An AUT study identifying over 150,000 people in Aotearoa as ‘vulnerable transient’ (meaning they have moved at least three times in three years) shows the failure by successive Governments to provide secure tenancy for people.
“This is the result of decades of punitive sanctions on beneficiaries, selloff of state homes, unliveable incomes and rampant housing speculation. The magnitude of these figures show that the Government will need to do more than simply tinker around the edges, and rethink their fiscally conservative approach when it comes to core crown spending,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty spokesperson Ricardo Menéndez March.
“It’s hard to imagine how the Labour-led Government will be able to build the number of state houses required, overhaul the welfare system in order to remove sanctions, and provide the infrastructure required for our transient population when they have signed up to the Budget Responsibility Rules which severely limits Core Crown Spending to 30% of GDP. Aotearoa has lived under austerity measures for decades, where our public services have been chronically underfunded.
“The study also shows that women, Māori, and people on the benefit were much more at risk of being categorised as ‘vulnerable transient’. This doesn’t come as a surprise considering our welfare system currently punishes people instead of helping them. The Government has yet to deliver a proper timeline on when sanctions on solo mums, as well as other sanctions it considers excessive, will be removed.
“Transient populations are also a symptom of our housing crisis, where the private market is simply unable to provide secure tenancy for people as it is driven by the need to make profit, instead of providing adequate shelter. Market solutions to housing have so far failed to adequately house people. So-called ‘affordable housing’ programmes, which come at the expense of the ability to build more state homes, have been unable to provide a solution, with many of the houses built under those programmes already selling for over a million dollars. The Government has a responsibility to strengthen our state housing sector and commit to a mass build of state homes.
“This study shows what our advocates see every day at our AAAP offices and WINZ lines. Last year, AAAP released our Not Enough Left Demands during the election, informed by the experiences of beneficiaries and their visions for a political system built on fairness and not punishment. The demands were centred around providing liveable incomes, a mass build of state homes, overhauling the welfare system and taxing the rich.
“Jacinda Ardern and her Labour-led Government have an opportunity to show that they won’t allow our communities to continue living in poverty while the rich profit. It shouldn’t have to take a dozen more studies showing the dire wealth gap in our society for the Government take the bold actions needed to address this.”