Report by Selwyn Manning.
The National-led Government has announced state owned houses in Tauranga and Invercargill will be off-loaded to the private community housing provider (CHP) sector.
Finance and Housing New Zealand Minister Bill English said today the Government is committed to transfer between 1000-2000 state houses into privately owned CHPs.
“Existing tenants will continue to be housed for the duration of their need and their rights will not be affected if their landlord changes,” Bill English said.
He added: “Houses will not be transferred unless tenants get better services and taxpayers get fair and reasonable value.”
Paula Bennett, who is the Social Housing Minister said: “Tauranga and Invercargill have been chosen because they have stable demand for social housing, and active community housing providers keen to consider the next steps. Providers in other regions are also interested.”
But the Labour Party’s housing spokesperson, Phil Twyford said the “first tranche of the Government’s state house sell-off” will do nothing to fix the housing crisis or better the lives of vulnerable families.
Phil Twyford said: “Changing the ownership of these homes won’t provide the extra houses or improve the quality of cold, damp rental properties which are making our kids sick.
“This policy is driven by Bill English’s mad quest to get state houses off the Government’s books. The Housing NZ Minister is desperate to off load these homes to anyone that will take them after our most respectful social agency Salvation Army declared the policy it would not improve the lives of tenants and walked away,” Phyl Twyford said.
Since April last year, Government-registered CHPs have been eligible to receive the Income Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS), previously only available for people living in HNZ houses.
But this in itself does not prevent CHPs from charging market rents, and with a significant proportion of the state housing stock requiring costly maintenance, CHPs will be looking to recoup renovation and refurbishment costs from tenants.
Bill English said: “Houses will not be transferred unless tenants get better services and taxpayers get fair and reasonable value.”
But in response, Labour’s Phil Twyford said: “The Government has no evidence to support their claim that social housing providers can do a better job of managing state houses than Housing NZ.”