State home num­bers drop in two years

The Hutt News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

‘‘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, com­pared 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 trans- ferred 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. Labour hous­ing spokesman Phil Twyford

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