Daily Archives: September 8, 2011

Housing in New Zealand

So much for the NZ dream of everyone owning their own home. NZ is apparently unique in the OECD for our raipidly dropping rate of home ownership.

In NZ 37% of people rent and of that 37% only 5% are in social housing. Social housing covers state houses, council homes, and community owned housing.

In contrast, in the U.K only 30% of people are renting and 27% of these people are in social housing.

We have a tight rental market, otherwise known as a shortage of housing, in many places.  In Auckland it’s estimated we are short of over 10,000 houses. This means the market favours landowners and in practice this further marginalises the poorest people and Maori and Pacific people. 

In this context the Government is looking at reducing the Housing NZ rental stock and is moving more people more regularly into the private rental market. From July 1 Housing New Zealand has told people who were categorised as C or D on the waiting list that they are no longer elligible for a State house.  While  the HNZC website says any resident who has a low income, not many assets (things of high value you own), and a high housing need are elligible, it’s actually far more restrictive than that. I’ve been told category A is usually people being released from Prison or a psyhciatric ward.

HNZC has also introduced reviewable tenancies for all new tenants:

“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.

To say it’s only fair to give housing NZ houses to those most in need sounds sensible but this will actually mean children (and other people) will lack stability as their families are pushed out into the private rental market with no security of  tenancy. 

Talk to any teacher in a low decile school and they will tell you about the difficulties of helping students to achieve educationally when the family is transient. This policy will create more transient families and consequently worsen educational,social, health and economic outcomes for the the already marginalised.

I know whole families are right now crammed into single rooms in boarding houses because that’s the only place they can get that they can afford.

It would be fairer and better for our society if  we increased our social housing stock and also regulated our private rental market to ensure minimum standards.