Upper Hutt residents mobilise to fight State House sell-off

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Upper Hutt, NZ, 4 June – Residents in a State housing community in Upper Hutt are continuing to mobilise to strengthen opposition to planned sell-off of Housing NZ vacant land, and planned further demolition of so-called “un-safe, earthquake-prone” State houses.

Following from previous meetings organised by local community worker and activist, Teresa Homan (pictured on right);

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

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– read out a petition to Bill English that has been launched calling on the withdraw of public-owned land in Trentham, Upper Hutt, from sale to private developers.

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[A full copy of the petition form can be downloaded here]

Ms Homan said she had already been gathering signatures and was “pleasantly surprised” that only a few people had refused to sign it.

Ms Homan represents the St Joseph Parish Justice, Peace, and Development Group. She said that the vacant land they were standing on had recently been filled with State housing that were homes to several families. She said some of families may have been relocated to other State houses further away in Timberlea, or private rentals elsewhere, up-rooting children from their local schools and disrupting their established education and local connections to the community.

Transience is a well-recognised problem for low-income families, as they do not have guaranteed security-of-tenure. A 2010 Ministry of Justice “working document” referred to hardship for vulnerable families, including transience;

Barriers to engagement in services by “hard-to-reach” groups include service level or structural barriers (e.g. location, hours of operation, cost, lack of awareness about availability, lack of cultural responsiveness, and poor coordination between services), and barriers specific to families and their situations (e.g. transience, low literacy, physical or mental health issues, domestic violence, lack of transport, low income, negative perceptions of services, and generally chaotic lives).

There is good evidence about how policy-makers and service providers can address these barriers and improve engagement by those who are hard-to-reach.

Ms Homan said the buildings had been torn down, ostensibly because they were “earthquake prone”. She added that that bulldozers and other wrecking machinary had had difficulty in tearing down the structures.

The land was now for sale to private developers. There is no guarantee that social housing will be built on the site. Ms Homan said she was fearful that Housing NZ would be moving fast to sell the land. She said,

“This is about this local community, but it’s also about land that we own as the public of New Zealand. So, once it’s [public land] sold, it’s gone. And it’s not about not allowing people to have private ownership of land, but this land’s owned by the New Zealand public.

…I think we need to hold onto the land we have for those families that can’t afford private [rental] homes.”

Ms Homan said she had been in contact with Housing NZ and when asked if they had claimed the demolished houses were the “wrong size, wrong place”, she agreed that statement had been used. She said she had lodged an Official Information Act (OIA) request  seeking an explanation why the houses had been deemed “wrong size, wrong place”.

[See related story: State houses – “wrong place, wrong size”?]

One State house tenant, Wayne (pictured below,  in wheelchair) has been waiting for a new state house for four and a half years that is better suited to his disability and use of a wheelchair;

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Wayne said that whilst he had ramped access to his home, and a wet-area in the bathroom, that the rooms in his house and doorways  were too small to accomodate his frame and wheelchair. He said he was waiting for an appointment with Upper Hutt mayor, Wayne Guppy, to discuss his case.

About twenty people from the local  community turned up for the petition launch;

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Their signs publicised the concerns they felt at how Housing NZ and the National government were impacting on their lives;

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One particular sign, bearing three simple words,  was hammered into the ground – a symbolic statement from the community to the National government and Housing NZ;

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The size of the now-vacant land is considerable;

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– especially when seen in conjunction with near-by properties;

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Contrasting National Minister Paula Bennett’s recent announcement offering State house tenants $5,000 to leave Auckland, with the steady decline of state houses in the Hutt Valley, Rimutaka’s Labour MP, Chris Hipkins voiced his exasperation,

“So while the number of state houses in the Hutt Valley is shrinking, and people are being bumped off waiting lists because there aren’t enough houses available, the government have a genius idea to increase demand even further. This is just nuts.”

