Housing a looming issue
Following the furore surrounding the sale or otherwise of the Moana Court Flats by the local council, I asked myself: Just what is the responsibility of local or national government to provide housing for anyone and everyone who can’t afford to buy their own?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25 (1) states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services . . .”
From the earliest times of Christianity, it has been a custom for those who have to support those who have not, and this tradition has become enshrined in law and custom all over the world.
No matter how progressive and wealthy a country might be, there are always people who cannot, for whatever reason, make ends meet. So who picks up the tab?
From the foundation of our own country, it has been mainly the religious groups that have fulfilled this obligation to their less fortunate brethren. But in the years since the establishment of the welfare state, the climate has changed.
Some religious organisations have found their main work taken over by the State or have been forced to close either by lack of State support or by the plethora of regulations which have sprung up over the years, making their job impossible.
Again I ask, who fills the gap? Affordable housing is a real problem these days, even for those earning good money. For those in the lower echelons – beneficiaries, superannuitants without other income, unemployed, and so on – there is no way they can hope to buy a house for themselves and families.
It is hard enough paying the power, rates and food bills, let alone saving for a house. What used to be the aim of most New Zealanders is now becoming a dream for an increasing number. So where are they to go? And how does this situation affect the rest of us?
Some would say that the Government should look after it. That means us, the taxpayers, of course. Are we happy to have the ‘‘government’’ take charge? Would we be happy to let a large proportion of our taxes and rates go to providing housing for what used to be called the ‘‘undeserving poor’’? If not, what other solutions are there? I do not pretend to have the answers to these conundrums. I simply pose them for your consideration.
We are left with the unwelcome knowledge that many of our vulnerable citizens face the future in less than optimum housing.
If at the moment we enjoy ownership of our home, where will we be in the future?
Affordable housing for the elderly, certainly, is hard to come by. If, like me, you have a house in a less favoured area (regardless of the actual state or style of the house in question), even selling it will not bring in enough funds to buy in to a retirement village.
Last month we learnt some uncomfortable facts about how much in tax is taken from our superannuation. It made rather uncomfortable learning, especially in view of our discussion above about the price of housing.
This month we are welcoming the Minister for Senior Citizens, Jo Goodhew, to tell us something about her ministry and how it interacts with her other portfolios.
It would certainly be interesting to know just how much clout her ministry has, given some MPs’ view that Senior Citizens should be a front bench portfolio in parliament.
I’m sure you have many questions you would like to ask her. So come along, and have your questions ready.
Date: Tuesday, August 14. Time: 1.30pm. Venue: The Porirua Club, Lodge Place, Porirua. Contact: Helen Griffith, phone 236 0112.