Save our homes – stop the evictions!

By   /   April 16, 2014  /   19 Comments

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While rental prices continue to rise beyond the reach of beneficiaries and low paid workers , the government are now profiting from selling their responsibility to house people, and evicting people from their homes.

defendgi

“We will keep on fighting because it frightens me to think my grandchildren could become homeless,” Tere Campbell told me. Tere is a member of Tamaki Housing Group. In September 2011, tenants in 156 state homes in Glen Innes received letters from Housing New Zealand telling them they would be evicted from their homes with no guarantee or right of return to the community.  The Tamaki Housing Group – Defend G.I! was formed to resist the evictions.

“We started because there was no consultation there was no meeting with the tenants and so this has come as a huge shock for a lot of people. We’ve been protesting ever since,” said Tere.

Like Tere, many of the residents of Glen Innes have lived there for decades and raised children there. “My adult childrens friends are friends they’ve known from primary. This is G.I everybody knows everybody , you know someone is looking out for you, that’s the unity that is here,” says Tere.  “Now these people are being transplanted to other communities where they are the outsiders.”Housing New Zealand introduced an anti-social behaviour clause.You could be evicted if your child gets into trouble even though the contract is with you. There is also a ‘dob-a-neighbour’ aspect to the clause. “They ask their tenants ‘do your neighbours drink, do they have many people over?’ It has destabilised this area . Like a depression, its sad now,” says Tere. “They have been loyal tenants for all these years and then that’s how the state repays their loyalty? By kicking them out?”

Unfortunately the experiences of the Glen Innes community will be increasingly common.

Housing New Zealand has now handed over most of its responsibilities to the Ministry of Social Development. This is part of a policy move towards ‘social housing ‘ rather than state housing. Social housing is run by ‘Community House Providers’ – essentially private landlords from various community groups. MSD will decide who fits the criteria for social housing. From July there will be a review of all tenants which will decide whether state housing tenants will continue to be tenants or forced into the private market. The eligibility tests hinge on whether tenants have ‘improved’ their financial position. Important to note is HNZ will not responsible to house families that do not fit the criteria for a social house once they are reviewed.

While rental prices continue to rise beyond the reach of beneficiaries and low paid workers , the government are now profiting from selling their responsibility to house people, and evicting people from their homes.

We should not accept evictions of state housing tenants in our communities. Tamaki Housing Group Defend G.I have shown us how to fight back . They have staged numerous occupations of the houses at the point of eviction.“Once we know the eviction date we head down there and occupy, we don’t budge,”says Tere. We can all be involved in defending G.I and other state housing communities under threat. Head to saveourhomes.co.nz for fact sheets, resources and community action ideas.

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19 Comments

  1. Wayne McIndoe says:

    I have seen the negative impact of the sale of State Houses in the area I live in. State house tenants were often in as longterm tenants, they raised families, the children went to the local pre-schools and primary schools. They were part of the fabric of the community community and a stable part of the community at that. The buyers of these state houses were not families who ended up living in them nor existing tenants buying their first home, but spec landlords or developers who rented these houses out for shortterm tenancies, and “flatting” type situations totally unsuitable for families. It is no coincidence that the rolls at my local primary school and kindegarten dropped signifigantly as a result of the sale of state houses the community lost longterm families

  2. countryboy says:

    Ah … ? There are windows behind you . Why have you not yet thrown a brick through them ? Oh , now I remember . You’ve been brainwashed into compliance . You can see the elephant in the room but nobody’s prepared to shoot and eat it . Classic Prof Milgram .

  3. Stephen says:

    Tai

    You forgot to mention one important detail about the people who have been living in state houses for decades and that is for decades they have been subsidised by tax payers who have had money forced off them by government to support the tenants in state houses. You might want to considered them.

    • Tiger Mountain says:

      Taxes are part of a social contract that is meant to fund a civilised society.
      Nothing wrong with lifetime tenure and renting in my view.

      All those with mortgages that aspire to ‘own’ their own house are subsidising the real bludgers known as finance capital aka the banking industry and stock markets.

      • Stephen says:

        This “social contract” that you speakith of, can you please tell me whereabouts it is, what it involves and when did I sign it? Also I believe their is something wrong with expecting taxpayers to fund you for life, all you are doing is exploiting the workers, you know workers those people that are gainfully employed and that the government forces them to hand out some of the fruits of their labours.
        What would happen to this country if every body decided to become a recipient of social welfare, if everyone decided to have accommodation subsidised by someone else? I leave that for you to ponder whilst I try and locate this “social contract” perhaps it is in cloud cuckoo land?

        • Molly says:

          Stephen, you fall for the same simplistic rhetoric that chooses to think that the “market will provide”.

          The market has failed, everyone in NZ that expects to live in a reasonably priced home that is healthy, and allows a good work/life balance. Surely providing the necessities of healthy living should be a priority for government? If not – why not?

          Successive governments have failed to provide policies that ensure that all NZ’ers are able to afford a home to live in. The HNZ stock that you speak of has been paid many times over, during the course of its rental life.

          The added benefits to communities and the wider NZ society of stable housing, and connected communities are tangible, and have longer term benefits other than rental incomes.

          Think deeper and broader before posting your first response.

          This is what taxpayer money should be used for.

          • Mike says:

            So let me get this straight. It is the governments job to provide a house to people who don’t have the means to pay, paid for by those who are working all hours god gave them to pay for their own place. It is also the governments job to pay for the necessities of healthy living, also paid for by those who are flat out to fund the necessities of healthy living for their own families? RUBBISH!!!!!

            It is not the governments job to “provide the necessities of healthy living”. It is your job.

            • jcuknz says:

              In a responsible society those with the luck to be prosperous look after in a collective way for those who are not.
              On the other hand a retired couple should not occupy a three bedroom house, even though it enables their children to visit with the grandchildren.

