Selling off our state housing stock isn’t working for NZers

I want to end homelessness and ensure that everyone has a warm, safe, dry home.

This National Government has let down New Zealanders, especially the thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling with something so basic and important as housing.

One of their big picture policies is to take a look at the crisis in housing that we currently have and then take the bizarre step of turning around and selling off our state housing stock.

But it’s not going so well for them.

In May, they pulled out of their plan to sell hundreds of state homes in Invercargill. In November they abandoned their plans to sell 249 state houses in Horowhenua,

But never one to change an ideological position for the sake of New Zealanders, the Government just announced that they were planning on ‘transferring’ up to 2500 houses in Christchurch to community housing providers.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has said that “it makes complete sense that such housing should be transferred to a local provider, focused on building sustainable communities and ensuring the needs of tenants remain first and foremost.”

Here’s the thing, I think that the Government should not flog off its responsibility to provide housing. While the government should work with and support community housing providers, this must not be at the expense of strong state housing provision. Especially at a time when we are seeing more and more people without a safe, stable and affordable home. It is the job of the government to support local organisations in building strong communities, and selling off state homes in the middle of a housing crisis makes it harder for people working on the ground who tell us more state housing is needed, not less.

Under a Labour-Green government we would build more state housing, not sell it off. In fact, as part of our joint inquiry with the Māori Party into homelessness, that was our number two recommendation.

Here’s the wording of that recommendation:

While social housing transfers can be a part of growing the community housing sector the Government must retain its current stock of state housing. The inquiry repeatedly heard evidence that reductions in state housing stock are increasing the level of homelessness in New Zealand. While the Government may wish to do occasional transfers of stock to community housing providers who can provide different services to Housing New Zealand, this needs to be done in the context of increasing the level of both state and community provider housing.

 Kate Amore’s research indicated 15,000 to 25,900 additional houses are needed to house the severely housing deprived population. If the Government wants to eliminate homelessness, that is the scale of increase in state and community housing needed.

 The Government should also consider adopting a legislative target for Housing New Zealand to require it to build a minimum of 1,000 net additional units each year that demand for social housing is not met. This would create a mechanism to ensure that the Government is always able to ensure an adequate level of social housing.

New Zealand Governments for more than 100 years have been building social housing to benefit New Zealanders. What we have now is a Government agenda to remove that core responsibility of ensuring New Zealanders basic needs are met.

The issue of housing was important to me long before I entered Parliament. The Green Party will continue to do everything we can to realise our vision of everyone having a warm, safe, dry home.