Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Crowded houses

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  • Lilith __,

    If people want to make some noise on this issue, a start would be to sign these petitions on Action Station:

    Petition to forgive WINZ motel accommodation debt

    Petition demanding government policy to specifically address homelessness

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to ,

    I would rather be homeless in the United States than I would in New Zealand, but I don't know any ware else to compare that Australia and i't prepare to be homeless here than there.

    While Sydney's warmer than Auckland it can be chilly in winter. When Robert Louis Stevenson visited there from Samoa he described it as a "sub-Antarctic hell-hole". The 1960s block where I spent the decade prior to 2003 had over 180 units and its own coin-op laundry. Sometimes during the winter months I noticed that someone had been dossing down in the cubby hole around the laundry's large hot water cylinder. No-one seemed fussed about it, though the 'tenant' would have had to hike for around five minutes to the nearest public toilet and cold running water.

    While walking to someone's place for dinner one evening I was surprised by the number of men, and a probable older woman, sleeping on grilles right out on the footpath, where hot air was escaping from below. This was in the vicinity of St Vincents Hospital, on the Darlinghurst-Paddington border. Dinner was delayed while we waited for a missing guest, a trainee psychiatrist. When he finally showed up he explained that he'd spent the past couple of hours with an emergency team trying to raise a response from a woman who'd been deemed 'at risk' and hadn't been answering calls.

    When she eventually got around to opening her door she casually explained that yes, she'd heard their attempts to contact her, but as she'd assumed they were 'probably just the mormons' she'd carried on watching TV. I couldn't help but wonder why resources seemed to be available for some, while others were at that very moment sleeping rough only a block or two away.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Darlinghurst-Paddington border

    I remember an old woman who I regularly saw (on the way back from gigs late at night, back in 1980) sleeping in a bus shelter outside the Victoria Barracks on Oxford street - she was always well swaddled and was apparently a local 'institution'.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Press Release from KOA - re Social housing changes in Chchch
    Christchurch Council Housing Changes Not All We Were Led To Believe.
    Did Government Change Terms Or Was Council Wilfully Blind?

    The Christchurch City Council (CCC) is the second biggest landlord in NZ (after the State). So, any changes with the city’s publicly-owned housing portfolio are a big deal.
    Just such a major change is about to take effect from July. And it is not as benevolent as we have been led to believe.
    The decision to become a Community Housing Provider (i.e. transfer the City Council’s social housing to a Trust of which CCC is a 49% shareholder) was sold to the public as a method to increase income and assist tenants in attracting higher subsidies.
    “Under this new structure, the Council would lease its social housing to the new entity. For each social housing tenant who qualifies for the IRRS, the new company would receive from the Government the difference between the actual market rent and the rent paid by the tenant.
    This would be substantial revenue and would be enough to enable us to continue, rebuild and repair our social housing without any charge on rates. It also provides a great base to keep building on the provision of housing for those in need. And at the moment that's a lot.”
    Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck, May 30, 2014

    The actuality is somewhat different: only new tenants will attract the IRRS (Income Related Rent Subsidy) and only if they have been referred by the Ministry of Social Development to the new trust.
    “The Government confirmed to Council that only new tenants referred to the proposed Community Housing Provider by the Ministry of Social Development will be eligible for an Income Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS).”
    Christchurch Housing Accord Monitoring Report, December 2014

    In political terms, such a major unpalatable change is called “swallowing a dead rat”.
    But this particular dead rat was sold to the people of Christchurch (the owners of this extensive public housing portfolio, built up over generations) as if the Government subsidy would apply to all Council tenants, not just new ones.
    As it stands, this is going to bring in a lot less by way of Government subsidies than what the public (and media) have been led to believe.
    And, in the process, the City Council is losing 51% ownership of its own housing.
    How’s that for a “win win” deal!

    So, did the Government – ideologically committed to privatisation, including of State housing – change the terms of the deal or was the Council wilfully blind?
    Probably a combination of both. But the Council can’t pretend it didn’t know.
    That same December 2014 Christchurch Housing Accord Monitoring Report says, under “Priority Actions”:
    “Council to consider how best to proceed with establishing the CHP given current Council tenants will not be eligible for IRRS”

    So the Council, willingly or otherwise, has swallowed a dead rat. And the people of Christchurch have been sold a pig in a poke.
    This does not augur well for any other pending privatisations, such as City Care.

    Murray Horton

    Another case of the Government's use of Tom Waits maxim:
    "The large print giveth and the small print taketh away"

    ...much like Key's ability to offer debt repayment and tax cuts using the same money - Vernon Small has a good piece on this in today's Press titled 'Key's silky skills; cake today and tomorrow' - can't find it on line yet.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Hebe, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I haven’t been following this – at all. Sounds not good. CCC has been second-largest social housing provider in NZ, after HNZ.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report

  • Brent Jackson,

    Vernon Small has a good piece on this in today’s Press titled ‘Key’s silky skills; cake today and tomorrow’ – can’t find it on line yet.

