Pri­vati­sa­tion worry

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Ed­i­tor,

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.

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