smith’s ideas. Tax the owners of land and capital. Not workers and manufacturers. :-)

    State sales of reasonable priced sustainable and low maintenance housing is a good idea though.

    Also a better way of putting in some economic stimulus than tax cuts to those who do not need them.

    Like this one. http://goldenbayhideaway.co.nz/

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  6. On Red Alert it was noted that

    “State Housing was being changed into Emergency Housing (limited pool of temporary housing based on extreme need only, to be forcibly vacated when that need is over).”

    That “those in State Rentals will now have less rights than tenants in private rentals. As a private landlord cannot legally evict a tenant because of an improvement in that tenant’s circumstances.”

    That this is “certainly a long way from the founding principle of State Provision of decent affordable rental housing for all who require it”.

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  7. Update: had a pretty sleepless night – it rained in patches (but we were given a tarp, was cold, the concrete was sore and they paid actors to wake us up at 2am singing.
    There was a fantastic atmosphere with lots and lots of people involved, and I think it did make a difference – we raised over $100,000 for Lifewise and homelessness awareness.
    The main thing, and what the Greens have been doing consistently is calling for Government leadership – now.
    One thing I learnt there was the impact the Rugby World Cup is having on homeless which was raised in the Herald on Sunday: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10737533&ref=nzhbt

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  8. Good on you. We have such campaigns here in the UK, and sleeping rough needs as much of a high profile as possible. Unfortunately the homeless are all too easily forgotten.

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