Sunday, 22 May 2016

Poverty in NZ - government denial

Hear no poverty, see no poverty, speak no poverty: We have lost what it means to be a New Zealander

Martyn Bradbury

Hear no poverty, see no poverty, speak no poverty
22 May, 2016
For some like the Key family, life is one long party. DJing, modelling, opening pop culture art events in Paris, Hawaiian mansions, foreign trusts, tax havens,  property portfolios, Instagram followers and tax free capital gains.
For them NZ is a paradise and their constant inflation of wealth and ego makes them more aristocrat than citizen. They have a view of NZ as narrow and vapid as The Edge Radio Station, it’s always a shallow reflection, there’s always a can of V somewhere, and wilful ignorance is celebrated.
For a great many others however, New Zealand is a grim Isle. 80 000 hungry children a day, 300 000 in poverty, 20 000 desperate families, tens of thousands living in crowded sick homes where the diseases of poverty do so much life long damage.
For them these cragged lands never see the sun and their debt servitude is more akin to a feudal state than democratic one. For these New Zealanders the egalitarian pretensions of our nation are as grim as families sleeping in cars. It’s as grim as the PM selling $5billion in state housing while handing to the richest $3billion in tax cuts.
It’s as grim as the Housing Minister glibly telling morning report that there have always been people living in cars.
It’s as grim as the Minister for Social Housing arrogantly claiming on Radio NZ that there is no housing crisis.
It’s as delusional as the Prime Minister claiming all the homeless need to do is go and see WINZ while promising $3billion in tax cuts.
It’s as grim as many middle class NZers shrugging off the plight of fellow citizens because their property portfolio’s have increased in illusionary wealth.
When the market pops, and those middle classes suddenly don’t feel so middle class, wait for the demands to change something then.
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No housing crisis in NZ - Paula Bennett

20 May, 2016

New Zealand's housing problems are not new but the result of ongoing issues, and there is no housing crisis, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says.

Yesterday RNZ reported that Social Development Ministry officials told the minister a year ago the emergency housing sector was incoherent, unfair and unaccountable

Speaking in a Checkpoint interview tonight, Ms Bennett said she had been worried about the situation since becoming social housing minister but did not believe the situation was getting worse.

"I certainly wouldn't call it a crisis. I think that we've always had people in need. So the other night on TV I heard the homeless story was second in and then the seventh story was a man who'd been 30 years living on the streets."

Ms Bennett said many of the homeless had mental health or alcohol and drug issues that needed to be worked on over time. But her priority is to have "fixes".

"Not just at the emergency end, but along that kind of whole pipeline through to social housing through to affordable housing through to more supply. So I'm not sure it is a lot worse right now, I've been acutely aware of it for a long period of time."

Ms Bennett said the government had put a lot of funding into housing.

She disputed reports from the Queenstown Lakes Community Trust that there were 300 people looking for a roof over their heads at a time when Housing New Zealand was selling a state house and saying it had only two or three people on their wait list.
Paula Bennett during caucus run 1.03.16
Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

She said those 300 people wanted to get into an affordable house, and "they had more of a rent to buy scheme".

"We don't need that house, why wouldn't we sell it and put it into some of the really acute areas?" she asked.

She did agree that there were stories of growing numbers of people without accommodation.

"Certainly I reckon you've got people that are getting into debt people that are getting them into situations, landlords get to be a bit more picky. I've got to say from a social housing perspecitve in Housing New Zealand we are less tolerable of inappropriate behaviour and violent behaviour, so we certainly are kicking more people out than we used to.'

She said Housing New Zealand would not allow methamphetamine to be smoked and manufactured in its houses and people will be kicked out for doing so.

Asked whether market forces were not working in relation to housing, and whether it was time for some social engineering, Ms Bennett said there certainly were people in social housing who should not be there, and that was why Housing New Zealand was doing tenancy reviews.

As a result, she said 672 people had been moved on, more than 10 percent of whom went on to buy their own home.

She said Housing New Zealand already had 600 houses in construction and already consented.

She said there were "really good products" that were working, but "it's just not a click of my fingers overnight".

Ms Bennett said one of those was giving more money to community housing organisations, so it was not just government providing social housing.
And she said it was "not about the money".

"If we could give Housing New Zealand a heap more money they've still got consenting issues, they've still got to find temporary houses for those who've got to move out."

Ms Bennett said she took the leadership role on social housing.

"I spend the bulk of my time on social housing issues and driving my department into seriously thinking about different ways of tackling this."

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