State home numbers drop in two years
‘‘We have a housing crisis yet we have a big reduction in state homes that hasn't been offset by community providers.’’
‘‘I don’t mind who builds them, just build them.’’
That’s the message from the Rev Perema Leasi, after news that New Zealand has nearly 4000 fewer state homes than it did two years ago.
He sighs every time he walks back on to empty land where previously Housing New Zealand homes stood in his Porirua community.
‘‘It’s been five years that I have been asking for homes to be built. I just repeat myself now.’’
Housing NZ’s latest quarterly report reveals the agency’s portfolio of 63,276 houses had shrunk by 3922 since 2015, including by 1132 properties in the past year.
Social Housing Minister Amy Adams said the majority of the homes had been transferred to community housing providers but Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said that was splitting hairs.
‘‘They’ve just shifted ownership instead of building more, that’s why they’re spending $140,000 a day on emergency accommodation.’’
While there was room for charities to provide social housing, it was up to the government to increase its stock to meet demands, Twyford said.
‘‘We have a housing crisis yet we have a big reduction in state homes that hasn’t been offset by community providers.’’
Last week the Anglican Church revealed that, as of April 30, of the 3500 hectares of Housing NZ land under management, 64ha was vacant – equivalent to about 64 rugby fields.
As the number of Housing NZ properties decreases, social housing waiting lists continue to grow, with 1476 more applications in 2017 than the previous year.
A Housing NZ spokesman said, despite having fewer homes, the agency had replaced outdated properties with new houses.
‘‘During 2016/17 Housing NZ delivered a total of 1524 homes, including 1421 social, emergency and transitional homes, and 103 market and affordable homes.’’
The number of empty state houses had decreased, with 1592 vacant nationally in June, com- pared with 2486 a year earlier.
Adams was unavailable for an interview but, in a statement released by her office, said the homes had simply changed ownership and legal contracts meant they had to stay as social housing.
‘‘Earlier this year we transferred 1138 social houses to Accessible Properties [owned by IHC] in Tauranga and these remain social houses.’’
The 3922 figure included approximately 2800 homes transferred to the Tamaki Regeneration Company in Auckland, which were still social houses, she said.
‘‘We spent $2.3 billion on housing support this year, supporting more than 310,000 households. We’ve also committed $354 million for emergency housing, the first time permanent funding has been committed, which will provide 8600 emergency places each year.’’
National had committed to increasing the total number of ‘‘social’’ houses by 6400 within three years, she said.
Porirua City’s state homes were some of the oldest in the country and many needed extensive work to bring them up to modern standard. she said.
In the latest report, the Wellington region had 133 fewer stateowned houses in June 2017 than it did in the previous year.
Wellington City was down by 64, Porirua by 24, Upper Hutt, 9, Lower Hutt, 33, and Kapiti, 3.
Reverend Perema Leasi on Housing NZ land that has stood empty since 2008. Social Housing Minister Amy Adams, below left, says most of the fall in numbers is because homes have been transferred to community providers. Below right, a Porirua state house for sale last year. Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford