While working people in New Zealand face a housing crisis, with tens of thousands homeless and annual rent increases of up to 10%, the New Zealand government is continuing to push forward with plans to demolish or sell-off a third of the country’s state housing stock.
Part of the government’s alleged reasoning for dismantling the state housing sector is that it does a poor job of managing properties, it takes poor care of its tenants, and it isn’t building new houses quickly enough. This is a common tactic used to run down government services; talk about how poorly the service is run while underfunding that service until the rhetoric becomes a reality.
The truth is that for many years the government entity responsible for state housing has returned large annual dividends and under spent its allocated funding for repairs and maintenance. Putting the responsibility for housing in the hands of profiteering landlords will only exacerbate the crisis.
We need major investment into state housing, including new stock and refurbishments. Rather than leaving the management of housing in the hands of bureaucrats, we need democratic control of the sector including the participation of elected residents committees.
By Joe Kelly