Gov­ern­ment not keen on state hous­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT -

Hun­dreds of state houses in Welling­ton are empty while hun­dreds of peo­ple wait to move into a new home.

The Gov­ern­ment says the houses are empty be­cause they need earth­quake strength­en­ing, metham­phetamine de-con­tam­i­na­tion or are ear­marked for sale. Is this a good ar­gu­ment? No doubt there is some truth in what the Gov­ern­ment says. Some houses have been used as meth labs and can­not be re-let un­til they are cleaned.

In Welling­ton, no­body dis­putes the need for earth­quake pro­tec­tion, and no doubt some state houses need to be up­graded for that rea­son.

Fi­nally, per­haps some houses need to be sold be­cause they don’t suit the needs of the lo­cal mar­ket.

But that’s not the end of this ar­gu­ment. Meth con­tam­i­na­tion is an area where some ex­perts say of­fi­cials have over­re­acted.

The pres­ence of traces of meth in a house, ac­cord­ing to this ar­gu­ment, may not jus­tify dras­tic de­con­tam­i­na­tion.

Clearly earth­quake-proof­ing of houses is also partly a judg­ment call within the reg­u­la­tory bounds.

And fi­nally, which houses are un­suit­able for use and which should be sold in or­der to fund hous­ing in other ar­eas of greater need, is clearly an­other judg­ment call.

In the greater Welling­ton area there are 523 peo­ple who need houses.

Peo­ple who live in this re­gion know that there is a gen­uine hous­ing need and that there is ab­so­lutely no case for a fire sale of lo­cal state houses to meet the even greater hous­ing needs of Auck­land.

This is not an ‘‘area of low de­mand’’, al­though a state­ment by Min­is­ter Bill English might be taken as claim­ing this. If Welling­ton state houses are to be sold, the money must be rein­vested here, not some­where else.

The Gov­ern­ment’s ar­gu­ment that state houses are of the wrong sort or in the wrong place is fa­mil­iar.

But there is also the sus­pi­cion that the Gov­ern­ment is fun­da­men­tally averse to build­ing more state houses.

It has tried for years to in­ter­est pri­vate char­i­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions to in­vest­ing in so­cial hous­ing, with very lit­tle suc­cess.

This sug­gests that its goal is largely ide­o­log­i­cal.

It feels more com­fort­able with pri­vate so­cial hous­ing than with state hous­ing.

The state land­lord’s heart isn’t in the busi­ness it is op­er­at­ing, de­spite the goal it has set of build­ing 2000 new homes in the next two years. Crit­ics say far more homes will be needed.

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