The government wants to sell 2,500 state houses in Christchurch this year, in the middle of a housing crisis with a shortage of affordable houses and record levels of homelessness.
This is a slap in the face for people who are already struggling in this housing crisis. The Government is making a blatant statement that they do not care about their citizens.
Earlier this month, I spoke at the well-attended public meeting held in the Christchurch cardboard cathedral to stop the state house sales. Housing Action Canterbury brought together a large and diverse group of speakers in support of their campaign against the sell-offs.
The night began rightfully with the resolute voices of people who live in state houses, whose very lives will be directly affected by these sales. Their stories were essential and had a clear message – state house tenants matter.
The National Government has tried to say that selling off state houses was about empowering local community housing providers and even iwi and hapū groups. Instead, they are more interested in flogging off state houses to the highest bidder and have been holding meetings with potential investors in Sydney.
New Zealand needs a strong state housing programme if we have any hope of ending the housing crisis. We must ensure affordable housing for low and middle-income families. Rather than blowing emergency housing budgets by spending billions on motel bills like this Government is doing, we need a well-run and maintained stock of public housing. Only the government has the resources to do this.
By denying the housing crisis and privatising state houses, this Government disregards the ever-increasing number of people and families who just want a warm and safe home so they can put down roots and remain connected in their communities. Families and people living in connected stable communities are the cohesive glue our country desperately needs.
At the Christchurch public meeting, I offered a reminder that the irresponsible management of our nation’s housing needs had already created a huge burden on our health, education and justice systems for starters.
I continued to say that when we flog off state homes we are not just flogging off houses – we are flogging off our human values of caring and compassion. A government devoid of those values is utterly destabilising.
It is time to fix this and restore what New Zealanders hold dear to our hearts. We deserve a country that cares for its citizens. We ALL need state house tenants to matter. Stop the sell-off of state homes.