At a time of rising homelessness and on-going sell-off of Housing NZ homes and land, there is no indication that the National government is changing it’s policy-course. This is despite a recent public opinion poll which condemned National’s inaction of the worsening housing crisis;

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Upper Hutt is just another community enjoying  National’s “Brighter Future”.

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References

Fairfax media: Answer to school transience needed

Ministry of Justice: Who is vulnerable or hard-to-reach in the provision of maternity, Well Child, and early parenting support services?

Radio NZ: $5000 moving grant ‘laughable’ without work

Upper Hutt Leader: HNZ land sell-off resisted

TV3 News: Government gets thumbs down on housing

Websites

Facebook: Upper Hutt State Houses 4 U

Facebook: Housing NZ Tenants Forum

Previous related blogposts

Government Minister sees history repeat – responsible for death

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

Letter to the Editor – How many more children must die, Mr Key?!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1

Another ‘Claytons’ Solution to our Housing Problem? When will NZers ever learn?

National’s blatant lies on Housing NZ dividends – The truth uncovered!

National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

Our growing housing problem

National Housing propaganda – McGehan Close Revisited

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)

National’s Food In Schools programme reveals depth of child poverty in New Zealand

Letter to Radio NZ – Homelessness, Poverty, and the Final Solution

State houses – “wrong place, wrong size”?

State house sell-off in Tauranga unravelling?

Other blogs

TangataWhenua.com: Veteran Activist hospitalised during removal of state houses (2012)

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I’m so proud of our comrades in Upper Hutt, as they speak for all of us who were given the chance to be brought up in a solid state house in 1950’s, supplied by taxpatyers in tough times before us all.

    So more mana to you all, – you have our total support for the fight, old your heads high we are there with you in spirit.

  2. Most of the coverage around the crisis is for Auckland, Christchurch, and Queenstown. Given this, it is easy to forget that we have our own crisis in Wellington but approximately two or so years behind the other cities.

    Claims of having “lower waiting lists” for social housing cunningly omit the fact that the waiting list criteria has changed making it almost impossible to get on in the first place.

    With the government now subsidising 60% of all rentals (ie most mortgages for “investment” properties) what is taking place here is the biggest wealth transfer since european settlers arrived in this land.

    It is predictable that the lan maximise rental income NOT to house disabled or otherwise disadvantaged tenants.d that will be sold in Upper Hutt will be made into nice, rentable dwellings to

    Thanks for the post Frank.

    • So we the taxpayers are paying rental supplements to offshore property investors and speculators?

    • So we the taxpayers are paying rental supplements to offshore property investors and speculators?

      • If you look at it in that light, then we most certainly are… and these subsidized property speculators and property investors are hardly even in the category of ‘ Too big to fail’….

        Certainly a good point and one which is at odds with the whole neo liberal dogma of ‘ if a business cant support itself it should cease to exist and let a more efficient one take its place’…

        We now see the very selectivity and hypocritical indulgences of the far right neo liberal fanatic quite graphically.

    • In Wellington, large swathes of state houses have been removed from Trentham (as seen above), Pomare and Epuni under this government. And that’s 3 seperate areas just in the Hutt Valley… Who knows what’s happened in other areas of the city…

      Great work from Teresa to fight this 🙂

  3. People all over NZ should stand up and fight, also those better off for now, as they may be next.

  4. Well… this interesting from RNZ News…. seems to get any action in NZ on the housing crisis we need to have UN support…

    ………………………………………………………………………………………..

    A New Zealand-funded housing development in Kiribati aims to ease overcrowding on the main island of Tarawa.

    Foreign Minister Murray McCully and a delegation of New Zealand and European Union representatives are visiting Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tuvalu as part of the NZ EU Pacific Partnership Mission.

    While in Kiribati, Mr McCully opened a new housing project funded by NZAid, which paid for 62 new homes for public servants.

    He said the aid programme tried to redevelop an area that was less appealing, to make the best use of the space available on the tiny island.

    “Clearly it’s not sustainable to have 100,000 people living on that little island long term, so we need a mix of policies.