              But the point is that state housing should not be for families with three and for bedroom homes etc but encompass a range of dwellings suitable for singles, couples, and families. So that while a person shifts houses according to their need they can remain in the same area which is their neighbourhood.

            • YogiBare says:

              Mike says, “It is not the governments job to “provide the necessities of healthy living”. It is your job”
              In my opinion the operative word here is “job” or, conversely, the lack the jobs. Technological advances have made many jobs redundant which will never be replaced. Surely it’s the government’s duty to insure the benefits of these labour saving devices flow down to all society, not just the oligarchs sitting on the top of the pile.
              I feel successive governments have failed miserable in their “job” or, as Adam Curtis has pointed out, their “job” may be to serve the oligarchs instead of us.

        • Andrea says:

          At what age do you want us to sign the social contract?

          If you choose to opt out of some or all of the clauses put together by a broad-spectrum committee – do you leave the country? Or get assigned to some Outlaw Badlands (Remuera?) where you don’t pay taxes and get no benefits of shared resources, either?

          You’re absolutely right, though. This understanding does need to be spelled out to the citizenry before leaving high school, instead of being left to the ‘everyone understands that!’ category.

          That way you’d know, wouldn’t you? And you could choose to stay and contribute, or leave and operate in some different environment.

          As far as I know, state housing was provided to suit the needs of industries when people were coming into the country from overseas and in from rural areas.

          There were single person hostels. Hostels for trainees and nurses. Settlements for people building roads, bridges, dams, tunnels. People to provide labour and skills for railways, forestry, vehicle manufacture, and other attempts to develop the country’s manufacturing base.

          Then, as now, wages were low to, perhaps, offset the long haul to Europe and Australia. People had to (will you believe me?) save up for shoes and suits and vehicles and holidays.

          So, after the horrors of a couple of ‘world’ wars, the various governments decided that squalor was not acceptable, and built housing plus offering mortgages at very reasonable rates. Many of the embarrassingly independent middle level earners had parents who cashed in their child benefits, took a state advances loan – and Bought Their First Home. Heroes, eh?

          But the folk with less certain work, or lower pay, or whatever, couldn’t and the governments and citizens recognised this. Hence the housing for life for families and singles.

          Then the fairy dust began to blow around. ‘Everyone must Aspire before they expire. Be Ashamed of being low-paid. Even though you also pay taxes – it’s not Enough. You Must and Shall Pay a Mortgage. (You shall go to the ball, Cinderella.)’

          So we are at the point where we have comments such as yours. Even though very little has changed for the low-paid in uncertain work.

          And, please, tell us what indeed would happen ‘ if every body decided to become a recipient of social welfare, if everyone decided to have accommodation subsidised by someone else?’ There’d still be cockroaches in three-piece suits creaming it as Buy To Let landlords – wouldn’t there? Some of those unashamed social welfare recipients… yeah.

          On the other hand, perhaps we could stop patching up an obsolete system and take a long hard look at who benefits most, least, and barely – and create something far more fit for purpose.

    • Lee says:

      in a world where not everyone can get a job, the last thing we want is for them to live on the street

    • Olwyn says:

      I must point out, Stephen, that quite a few tax payer dollars go to subsidising landlords, through the accommodation supplement, and even more will go that way as State housing gets gradually dismantled. Still more of these hard-earned dollars go to subsidising employers who do not pay their workers enough to live on, through WFF and the same accommodation supplement. Just think: some of these guys who do not pay their workers enough to live on also own a rental or three. So they get both the subsidised rents and the subsidised workers, all out of your taxes.

    • Ovicula says:

      Wow Stephen, is that Rand, Hayek, von Mises, or do you just fancy a few close relatives? It’s hard to tell these days.

  4. Mike the Lefty says:

    Just thought I would add that this morning I saw perhaps the most ridiculous headline ever in Stuff.co.nz written by Patrick Smellie. “Shock news: Greens now in favour of privatisation”. This claimed the Greens policy (in short) that state tenants should be given the option of buying the house they have rented is a dramatic U-turn and that the Greens support privatisation. As long as I can remember the Greens have never opposed this, as long as the state house pool is kept up. What U-turn is this? Just another example of the right-wing lies that the John Key sycophantic society keeps churning out because there are no stories to be told about National Party policies. Why? because they don’t have any!

    • Stuart Munro says:

      Smart policy by the Greens as usual – it was an option for occupants to purchase state housing that provided much of Thatcher’s lower & middle class support – but she was too short-sighted to maintain the level of housing stock so that everyone could get up the ladder a little. MSM journalists as usual have no ****ing clue and don’t seem to care.

      • jcuknz says:

        Selling state housing to tenants is simply a way of putting more money the capitalists pockets via the interest paid on the thirty year loans …. servature for life.
        State houses should be demolished and replaced with more modern versions so that everybody who wants a state house can have one but with rentals based as a proportion of income so if one improves one position in society so it becomes worthwhile to move into the private sector.

        What kind of house provided should be based on real need rather than desire and it should be expected that as children leave home the parents move into smaller accomodation. But importantly the range of housing should be in the same area so people if they wish can remain in ‘their’ neighbourhood.

        Pretty idealist I know but I came up with these ideas around fifty years ago when I paid rent sharing a flat before I managed to build my own family home and now a retirement home … paying only rates these past years. Life was easier in the past and while Rogernomics saved the country it unfortunately put it on the path to ‘dog eat dog’ of today.

        • jcuknz says:

          In view of my first para I could mention that although not in the building trade I built both properties myself with my wife’s help which meant at no time was my mortage more than around $5000 until raising a loan for an overseas trip to visit our son in retirement. But life was easier back in those days and I feel for the youngsters of today as per my last para.