State Housing Action Network is calling on the government to replace the boards and senior management of Housing New Zealand and Work and Income New Zealand to drive a genuine and transformative culture change within these organisations towards beneficiaries and low-income New Zealanders.
It’s evident from tenant accounts concerning the meth contamination scandal that Housing New Zealand is infused with toxic attitudes towards low-income New Zealanders which has caused untold suffering and needless stress for the most vulnerable in our society.
The same culture has been obvious in WINZ for a longer time. (Note that WINZ now allocates state houses to low-income New Zealanders rather than HNZ)
The sentiments expressed in yesterday’s HNZ statement for a change within the organisation are welcomed but they appear more designed as a public relations exercise than anything else.
The previous National government installed the leadership at WINZ to drive people off welfare at whatever the person costs to families while the leadership at HNZ was put in place to privatise thousands of state houses around New Zealand.
The wrong people with the wrong values are at the head of both organisations. Transformative Culture change can only come with the government replacing the boards and senior leadership of both organisations.
It is also critical that Housing Minister Phil Twyford return to Labour’s pre-election promise to turn Housing New Zealand into a government department. They must also repeal the Social Housing Reform Act 2013.
Labour campaigned during the election to turn Housing New Zealand into a government department but broke their promise after the election. This promise must be fulfilled.
A return to public sector values of service and compassion must replace a culture of driving people off welfare at whatever the personal cost to families.
Housing New Zealand must get back to its core purpose of helping people into homes, stopping the demolition of state houses and the gentrification of state house suburbs. It must put in place an ambitious plan to build the tens of thousands of state homes so desperately needed when we have 41,000 New Zealanders with severe housing needs at the mercy of HNZ and WINZ.