    “The government there’s got to take its responsibility to ensure that people aren’t drawn in from the outer islands due to a lack of activity there, got to take a leadership in terms of how some of the government land’s used.”

    But Mr McCully said partners such as New Zealand would have to do something as well.

    Mr McCully and the European Commissioner for International Co-operation and Development, Neven Mimica, are leading a joint mission to the Pacific, accompanied by Minister for Climate Change Issues Paula Bennett.

    The mission will travel to Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Kiribati, and Tuvalu.

    Mr McCully said New Zealand and the European Union worked together closely in the Pacific, especially in support of renewable energy initiatives.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………..

    So while National are making all the big noises to appear dutiful before the UN… we have Keys govt neglecting our own homelessness and brushing it off with ” crisis ?…what crisis?”…

    Or perhaps it is that in order to stay in power National are shit scared to do anything… including keeping family’s from sleeping under bridges and in cars…

    Hypocrites.

  5. I don’t understand the Natzis logic we have a housing crisis and they are selling off State Housing ie State Assets. We should be flat out building State Housing and providing employment and training for our unskilled people, dumb, dumb and dumber, I think.

    Some one should tell Key that is what Michael Joseph Savage did during the Depression.

    • National don’t want to build state houses primarily because it would bring down other house prices and upset a big part of their constituents. And work against their developer mates who only want to build high end homes for profit.

      It would also go against their privatization agenda’s. That dividend that they get from Housing NZ is a way to strangle any notion of any more state house building as well. They know it is unsustainable.

      And the end result of all this is Key and his Nats are now to be about to be crucified by their own supply side / starve the beast economic objectives. It will be this among other issues that will become a powder keg in the coming election.

      It wouldn’t be amiss to approach the U.N about this state of affairs – all it would take would be for many of the social service groups representatives to put together a report and juxtapose that with the budget allocations , along with previous budgets and poverty indicators to blow this thing sky high politically.

      ………………………………………………………………………………………..

      Here is Article 27 of the United Nations Rights for a Child :

      Article 27 (Adequate standard of living): Children have the right to a standard of living that is good
      enough to meet their physical and mental needs. Governments should help families and guardians who
      cannot afford to provide this, particularly with regard to food, clothing and housing.
      ………………………………………………………………………………………..

      * Does John Key call family’s living under bridges , sleeping in cars and garages then saddling those family’s with un-payable debt by an out of control WINZ and MSD Minister in line with the above article ?

      ………………………………………………………………………………………..

      And here we have Article 4 which states :

      Article 4 (Protection of rights): Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to
      make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. When countries ratify the Convention,
      they agree to review their laws relating to children. This involves assessing their social services, legal,
      health and educational systems, as well as levels of funding for these services. Governments are then
      obliged to take all necessary steps to ensure that the minimum standards set by the Convention in these
      areas are being met. They must help families protect children’s rights and create an environment where
      they can grow and reach their potential. In some instances, this may involve changing existing laws or
      creating new ones. Such legislative changes are not imposed, but come about through the same process
      by which any law is created or reformed within a country. Article 41 of the Convention points out the when
      a country already has higher legal standards than those seen in the Convention, the higher standards
      always prevail.
      ………………………………………………………………………………………..

      * Is this National party’s slavish adherence to ideology and pandering to only its core constituents in serving the needs of current housing speculators , developer’s coupled with the promise of 2.5 billion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy really in accordance with Article 4 ?

      Hardly , – when not even the rudiments have been taken to remedy the situation. And what measures have been taken have been wholly inadequate by comparison with the actual wealth in this country. Govt action has been abysmal – inaction would be a more apt term – and what measures have been taken are merely knee jerk reactions designed to assuage the fears of their constituents and obfuscate the actual reality of social discord. Discord that is a direct result of this govt’s social and economic policy’s.

      We have seen this govt enact the most ludicrous of actions – such as Paula Bennett paying family’s $5000 to leave Auckland – usually to places where there is little employment opportunity’s for low skilled workers, scant regard for services for special needs children , schooling, the elderly , and the impact on extended family’s.

