Hous­ing in cri­sis?

The Tribune (NZ) - - THE TRIBUNE - RICHARD MAYS

Awa­puni’s Raleigh St, and three of the empty dou­ble State hous­ing units are fenced off ready for de­mo­li­tion.

A small group of plac­ard car­ry­ing pro­test­ers stand in the rain in what Manawatu Ten­ants Union ad­vo­cate Kevin Reilly calls a po­lit­i­cal state­ment about the loss of New Zealand’s State hous­ing stock.

The de­mo­li­tion is tak­ing place at the same time as New Zealand is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a hous­ing cri­sis, with fam­i­lies liv­ing in sheds and garages, in cars, and crash­ing on the so­fas and floors of friends and rel­a­tives.

‘‘For the gov­ern­ment to say there is no hous­ing cri­sis is to­tally delu­sional.’’

De­spite the in­vest­ment of $200 mil­lion into Auck­land’s so­cial hous­ing pro­vi­sion in this year’s Bud­get, the pro­test­ers were high­light­ing that re­gions such as Palmer­ston North were also short.

‘‘It’s not just Auck­land that has th­ese prob­lems,’’ Kevin says, ‘‘it’s places like Palmer­ston North where there is a high rental, high tran­sient pop­u­la­tion.’’

The ten­ants’ ad­vo­cate sees three to four fam­i­lies a week look­ing for af­ford­able de­cent ac­com­mo­da­tion. He tells of a woman and her daugh­ter, es­cap­ing an eight-year re­la­tion­ship of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, forced to sleep on a friend’s couch.

There was a 20-some­thing man and his two young sons who spent sev­eral nights sleep­ing rough some­where be­hind St Pa­trick’s Cathe­dral.

He says the de­mo­li­tion of the houses was due to ne­glect, not lack of de­mand and is fur­ther an­noyed that the land the houses are sit­ting on, along with the va­cant lots on ad­ja­cent Rugby St and the ones in High­bury’s Botan­i­cal Rd, are not be­ing re­placed by Hous­ing New Zealand.

This land, Kevin says, is for sale and will be lost to pub­lic hous­ing.

Palmer­ston North Labour Party elec­torate com­mit­tee chair­woman Lorna John­son agrees there is a univer­sal need for state-pro­vided hous­ing.

‘‘It’s not as if it’s any eas­ier once you’ve left Auck­land. There’s a short­age of hous­ing all over the coun­try.’’

Hous­ing New Zealand has said re­peat­edly that Palmer­ston North has enough state hous­ing stock. Not all of it is worth keep­ing, as the cost of up­grad­ing it to meet earth­quake stan­dards, for ex­am­ple, is of­ten pro­hib­i­tive.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/ FAIRFAX NZ

Pro­test­ers at the de­mo­li­tion of three dou­ble-unit Hous­ing New Zealand prop­er­ties on Awa­puni’s Raleigh St.

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