I was distressed to read that Porirua’s only council estate, the Moana Court, may be privatised (KMN, March 6).
Porirua already faces a grave housing shortage – a national trend – leading to a rise in homelessness, substandard housing, overcrowding and financial hardship. This will worsen as Housing NZ deals with funding cuts. The suggested solution of private providers offering social housing is a nonsense – private companies have to make a profit to survive. Even nonprofits can’t lose money and stay afloat.
House building is in crisis because only expensive houses can be profitably built by the private sector. Worse, this has led to slum landlords charging excessive rents for dilapidated properties.
The reason government housing projects exist is to remove these social ills of inequality and poverty which the free market creates. Councillor Douglas’ comment that it is ‘‘unacceptable’’ for public housing to run at a short-term loss is ridiculous: this is the very reason governments run such schemes. If it were possible to make profit on affordable housing, the market wouldn’t have created a housing crisis.
Hard economic times are when public infrastructure must be built. This investment creates jobs and gets money back in people’s pockets to spend, reviving demand for goods and services.
If the council is serious about improving Porirua’s dire statistics around poverty and inequality, they should be building more social housing, instead of putting the boot into the poor by selling it off. JOSH EIKLEN, executive committee (Wellington), Workers’ Educational
Association. (Letter abridged) Councillor Ken Douglas responds:
The council is not satisfied that the current standard of housing provided to the Moana Court tenants will meet future needs without significant capital investment. There is funding available to other housing providers that the council can’t access to support this work.
It’s important to note the council has no plans to sell Moana Court at this stage. The council has put the proposal out to the public to hear their views before it makes a decision about future ownership and I would encourage Mr Eiklen to make a submission.