      Then to add injury to insult they are to be paid another $3000 to come to Auckland with little job prospects and even fewer housing prospects. And if that doesn’t work we have WINZ putting people up in motels clocking up monstrous debt which can never be paid back – further disadvantaging the children of those family’s.

      * It may seem by some people to be overkill to cite the UN , – but the fact is those very same Articles of the UN concerning the rights of the child have been ignored by this govt , – a govt that was so hell bent on gaining a seat on the United Nations and to be seen to being endorsing its declarations in the first place.

  6. The people who seem to be chronically homeless and pushed from sofa to doss house are single men, particularly older men, who may have never done well at school yet who were/are hard-working nonetheless.

    There was a piece today (6.6) about a retired chap, whose health isn’t the best, currently living in an uninsulated caravan on his son’s property in Hamilton. There are five adults, plus kids, already living in the house.

    He was evicted from his previous accommodation because he wanted to keep his dog and The Rules said ‘no’.

    Pets are family, too.

    For sure some older folk are cantankersome, fond of a feud and wary of youngsters – but there needs to be decent and affordable State rentals for nothing-but-the-pension single oldies, too. With their pets. And enough room for a convertible sofa for visitors or desperate family.

    Remember – oldies are oldies for a lot longer than kids are kids – and they’re still tax payers, too.

    • Exactly – how this govt now treats its elderly , its young family’s, its lower income earners , its tenants , its unemployed, its children (poverty , abuse , suicides ) – add to the list – is now a matter of national disgrace.

    • What you write is morally justified and correct, but the reality we face under this government, and it will be NO different under a Labour led government, is totally GRIM.

      They are already threatening Auckland Council and the Independent Hearing Panel with what the central government wants to do. They have already got them over a barrel with developers demanding that the only minimum requirement for a dwelling is a 30 sqm unit in a block of whatever numbers of units.

      There is no more any requirement by Council to offer tenants or owners a garden, a garage or parking, not even for bicycles. It will be bare minimum of everything, stacked on top of each other, with noise and so forth.

      Paula Bennett has pushed through rules saying you can as a desperate social housing needing person no longer object to anything that is offered to you, so if you do not accept the bare minimum you can get stuffed and keep living in a car or garage. If that is not acceptable there is the 5000 dollars bribe to move you out of Auckland, ok.

      So the short shift is clear, fuck off and accept what we offer you, or go to hell.

      And the Sallies do not even work with them on these agendas anymore, as they see through the BS they get served.

      Sadly most NZers, those that are still ok, manage and those that put up with endless BS, they do not care, and so we have no solidarity at all. Coming in with animal rights and tenants deserving to keep a pet is right, but that is the least of concern all players have, I fear. We live in defacto fascist times, and it shows.

  7. Good on them, the sale of state houses is disgusting! They should also get active to encourage state house tenants to vote next election.

    What is even worse is the asset sales profits are not going back into NZ schools and hospitals but for membership to offshore banks and IT projects.

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/politics/asset-sales-cash-used-as-govt-slush-fund–peters-2016060713

    Where the money is going….

    “Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

    One big ticket item is our membership to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which was funded as part of this year’s Budget and came in at a cost of $144M.

    World Bank

    Another bank membership has also been paid for out of the fund. In 2014, the fund was used to pay $23 million for a subscription to the World Bank.

    Computer programme for ministers

    Some of the cash was also splashed on the Prime Minister and Cabinet with investment into a document management project, CABnet, which received $2.6M in 2012 and a further $1.8M in 2014 — a total of $4.4M.

    Doing up Government House

    In all, $500,000 was also allocated to the Prime Minister and Cabinet to be spent on a new Visitor Centre at Government House in 2012.”

  8. The Nats have THREE bloody ministers dedicated to improving housing in NZ, and they’re still failing miserably.

    Come on, Kiwis, WAKEY WAKEY!!!

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