Ur­gent so­lu­tions needed to fix hous­ing cri­sis

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - IAIN LEES-GAL­LOWAY

The hous­ing cri­sis hasn’t just hit Palmer­ston North; it has slammed into us with all the force of a head-on col­li­sion with a 40-tonne truck.

While land where state houses once stood has sat empty for nine long years, over 200 fam­i­lies in Palmer­ston North lan­guish on the Hous­ing New Zealand wait­ing list.

That’s 200 fam­i­lies who are in des­per­ate and ur­gent need of that most ba­sic hu­man need – shel­ter.

Where are those fam­i­lies? Some sleep in their cars that they park in the drive­way of a friend or fam­ily mem­ber’s house so they can get ac­cess to things like run­ning wa­ter and a toi­let.

Some pay money to live in other peo­ple’s garages. Others live in over-crowded houses. Three or four fam­i­lies squeeze into houses that are barely fit for one fam­ily. It’s the per­fect en­vi­ron­ment for dis­ease, stress and vi­o­lence to thrive.

The peo­ple who can’t find a car, garage or liv­ing room to live in get put into mo­tels by WINZ. Gen­er­ally WINZ will cover the cost for the first seven days. Af­ter that, it’s case-by-case with no clear rule about who gets their costs cov­ered and who doesn’t.

As the bill for putting home­less peo­ple up in mo­tels has blown out to over $22 mil­lion in the past seven months, WINZ is crack­ing down on the costs it will cover.

Peo­ple who are stuck in a mo­tel with nowhere to go, face weekly costs of be­tween $750 and $1500, and it takes months for some peo­ple to find a place to live.

That’s not just be­cause there are too few state houses in Palmer­ston North. There’s also too few pri­vate rentals.

With lots of com­pe­ti­tion for the op­por­tu­nity to rent, prices are go­ing up and land­lords can af­ford to be picky about who they will rent to. Home­less peo­ple just don’t get a look in.

Na­tional has had nine years to sort this out. In­stead they ig­nore the prob­lem, blame the home­less and ac­tively make the sit­u­a­tion worse by tear­ing houses down rather than build­ing them. It’s time for a fresh ap­proach. As your lo­cal MP in a Labourled Gov­ern­ment, my first pri­or­ity will be to get houses built in Palmer­ston North – state houses for peo­ple to rent and af­ford­able houses for peo­ple to buy. Labour’s Ki­wibuild policy will get those houses built across New Zealand.

We need some of those houses here and we need them ur­gently.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/ FAIR­FAX NZ

State Units be­tween Rugby St and Raleigh St were de­mol­ished in May last year, and have not been re­placed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.