    Here it is.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report

  • Howard Edwards, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Stopped at the traffic lights last week I noticed that the van next to me was owned by a plumbing company called "Continuous Spouting".

    I wonder if Messrs Hosking, Williams, Henry and Smith have invested in a new business venture?

    Albany • Since Apr 2013 • 66 posts Report

  • william blake, in reply to Howard Edwards,

    Gutter journalism?

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Howard Edwards,

    I wonder if Messrs Hosking, Williams, Henry and Smith have invested in a new business venture?

    Plumbing new depths?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

  • Alfie, in reply to Howard Edwards,

    I wonder if Messrs Hosking, Williams, Henry and Smith have invested in a new business venture?

    Messers Cesspool, Sewer and Associates
    Excremental blockages eliminated, manure spread liberally...

    That's a very good piece from Vernon Small.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Alfie,

    Raybon Kan on Key's attitude to people living in cars and WINZ making Serco look good.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1440 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    Because someone has to act like responsible grown-ups - Generation Zero responds to Labour's nincompoopery.

    “Housing in Auckland is a complicated issue, but one things clear - urban sprawl is not the solution. We would encourage the Party to take a sensible approach to housing in Auckland by supporting the passing of the Unitary Plan not pushing for this new policy of urban sprawl.”

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • bob daktari, in reply to Sacha,

    When can we vote for the likes of Gen Zero... they'd actually make a positive difference, the endless rearranging of chairs by our two major political parties isn't working

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 540 posts Report

  • Marc C,

    While the discussion goes on, it is my impression that nobody seems to have a sensible set of answers to address the housing situation. Labour’s Phil Twyford is basically joining Bill English now in putting pressure not just on Auckland Council, but also at least indirectly on the so-called Independent Hearings Panel that is now considering all submissions on the notified Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

    That was supposed to be an INDEPENDENT hearing process, where independent panel members (I note they were appointed by the Minister!?) are tasked with making recommendations to Auckland Council, upon which the Council’s Governing Body will then decide and vote, what to accept or not.

    I fear all these new signals from Phil Twyford and Labour, and an emboldened government with English and Nick Smith at the forefront, is an inadmissible interference in a Plan hearing process, which is also a LEGAL process!

    These politicians should for two months keep their mouths shut and use their brain instead to work out more sensible solutions, and to also address what they, that is first and foremost central government, can do to solve the issues.

    Looking at Nick Smith and his under-performing SHAs, where we also have ample examples of land banking, and Bill English and his apprentice Paula Bennett, there is more talk and window dressing than real action and progress on the housing front. Simply selling Housing NZ homes to developers, and forcing NGOs to collaborate with developers to create more “affordable” housing is a pipe dream, as the Tamaki Redevelopment also shows.

    We need a firm commitment to state construction programs, under also the Housing NZ umbrella, to build truly affordable homes, without making it all dependent on the market now dominated by land bankers, speculators and investors raking in high returns from sellers and also tenants.

    And again, most do simply take it for a given, that Auckland should grow to 2.5 million population, never mind the limited natural resources like water, and become a “global metropolitan city”, being placed on a narrow land bridge, along a long harbour and fronted in the west by a natural environmentally protected park on the Waitakere Ranges.

    Some satellite cities may make sense, along a rail track, but that in itself will only lead to more sprawl, unless firm rules are set, and unless population growth in this region is contained. Look at Los Angeles and the whole of California where unlimited population growth can lead, and let us not forget the water rationing that happened there, due to increased, prolonged drought, partly as a consequence of climate change, which will bring similar consequences to central and northern parts of the North Island here, if anybody may bother checking the data on the IPCC reports.

    Besides of all this, where are the billions of dollars for improved, extended train networks, for new schools, hospitals, water pipes, broadband fibre cables, footpaths, cycleways, and so forth going to come from? How are people going to be moved out of their cars to switch to and fund public transport?

    At present we have headless politicians, a looming planning disaster and panic, it seems.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report

  • Angela Hart,

    may I say the thought of headless politicians is at times extremely appealing

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report

  • Marc C, in reply to Angela Hart,

    Oh, careful, Angela, you could have gotten away with such a comment in the past, where only the French Revolution involved such scenarios, and that was accepted in a historic context. Nowadays we have our government, the GCSB and SIS scan comments on social media, as they fear you may be supporting some groups that are active in the Middle East, doing just that kind of stuff, I will not link, as it may upset.

    Be mindful, we are being watched, and read, 24/7.

