State housing ‘not fit for changing needs’
State tenants are still waiting to hear if their suburbs will be the first on the chopping block when state houses go up for sale.
The Government kicked off a countrywide social housing roadshow in Auckland on February 13 to discuss its policy of selling state houses to community groups.
About 50 people turned up but they will have to wait until April to hear about specific house transactions.
In January, the Government announced plans to sell 1000 to 2000 state houses in the next year to community housing providers and iwi.
More sales coming years.
The plan is for Housing New Zealand to remain the biggest provider of social housing with at least 60,000 properties by 2017,
in compared to the 68,000 rently owns.
Housing advocate Sue Henry of Glen Innes says there were a number of state tenants at the Auckland event.
‘‘There were a lot of people there wanting to buy state houses, but that was no good.
‘‘There are thousands of empty state houses and there have been for years.’’
Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says there is a real need for more housing that suits demand.
About 70 per cent of state housing applicants need one and twobedroom properties but only about 30 per cent of the stock matches that criteria.
There are 5000 people on the register waiting for suitable accommodation, Bennett says.
‘‘The problem is we do not have enough houses for people that need them most.’’
Finance Minister Bill English told the crowd the current housing stock is not fit for the country’s changing needs.
In the past the Government had been ‘‘obliged by politics’’ to retain a set number of state houses, even if they were in locations that had an oversupply.
There are still questions to answer about a sale price beneficial to taxpayers but affordable for community groups, he says.
The Government said it will review another 3000 tenants in the next two years to see if they can move into private rentals.