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