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report

  • william blake,

    There is a Vice survey going around social media at the moment, stating New Zealand's perception is that the top 1% own 50% of the wealth, where in fact it is between 16-18%; QED kiwis are idiots. I think that general perception is accurate (not the idiot bit). The bottom 50% in NZ own 5% of the wealth, and the top 50% own 95% of it. A great deal of this wealth is tied up in land and real estate.

    This level of inequity is the major determinant of poor health and wellbeing.

    The fact that the government can spend $40,000,000 just to keep emergency housing at the present level is a clue to the gradual shift away from a welfare state in this country, that has been going on for the past eight years.

    Just where do the wealthy, land owning 50% think their tax cuts are coming from?

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report

  • Marc C,

    Labour's new FRIEND, it seems:


    Good grief, what is left of our "opposition"?

    Auckland • Since Oct 2012 • 437 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Angela Hart,

    may I say the thought of headless politicians is at times extremely appealing

    I'll bring my knitting.

    We can sit there, like a couple of old crones.....cackling away...


    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Sacha, in reply to bob daktari,

    When can we vote for the likes of Gen Zero

    Seems a better payoff for any support you can offer them to do their work. No wonder donations and volunteering are declining for some political parties.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Marc C,

    While the discussion goes on, it is my impression that nobody seems to have a sensible set of answers to address the housing situation.

    Marc C...did you catch this on Natrad this am?

    Around about 4.35 onwards....fella starts speaking about Wellington having to step up and deal to the speculators and the 'duopoly on building supplies'...then ....dead silence. The wee minion in the bowels of the Beehive who pushes the kill button for Natrad was at it again.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report

  • Howard Edwards,

    Re landbanking - I live in Coatesville not far beyond the urban boundary (yes the rest of us are still here even though Kim.com has moved into the Viaduct Basin) and for many years now real estate agents have advertised small blocks of land around here as "Attention landbankers!", "Landbankers Ahoy!" etc. There will plenty of speculators rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of central govt clobbering the Auckland Council into abolishing the urban boundary.

    And let's not forget some of the reasons why AC is not keen on abolishing the boundary. They have little or no control over the major infrastructure required to support urban sprawl, namely better roads, improved (read: subsidised until viable) public transport links, new schools - the list goes on and on. If only local and central governments could work together for once (yeah right!)

    (Personally I would be quite happy if words such as landbanking and landbankers were banned from real estate advertising in Auckland - why pick on Wicked Campers when real estate advertising also encourages immoral behaviour?)

    Albany • Since Apr 2013 • 66 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    Colonel Trotter thinks it's a wondrous policy.

    By sanctioning green-field (as opposed to brown-field) housing development, Twyford and his colleagues are now free to draw forth from Labour’s honourable past the sort of planning ideas which, had they been implemented at the time they were developed (the late-1940s) would have made Auckland a much easier city in which to live and move around.

    Seventy years on, however, with the population of Auckland approaching two million, the size of the planning canvass has expanded considerably. Looking forward, we must now envisage an urban corridor extending all the way from Hamilton to Whangarei.

    A conurbation of this size cannot be serviced efficiently by the automobile. Crucial to its success would be the creation of a state-of-the-art rapid-rail network capable of whisking commuters from Hamilton to Downtown Auckland in 30 minutes. (If that seems impossible, just have a word with the French and the Chinese!) The huge enabling power of such a network would be more than sufficient to underwrite the many housing developments along its length.

    Rather than leave the design and construction of these new communities to the private sector, Labour should promote the creation of a public design and construction entity dedicated to building homes, apartments and community facilities equal to anything currently on display in Germany and Scandinavia.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • izogi, in reply to John Farrell,

    Housing NZ is run as a business, and pays a dividend to the government. They haven't yet found a way to get dividends from WINZ.

    It just seems so stupid that people eligible for social housing are being instructed to borrow money for paying what's apparently the full commercial rate to stay at motels, before becoming liable to pay it back at their own expense, which by definition of being eligible for social housing, they already can't afford. And then, I guess, we end up creating new situations which encourage people to get themselves criminal records.

    If this shortage of social housing were being handled intelligently, motels should be competing with each other to get contracts for accommodating people, on behalf of HNZ, at substantially lower bulk rates.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1142 posts Report

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Vicki Anderson has a revealing, but depressing, piece on visiting a WINZ office in Chchch.

    A Work and Income employee gestures to a woman to come forward. Here, in front of the rest of the queue and anyone in the waiting room, her anguish must be laid bare. Pain is the main currency on display. Leave your dignity at the guarded door.
    Later, when the woman is outside crying beside her car, I ask her if I can do anything to help her.
    "Thanks, but it's OK," she says. "I just hate going in there, it's so demeaning. I don't want to be in this position, I never imagined I would be. I have no choice but to ask them for help since my partner died. I'm bringing up our children on my own. It is what it is."

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report

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