Changing the way state houses are allocated is both fairer and more sensible.
Housing Minister Phil Heatley said those in greatest need (A and B) will be eligible for a state house, those with lower needs (C and D) will be helped into other types of housing.
“All applicants (A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s) will continue to be recorded on a Housing Needs Register so that we maintain a clear picture of wider housing need” says Mr Heatley.
“But whereas once C and D tenants would languish on the waiting list with no real prospect of getting a state home, they will now be given assistance to find a home outside state housing, and we think this is a positive,” he said.
“Housing those not eligible for state housing means working very closely with third sector providers of niche, social and affordable housing to significantly grow the volume of social housing available.
“We want to ensure that tenants with the greatest need have timely access to a state home for the duration of their need,” says Mr Heatley.
The first priority for state help should be those in greatest need.
Under the current system those with lower needs would be on the waiting list even though there was little if any chance of ever getting into a state house. The new system will stop the pretence that there might be something available one day and give them help now.
Another welcome change is the introduction of reviewable tenancies for all new tenants from 1 July.
“A tenant’s circumstances will be reviewed once every three years to ensure their housing needs are being properly catered for. When their circumstances improve significantly and they are able to afford a home outside state housing they will be assisted to move – freeing up a state house for someone in greater need,” Mr Heatley said.
“Elderly tenants and those with significant disabilities will be subject to a desk top review only as their circumstances are unlikely to have changed, and we don’t want to worry them unnecessarily,” he said.
This means that people occupying a larger house will have to move if, for example, children leave home meaning they no longer need so many bedrooms.
This is much fairer than the current situation which allows a single person or small family to continue occupying “their” state house when larger families are in need is unfair.
A tennnt renting a privately owned home wouldn’t expect to live their for life, nor should someone in a state house.
Other changes that HNZ are making include:-
• A suspension period to prevent tenants who are issued a ninety day notice, for abusing their state home or for ongoing anti-social behaviour that affects communities, from reapplying for a state house for up to a year; and
• Stronger measures to detect and prevent fraud.
“The Government wants the state housing system to be fairer, more focussed and more efficient,” Mr Heatley said.
“These changes are fairer to people in greatest need, more transparent to C and D applicants and give a clear signal to the other social housing providers that we need them,” says Mr Heatley.
“A state home and the Income Related Rent that goes with it amounts to a considerable taxpayer subsidy for a household. We want to make sure this benefit goes to those in the greatest need, for the duration of that need,” he said.
This policy will result in a much better match between people and housing.
It also sends an important signal that state house are for those in greatest need while in need. That might be forever for some people but it won’t be for all.