Government loses the plot on state housing

Priyanca Radhakrishnan is probably right.

In an article that comes with this Leader, she argues rather vociferously that evicting people from state house in places like Auckland and moving them to smaller towns and provinces is not the solution to the imploding problems related to housing.

“The proposed policy is merely punitive and will not address the problem at hand. What we need is a well thought-out plan to increase housing stock and address inflated house prices in Auckland; create jobs and invest in the regions to attract voluntary migration. We do not need a government that punishes the poor and sells state houses,” she said.

Ms Radhakrishnan is right. Housing is a necessity and should rise above politics.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett came under severe criticism for her idea to move people from Auckland to provincial areas, where, according to her, there are plenty of state houses that are vacant.

Moving house is no simple matter. It is a highly emotional, domestic, employment and social issue. State Housing, in many cases, is seen as a temporary phenomenon for poor people. It is important that they find jobs, raise their standard of living, improve their family status and eventually buy their own homes.

Impartial view

But let us get to the other side and see the validity of the points raised by Ms Bennett. And from her point of view, the government could be doing the right thing.

According to her, there are are about 2000 houses under construction in Auckland and that it may take some time before they are completed.

“I do not think that the need would drop; rents are not likely to go down in Auckland and I am concerned about the level of rent some people are paying and their ability to feed their families and pay their power bills and live what I would term a ‘good Kiwi life.’ There is a huge responsibility from the government,” she said.

Racist Plan

Ms Bennett’s offer of $3000 per family as incentive has been slammed by the Auckland Action Against Poverty Group spokeswoman Sue Bradford.

She described the plan as ‘incoherent and racist.’

“I am stunned that after all her years as Social Development Minister, Ms Bennett now seems to have forgotten the relationship between the availability of paid work and housing. With all the efforts of Work and Income focused on getting the same cohort of people into paid jobs she now wants them to move to regions where there are unlikely to be a plethora of work opportunities,” she said.

It would be interesting to wait and watch further moves.

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