Urgent solutions needed to fix housing crisis
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.
State Units between Rugby St and Raleigh St were demolished in May last year, and have not been replaced.