Government housing plan draws criticism

by Roxanne Libatique23 Jan 2021

The government has revealed its Public Housing Plan for 2021 to 2024, which includes 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places. However, not everyone in the industry is satisfied with the announcement.

Monte Cecilia Housing Trust chief executive Bernie Smith, who described the plan as “underwhelming,” said he hoped for more as 22,500 people remain in the ever-growing public housing waiting list.

“It was just totally underwhelming. Sadly, there’s no reflection of the growing housing wait register, you know, we should be looking at double these sorts of numbers to keep up with the growing need,” Smith told the RNZ Morning Report.

“From a South Auckland perspective, there’s nothing around Pasifika housing, and we know in South Auckland Pasifika homelessness is huge.”

Smith pointed out the lack of detail on the plan’s implementation and minimal community consultation.

“If we’re going to build strong healthy communities, there needs to be a lot more work done in the community for the community to ensure we have successful outcomes for our whanau,” he continued.

Scott Figenshow, the chief executive of Community Housing Aotearoa, said it was important for the government to move from a “Wellington knows best” approach to recognise that councils and community groups also contribute housing solutions.

“So that’s a massive step forward, and we’re really looking forward to working with the government on the details for how those investments will actually work on the ground,” he told RNZ.

Meanwhile, National Housing spokesperson Nicola Willis described the announcement as “cynical.”

“This is a hopelessly inadequate response to New Zealand’s housing shortage. It’s nothing but a re-hash of previously announced proposals and very underwhelming for the thousands of New Zealanders who are increasingly being locked out of the private market,” Willis said, as reported by RNZ.

“The government will never get there through state house building alone. The government simply can’t keep up with the surging demand as people are priced out of the private market.”

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