Social housing must do better

19/05/2013

Finance Minister Bill English didn’t mince his words when giving his view on state houses:

. . . Governments had been “grossly irresponsible” over Housing Corporation not knowing much about its houses or the tenants.

He said the nationalised housing industry “is a disgrace”. . .

Housing Corp was a poor performer and about a third of its housing stock was the wrong size, in poor condition and in the wrong place. That stock was worth about $5 billion and it was $5 b being wasted.

“There are going to have to be changes so we can stop wasting it, and we are going to learn a lot from Christchurch.”

Christchurch had “a half-clean sheet” to restart social housing.

“It is actually pretty shocking the wastefulness and politicisation and the crappy conditions that we make vulnerable people live in. So yes, we are pretty motivated about it because of the benefits for the tenants and the economy and for the Government’s books.

“It’s been a revelation to me that we run this huge asset base with all these vulnerable people and Government hasn’t known about its own tenants, it hasn’t known much about its own housing stock, it’s just been grossly irresponsible.

“We want to get Presbyterian Support, Ngai Tahu, Salvation Army, Housing Foundation involved in supplying these houses and put pressure on our own organisation, which has a record of poor performance.” . . .

The usual suspects are labelling this privatisation.

It doesn’t matter what you call it and who owns the houses, they will still be publicly funded and it wouldn’t be difficult for charitable organisations to do better than Housing Corp.


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