Set aside for a moment the vast central city wasteland; the crumbling cathedral; the developers scrapping over retail tenants and hotel beds; the cowardly council implementing a National government agenda for Christchurch; Gerry Brownlee (enough said) and the corporate-driven disaster which is the Christchurch central reconstruction.
The real devastating failure of the city rebuild is the plight of low-income families left high and dry by the Christchurch City Council.
Six years on from the devastating Christchurch earthquakes the Christchurch City Council is still 357 houses short of what it had before the earthquakes.
At 1st September 2010, the council had 2649 council homes for rent but only 2292 available for rent as of 11th December 2016, according to figures from an Official Information Act request.
Despite 459 council homes having been demolished after the earthquakes only 61 (sic) new units have been completed since 1 September 2010. (A further 42 units will be demolished this year!)
Providing housing for the most vulnerable families in the wake of the earthquakes should have been the first council priority. It wasn’t.
Low-income families have been struggling with housing costs since then and despite the recent levelling off in private rental housing costs they remain artificially high because of the council’s failure to rebuild its housing stock.
The council should hang its head in shame.
Had the council prioritised rebuilding affordable housing, private rental costs across the city would be considerably lower than the very high rates being charged today.
All families in the private rental market are losers because of this moral and social failure.
The transfer of the council’s housing stock to the Otautahi Housing Trust, which took place on 1 October last year, will make the situation worse. The Trust does not have the resources or the capacity to build the homes required for tenants and families on low incomes.
The council must be forced to ramp up its building programme for council housing as an urgent priority and to vigorously oppose the government plans to sell 2,500 state houses in Christchurch.
Neither the council nor the government must be allowed to walk away from responsibility for housing families on low incomes.